Report from the May 2 DCDSC (Updated)

Update: This post was update don May 10 to embed an image listing the roll call votes from the Evans resolution. Scroll down to see it.

Last night, the DC Democratic State Committee (DCDSC) held its May meeting, which featured a robust discussion on DC Statehood strategy and a vote on whether National Committeeman Jack Evans should resign from that position given his myriad ethical scandals.

Evergreen note: For those who like the play-by-play, you can read my Twitter live thread here. For official minutes, head over to dcdemocraticparty.org.

The main items on the official May agenda were:

  • DC Vote presentation
  • Statehood resolution
  • National Committeeman resolution
  • 2020 Delegate Selection plan

We also swore in two new members to the DCDSC, newly-elected DC College Democrats President Bella Ryb and Vice President Devon Bradley. Congrats to them!

DC Vote Presentation

Despite some technical difficulties, DC Vote‘s Bo Shuff delivered a pretty fantastic presentation on the status of the DC Statehood effort, the modernization of that campaign, and the path to making Statehood a reality. Presentations like these can be sleepy affairs, but Shuff knows how to hold a stuffy audience’s attention.

Highlights include:

  • In both the US House and Senate, Statehood legislation now has a record number of co-sponsors. Dubbed the Washington, D.C. Admission Act, HR 51 in the House has has 204 co-sponsors and S.631 in the Senate has 32.
  • A pro-Statehood floor speech by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and a letter from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, both earlier this year, were  historic firsts.
  • DC Vote is noting a drastic increase in pro-Statehood grassroots action within the District and in states across the country.
  • That grassroots activity has resulted in every single declared Democratic presidential candidate going on the record in support of DC Statehood, with many embracing it as a top priority rather than an act of pandering.
  • A unified strategy has developed inspired by the LGBTQ marriage equality movement. The approach? Stop messaging around component parts and start messaging around a simple, universally-understandable goal.

Having now won support from hundreds of Congressional Democrats, the “low-hanging fruit,” Shuff says the strategy now shifts to winning over the mushier middle. To that end, DC Vote lays out several ways for supporters to get involved in the lead up to a critical late-July Congressional hearing:

  • To start, text HEARING to 52886
  • Volunteer as a “Hearing Captain” to bring four friends to the hearing
  • Host a Statehood house party in your community
  • Pass out literature at faith/union/community events
  • Get an organization you’re involved in to officially sign on to the coalition
  • “No Donations without Representation” – refuse to donate to any candidates for any office who aren’t on record supporting DC Statehood

You can learn more and get involved at DCVote.org.

DC Statehood Resolution

DCDSC Statehood Committee Co-Chairs Andria Thomas (Ward 6) and Jim Bubar (At-Large) submitted for approval a resolution asking the Democratic National Committee to adopt its own resolution in favor of DC Statehood. After some brief discussion and friendly amendments, the resolution passed unanimously.

If you want to get involved in the Statehood movement through the DCDSC, you should contact Thomas and Bubar at andria.thomas [at] gmail [dot] com and jbubar [at] aol [dot] com.

National Committeeman Resolution

Easily the most-anticipated event of the night was the National Committeeman resolution, submitted by Ward 4 Committeewoman Renee Bowser. You’ll recall that this resolution was first presented at our April meeting but withdrawn and resubmitted after some procedural confusion. You can read more about that in my April report.

Some good lessons were learned over the course of four weeks. Bowser and a group of us improved on the resolution’s text, drafted an FAQs document, and engaged in an outreach effort to nearly every member of the committee. The Executive Committee distributed these documents two weeks in advance and in reminder emails the day of the May meeting. Copies of each were also laid out on every chair in the meeting room.

Nonetheless, several committee members claimed to have never received copies. At this point, it’s clear these members don’t believe they have any role in preparing for meetings or deliberation. They’re disengaged and detached from the responsibilities they signed up. Boo, hiss, etc. to them.

Unlike the April discussion, which was out of order as soon as it began, Chair Wilson managed to maintain some order. After Bowser read a statement on the resolution with Andria Thomas (Ward 6), Elizabeth Mitchell (Ward 3), and Chioma Iwuoha (At-Large) standing with her in solidarity, the floor was opened for thirty-second statements from members who felt compelled to speak in favor of or against the resolution.

I was the first to speak in favor, and here’s what I said:

At our March meeting, Mr. Evans came before us and said, “There’s no one more horrified about what I did than I am” and apologized for his misdeeds. Then, on April 17 at the ANC 2A meeting, he told his constituents “there is nothing to what you’ve heard…I do not believe there will be any wrongdoing shown.” I’m voting yes because our National Committeeman abused his office, admitted to it, then lied about, and we have an obligation to hold ourselves to a higher standard than that.

Also speaking in favor of the resolution were Beau Finley (Ward 3), Zach Israel (DC Young Dems), Chuck Burger (Ward 6), Andra Wicks (Ward 5), and Elizabeth Mitchell (Ward 3). The statements in favor were focused on a central argument: the party risks being delegitimized if we are represented at the national level by someone who has admitted to misusing his office for personal financial gain and who is under federal investigation for related allegations.

The floor was then turned over to those speaking against. We heard from John Lazar (Ward 2), Dave Donaldson (At-Large), Stanley Mayes (Ward 1), Jim Bubar (At-Large),  Susana Baranano (Ward 2), and Monica Roache (At-Large). The anti remarks were less unified in approach, with some arguing that we should reserve judgment until the federal investigation completes, others arguing that we shouldn’t entertain resolutions against fellow members, one arguing that what Evans did was essentially okay because Councilmember are part-timers, and another arguing that Evans is a good Councilmember and thus deserves support.

Stuart Anderson (Ward 8) seemed to suggest the resolution was tantamount to a declaration of criminal guilt and argued that members should not vote yes or no, but instead abstain.

Chair Charles Wilson had previously committed to a roll call vote and followed through on that commitment. He has since said that the results of that vote will be published on the DC Democratic Party website within a week.

The resolution failed, but the results were stunningly close: 22 voted in favor, 26 voted against, and 10 voted to abstain.

There will no doubt be significant fallout within the DCDSC from this result. I, for one, am ashamed that we embraced a lower ethical standard than two ANCs, a civic association, two party constituent grous, and even the DC Council itself, all of which  passed resolutions, some of which go even further than that proposed by Committeewoman Bowser.

UPDATE: ROLL CALL VOTE LIST

For the resolution

2020 DNC Delegate Selection Plan

After the National Committeeman resolution vote, the committee quickly and unanimously approved the proposed 2020 DNC Delegate Selection Plan. We discussed this in April, and you can read the plan for yourself here.

Ward/Committee Reports

As usual, we closed out the meetings with reports from Ward Democratic organization chairs and committee co-chairs.

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