What Fresh Hell Is This?

April 19, 2009

This Just In...

Via e-mail:
The 14th Ward Independent Democratic Club has endorsed Pittsburgh City Councilman Patrick Dowd for Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh.

All three Democratic mayoral candidates—Dowd, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Carmen Robinson—spoke to club members and answered questions at the club's annual endorsement meeting today at the Schenley Park Ice Skating Rink.
What's this "club" you ask? Here's some info:
The Club, which is not affiliated with the Democratic Committee of Allegheny County, is the oldest independent Democratic club in the country. Its endorsements are printed in a Voters Guide and mailed to likely Democratic voters in the ward. The endorsements are also posted at the club's website.
The rest of the endorsements (Corrected List):

Allegheny County Sheriff

Bill Mullen

City Council

District 8

William Peduto

School Board

District 1

Sharene Shealey

District 5

No Endorsement

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice

Jack Panella

Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge

Anne E. Lazarus

John Younge

Kevin Francis McCarthy

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge

Linda S. Judson

Barbaba Behrend Ernsberger

Court of Common Pleas Judge

Susan Evashavik Dilucente

Joe Williams

Alex Bicket

Hugh Fitzpatrick McGough
Just in...

UPDATE: An astute reader e-mailed me to let me know that the link I provided to the 14th Ward Independent Democratic Club was incorrect (it's correct now) and the list of endorsees was incorrect (that's been corrected too). In my defense, I took everything from the press release sent to me.


Chris said...

Dayvoe -
Thanks very much for posting our endorsements and fixing up our mistakes.
Chris Zurawsky

Pittsburgh Guy said...

You really need to know what the truth is about the 14th Ward Independent Democratic Club. It is actually a very small club with probably only about 15 to 20 active members. The actual total membership is about 75 people, which includes friends and relatives of candidates who join only for the endorsement. The organization cannot even fill it's board posts. The number of people who vote is generally fewer than 50, primarily made up of board members, their relatives forced to go to the meeting, candidates and candidates workers or relatives. It is a fringe group that is very out of touch. Posting their results would be similar to posting a survey of all the people sitting at the bar at the Squirrel Hill Cafe, although the average age of the people at the bar would be at least 25 years younger than the average age of the members of the 14th Ward Independent Democratic Club. Ask Mr. Zurawsky how many people actually voted in this endorsement, how many of those were board members, related to board members or involved in a candidates campaign. Add those numbers together, subtract from the total number of voters and your answer most likely will be zero.

Chris said...

Thanks for the input Pittsburgh Guy. I believe that until very recently, you were a good friend and active member of the club.

Of course, your estimates of club membership, active members and number of people who cast endorsement votes are wildly inaccurate and self-serving.

For those candidates who inquired directly with me about the number of endorsement votes cast, club policy has always been to not report the total numbers. Percentage-wise, our turnout this year compared favorably with average voter turnout in local primary elections as well as with the county Democratic committee endorsement.

Twenty-five candidates spoke at our endorsement meeting this year, including some that Pittsburgh Guy is likely supporting. Those candidates see value in our support, as have hundreds of others who have sought the club's endorsement in its 40-plus years of existence.

A couple of other points:

As in similar organizations, some members may not participate in club activities, but they join simply because they support the club's work;

Again, as with similar organizations, we are always seeking new members. Increasing membership will be a primary club focus in the coming year;

Regarding the demographics of the club's board and membership, I'm proud to work with committed and intelligent progressive Democrats of any age, and I am particularly fond of the people who have devoted so much of themselves over the years to the club. Age is just a number!

And regarding the club's board, 18 of 19 seats are filled. The 19th seat was vacated about a month ago by a board member who resigned due to a personal dispute with a few other club members;

Finally, the club has always generated passionate feelings, especially around contentious races like, say, this year's District 1 school board race. That's a good thing, both for the club's continued health and for the electoral process.

Thanks again,
Chris Zurawsky

Pittsburgh Guy said...

Let's clarify a few issues raised in this most recent comment from Chris. Prove my estimates are "widely inancurate" by publishing the vote totals for each of the offices on the slate. I have counted votes in the past for the Club and I have seen under 30 votes for certain positions. Why won't you as a minimum publish the number of members? It appears that you don't want the public and contributing candidates to know how few people really vote. We know (or at least hope) that you can't have more voters than members. Since I am a member and did not vote, there actually have to be fewer voters than members.

I agree and have published that the organization has endorsed some excellent candidates, but often for the wrong reasons. I am actively supporting many of the organization's endorsed candidates, but that does not mean I agree with the organization's methods. It should be pointed out that members of the organization have tried to politically threaten and intimidate a
School Board candidate. One 14th Ward Independent Democratic Club Board member called the candidate and told her that "she would work to ruin {the candidate} and to make sure {the candidate would} never have a political future". Is this is what the organization stands for?

Finally you don't know the reason why the Board member resigned. You have never discussed the reason with the former board member. I can assure you that it was not as a result of a "personal" dispute as you allege.

The other points you raise are valid and well thought out. As a member of the organization I am extremely disappointed and embarassed by the actions of certain Board Members (not including Mr. Zurawsky, who in my opinion is an intelligent, insightful and well meaning person)and their actions have stamped the 14th Ward Independent Democratic Club for what it has apparently become: Swift Boaters in the rivers of the Good Ship Lolipop.

Finally, I have no problem if a candidate I support loses an endorsement election. It has happened many times before, but when the leadership of the organization goes on a witch hunt with threats and rumors simply because of the color of the candidate's skin, this is appalling and must be pointed out. One would think that a long standing independent democratic organization would stand for just the opposite.