|May 10, 2007||Posted by insider under Civic Engagement, Endorsements, Pittsburgh, Politics|
An opinion piece in today’s Post-Gazette touts the “new” Democratic Party in Allegheny County. However, this piece is written by the most biased of parties, the Party Chairman himself, Jim Burn. Granted Burn put himself forth as a reform candidate when he ran for County Chair, at least when he met with several young committee people last spring, but dismantling the unacknowledged machine was not part of his agenda. Burn clearly stated that he would perpetuate the endorsement process and maintain, if not strengthen, rules punishing committee people for supporting unendorsed candidates. If the endorsement is not the gears of the machine, then what is?
Secondly, Burn has not done what he said he would do to reform the local Party by holding a bylaws convention. In fact, a meeting to this effect was held with little notice and thus did not receive the participation required to have a quorum. Despite this failed meeting, rumor has it that revised bylaws have been put forth by the Chairman as established although the convention did not occur and the revisions can be attributed to him alone.
Communication and reaching out to people is not something the Party has done well. That fits well with the idea that keeping the masses ignorant strengthens those in power. Committee people are not educated as to what their roles and responsibilities are and they are seldom communicated with by the Party. There are rare cases of active Ward Chairs that hold regular meetings and take it upon themselves to regularly communicate with their committee people. Then there’s the issue of technology- it would be nice if the committee would embrace it but the average age is pretty high.
Finally, the machine seems to be as strong as ever. Those working in or with government can tell you how the simplest things can get tied up in political maneuvering. Communities are suffering because elected officials are too busy playing childish games to put citizens’ interest first. Communities are suffering because elected officials are too busy pandering to their puppet masters to do what is best for local residents. This is a machine, designed to continually build its own power at the expense of citizen participation and community revitalization. How can we get beyond the PR to real reform?