Saturday, February 25, 2006

YDA Philly meeting

One word can sum up Philly....BRRRRRRR! It was frigging COLD! As in, it didn't get above freezing the whole weekend. Didn't help that the zipper on my jacket broke which resulted in me being chilled to the bone and catching a cold. Oh well, it was worth it. As usual, the meeting was a good time and seeing my friends from across the country was fantastic.

One innovation I've decided to implement as National Committeeman is to report to YDG members about the meetings. Some people think it's just a free vacation every 3-4 months. Au contraire...things actually do happen, and the between meeting works is also quite involved. Conference calls galore, mass emails, etc.

Attending from Georgia were: myself, Flora Brooke Hesse (National Committeewoman), Billy Joyner (President), Kirk Miller (YDA Rules Chair), and Kyle Bailey (Stonewall Caucus chair). Kirk shepherded through some technical amendments to the YDA charter. The substantive changes created a YDA High School Caucus and a YDA College Caucus, and severed the ties between the College Democrats of America and YDA. The new caucuses elected officers during the meeting.

The National Committee voted to creat a non-voting Jewish Caucus and approved the appointment of an Organizing Director of YDA. A funny thing about the Organizing Director vote: I was th sole "no" vote. I had no idea that I would be the sole "no", so I loudly and clearly said, "Nay!" when the time came. Brooke, Billy and Kirk were horrified, yet terribly amused. This was a girl who was particularly nasty about Brooke's loss in the YDA Secretary's race to Rob Dolin. I like Rob, and we've definitely moved past any bitterness from the campaign. When she was nominated to replace Robert Hooks of Mississippi, I knew she'd be confirmed. She's done a decent job as "acting". Still, for me, it was one last slap for Brooke from San Francisco. Turns out I wasn't particularly alone in my sentiment to vote no, but I'm the only one who actually did so. The funny thing was that the girl in question blamed KIRK for "making" me vote no so the record wouldn't reflect a unanimous yes vote. I guess that's part of being known as "the new Kirk Miller". And personally, there are many things MUCH worse than to be known as "the new Kirk Miller." In many ways, it's a compliment!

Another funny thing about the Jewish Caucus vote was Kirk's principled stand against forming new caucuses of any kind. It's a principle I understand, although I think caucuses have their purpose. All weekend, I was leaning against voting for the caucus even though I knew it could paint me with the same anti-Semite brush that people tried to paint Kirk with. I couldn't get anyone to tell me WHY there was a need for a Jewish Caucus, and whether or not it would open the door for religion-based caucuses of all sorts...Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Atheist, etc. I can just imagine having a Muslim caucus diametrically opposed to the Jewish Caucus. Oy vey! At the committee meeting though, I finally saw literature explaining why they needed a caucus. It goes beyond just advocating for Israel. It's also an anti-GOP thing since the GOP is really pushing to get Jewish voters. Having an official liaison to the Jewish community could be important to keeping Jewish voters.

For me, caucuses are about educating other democrats. I do count on the women, minority, labor, rural, and even disability caucuses to keep me honest. I'm a gay white dude from the South...there are plenty of things I don't know or understand. But being a Democrat means I am open and willing to learn about them and hear others out with a mind at being as inclusive as possible. I do think the explosion of caucuses recently is not the best idea, and I hope it's over. I'll be likely to join Kirk in saying "NO MORE" if people keep trying to add new caucuses, especially those that are single issue.

Anyway, the notion that anyone could say Kirk or Billy are anti-Semites is hilarious. Kirk's blog actually lists some of his Jewish connections, not the least of which is State Rep. Mike Jacobs. Billy ran his campaign for crying out loud and is his legislative aide! Of course, Mike does love pork BBQ, so he's not exactly Kosher, but he and his gorgeous wife are definitely good Jews otherwise. You can't be anti-Jew and a Democrat in Georgia. You'd be run out of the state on a rail...or told to join the GOP.

The National Committee also voted to direct the President and International Affairs Liaison of YDA to apply for candidate membership in the International Federation of Liberal Youth ( There's supposed to be a meeting of the group in Canada this summer, but it looks like it might conflict with the next YDA meeting. We'll see.

Flora Brooke, in her role as YDA Congressional Liaison, hosted a well-received forum with Patrick Murphy who is a congressional candidate in the 8th district in PA. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and spoke about running for congress as a young person and about his experiences inIraq. She impressed him so much, that he offered her a job. Fortunately for us in Georgia, she declined.

A tentative timeline has been set by the Campaign Committee for states to provide information to YDA to help determine where campaign funds will go. In December, YDA committed to funding 10 State Directors and 5 Peer-to-Peer campaigns for the 2006 elections. Georgia was one of the states to complete its assessment, so we are still in the running for campaign funds. We will work with Billy to get the necessary information into the National Office so that Georgia will be as competitive as anyone in getting these investments. It helps that Billy is the Vice Chair of this committee and I am the Southeast Regional Representative. Speaking of which, I was told by the Northeast Region director that people were disapproving of the fact that Georgia has 2 of 11 voting members on the Campaign Committee. Well, boo hoo. I see myself as a Southern advocate in general. As a red region, we're likely to be ignored in sending out campaign resources without good representation. Georgia's worked its ass off, so having two slots on a committee just shows we did our homework well.

There are two bids for the 2007 National Convention. For those who went to San Francisco this past August, you know what a great time the national convention can be. Denver and Dallas are the two cities bidding. Georgia will work with our sister states in the Southeast Region to make sure that the strongest bid gets our votes. There are political as well as financial considerations to this decision. We'll see how it goes. I know that there is no definitive favorite at this point.
The next YDA meeting will be in early June (exact dates have not been set), but the location is going to be Las Vegas! You don’t have to be a voting member of the National Committee to attend YDA meetings, so when the dates come out, we’ll announce them, and anyone who wants to go is welcome. You will be responsible for your own expenses, however. I hope we can get a nice turnout.

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