Over the past four years, I've made no bones about my dissatisfaction with Allegheny County Democratic Committee.
Back in 2007, I tried to get information on my committeepersons. First attempt. Received a call back with my particular information, but no systemic response as how to access this information independently. I received another phone call with a bit more information that served to reveal how poorly the ACDC was utilizing social media (pre-Twitter/Facebook surge) as basic as a website. I failed to understand why there was so much secrecy about the committee composition, deducing that business as usual meant “trust us to take care of you, little voters.”
Also in 2007, the ACDC hosted what I called the “Big Gay Chat” to connect the endorsed candidates with the LGBT community. End result? Nada. I am not aware of a single thing that came out of this conversation except the ACDC's ability to delude itself that it is a bit more gay-tolerant. The party has done nothing since then, not even another candidates forum. (Hint, hint. Not too late to remedy that this year. I'd love to bring some of these House Dems into a gay chat. If Len Bodack can do it, they can, too).
To be fair, individual elected officials did make promises they have also neglected:
Rich Fitzgerald: committed to schedule a sit down with Marc Cherna to discuss LGBT issues. committed to work on extending civil rights protections to the county and working with progressive Republicans to make it happen.
Michael Lamb: committed to training school principles on LGBT student issues. committed to keeping domestic partner benefits for city employees impacted by any further mergers of city and county offices.
To my knowledge, the sit down with Mr. Cherna has yet to take place. It simply hasn't been a priority of the community or County Council. That's not to say DHS is terrible on LGBT issues, but there's certainly room for improvement. Lamb has told me he's working on it, but I'm not going to bother bringing up County domestic partner benefits issues for fear I'll lay my head down on the keyboard never to blog again.
Back here in Allegheny County, it seems doubtful that LGBT money is pouring into the party coffers, but focusing instead on individual candidates.
Fast forward to 2010. It is the year we elect committeefolks. There are vacant seats as well as the opportunity run against incumbent party peeps, most of whom seem to be entrenching themselves behind … silence.
Local advocate Gloria Fourezan has been working over the past two weeks to obtain a list of the current committe representatives with no luck. This information is supposed to be available on the ACDC website (click here to see what happens if you attempt to access it). As I outlined above, this has been the state of affairs since 2007 and, I'm guessing, since the dawn of time.
Why is the list unavailable to members of the Democrat Party who live in Allegheny County? Gloria postulates ..
[ACDC Chair Jim] Burn said that he’s asking Ward Chairs for vacant seat reports & for suggestions on who to appoint. Burn will be appointing Dem. Committee members to empty seats on Feb. 5 & will release updated committee info at that time…
Keep in mind the ACDC endorsement meeting is on March 7. Feb. 5 – March 7 is a short window for candidates to contact committee members in their district, especially as this year there aren't local races, but there are state rep races (with tons of cmte. members to contact), not to mention senate & governor races…
This info. should be regularly updated, throughout the year. Committee members represent all Democratic voters in their districts, so these voters should have year round access to their contact information.
Mind you this is a member of the same County Council not providing domestic partner benefits to his employees. Hey, I wonder if the ACDC provides domestic partner benefits? I'd ask my rep but she unfriended me on Facebook and I've never actually seen her at the polls. Outreach isn't her strong suit.
Anyway, back to the status quo. If I understand correctly, Burn needs to fill the vacant seats by February 5, leaving 30 days for them to get up to speed and participate in the endorsement process in an informed manner. That's naive at best and suspicious to someone grumpy like me.
Then there's the matter of the election of the committepersons themselves. Without a list, how would anyone know that they are represented or not? How can they know to toss their hat into the ring (take “ownership” of their party)? How can they seek out their committeeperson to even talk about the endorsement?
It is perplexing, but not surprising. As I've been tweeting, the RCAC attention on statewide and national elections results in groundbreaking usage of social media to share information.
The ACDC? Nope on Twitter. Nope on Facebook. Website that does not provide email address for staff or leadership.
This is why Scott Brown gained on Martha Coakley. This is why conventional wisdom says we have to elect a socially conservative Democrat. This is why the LGBTQ community has to fight back marriage amendments.
Complacency. Laziness. Disregard for the voters outside of the machine.
Come on, folks. It is 2010 and I'm betting there are dozens if not hundreds of techie, social media savvy folks in the party who could make these changes happen in a matter of hours. It is simply unacceptable that the ACDC continues to remain inaccessible to voters. It is actually shameful and completely disengenuous of Jim Burn to claim:
“We think as you do that having the names and information of committee members available on the web page allows voters to know the names of their committee representatives in order to share their opinions and preferences with the committee regarding candidates. We are going to fix this problem and will advise once it is corrected.”