Legally Speaking With Pamela Price

Pamela Y. Price, Attorney at Law

Tag: John Vasconcellos

The Politics of Trust-Part 2

In December 2016, as I prepared to take my seat as an elected member of the Alameda County Central Committee, I expressed my intention to serve based on the inspiring messages from “the Politics of Trust.”  Fast forward to June 2017. The California Democratic Party is experiencing a “Politics of Trust” moment as the battle for Chair of the Party continues.

The Audit & the Challenges

Joey Smith, Kimberly Ellis, Pamela Price (2016 CDP Convention)

On May 22, 2017, a small crew of folks gathered in the office of the California Democratic Party. We were there to start an “audit” of the ballots cast in the CDP elections. I served that first day as a legal observer on behalf of the Kimberly Ellis campaign. Others also stepped up that day and later in the week to support Kimberly’s effort to ensure fairness and transparency in our election.

Everyone should support that effort. Fair (open and free) elections are supposed to be the hallmark of a democratic society. Without getting into specifics, the questions for our CDP elections is both how the votes were cast and who actually voted. These questions have also prompted challenges in two other Officer positions and a majority of the Regional Director positions.

The CDP bylaws provide for a challenge based on a violation of the CDP bylaws. The CDP’s Compliance Review Commission has six (6) members. This Commission has the power and authority to take such actions as are necessary to provide a fair and just remedy including, but not limited to, the holding of new elections.

The Ellis challenge is firmly grounded in a tradition of democratic demands for election fairness. I learned “election protection” firsthand in 2008 when along with thousands of lawyers, I volunteered to observe the presidential election.  Because Barack Obama’s candidacy was so earth-shaking, many people feared the election would be stolen away. Lawyers from everywhere traveled thousands of miles to cover the entire country. We were there to ensure fairness and transparency.

Fairness & Transparency in Elections

Long before Barack Obama, however, “outsiders” learned that having eyes on the process makes it harder to hide election fraud. His adopted hometown, Chicago, is the perfect tale of election fraud and election reform. The famous Chicago political machine engaged in every form of trickery from 1928 until the 1980s. In 1983, Mayor Harold Washington created the city’s first Freedom of Information law, allowing journalists and others to obtain and analyze election records.

As one writer points out, our electoral system is widely viewed as an anomaly in the western world today because of persistent problems, such as reliability of voting machines; frequent bureaucratic incompetence; the lack of uniform standards from state to state, or even county to county; the systematic exclusion of millions of formerly incarcerated citizens; and the tendency of election officials to adopt rules that benefit their party over democracy itself.

These problems are rooted in a political system designed to guarantee rich White male supremacy. Women, Black people and poor White men were intentionally excluded from the right to vote from the beginning. As a result, our history has been about some of us fighting to overcome ingrained privilege while others fight to preserve it. Furthermore, it seems as long as we struggle to infuse the political system with integrity, it gives free reign to people who plan to cheat and unfairly influence the process. I suspect that California State Senator John Vasconcellos was right that we have to change the basic calculus of politics.

The Politics of Trust

This is a large moment in history for the California Democratic Party.  The headquarters in Sacramento is dedicated to working people in California. The walls are decorated with commemorations to the lives and legacy of Congressman Phil Burton and his wife, Sala Galante Burton. Notably, Sala’s perspective seems especially relevant in this moment. According to Sala, “politics is everybody’s business. The air you breathe is political—it isn’t just a game for certain people. We must all be vigilant in terms of whom we elect to office, vigilant in terms of our civil rights and liberties.”

Credit: LA Times

I’m sure Sala Burton is smiling down on Kimberly Ellis and thanking her and her supporters for their vigilant demand for fairness and transparency in this election. After all, the CDP is the largest state democratic party in the country.

 

If the Compliance Review Commission does not pull out all the stops to benefit democracy over intra-party loyalty, it will be exposed for all to see. All eyes are watching. Hopefully, these Commission members appreciate their singular role in resolving not only the challenges, but also restoring trust in the process. I hope they are people of courage and integrity. “The Politics of Trust is demanding more and better from each and all of us.”* #StayWoke!

*   Taken from www.politicsoftrust.net (Accessed 12/2/14)

The Politics of Trust

  On Wednesday, January 4, 2017, I will be sworn in as an elected member of the Alameda County Democratic Party Central Committee.  It is an event and an honor that I do not take lightly. I ran for election earlier this year with a promise to bring “a new voice” to the Committee.  To take a seat “at the table” to represent the interests of the people over my own.  I was elected by a landslide with more than 36,000 votes.  The people’s voice demanded to be heard.

 

I take my seat at the table at a moment when progressives are determined to define the Party.  The election of Trump means we cannot go on like “business as usual.”  I take the oath of office mindful of the trust that my community has expressed in me and my leadership.  I intend to serve based on a vision of positive political change called “the Politics of Trust.”

Vasconcellos Legacy Project

In 2002, former California State Senator John Vasconcellos founded the Vasconcellos Legacy Project in Silicon Valley.  He passed away in 2014 before I had a chance to meet him.  His last mission in life was to establish “the Politics of Trust.”  The concern was that our divisive, dysfunctional politics is based on conflict and hostility.  “The traditional view that we humans are inherently evil spreads poison throughout all our politics . . . leaving us with a crippled stunted politics that no longer responds to the will of our people, and politicians who serve primarily themselves.”*  “The Politics of Trust is demanding more and better from each and all of us.”*

* Quotes taken from www.politicsoftrust.net (Accessed 12/2/14)

What We Must Do Now

I believe in the power of the people to effect positive political change.  We must strive to achieve “a new politics, based on our highest aspirations and a new, healing vision.”* In the era of Trump, we have no choice but to reject the old ways of politics and move forward to heal our nation.  In the words of my mentor, Howard Moore, Jr. we have to “organize and fight as we have never fought before to hold this evil at bay over the next two years until the 2018 elections and defeat and remove it from power in 2020.”  I look forward to working with you and all freedom-loving people in my new role. A Luta Continua!

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