2004 Year-End Report 5th Congressional District Green Party
January 23, 2005
- Darrell Gerber, Chair (January Term)
- Lisa Boyd, Treasure (January Term)
- Tamir Nolley (January Term)
- Stephen Eisenmenger (July Term)
- Tom Lee (July Term)
- Annie Young (Partial Term)
I. Improved meeting structure
The structure of most of the membership meetings over the past year was changed to include more time for non-business items. The meetings started with an hour dedicated to historical or educational topics. After the business meeting an hour would be held for discussion about various immediately relevant topics of interest to members. The July meeting was also held outdoors in conjunction with a softball game and a picnic.
II. Staggered Steering Committee Terms
One of toughest times facing a Steering Committee member is at the beginning of their term. With a complete or nearly complete turn-over of members each year there is little experience in place to guide the new members in fulfilling their roles on the Steering Committee. To address this problem, the By- Laws were modified such that the terms of the Steering Committee members are staggered by six months. Up to four members will be elected each January while up to three members will be elected each July. Steering Committee members Stephen Eisenmenger and Tom Lee were selected this past July as the first to fill the staggered terms.
III. Screening and Endorsing
A detailed Screening and Endorsing process was created and approved by the membership after considerable feedback and work over the March and April membership meetings. A Screening Committee was elected in March 2004. Six candidates were screened by the committee prior to the Endorsing Convention held on May 8, 2004. Becki Smith was endorsed in her race for the MN House seat for District 59A. Tom Taylor was endorsed for his race for the MN House seat for District 59B. Jay Pond was endorsed for his race for the US House seat for the 5th District. Two people ran for endorsement in the Minneapolis School Board race but neither received enough votes to receive the Green Party endorsement.
IV. Events Committee
The 5CDGP further expanded its presence at events in the area this year. The traditional presence of the Green Party was continued at Juneteenth, Gay PRIDE, and Mayday. The party supported Tom Taylor's contingent in the Northeast Parade with a number of marchers. Tabling was also done at an Ani Difranco concert at the U of M and at a community fair at McRae Park. The 5CDGP also had a prominent presence at the Green Party presidential debate and David Cobb's return visit in September. The 5CDGP helped the GPMN at the State Fair by handling organizing the volunteers for three-days at their table. The store of supplies available to support tabling an event was greatly increased though purchases and donations. Construction of a portable tabling kit has been started. This kit will enable someone to transport everything needed for a small event by bicycle.
V. Support of Campaigns
The campaigns for races in 2004 within the 5CD boundaries were supported in two primary ways. The 5CDGP coordinated with the GPMN and the Women's Circle to run ads in several local newspapers. The 5CDGP also gave each candidate data from our database of all our contacts and those residing in the candidate's district. We have received back updates on this information from the candidates as well as new contacts they made during their campaign.
VI. Elected and appointed Officeholders
The Steering Committee and other Green Party members lobbied the City Council concerning their vote in support of the 35W expansion project at Lake Street. Natalie Johnson Lee was helpful in convincing two other council members to vote against the project. The Steering Committee was also asked by members to look into a zoning vote by Dean Zimmerman involving development by Basim Sabri, then still under indictment for bribery. We found nothing of concern in Dean's actions and reasoning surrounding the vote. A controversy has recently appeared concerning Natalie Johnson Lee after a letter was printed in the Pioneer Press by Rev. Battle implying that Natalie supports an amendment banning gay marriage. Initially, this appears to an incorrect statement by Rev. Battle. A meeting is scheduled soon to discuss this with Natalie directly.
VII. Support of other Efforts
F.R.E.E. – Gave them $250 to support the redistricting lawsuit. This was a push in the last fundraising effort. The lawsuit was rejected by the courts later in the year, though. Bus Strike Wrote a press release supporting the strikers upon completion of the contract agreement. A food drive for the union food bank was held at a membership meeting. Donated food was given to the Sabathani Food Bank, instead, after the union did not return calls to arrange delivery for several months.
GPMN – The Green Party of Minnesota has been suffering considerable financial difficulties through the past year. The 5CDGP has donated money to the state party as well as taken up some of the burden of funding and organizing local events traditionally handled by the GPMN. The GPMN has been promised 25% of the donations generated by the current 5CDGP fundraising effort up until March 2005.
Grants to National Delegates Grants were made to reimburse delegates from the 5CD region attending the national Green Party convention in Milwaukee. Only two members took advantage of the offer.
One of the chief difficulties with the database has been the need to have multiple copies available for everyone with access to the information. Eric Makela has been working on web based version to eliminate this problem. This will allow those using the database to remotely access a server. A computer has been procured to act as the server and software installed. This should be available for use in the near future.
IX. Information Technology
The web page for the 5th Congressional District Green Party was significantly upgraded. Ashley James is acting as the web master adding a considerable amount of information to help direct people to become more involved with the 5CDGP local and to provide easier access to important documents (e.g. the By-Laws). The web address was changed to 5cd.mngreens.org to provide a more memorable address to advertise. An announcements-only listserv was added at the request of several members who are interested in hearing about event notifications but do not want to wade through the volume of email generated on the discussion lists.
X. Strategic Planning
The 5CDGP continued the work started last year on creating a Strategic Plan. A meeting was recently held where members were called upon to discuss and vote upon the goals previously identified. This prioritization will be used by the Strategic Planning Committee to formulate a forward-looking strategic plan for meeting the important goals for the 5th Congressional District Green Party.
A fundraising committee was established towards the end of the year. The committee has mailed out fundraising letters and started making phone calls. A goal has been set to increase the monthly direct deposit contributions to $1000/mo from the current level of $200/mo.
XII. Submitted proposal for volunteerism and civic participation class
A proposal has recently been submitted to students in a `Volunteerism and Civic Participation' class at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. If selected by the students, the GPMN and 5CDGP will receive evaluation and recommendations for improving the recruiting and use of volunteers in the organizations.
XIII. Public Communication
Several press releases were written the past year. They included one supporting Minneapolis City Council members who voted against the 35W expansion project at Lake Street. Press releases were also sent relaying the results of the Endorsing Convention and in support of the striking bus drivers.
XIV. Election night party
The 5CDGP held an election night party in conjunction with Tom Taylor's campaign party in the California Building.
XV. Office Space
We have investigated sharing office space with the GPMN. The office space rented by Becki Smith's campaign was looked into but no decision was made at this time to pursue this any further. The 5CDGP does not currently have the finances available to enter into a long term commitment (rent at Becki's space was over $1000 per month) plus the GPMN can not leave their current lease prior to May 2005. The focus on the fundraising drive this year has been to increase the donations through direct deposit to enable us to enter into more long term commitments later.
Lessons Learned and Difficulties
I. Difficulty recruiting volunteers
We found it difficult to recruit volunteers at times. This was particularly true for more long term commitments. We often found ourselves competing with local and national campaigns for volunteers
II. Small Steering Committee
The full contingent of Steering Committee members (seven) was never in place. There were only 4 members during the first half of year. Two more were elected in July but another member resigned a few months later. This necessitated several of the members taking on multiple time consuming tasks.
III. Some Working Groups are no long active
The following working groups are no long active and not providing support to the Steering Committee:
- Green Public Policy Committee
- IRV & PR Committee
- Minneapolis Redistricting Task Force (no longer needed since the lawsuit has been heard and struck down but was not active at all this year)
IV. Fundraising Effort
The effort required to send out the fundraising letters was underestimated leading to a delay in their mailing. Difficulty in finding and utilizing volunteers also contributed to delays.
Suggestions for the Future
I. Distribute Steering Committee responsibilities
The responsibilities should be split up better among a full contingent of Steering Committee members. This can be coupled with each member forming and leading a committee of members to support them in the work. This would help equalize the amount of work done by Steering Committee members and make sure that less visible areas are not neglected.
II. Translate literature into other languages
The new literature is in a form to be translated into various languages but this has not been done. This should be done to help make inroads into various immigrant communities.
III. Improve the volunteer recruitment and management
A committee should be formed to work on recruitment and management of volunteers. There are volunteers out there and tasks for them to do but the Steering Committee has not had time to spend on this important function.
IV. Improve community outreach
Community outreach efforts should be expanded beyond tabling at events. Some visits to schools were made at the request of the GPMN and has proven fruitful. This, and other, outreach efforts should be expanded.
V. Improve candidate recruitment and training
The expertise in the party should be better utilized to develop new Green Party candidates. Young candidates should also be encouraged and supported. A committee should be formed to maintain institutional knowledge about running Green campaigns and to perform training functions.
VI. Diversify fundraising
Fundraising efforts need to be expanded beyond mailing letters once a year and passing the hat at meetings. A robust fundraising campaign needs to be in place to enable the party to perform public outreach, support endorsed candidates, and respond to the ever changing political environment.
VII. Issue Committees
Formation of issue committees should be fostered to facilitate active participation of party members in political action. This would also provide a way to provide the party with timely information as well as act as a source for knowledge to aid in public actions. The issue committees can also work to form coalitions.
VIII. Improve the Screening and Endorsing Process
The Screening and Endorsing Process approved by the membership needs further refinement and updating to reflect lessons learned last year and to improve known weaknesses.
IX. Start planning membership meetings further ahead of time
The most common difficulty encountered with planning membership meetings was finding a location. Attempts were made to diversify the locations used and to expand into the suburbs, but locations were unavailable. Reformation and more active participation in a Meetings Committee would be helpful. The Steering Committee should plan out a years worth of meeting schedules and let the Meeting Committee begin early planning and coordinating them.
X. Create and manage a Coordinated Campaign Committee
The effectiveness of overlapping Green Party campaigns will be greatly improved by coordination of phone banking, door knocking, and lit dropping efforts. In the past two campaign seasons the campaigns have organized coordination on their own initiative. Organization and support by the party in this effort would result in more consistent and effective local campaigns.
XI. Improve involvement in suburban areas of the 5th District
The 5CDGP tried to hold meetings in St. Louis Park and St. Anthony but were not able to find a meeting location. There are not as many locations available in many suburban cities as in Minneapolis so they fill up sooner. Other avenues to increasing membership from suburban areas should also be undertaken.
XII. Funding of the GPMN
The GPMN is working on a plan to transfer much of the fundraising effort from the GPMN to all of the locals. This will add an increased burden on the 5CDGP to not only meet the needs of the local but to also cover a significant portion of the needs of the GPMN. The Steering Committee needs to stay on top of this and ensure that a fair and efficient process is agreed upon.