Oil Patch pains highlight lengthy debate on Dem-NPL’s 2012 platform

GRAND FORKS – The social and environmental effects of western North Dakota’s growing pains highlighted a two-hour debate Friday over the Democratic-NPL Party‘s proposed platform for 2012.

Suggested resolutions – spanning 12 pages – detailed policies and initiatives that the party supports, ranging from labor and health care to human rights and foreign policy. But Democrats debated for nearly a half-hour specifically on energy issues because of the attention on North Dakota’s booming Oil Patch and the many overwhelmed rural communities there.

Several delegates proposed amendments to the party platform that would reinforce state Democrats’ emphasis on environmental responsibility in energy development.

District 4 delegate Glenna Meyers, of New Town, was among those to support such an addition to the party’s platform.

“I live near Lake Sakakawea, and I can’t see the Northern Lights anymore. There’s this black ridge of pollution on the horizon,” Meyers said. “Being from the Bakken, I know we have not developed in an environmentally responsible manner.”

“As Democrats, we have to be the ones who say we’re environmentally responsible in whatever we’re developing,” she added.

Delegates received a copy of the party’s proposed platform just 10 minutes before the annual convention convened Friday afternoon.

Some wanted to delay all discussion of the party’s platform until the end of the convention Saturday – “simply for consideration so we can read through this, discuss it at our leisure,” said District 41 delegate Bob Stefanovich, of Fargo.

“There’s no use rushing this and trusting everything we’ve done to a committee,” he said.

Stefanovich’s request was shot down by the majority of the convention-goers.

But after two hours of the lengthy and, at times, tedious debate and still more resolutions to go through, party leaders opted to take up the rest of the platform Saturday.

Among the Democrats’ resolutions adopted Friday were:

  • Oppose any and all efforts to privatize Social Security
  • Support efforts to reduce the influence of money in political campaigns and on elected officials
  • Urge the state Legislature to support funding for area’s impacted by rapid energy development
  • Oppose attempts to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Energy or any other cabinet-level agency.
  • Demand American Crystal Sugar Co. to end the labor lockout and return to the bargaining table.
  • Support union workers’ rights
  • Support extending protections under the state Human Rights Law to include people regardless of “sexual identity and gender identity.”
  • Oppose any attempts to repeal the federal health care reform act of 2010.
  • Oppose Measure 2, a June 2012 ballot initiative that seeks to eliminate state property taxes, and urge the Legislature to instead address deficiencies in the current property tax system.

3 thoughts on “Oil Patch pains highlight lengthy debate on Dem-NPL’s 2012 platform

  1. I am puzzled about Measure 2. It is almost as if the parties have their stances backwards, at least for the long term because the measure would let the state, not localities, control standards for all sorts of important things, education for one.

    For example creationism vs evolution: whereas a local school district can delusionally require creationism and no one cares, should an entire state teach it we would become the planetary laughingstock. I don’t believe it could happen. Then, thankfully, we could put an end to that idiocy.

    Looking ahead a little one could have decent funding for all teaching environments and perhaps replace “No child left behind.” with “No special ed. student left unsupported; no genius left unchallenged.” with an integrated system from pre-K through completion, even PhD. for those that qualified; for all the people of North Dakota.

    As the localities begin to realize that various essential services are now state controlled there may be a widespread backlash against the unrealistic ideologues in the Republican party who created the situation and then under-funded necessities. This is something that could alter the structure of ND politics for more than a few years and could empower the state to better level the playing fields for growth and development and also better manage the ecological and infrastructure depredations of the oil mining in the Bakken fields.

    Strategically the plank is correct. We should ineffectively oppose Measure 2 with which the Republicans think they are pulling a fast one to decrease taxes. Ineffective opposition to Republican fantasies is something the ND-Dem-NPL is very good at and we can be even better if we try.

    In a few years things should be so bad locally that we ought to have has, if we abandon our excessive attachment to the slightly right of center as being progressive, a good chance of a Dem-NPL legislature and governor with a charter to increase oil firm royalties and re-establish funding of local services at a better, more uniform, and more effective level than we have yet seen, giving North Dakotans better services, education, and a more level playing field, at least until the revenues from the Baaken reserve run out and that will take awhile.

    So, well done having this issue as the last, least important plank. Be sure to oppose it publicly, and vote for it and blame Republicans on the mess it causes, then perhaps we can emerge from the doldrums of the neo-liberal choke hold on North Dakota’s progress and the long night of a quiescent, supine ND-Dem-NPL party.

  2. The draft resolutions were handed out at the convention. The adopted platform, as amended, wasn’t immediately available this weekend. But I imagine the Dems will publish it on their website.

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