Friday, May 28, 2010

PART II: New Day [not the Bedford Court clerk] on Horizon for Dems as Election of New Party Chair Nears

I promised a follow up to yesterday’s report on the efforts by Cuyahoga Democrats for Principled Leadership to encourage/support/nudge/shove/drag the county Democratic Party towards a 21st century, Obama-era stance of openness, modernity, and inclusiveness.

Specifically, I indicated I would be reporting on the westside CDPL forum held last night. I am going to do so succinctly, because an analysis of where the Party sits suggests a situation so explosive that more time is demanded. I will endeavor to do that over the weekend. So if you come back Monday I promise something for you to think about around the Memorial Day grill or the muni fireworks, assuming money woes haven’t caused your community to cancel them.

So, without my notes, and thus apologies to any community omitted, here goes: About 65 Democrats showed up at Rocky River Civic Center. No city had a large contingent, but almost every westside municipality was represented, including Rocky River, Parma, Bay Village, Westlake, Old Brooklyn, Cleveland Ward 16, Strongsville, North Olmsted, and Broadview Heights. East Cleveland and Shaker Heights were also in the house. Most attendees raised their hands when asked how many were newly elected precinct committee people.

All likely candidates for Party Chair were invited to attend and offer remarks. Only Mark Griffin accepted. A letter from John Ryan, a senior aide to Senator Sherrod Brown, D-OH to co-convener Jan Roller was read, indicating that Ryan could not attend, and was deferring any interest in becoming party chair and endorsing Stuart Garson for the position.

Griffin declined to say specifically, “I want to be Party Chair.” Instead he repeated his remarks from the previous evening, saying that he was “a candidate for change,” that Stuart Garson was a fine fellow who had the votes, that the Party needed major changes, and that he wanted to play a significant role in bringing about that change.

Griffin did say that he was interested in being a vice chair or some other major position of leadership. He emphasized that he did not want to be divisive candidate in any way that would hinder the Party in the critically important fall county and statewide elections.

Translation: Griffin wants the job but sees that the Party hierarchy prefers Garson. So he is willing to support and work with Garson for the good of the Party.

This wasn’t good enough for those in attendance. Some were clearly ready to throw their support behind Griffin’s reserved candidacy, but most wanted the standard “I’m running and I’m here to ask for your support.”

But disenchantment for Griffin’s nuanced non-declarative statement of readiness was mild compared to the anger directed towards party brass and presumed designee Garson. Few in the meeting had ever heard of him, almost everyone who spoke expressed concern about the high-handed manner of his anointment as preferred candidate, and the feeling was virtually unanimous that the Party has performed abysmally in failing to communicate with the newly elected committeepersons about process, scheduling, responsibilities, or anything else.

When Chuck Germana of Parma rose to put in a kind word for Garson, he began by acknowledging that he too, was “disappointed that he is not here”. But when he tried to suggest that Garson would be a concerned and effective party chair, Germana was practically hooted into silence, one woman angrily proclaiming that “if Garson gave a damn about what we thought, his butt would be here tonight!”

Long story short, the precinct committee members present wanted answers that no one present could provide, and by the end of the evening people were talking about strategies that could be employed to make their displeasure known, and perhaps to change what some may have only recently thought would be a pre-ordained conclusion.

Come back Monday! Have a great weekend!!


Claire said...

Richard, I'm glad they got angry. I found the east side meeting extremely frustrating. First, Griffin speaks - seems to be energetic with new ideas . . . but he's not running. Then Garson, who presented himself very poorly and unenthusiastically, however competent he may be. It was like a bait and switch, and business as usual - old school candidate is anointed, others bow out, etc. etc. Discouraging. Am I missing something?

Richard said...

I think you got it!