By Marc Campos

A Bigger Boat, Save The Caucuses!

“We’re going to need a bigger boat!” The Dem Prez sweepstakes aren’t going away anytime soon so the interest level in the Lone Star State will continue. To those Dem leaders that are planning and conducting the March 29 Senatorial and County Dem Conventions – BE PREPARED! Expect ALL of the delegates and some of the alternates to show up. Make sure you have a room that can comfortably seat everyone. Make sure you have plenty of parking. Have a good sound system. Have committee rooms that can also accommodate spectators. Have plenty of volunteers to sign folks up quickly. Have good signage. Make sure folks have access to good grub and soft drinks. PLEASE explain to folks what is going on.

Most of the Dem delegates that will attend the March 29 Dem conventions don’t really know what to expect. They are kind of first timers, so please be patient and let them know about the processes like the precinct caucuses to elect state delegates, the nominations committee responsibilities, credential committee and challenges work, and how to handle resolutions.

At our precinct convention as we were selecting the delegates, some of the selected delegates came up to Commentary to ask what to expect at the senatorial/county convention – how long would it last, what would we do, would we be debating things, would they need to take a lunch – you get the picture.

For the most part, a whole lot of the folks that attended the precinct conventions pretty much understood why we were so unprepared and they have for the most part forgiven the Dem Party officials. They won’t be as forgiving if we don’t have our act together on March 29. We have 24 days to prepare!

It would probably be a good idea for the Senatorial/County Dem leaders to start meeting and planning and also include the Senatorial/County leaders of both Prez campaigns – just so everybody is operating off of the same page or playbook.

On the subject of keeping the two tier, two step, hybrid, two timing Lone Star State Dem Prez selection process – Commentary votes to keep. Of course we need to fix up the process some and do a better job of educating folks. In the case of 2008, a lot of folks showed up to the Hillary/Obama training camps and learned the basics on how to organize in campaigns and politics. Heck, some of them ended up running the precinct conventions. Where else would they have learned? In a straight primary, folks show up to vote then go home and watch “Boston Legal.” This time around I got to see the faces of 385 Dem neighbors that give a rats arse about the old U.S. of A.

So it does still mater, in fact, at the Lone Star State Dem Convention in Austin in June, the delegates get to select three more of those dreaded Super Duper Dem Delegates. So presumably if one campaign controls the committee and the total delegates on the floor, they can pick the three Super Duper Dem Delegates for them – how’s that?

Meanwhile, Obama now says he’s ready to start loading up with the kitchen sink arsenal. I wonder how he will be perceived if he now starts launching missiles at Hillary?

Speaking of, Obama really outspent Hillary on the airwaves here like three to one. Let the campaigns go forward!

Here are more Dem Precinct Convention takes: I was a Precinct Captain for District 617 on behalf of Hillary last night in Katy, TX. When I arrived at the precinct I went in and asked for the Precinct Judge. At that time I requested the envelope and he indicated that he was the Temporary Chair and that he would call the Convention to order once the polls closed. He also said that he was an impartial party which led me to believe that he was a Republican Judge. Later in the evening I was told by the one of the Obama people that the Judge voted for Obama. In addition, one of the other Hillary volunteers overheard the Precinct Judge giving the Obama people his phone number. I have never seen such mass confusion or should I say bedlam. Hillary’s team only had 3 precinct representatives at the Convention. There were a total of 502 participants, 399 for Obama and 102 or Hillary. We were truly outnumbered and overrun by the Obama people. In addition, we were unable to obtain a nomination for either the Chair or Secretary Positions. The signatures were not verified by the Precinct Rolls. We mentioned this to the Precinct Chair and Secretary and they said that the signatures would be verified and that they were loose numbers. We didn’t leave the Precinct until after Midnight but I would have stayed all night if necessary to verify those votes. We only ended up with 7 Delegates to Obama’s 25. We made sure that they could not add any more signatures. However after sleeping on this I started wondering if all of those Obama people were truly Precinct members. The whole process seemed to be fixed or premeditated. What can we do to make sure that these signatures are compared against the Precinct Rolls and that Hillary gets a fair shake? Because of this situation our win in Texas was bitter sweet. I truly don’t think that the Obama people are playing fair ball. Let’s stop these people!!!!! The system is definitely not working, it’s broken and I’m not sure if it can be fixed. What ever happened to the good old fashioned popular vote? Thank you. (Celine J.)

Precinct convention - 297 – Sharpstown: Hi Uncle Marc, I attended my precinct convention last night and it was very unorganized but I took charge and got us through it. The last person voted around 8:15 pm. There were two precincts convening at my polling place - #297 and #507. There were about 250 people waiting in line outside the polling place waiting for both conventions to begin. I took control of the precinct package because everyone there was clueless and never had been to a precinct convention before. Luckily I had volunteered to be a precinct captain for Hillary and went to a meeting last week at Hillary’s headquarters on Broadway that informed me how to take charge of the precinct convention. Many people were upset and angry because they were waiting outside in the cold and the sign in process was going slow. We had everyone sign in, but we quickly ran out of official forms, so we used some blank paper for everyone to sign in. I called you and was glad to find out that everyone could leave after they signed in unless they wanted to be a delegate. We were in a small meeting room that only held 40 people max . I read up on the Precinct 101 Rules in the packet and after everyone signed, we only had 28 people remain to stay for the caucus meeting, which began at 9pm. I led the meeting and we elected a precinct chair and a secretary. We made our calculations, chose our delegates, then called in our results. We were done at 10pm. We also helped out the precinct chair #507 with their caucus. Precinct 297 has 15 delegates – 9 Obama and 6 Hillary Clinton (My friend Rodrigo Canedo and I are Hillary delegates) We had 116 people sign up in our precinct.

Precinct 507 has 16 delegates – 9 Hillary Clinton and 7 Obama (This precinct has mostly Vietnamese and Asians) It was a good experience and my first time to attend my precinct convention. A small group of us stayed to the end and really banded together to make it work. (Cristina Lafuente)

Last night I was elected to chair Pct. 200 caucus located at the W. Gray Multi Service Center. i did not go to the caucus with the intention of serving as chair, but after volunteering first as doorman, then assisting at the sign in table to help speed up the process, I pledged to my neighbors that I would get things done quickly and fairly. Outcome: 245 delegates signed in with 127 for Obama and 117 for Clinton. a few thoughts from the process: before attending last night, I was one of the one's calling for an end to the caucus, but after I got home last night, I couldn’t stop the excitement felt from that evening's activities. First, what a great way to have neighbors interacting with each other. My old boss, former HPD Officer and now candidate for Harris County Sheriff, Houston Mayor Pro Tem Adrian Garcia would say about National Night Out, no better way to have a safe neighborhood than neighbors knowing neighbors. Wow, last night's caucus was the biggest National Night Out ever. Yes, it took almost two hours just to get everyone signed in, but once we got that out of the way, it was kinda fun to see the room split in two and left with the one undeclared. We got to taste a little bit of what Iowa does every four years. So, although it was a tiring process, let's not get rid of the Caucus. Please do tweak the rules to allow for more efficiency, just as Senator Rodney Ellis has suggested allowing for the sign-in process to begin earlier. The sign-in process should not be the longest part of the evening. In Pct. 200, everything we did had input from both campaigns. from all the volunteers including precinct chair Marianna Cline, Clinton loyalist Daniel Shea, Obama loyalist John Stiles to our caucus secretary and young Dem Roaxana Prunty, a big thank you to all for your hard work and dedication. Last night was a great night to be an American. (C. Giovanni Garibay Caucus Chair - Pct 200 Harris County)

Precinct 360 Caucus: The caucus took place at the Marriott Residence Inn on Westpark. Three precincts had their caucuses there, a mistake of consolidation that hopefully won't happen again. Hundreds of people were there, with the parking lot completely jammed and a major crowd scene inside. My precinct had about 250 or so people (my estimate, don't know the actual number) show up for the caucus. We all had to go outside because of fire code concerns, except for some elderly people who stayed inside. We waited for quite some time, and it was obvious that the people who were running the caucus were overwhelmed. I'm not criticizing them, this was unprecedented. By way of comparison, I went to the 2004 caucus, which only 3 people attended, 2 of whom were me and my wife. There was a lot of confusion and conflicting information about whether people could sign and leave, or had to stay. Eventually, around 7:45, people started signing in, but there was controversy because in an attempt to get things going, some sheets were brought outside and people were signing them basically on an honor system as to ID verification. They did check all the sign-in sheets vs. the voter lists, so I suspect no shenanigans happened, but there were some complaints about that attempt to make things move faster. I got to sign in around 8:15, and did so inside the hotel. By that point, people were able to come in. Despite all the confusion, people were generally nice and civil. A tourist from somewhere in the Midwest (I think) staying at the hotel brought a bottle or two of wine downstairs, which she shared with various people, including me. She said this was all fascinating and entertaining, but in any case she was a Republican and planned on voting for McCain. Anecdotally, there were 2 people there who were Republicans (1 said so, and the other I know from elsewhere and I'm 90% sure he's a Republican) who were caucusing for Obama, but they weren't trying to mess with the results, they generally liked him and wanted him to be President. Around 9pm the votes were tallied and the delegates selected. Obama got 15 delegates and Clinton got 10 delegates. I didn't sign up to be a delegate because I have other plans that weekend, and I've helped out the Clinton campaign in other ways. All and all I'm glad I went, but I think the caucus system needs to be abolished and we should just go with simple primaries in Texas. With Regards, (Mark R. Yzaguirre).

Every now and then, Commentary has to admit when he was wrong. It doesn’t look like the Rockets are finished.

If Florida Dems redo their primary, I vote for Saturday, June 21. That way I can fly out to Tampa Bay, sneak in a vote, then catch a couple of ‘Stros versus Rays games while I’m out there. Let’s play ball and vote!

March 6, 2008 9:00AM

Daily Commentary