GENERAL MEETING MINUTES
Wednesday, August 15, 2018, 7-8:20pm
Nikil Saval called the meeting to order at 7:03pm.
Minutes from the July 9 General Meeting were approved.
Nikil spoke about his vision for our organization for this fall and beyond, citing our shared commitment to creating an open Ward, both internally in reference to organizational transparency and externally in reference to our relationship to our constituents. He laid out our main goals for the fall as follows: to drive Democratic turnout in our Ward to ensure that we re-elect Governor Wolf and Senator Casey as a bulwark against the destructive policies of the presidential administration, to rebuild the relationship between the 2nd Ward Democratic Executive Committee and our constituency, to develop leadership within our ranks, and – as articulated in the preamble to our draft bylaws – to lift up voices our Philadelphians that might not otherwise be heard.
Nikil then welcomed questions from the committee.
Josh Herren spoke about the tension between using his platform as committee person to advance his personal political vision versus serving as a megaphone for his constituents. Fern Lore asked about handling constituent concerns about parking. The led to a discussion about developing a guide to constituent services to be posted on our website.
Update on 175th State Representative race
Nikil summarized the situation in the 175th State Representative District in July when Representative Mike O’Brien withdrew from the ballot and was replaced with Mary Isaacson after a 4-1 vote in favor of her appointment by the five Ward leaders (Nikil abstained from the vote) whose Wards fall partially or wholly within the 175th District. The Ward leader vote to replace O’Brien was held less than a week after he filed his withdrawal papers and many committee people throughout the 175th District were disturbed by the rushed process that did not allow for input from committee people or their constituencies.
Amy Donnella then summarized the actions of the subset of 2nd Ward committee people whose Divisions fall within the 175th District. In the short time between Representative O’Brien’s withdrawal from the race (Tuesday 7/17) and the meeting at which Mary Isaacson was nominated by the Ward leaders (Monday 7/23), they organized a meeting within our Ward (Sunday 7/22) at which Isaacson, Jeff Dempsey, and Neil Makhija (the latter two having reached out directly to Nikil) appeared as candidates for the nomination. Each candidate gave a brief statement and answered questions from the committee people before the committee people met in private to discuss further. They agreed that Nikil should first seek to delay the nomination to allow for more input into the process by committee people and the general public, and second that, absent an majority preference for a candidate among the affected 2nd Ward committee people, he should abstain from casting a nominating vote. Nikil acted according to this agreement at the nominating meeting.
A discussion followed about how to push change at the City Committee level to avoid similar incidents in the future. Gloria Gilman proposed that we begin tracking changes that we would like to see made to the City Committee Bylaws. Ali Perelman pointed out that the Bylaw that put the decision about who would replace O’Brien on the ballot solely in the hands of Ward leaders was a 2014 revision that we not properly ratified and that a challenge to Isaacson’s nomination could force the City Committee to engage in a public process of revising their Bylaws. Amy Donnella expressed the desire to spend more time building consensus among Wards before challenging the City Committee or taking concerns directly to the State Committee. The discussion was then tabled for a later meeting.
George Donnelly reported that our PAC is nearly registered and that he and Dermot Delude-Dix are now accepting contributions. All 2nd Ward committee people are encouraged to contribute $25 (or whatever you can afford) to an initial seed fund.
George also announced the formation of a Fundraising working group, first meeting to be held soon. The hope is to build a war chest this fall for the 2019 elections.
Kelly Morton outlined our fall GOTV plans: starting Labor Day weekend, there will be canvassing shifts every weekend until the election and all committee people are asked to do five shifts and sign up two volunteers. She asked everyone to think about what is at stake for you in this election (she cited education funding, reproductive rights, and countering the bigotry of some of our elected officials as her primary concerns), to let your hopes and concerns motivate and inform our conversations with our neighbors, and to ask our neighbors the same question. She explained that there will be five canvassing sub-leaders throughout the Ward who will be contacting each committee people so schedule canvasses and gathering data on our canvassing progress.
Richard Kiniry asked whether canvassing scripts will be provided and Kelly said yes.
Ben Block asked what to do with contact information from people who want to help volunteer. Kelly said to report all potential volunteers to your sub-leader.
Lizzie Rothwell provided some initial visuals from the website, which will go live in the next week. We will also be ramping up our social media engagement efforts this fall and anyone interested in contributing to that effort is encouraged to attend our next Communications working group meeting.
Nikil stated that the efforts of the Bylaws working group are still underway, but to give all committee people adequate time to review the proposed Bylaws while not interfering with our GOTV efforts, all votes on the Bylaws will take place after the General Election. In the meantime, everyone is encouraged to review the working document.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:20pm.