Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Open Letter to Los Angeles Greens

The recent death of Juanita Millender-McDonald has triggered a special election to fill the vacancy in the 37th Congressional District. One of those who pulled papers for this election is Daniel Brezenoff of the Long Beach Greens.

The timing of this special election is going to be a test for the Greens of LA. While the largest of all the county organizations in the State, it has also been affected by fractional division that have limited its effectiveness.

The 37th CD is primarily in Long Beach, Carson and Compton. But, that is not far from South LA and the recent fight on behalf of the South Central Farmers that was so heavily led by Greens. I did not see a lot of press about Democratic politicians standing with the farmers, but I did see Linda Piera-Avila's name. The people of this area know what happened who who stood up to power and for the powerless.

In this fight, we are all residents of Long Beach. What happens there is going to affect every one of us in ways that we can not imagine. Our ability to bring focus and attention to a single race is a measure of just how effective we can be as a party.

Josh Kraushaar provided an analysis of this election at politico.com. While filled with a lot of speculation and surmise, it is a good starting point for those who don't know anything about this carefully gerrymandered district.

Here are some suggestions:
  • Everyone who reads this should go to the Long Beach Green Party page and make a donation to the campaign.
  • Entry to the upcoming statewide GA in San Francisco should require at least a token contribution to the campaign.
  • LA and Orange County Greens should come together to put the maximum number of feet on the street in support of our candidate. We don't have a lot of money, so we need bodies.
  • LA County Greens have to decide that winning an election is more important that winning turf battles.
I argued yesterday that the time is now for the Green Party. If we can't focus enough attention on this one race to have an impact, then maybe I was wrong, but I don't believe that.

11 comments:

Thomas Leavitt said...

1. We need to validate that this is an electoral opportunity - what are the issues percolating through the district, and how can they be framed in a Green fashion? How could a Green campaign, regardless of whether or not it ultimately wins (which is what you're aiming for), be framed so as to forward these issues, and build long term support for the party?

2. We need a candidate. Someone capable of devoting the time and energy to run an underfunded grassroots campaign... and willing to do so. ... and someone whose name has resonance among at least a portion of the community. This doesn't have to be a "political" person, but it has to be someone with a track record of commitment to the community, and the personal loyalty of at least some segment of the activist community. This person also has to be willing to step on the toes of the establishment, and pay the economic and political price that will entail, because a serious Green candidacy will seriously piss people in the establishment off, and burn bridges that won't be rebuilt for a long time.

3. We need to validate that the local support exists - this person needs to have immediate access to a steering committee of individuals with the organizational capacity to run a campaign... five or six people willing to devote almost as much time and energy as the candidate him or herself.

3a. Similarly, we need a core of lead donors - five or six people willing to pony up $1000 (small money in a race like this) to seed fundraising and organizational infrastructure (office, phone, internet, web, cell, printing, accounting).

If all these things exist, then it is worth running a campaign; if not, then we're running a token campaign, and sucking up resources better spent elsewhere.

Don't put the cart before the horse. It makes everythign harder.

Wes said...

Thomas,
All of your criteria are good. I would hope that the LA County Greens are doing just that.

This is truly a test as to whether or not we are going to make an impact. We don't have a lot of other races going on right now. It is not a matter of choosing whom to support from among many candidates. (At the Congressional level, I supported Bill Paparian last cycle). It IS a question of whether we have the will to win.

We should not allow not having a perfect candidate to be the excuse for doing nothing. NOTE: Almost every Bay Area Representative in Congress told the Democratic Committees that "Jerry McNerney can't win." Conventional wisdom does not always prevail.

Lisa said...

I heard that an emergency agenda item to discuss this election was proposed at the GPLAC mtg last Sunday. I don't know if it was discussed; I didn't attend.

I have posted the recent LA Times article to GPLAC forum and asked if anyone knows Daniel Brezenoff of the Green Party.

"Two More Enter Race for 37th District"
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/politics/cal/la-me-house3may03,1,4861502.story?coll=la-news-politics-california

Wes said...

Lisa,
I need to correct your link, which looks like it got chopped off. The right one is here.

I have exchanged notes with Coby Skye and he said that there is a Long Beach Greens meeting this week where the sill address endorsing Daniel.

Patrick Meighan said...

I don't make it down to Long Beach often, and, believe me, there are plenty of LA County Greens whom I don't know. But, that said, I've never, in my life, heard of Daniel Brezenoff.

Who is he? What is his activist background? How long has he lived in the district, and what has he accomplished within it, and do we have reason to believe that the voters of CA-37 will be motivated by those accomplishments? What is his electoral base? What is his plan to expand on that base? What are his chances for victory?

To my mind, the time for a Green candidate to make a name for himself is not in the 1.5 months leading up to election day, it's in the years and years prior to election day, through steady and unrelenting local activism within the district, building an electoral base upon which he can draw. If Daniel Brezenoff has done that work, I'll jump in with both feet and help push him the rest of the way to victory. If he *hasn't* done that work, then, very frankly, I've got better uses for my time and money.

I'm speaking only for myself, here. The mileage of other LA Greens may differ.

Patrick Meighan
Los Angeles Greens

Wes said...

I have never seen so many work so hard to find reasons not to do something as I find in the Green Party. I am not referring to just Thomas's or Patrick's posts above. It is an attitude that says if you are not a part of the long running Green Culture, if you have not paid your dues working your way up, then you are not part of the "in group" and have no right to do anything.

I have a long background in computers and telecommunications management. I was once Manager of Network Design for IBM's internal telecommunications network. After that I was technical director for a dot com startup. Still, when Stuart Bechman was running for office and I volunteered to help the IT committee with the the work that Stuart did not have time to do, I was told to go away somewhere and work really hard to establish my Green Party credentials and that maybe I could work my way up to being able to join that illustrious group.

It is no wonder that we don't build and maintain a cadre of volunteers.

We fall all over non-Greens with name recognition who are not willing to register Green and we turn away from Greens who are willing to work.

Tell my how that builds the party.

Lisa said...

Wes, I think Thomas and Patrick are referring to efficient use of our volunteer resources. We are all way past , "oh you're a green, you're running, great. no questions asked. " no

We have a right to inquire about a candidate. I don't think Patrick gives a rat's ass about whether Daniel is in the "in" group. He is talking about whether Daniel is known and active in his community, OUTSIDE THE GREEN CULTURE!

Patrick Meighan said...

Lisa is 100% correct.

I don't give two poops about whether or not Daniel is popular in Green Party circles.

I *do* care about whether or not Daniel has an electoral base within CA-37.

"We fall all over non-Greens with name recognition who are not willing to register Green and we turn away from Greens who are willing to work."

Lemme offer a friendly amendment: We fall all over candidates who we perceive as having an electoral base, and we turn away from (or, at least, don't go all out to support) candidates who do not have an electoral base. Being "willing to work" goes beyond filing papers two months before an election and handing out flyers at an anti-war rally that isn't even in your district. Being "willing to work" involves spending years within your district involved in local-issue community work, making connections and building an electoral base, for years and years before election day rolls around. That's what I call being willing to work. And that's a candidate who I'm not just willing, but eager to support: financially and otherwise.

Party hackery and in-crowd cliquishness doesn't enter into it. At least not as far as I'm concerned.

Patrick Meighan
Venice, CA

Wes said...

OK. I have not gone to the extent of the vetting process that everyone is talking about. but, I did talk to Daniel by phone before posting this and I did exchange several emails with Coby Skye.

The Long Beach Greens cover a majority of the 37th CD. Most of the rest comes from the Compton / Carson area. Given that, I would think that support from the Long Beach Greens is one indication that Daniel has done more that walk in the door and announce that he was running.

I also sense that the communication between Long Beach Greens and LA Greens is less what could be identified as smooth. Patrick says that he "doesn't make it down to Long Beach very often." For myself, I have only been in Long Beach on my way to San Pedro. But, I was able to pick up the phone and talk to Daniel. It was easy.

Maybe this was a bad idea. It seemed to me that putting a lot of focus on a single race when there was only one other special election taking place, would be a good way to build cohesion and finding ways to make the organization work. I have heard, both on this list and through other media, that this is not happening.

Patrick, I am like you. I have neither the time nor energy to try and help the various locals in the same county begin to trust each other and work together.

I would hope that someone from LA will pick up that role and carry on. Personally, I will be working on helping to do to Dana Rohrabacher what we did to Richard Pombo.

Lisa said...

I think many LA area Greens will pitch in when there are emails sent from Daniel's campaign asking for specific help. I haven't seen any yet. You're right, the fact that there are no other elections going on at the same time is a big plus.

Chuck Reutter said...

Hello Daniel,

I am glad we have a Green seeking election to the 37th CD and I think this is a great way to build our tiny Green Party. I will be sending a donation to your campaign and can pledge $50.00. Thank you so much for stepping up and helping us build the Green Party.