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Community Struggles With HRP!

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The Human Rights Party, stül clinging to ts roots in the ntellectuat community, held its first public meeting of the year in the Michigan Union. The Faculty Lounge was reserved for the meeting but the massive turn-out of the people of Ann Arbor made it necessary to move the meeting to the larger Anderson Room, a move opposed by some, to the extent that it had finally to be put to a vote. The purpose of the meeting was to elect a new coördinator of the Party as well as a steering committee and other internal officers who will lead and coordínate the activities of the whole party for the next four months, through the primary in February and the spring elections n April. The meeting was attended by over 350 people, probably the largest meeting in HRP history. Three basic political forces were mobilized for the meeting: the HRP "regulars" were split into two camps, one called the "Chocolate Almond Caucus" made up of very old line International Socialists who believe HRP is primarily a forum to bring out ideas and stir up debate; and the other called the "Militant Middle Caucus," who professed wanting to open up HRP to a broader community, but who worked as hard as anyone to keep the real political questions in the closets all night. Both of these forces were joined by people mobilized by organizations housed at the Washington Street Community Center before the f re, .e. Drug Help, Ozone House, the Free Peoples' Clinic, and the Community Center Coordinating Council (C4). The third political force was that which responded to the public cali for mass attendance made by the Tribal Council and the Rainbow People's Party. Since C4 and its associate organizations had begun to involve themselves really actively in HRP only a few days prior to the meeting, t seemed obvious they were there in such strength to oin with the Almonds and the Middles in opposition to the Tribal Council and the Rainbow People's Party, and to exploit unresolved political differences which have developed among those organizattons concerning the People's Defense Committee's public nvestigation of the fire and the fate of the People's Ballroom. The Ann Arbor Tribal Council and the Rainbow People's Party had put out a massive cali n hopes that the HRP would be re-humanized and brought back into the lives of the Ann Arbor community. The people of the rainbow community and other progressive people of Ann Arbor responded to the cali in the hopes of having some input or influence over decisions that could affect their lives for years to come. Many of the people who attended the meeting had never been to a political meeting before, had never taken an interest in politics or HRP. Unfortunately, these people were welcomed into a room f uil of hostility, back-biting, wierdo parlimentary procedure and vindictive attacks directed mainly against the Rainbow People's Party. Parliamentary procedure was used throughout the meeting, as in the Democratie and Rttpublican Parties, to stifle discussion and intimídate anyone who isn't experienced in student governmetvt or the gavel club. The way the HRP pros used parliamentary procedure it was impossible to hear all sides to a problem discuss it fully, and reach a collective decisión. To the contrary, it left all of the political questions between the three political forces unanswered and unresolved, indeed because of parliamentary procedure it was impossible even to get all the questions out in th open so that everyone could make a judgement based on all the facts. Several times throughout the night people asked that the rules be suspended so that free, righteously open discussion could be had. Everytime the vote was split, with the Tribal Council, RPP, and the rainbow community voting for full and open discussion. The Almonds, the Middles, and their allies from C4 united in their vote to close off discussion, close off questions, and close off the meeting, finally. The first and most crucial position decided was that of coördinator for the party. During the discussion and questioning of the three candidates for the office, many charges and attacks were leveled at the RPP through their candidate for coördinator, Linda Ross. These charges were never allowed to be discussed since at the beginning of the meeting a three-minute time limit had been imposed by parliamentary procedure. The main charge was that RPP was out to "take over" the HRP in some kind of "power play" despite the fact that for weeks ahead of the meeting the RPP had been openly talking about its intentions to work as closely as possible with HRP again to help bring it closer to the community as it had done last spring and tried to do in the fait . In open caucuses weeks before the meeting many of the very same people had agreed Linda was the most qualitied person in town to do the job as well as the only person who really wanted to do it. But at the end of the vote, after two countings, Susan Steigerwalt from the Chocolates Nuts won the position of coördinator with 112 votes, Bob Alexander from the Militant Middle Class came in second with 110 votes, and Linda Ross was third with 109 votes. After this decisión the room became noticably emptier, and the rest of the voting results for steering committee showed clearly the honest interest of the rainbow community, many of whom stayed for the entire meeting. A slate for steering committee which included people from the Militant Middle Caucus as well as other community members had been endorsed by the RPP. The final steering committee elected by those who stayed included Diana Romanchuk and David Cahill for City Committee; Margo Nichols for Public Schools Committee; and the ing committee at laige included Leni Sinclair, John Collins and Linda Ross from the Rainbow People's Party; Bob Rudnick, DJ from WNRZ-FM; Steve Nissen, former coördinator and campaign manager of the HRP.LeonardSklar from Youth Liberation; Andi Barkas from the Free People's Clinic; and Sydney Solberg, who has worked with HRP for some time. All except Barkas and Solberg had been endorsed by the RPP as the best ca nd dates. The Rainbow People's Party had also worked to organize a Community State to run for the city offices up for election in the first HRP primary in February. Three out of of the six offered candidates were RPP members, only one in a winning position. But this again was enough to cause extremely harsh charges that RPP was trying to "take over" the HRP in its own interests. After the January 1 1th meeting all the candidates but one was withdrawn in an attempt to show again the charges were false. David Sinclair will be running in the 2nd Ward where the RPP lives, where he can win, and where he is clearly the best candidate to do the job over the next couple of years. It will be interesting to seehowpeople work with each other over the next three months during these intense campaigning days. It was because of the Rainbow People's Party and Tribal Council's intere t n broadening the nvolvement in the H ian Rights Party that such a fervor was raised in the community to the point of such high community representation on the steering committee, and hopefully the fervor will continue to work to bring out all the-contradictions between the various groups and resolve them in an educational instructive, and positive manner. The next mass meeting is thisThursday, January 18, where hopefully a lot more will be discussed than at the last one. Bring some tokes and get ready to talk about some shit, we have a lot of work ahead of us. All Power to the People!