February 24, 2009

Approved minutes of the 2-24-09 SCC CTGP meeting. Quorum met.

Location: Portland Senior Center, 7 Waverly Avenue, Portland, CT 06480 Time: 7PM to 9PM

Attendees by chapter:
Central: Vittorio Lancia; Fairfield: Paul Bass, Richard Duffee;
Greater Hartford: Barbara Barry, secretary of CTGP;
CTGP co-chairpersons: S. Michael DeRosa, Steve Fournier, CTGP treasurer: Christopher Reilly;
New London: Ronna Stuller; New Haven: Jerry Martin; Northeast: G. Scott Deshefy; Tolland: Tim McKee.

Facilitator: Tim McKee

A. Preliminaries:

1. Introductions of voting/non-voting attendees; chapters; quorum was met; timekeeper: Steve Fournier.

2. Approval of tonight's proposed agenda, no deletions; addition: resolution in support of GPUS position about the

Pennsylvania juvenile court judges accused of fraud.

3. Review and approval of minutes of the 1-27-09 SCC meeting. The 12-30-08 SCC minutes were held to the future.

4. Review and acceptance of the minutes from the 1-19-09 and 2-17-09 EC meetings.

5. Treasurer's report from treasurer: Christopher Reilly: balance as of: 1-31-09: $1480.87; as of 2-24-09: $1578.83.

B. Any proposals/referendums by chapters, committee.

1. Election Autopsy from Steve Fournier, co-chairperson:

Four our first meeting of 2009, having had a couple of months to reflect on the election of 2008, it seems a good time to assess our status and plan for the coming year and the 2010 election.

Vote-getting experience:

In the election of the U.S. House of Representative, Greens received less than 5% of the vote. Green candidates were excluded from most broadcast debates and largely ignored by the media. Green won ballot status in 3 districts and will be able to run candidates without petitioning in the next congressional election, but no Green candidate had a discernible effect on the outcome.

In state elections, four Green candidates in tree-way races did poorly (under 10%), even though their districts were safe for the Democrat. In the one two-way contest, the Green candidate did better at 19%. Voters for our write-ins likely were not all counted, and there were fewer than 100 recorded altogether.

Under the campaign finance law, now under legal challenge, all but one of our ballot candidates got so few votes that successor candidates in these districts are legally disqualified from public financing in 2010. They are likely to face at least one major party candidate who does qualify, and the major party opponents will spend tens of dollars for every spent by Greens, further disabling potential Green voters and guaranteeing continuation of the Democratic/Republican dynasty.

Fundraising experience:

The Greens' five congressional candidates were barely able to raise enough to gain name recognition, and this was in sprawling districts. It is extremely unlikely that any could have raised $5000 in a much smaller state legislative district. Greens running for state office raised negligible amounts.

Greens' fundraising problems are compounded by the fact that progressives' natural constituency consists of the working poor, the unemployed and underemployed, and students. Greens would have to abandon principle and alter the party's message to appeal to high-income individuals. The required $5000 private funding threshold will present little impediment to Democrats and Republicans. In fact, it appears that private campaign funds, in helping candidates meet the threshold, will continue to wield influence, but for a much smaller investment. Public funding for Democrats and Republicans, far from empowering the poor, will make it ever more likely that the needs of people without resources will be ignored.

Planning for 2010 and beyond:

Greens' best hope of winning a seat in the state House or Senate will be a long-term project involving the recruitment of one or more well-known, popular progressives to try to turn out 10% in the first election year (the best that can be hoped for without public funding) in order to qualify for funding two years later. By the 2014 election, Greens might be able to run one or more partially funded candidates and make themselves competitive. Greens might also reasonably predict that the Democrat or Republican will face no opponent in 2010 in many districts (a third of them faced no opponent in 2008), raising the slim change that a green might garner enough votes to qualify for funding in 2012.

Recruiting candidates was difficult before publicly-funded campaigns for major party opponents. With public funding, potential Green candidates now have to be willing to run hard with a certainty of defeat, and such people are rare on the current political landscape. Candidates will have to be willing to appeal to voters to cast their sufficient money to qualify for funding. A plan for recruiting such people could be our biggest challenge in the coming year. To adapt to the public funding law, the state party might be well advised to direct all contributors to candidate committees, even if it meant strangling the state treasury.

As a pressure group or a progressive lobby, Greens are frustrated at every turn by the public financing scheme, which will always depress the Green vote. In the past, social movements have run doomed election campaigns for the purpose of widening debate and gradually attracting support. All signs indicate that, in state elections at least, support for Green issues will appear to be eroding and not growing. Public funding is likely to keep potential supporters from casting Green votes, simply because the outcome of almost every contest will be known far in advance. It won't be possible to gauge true levels of support for social justice and environmental restoration when elections are, for all practical purposes, fixed. Debate won't be broadened but narrowed under the new regime. Greens might also have to abandon the message that the party is running to win state contests and acknowledge that's running to qualify for funds in a future election. To conserve the party's sparse resources, members will have to consider, this year, whether it's worthwhile to run candidates for state office at all, in view of these disabling laws, and whether the party might more profitably put its emphasis on local elections and national office.

RD: we should add that candidates who want to represent financially poor people are more likely to be rejected in the following ways: signatures of financially poor people are more likely to be rejected because poor people are more likely to move from residence to residence or be homeless; poor people are more likely to have their petitions thrown out due to their difficulty proving their residencies over time; the longer a voter is in a residence the less likely their signature or chance to vote will be rejected.

GSD: overall, the above leads to less representation for the financially poor people.

RD: the Democrats and Republicans tend to have "professional" candidates and develop multiple tiers of potential candidates in the wings. Third political parties tend not to have these.

PB: the 2005 CT Campaign Finance Reform Law does 3 things: 1)requires 3rd political parties to do things that the Democrats and Republicans are not required to do; 2) money is speech and the Democrats and Republicans get a lot of "speech" with this law; 3) this law is really a referendum which is required each time a 3rd political party requests money. E.G. 3rd political parties need to get petition signatures which in a sense indicates that the signer supports the 3rd political party to get money for a specific purpose/candidate. This is vastly different from requesting a person's signature to allow a 3rd political party to run a candidate for specific office. The Democrats and Republicans are not required to overcome this hurdle.

Consensus: passed.

2. Proposal from Jerry Martin and David Bedell to join the coalition: Better Choices for Connecticut: Consensus: passed. See 10 pages of Addendum 1.

C. Reports:

1. GPUS reports from: a) CTGP representatives: Tim McKee: GPUS National Committee Meeting will be held in Durham, N.C. at University of North Carolina from 6-25-09 through 6-28-09. It will have a lot of workshops and will allow for gatherings of people who have hands-on expertise in the various things that a 3rd political party needs. Registration fee is likely to be $25. CTGP will be allowed five (5) people. Neither Cliff Thornton, National Co-chairperson of the GPUS nor CTGP representative to GPUS Charlie Pillsbury were present. b) National Committee Members: Steve Fournier: there tends to be a continuous debate about policies, Richard Duffee on the GPUS International Committee: one tends to get 400 emails a month. 83% of the committee discussion is regarding Gaza. There is a current debate about whether this committee needs to have its resolution approved by the GPUS or can the international committee pass resolutions without GPUS approval. JM: reviewed GPUS bylaws and perceives that the bylaws allows the international committee to do what it wants to do. TMcK: the international committee tends to work with other international Green Parties. SMD: on the Ballot Access committee: is requesting suggestions for bills that this committee could support; .

2. deleted: were covered at 1-27-09 SCC meeting: CTGP 1-21-09 meeting with CT State Legislative Government and Election Committee Co-chairpersons, Senator Slossberg and Representative James Spallone of 36th district. and

CTGP concerns regarding the Elections Department of the CT. Secretary of State during the 11-08 election:

3. CTGP lawsuit with the ACLU against the State of CT regarding the 2005 State of CT Campaign Finance Reform Laws. The above report from Steve Fournier. SMD: there will be another court hearing in 3-09. Date to be determined.

4. CTGP literature is available for the 2-26-09 evening Wrench in the Works event in Willimantic.

5. CTGP potential goals for 2009: a) Fight the Hike about election rates continues there efforts inside the legislature and is also striving for towns (e.g. New Haven, West Haven, Hamden and Bridgeport) to support resolutions; b) universal health care: SF: we may wish to consider joining a single payer coalition.

6. Authorization of money to get the state-wide list of registered Green Party voters. SMD: an attorney with the Secretary of States office had indicated it will be provided to the CTGP via email to SMD in the near future, possibly for free.

7. Volunteers for the 4-25-09 CTGP Internal Elections Committee: Steve Fournier, Barbara Barry, S. Michael DeRosa, Christopher Reilly. Convention Committee: Barbara Barry.

8. Chapter reports: TMc: we need to recruit local CTGP candidates; CCSU is offering internships.

SMD: may have a candidates for Meriden mayor and perhaps Middletown mayor and West Hartford mayor.

RS: New London had its town meeting two (2) weeks ago(i.e. it was the scheduled 2nd meeting of each month):

9. Addition was not addressed: resolution in support of GPUS position about the Pennsylvania juvenile court judges accused of fraud.

10: Place for the 3-31-09, Tuesday SCC meeting. Date, place and time of next EC meeting in 3-09: to be determined.