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Strict Male-Female Delegate Assignments Challenged After District Caucuses

Male delegate proposes change to state party rules.

By Josh Feit April 25, 2016

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 1. Fifty-fifty gender balance is a governing principle for the Washington State Democratic Party as delegates get elected at the precinct presidential caucus level and on up to the state level. Sounds progressive and fair.

But after several potential delegates who identify as non-binary spoke up at the April 17 43rd Legislative District meeting to elect county level delegates to say the old-school rule excluded them, one 43rd member is proposing a resolution to revise the state party rules. He wants to make them more inclusive.

Philip Dawdy, who had been elected as chair of the Bernie Sanders sub caucus at the meeting and was directing precinct level delegates into separate “male” and “female” lines so they could begin the process of making their pitches to get elected as county level Sanders delegates, says he “felt like absolute crap” for enforcing the exclusionary rule.

Dawdy says: "I was approached by a couple of non-binary folks and asked if there wasn't some way I could address this inequity. I had to tell them that I was sorry, but that state party rules dictated they needed to pick whichever gender they were most comfortable in identifying with temporarily and get in line. I felt like absolute crap.”

Dawdy, well known as an advocate for medical marijuana patients, has proposed a resolution to the state party to fix the problem. (I’ll post the full text shortly.)

Dawdy himself was elected as one of the male Sanders delegates to move forward to the next level for a shot at going to the national convention.

UPDATE: Here's the language of the proposed resolution that Dawdy has forwarded to the King County Democrats. He wants them to take it up at the May 1 county convention, pass it, and send it up the ladder for consideration at the June 17 through 19 statewide Democratic Party convention. 

Whereas multiple delegates whose gender identification is non-binary felt excluded and marginalized at recent Legislative District caucuses by being forced to choose a traditional gender role temporarily in order to run as delegates to the Congressional District caucus; and

Whereas language around gender identity has changed dramatically in recent years; and

Whereas current State Party language concerning gender and delegate assignment is limited to traditional female and male roles and ignores advances in gender identification; and

Whereas the King County Democrats have specific language on non-discrimination and equal rights in its 2016 platform; and

Whereas it is always in the best interests of the Democratic Party to be the party of inclusiveness;

Therefore, be it resolved that the King County Democrats call upon the Washington State Democratic Party to assign this issue to an appropriate standing committee, which will hear from concerned stakeholders and work with them to update the State Party's language to include persons who identify as non-binary and to make appropriate adjustments to State Party rules on delegate assignment in advance of the 2020 Presidential race.

Adopted ___________________ by __________________________


2. City council member Lisa Herbold went back to the drawing board after her proposal to create an affordable housing preservation fund met resistance from both council moderate Tim Burgess and activist oriented Mike O’Brien—plus the mayor’s office too. The basic complaint: Herbold’s goal of setting aside money for affordable housing developers to purchase existing housing stock was admirable, but the math (which required shifting money from the general fund and relying unstable property taxes to float bonds) wasn’t practical.

Herbold, still committed to the concept that the existing stock of affordable housing needs to be protected as part of the city’s plan to provide affordable housing in general, “switched my focus” she says, to mandate the idea through the mayor’s proposed housing levy. Murray’s proposal already slated some of the proposed $290 million for preservation; but that was through maintenance and upkeep of existing housing rather than along the lines of Herbold’s idea: allowing nonprofits to buy up existing affordable housing that may otherwise be purchased (knocked down) and converted into more expensive housing by for profit developers.

Herbold found the money by repurposing $30 million from the existing housing levy that isn’t needed in the short-term. “Acquisitions could be prioritized,” a council staff memo explained, “in areas at high risk of displacement and/or areas supported by frequent transit service.”

Once a key critic of her bonding and general fund approach, O’Brien himself ended up being the co-sponsor of Herbold’s amendment, which passed the council’s special housing levy committee vote on Friday unanimously, 8-0. The full council will vote on May 2 to send the housing levy to voters for an August vote.

3. Local unions and social justice groups such as the United Food and Commercial Workers Union 21, Puget Sound Sage, and OneAmerica have registered concerns that developer Gerding Edlen is considering an out-of-state anchor tenant, Portland's New Seasons,  for the Sound Transit development at the new Capitol Hill light rail station.

However, yesterday, after a vote of its membership, Seattle’s Central Co-op, which started on Capitol Hill in 1978 and now has its store at 16th and Madison (and another in Tacoma), is also in the running to be the anchor tenant.

Central Co-op pays an average of $20 an hour and new employees make about $16 per hour. Employees also get health care benefits when they work at least 28 hours a week, along with a grocery discount, vacation, and retirement.

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