Lone Delegate Blocks Democrats

-- Raymond Lutz - 29 Apr 2007

At the 2007 California Democratic State Convention in San Diego, a single delegate was involved in blocking the Blackwater Resolution and also blocked further processing of resolutions to stop funding for the occupation of Iraq.

Theodore "Ted" Smith III of Los Angeles, Chair of the California Democratic Party African-American Caucus, used his influence to block two key resolutions presented to the delegates of the California Democratic State convention in San Diego.

Blackwater Resolution Blocked

First, he blocked the resolution to ban mercenary camps in California by objecting to hearing the resolution. This act effectively canned the resolution without being heard by the Resolutions Committee and, according to the rules, there is no recourse at this convention, although it can be submitted for consideration at the next Executive Board Meeting in July.

Blackwater USA has been meeting with the county and processing their proposed mercenary camp in San Diego "Under the radar" for several months, surprising residents in the county with their proposal. In December, before most people out of the immediate area had heard of the project, it had already received preliminary approval by the planning group of the rural area of Potrero. Further research on the proposal led to the conclusion that the company would "do what is necessary" to ensure that the private boot camp would be successful, including such acts as using their own attorney as the key planner on the project, and not notifying Rep. Bob Filner (D) of the 51st Congressional District, the congressman who is responsible for that district. The resolution to the convention was processed on an urgent schedule, with wording approved by the San Diego Chapter of the Sierra Club as well as Filner, and with no objection from the office of Barbara Boxer. Despite that urgency, it did not make the thirty-day submission deadline for the convention, and therefore was considered "late."

Although late resolutions can be processed by the resolutions committee, they are subject to unanimous consent by the committee before they are heard. Then, once the resolution is heard, the resolutions committee can take several actions, including approval, disapproval, referral, reaffirming, etc. If it is not approved, then the proponents can seek 300 signatures from the body and then bring it to the floor. But, this can only happen if the resolution is heard.

In the case of the Blackwater Resolution, the committee considered whether it should be heard, and Smith, one of the Resolution Committee members, objected, effectively killing it at this meeting. Toward the end of the meeting, I asked the chair to hear it anyway, but he said that they would not, and he asked Smith for his reason for objecting (although he is not obligated to provide a reason.) At that time, Smith said he objected because California had contracts with Blackwater.

Iraq Funding Resolutions Blocked

The resolutions committee met again to boil the list of resolutions to be presented to the plenary body down to about ten. They started with over 110 resolutions and had about thirty that were approved and could be submitted to the floor. In this meeting, they selected the resolutions to be presented to the body. The goal is to select resolutions that will resonate with the body, and also generate media coverage and excitement, and perhaps prompt action.

However, at the plenary session on Sunday, after the body had completed (and passed) an impeachment resolution and several others, the chair was attempting to process the resolutions relating to stopping the occupation of Iraq. A number of amendments were proposed from the floor, and then to help process these, the chair suggested that the rules be waived, and each amendment considered as if it were a separate resolution. When the resolution to cut funds for any military operations in Iraq started to be debated, Smith and Karen Wingard, Region 2 director, called for a quorum count to verify that a quorum existed. The quorum count failed, effectively stopping the meeting from completing any additional business, and certainly, eliminating the idea that it would consider the resolution to stop the funding.

Unfortunately, the convention is organized with the final business meeting as the last segment of the meeting, after the last big speaker (Bill Richardson.) As a result, many of the delegates left to explore the San Diego or go home. This left the room with only about 650 delegates when they needed 1025 to qualify as a quorum. They presented some reports and then adjourned the meeting.

I confronted Smith with his actions. I asked him if he had talked directly with Blackwater. He said no, but he assured me that his action to stop the Blackwater Resolution was probably a bit hasty, and that he wished to talk further with me about it. He said that his brother is a Marine serving in Iraq and that his brother may have had some funding or work with Blackwater, but he wasn't very specific. I told him that I was beginning to question his agenda at the meeting when I looked at both his objection to block the Blackwater Resolution and the call for a quorum count, blocking the resolution to stop the funding of the occupation.

(I will upload a picture later, it is being emailed to me).

We will be researching Smith's background to try to understand his motivations.

Meanwhile, at the press conference to discuss the Blackwater Resolution, Rep. Bob Filner suggested that he may use the resolution as a basis for a federal law that may ban or severely limit private military bases, regardless of the actions at the convention. He said that Blackwater had contacted him and reassured him that the camp was for law-enforcement training only, and asserted that it was a good idea.

Meanwhile, we learned that somewhere in San Diego Bay, there is a Blackwater Yacht, complete with helicopter, ready for schmoozing.
Information on Ted Smith:

Theodore "Ted" Smith, III Esq.
Chair, California Democratic Party African-American Caucus
1107 S. St. Andrews Pl, Los Angeles, CA 90019
(323)737-4475 (T)

As a federal prosecutor, he handled a major case involving steroid abuse by Hulk Hogan and others: http://espn.go.com/page2/s/assael/020730.html

His political contributions are all to Democrats, including progressive Maxine Waters: http://www.newsmeat.com/fec/bystate_detail.php?st=&zip=90230&last=Smith&first=Theodore
According to Miriam Raftery:

I talked with a PR spokesperson for Blackwater in Moyock and DC. She is fairly sure that Blackwater has no contracts with CA and is certain that they never met with Schwarzenegger. She promised to double-check on the contracts and get back to me. So perhaps Smith would be willing to withdraw his objections if he opposition was based on a false premise.

-- Raymond Lutz - 01 May 2007

Previous revisions of this page listed information about a Theadore Smith of the San Diego law firm Smith and Associates. This was incorrect. "Theodore J. Smith III" is listed in Find Law Attorney Directory (http://pview.findlaw.com/view/1899292_1) as a city attorney for the City of Los Angeles, not a private attorney doing eviction work. (Also found a letter to the editor that he wrote a year ago, expressing a legitimate concern that "illegal immigration has lowered wages and pushed African Americans out of the building trades and service jobs that were our opportunity to have the American dream." (http://www.uscab.org/news/042806letter2editor.htm?ctrack=1&cset=true)

Checked the 2007 Attorney Directory (published by The Daily Transcript), which lists an attorney named Theadore M. Smith of the San Diego law firm Smith & Associates, which maintains a Web site (http://www.outyougo.com/) describing the firm as "Specialists in tenant eviction and collection." This Smith's email address is listed as: ted1@outyougo.com

It thus appears that the reference to "Theodore Smith" in the U-T article is actually a reference to San Diego attorney Theadore M. Smith, not L.A. City Attorney Theodore J. Smith III, who blocked the resolution.

Topic revision: r8 - 07 May 2008, RaymondLutz
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