From: Democratic Committee People for an Open Primary
To: Democratic Committee People for an Open Primary
Sent: Saturday, March 28, 2009 5:33 PM
Subject: March 31st Democratic Committee Plenary Meeting
Dear Democratic Committee Person: You may have received this letter in today's mail. When several of us who signed the letter got it, we noticed that two lines inadvertently were cut off the first page when it was copied! Therefore, we are sending it again via e-mail. Since mailing the letter, another committee person stepped up and asked to be included as a signer. We are glad to have the opportunity to send it again, with his name included, and with the very important lines that were omitted ("Additionally, as you may recall at our last plenary meeting, it was argued that a unified slate is critical to suppressing voter turnout so that Republican Jenny Brown,") when we mailed it!
See you on March 31st at our plenary meeting. And thanks for considering our request that you, too, support an Open Primary!
Committee People for an Open Primary
Dear Fellow Democratic Committee Person:
You recently may have received e-mails or phone calls from a group of Democrats who favor endorsing two incumbent Republicans and one incumbent Democrat in the Democratic Primary for Lower Merion School Board (“LMSB”) saying that doing so would create a “unified slate.” Four of the nine LMSB seats are up for reelection this year. Currently, there are six Democrats and three Republicans serving on the school board. These Democrats for the unified slate (among them Lisa Pliskin, Bruce Reed, Larry Rosenwald and Naheed Flake) offer several arguments to justify their position. We believe their arguments, as described below, collapse under scrutiny. For this reason, we, the undersigned Democratic Committee People, support an Open Primary in the school board race and hope that you will do the same at our plenary meeting on March 31, 2009.
In an e-mail sent out by Naheed Flake, a Democratic committee person in the 11th Ward, on February 16, 2009, the supporters of the unified slate first argue that Democrats must support Republicans because of bi-partisanship. While we believe bi-partisanship to be a worthy goal, it doesn’t mean we ought to put Republicans on a Democratic ticket, especially when we have excellent Democratic candidates in the race who are eager to serve. We also don’t think it’s the job of Democratic committee people to help Republicans get elected. The two incumbent Republicans in question have filed on the Republican ballot. Let them take their case to the voters. If their ideas and campaigns are good, they will win. And if they win, they and the Democrats who are elected can work on the school board in a bi-partisan way. If the tables were turned, the Republicans – as they have proven in the past when they were in the majority and Democrats were in the minority – would never be as generous to us. One look at the national scene, where not one House Republican supported President Barack Obama’s stimulus plan, reveals what the Republican Party really thinks about bi-partisanship.
The unified slate supporters next argue that having Republicans on the School Board slate will help the Lower Merion School District in Harrisburg. We disagree. We are fortunate to have an excellent Democratic delegation in the State House consisting of State Representatives Mike Gerber, Tim Briggs and Kathy Manderino. The State House is controlled by Democrats. The presence of Republicans on the School Board slate, therefore, is not relevant to how Lower Merion is viewed in the State House. The unified slate supporters make the same argument with respect to the State Senate. There, where Democrats are in the minority, we are fortunate to have State Senator Daylin Leach as our representative. In the words of our own Nora Winkelman, former counsel to Governor Rendell, and now general counsel for the State House Democratic Caucus, whatever work is to be done on behalf of school districts in the state senate is not done by individual school districts. Rather, that work is carried out by the lobbying body for school districts. Here too, the presence of Republicans on the School Board is not relevant.
The unified slate supporters also argue that if their slate is not endorsed, the “Republicans will run their own slate…[and] will have a hey-day with sound bytes, editorials, repeating every insult and angry letter for many more months, destroying the unity and meaning of our party after the historic election.” (See Naheed Flake’s above-referenced e-mail of February 16, 2009) Two points jump out about this assertion. First, the Republicans have fielded only two candidates – their incumbents, the same two who are members of the unified slate – because they were not able to find four people who wanted to run for school board. Thus, the assertion they will run their own slate and attack all the time is just wrong. Second, if the Republicans have such deep feelings about the school board and want to attack Democrats, is it likely that the unified slate will stop them? Won’t die-hard Republicans view the two Republicans who have been endorsed by Democrats as traitors, worthy of attack?
Additionally, as you may recall at our last plenary meeting, it was argued that a unified slate is critical to suppressing voter turnout so that Republican Jenny Brown, the Lower Merion Township Commissioner for Ward 2, can be defeated. It was stated that by having no real school board race, so that voter turnout is suppressed, Ms. Brown could be defeated by the Independent who intends to run against her. This line of thinking is absolutely misplaced. It ignores the fact that – for the first time in recent history – there will be very hotly contested judicial races for the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, a court where no Democrat has been elected for more than 30 years. Democrats have endorsed an excellent slate for these races (including our own Jeff Lindy and Lois Murphy). We believe it critical, for our party – if that slate is to win – that Democratic turnout be increased this year – not decreased or suppressed.
The unified slate supporters falsely argue that the only reason three of the five new Democratic candidates (Melissa Gilbert, Ivan Haskell and Peter Lee) have entered the race is because of the recently passed redistricting plan for the two new high schools. We have heard that unified slate supporters are calling Gilbert, Haskell and Lee “stealth Republicans who are only interested in reopening the redistricting decision.” To the contrary, Gilbert, Haskell and Lee are Democrats who were moved to become active in civic life because of the “historic election” of Barack Obama, they met at LMSB redistricting meetings, and they decided to work together to bring the kind of change they wanted to see in Lower Merion to assure their children would receive the best education. They have fresh perspectives, are innovators, care greatly about curriculum and are well organized. They have moved past the redistricting decision and have taken a public pledge that it will not be reopened. They deserve the opportunity to take their case to the voters.
Finally, another charge being made is that Gilbert, Haskell and Lee will only represent Narberth and Ardmore, two communities currently not represented on the school board and that they will not take their “at-large” duties seriously. Really? Currently, Merion has two representatives – Lisa Pliskin and Susan Guthrie. Penn Wynne has two representatives – Lyn Kugel and Gary Friedlander. Villanova has two – Linda Doucette-Ashman and Diane DiBonaventuro. Bala Cynwyd has one – Jerry Novick. Penn Valley has one – Ted Lorenz and Bryn Mawr has one – David Ebby. Neither Ardmore nor Narberth have any. We are certain Pliskin and Guthrie, Friedlander and Kugel, Doucette-Ashman and DiBonaventuro and the others take their at-large responsibilities seriously. So would Gilbert, Haskell and Lee, if they were fortunate enough to be elected.
We ask that you support an open and democratic process and an open primary on March 31, 2009. Please attend that meeting, or if you cannot, please send a proxy. Too many issues regarding our great public schools, and our party, are at stake. Let the candidates take their positions to the voters, and let the voters decide. And may the best people win. Thanks!
Joanne Behm N-3
Christine Boylan N-1
David Broida 10-1
Miriam Camitta 5-1
Paula Cramer 12-1
JoAnn Erfer 7-2
Susan Furey 13-2
Andy Haakenson N-2
Jon Kligerman 12-2
Julie Levitt 3-1
Casey O’Bannon 13-2
Nina Rosenthal 6-2
Teri Simon 5-1
Leigh Ann Smith 10-2
Anne Umbrecht 6-2
Hank Wilson 10- 3
So I have to ask: is Bruce Reed so desperate to rid Lower Merion of Jenny Brown as a commissioner and to have things his way that this is the reason this has all gotten out of control? And what of Naheed Flake, AKA Need Flake The Choice Slayer? All very curious. And FYI on Ward 4 Liberi Watch, no feedback as of yet from this candidate and have to wonder at this point if he is a real candidate or a place holder?