California Democratic Convention, 4 pm


By Tim Redmond

There's a lot of talk and excitement at the Progressive Caucus. A few years ago, there were only a handful of people showing up for this meeting; today, the room is totally packed.

But the real political action is at the Resolutions Committee, where the rebels in the party are demanding more accountability, sunshine -- and, in the end, more of a say in where state party money goes. They have several resolutions that call on the party to bring in outside auditors and to make sure that state money really does go to all 58 counties, the way Torres promises it will.

Torres shows up for this event, and the floor is turned over to him. He quickly executes a smooth, practiced power play that shuts all of the accountability resolutions down.

He's very polite, very civil, talks about how happy he is that people care about where the party's money goes -- then he says that "the party is not a nonprofit, not a corporation. We are a business to win elections." Sure, he says, he's a little secretive at times - -"but I didn't want the Republicans to know how we're spending money."

Then the committee members -- all appointed by Torres -- vote unanimously to send all of the resolutions in question to a new task force, that will be appointed by Torres. In other words, the issue is dead for this convention. The supporters told me they would try to get a petition drive to bring the proposals to the convention floor -- but that's not likely to happen.

What's really going on here is that a lot of the younger, more progressive types don't want the party chair to have sole authority to decide which candidates in which districts get party money. Round one goes to the Old Guard.

Meanwhile, a resolution against a toll road that would go right through a park in SoCal gets a surprising amount of discussion -- solely because the building trades don't want to see the party oppose a new highway. That one passes. It's a close vote, but the enviros are now more powerful than the building trades -- at least at this convention.

A resolution supporting high-speed rail passes -- but only ten of the resolutions that make it out of commitee will go to the floor, and Assembly member Fiona Ma, who supports the rail project, tells me she's going to push at the final comittee meeting tomorrow to get this one on the list.

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