DECISION 2004: HATS OFF TO THE "TOWN HALL"!
(Click on photos for larger picture)
AFSCME International provided a unique opportunity for its members and the world by making our Presidential Town Hall Meeting, held in Des Moines, Iowa in May, 2003, a candid, friendly exchange between the Democratic candidates and working Americans. Secretary-Treasurer Lucy urged the candidates to focus on the enemy, not each other, and the format encouraged that. The real "enemy" was not in the room: We are weary of an administration whose rhetoric, photo-ops and flag waving conceal their contempt for working Americans, especially public employees and union members. The enthusiastic, attentive audience realized that each of the nine candidates understands the needs of America and Americans far better than the current administration. AFSCME again proved that we are the best!
In the morning, seven candidates made in-person presentations: U.S. Sens. John Edwards (N.C.) and Bob Graham (Fla.), former Senator and Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun (Ill.), U.S. Reps. Richard Gephardt (Mo.) and Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), former Gov. Howard Dean (Vt.) and the Rev. Al Sharpton of New York. They responded to queries posed from the floor by many members. Asking questions in behalf of the entire union were New York City EMT Joseph Conzo, University of California custodial worker Patricia Segrest, Minnesota probation officer Patrick Guernsey (Local 552), Texas retiree Eunice Parrish, Pennsylvania clerical worker Shirley Stuttler and Milwaukee bus driver Annette Berry.
After lunch, Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) participated by live satellite feed, and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (Conn.) via a videotaped interview with another member, University of Maryland program director Betty Wineke. Then the program became AFSCME-only, as a long procession of members stepped up to floor microphones and spoke their minds about the candidates, the issues and the 2004 election.
The TV networks turned out in force to cover the meeting, C-Span and MSNBC telecast the morning portion live; the major networks aired live shots; and print reporters assembled from around the country. Overall, national television and newspaper coverage that evening and the next day was excellent.
A notable achievement: getting the candidates to distinguish their positions from those of President Bush rather than — as they did in a recent South Carolina debate — spend their time criticizing each other. And Secretary-Treasurer Lucy took the mike to urge that they continue to "fight the enemy, not each other."
As McEntee declared in his introductory remarks, "With this event, we begin the process by which our union will make its endorsement decision, a participatory process that will involve membership meetings across the country, focus groups, a national membership poll and much more."
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO
DES MOINES, IOWA
CANDIDATES WITH GERALD MCENTEE - AFSCME INT. PRESIDENT
THE DEBATE BEGINS - SEVEN OF THE CANDIDATES ATTENDED IN PERSON
SEN. JOHN KERRY VISITED WITH DELEGATES THE EVENING BEFORE
CONGRESSMAN DENNIS KUCINICH TALKING WITH LOCAL 34 MEMBERS
CONGRESSMAN DICK GEPHARDT AND OTHER LOCAL 34 DELEGATES
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS
AMBASSADOR CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN
GOV. HOWARD DEAN
BILL LUCY - AFSCME INT. SEC-TREASURER
SEN. BOB GRAHAM
LOCAL 34 DELEGATE SIGNS ON TO CAMPAIGN
REVEREND AL SHARPTON SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN VIA SATELLITE
AFSCME COUNCIL 14 DELEGATES
Note: Local 34 sisters and brothers who participated in the Des Moines Conference:
Alexander Gordon, David Heins, John Herzog, Laurie Simon, Nancy Fleming-Norton and Rene Rodriguez.