Saturday morning Your Intrepid Reporter attended, as the Liaison of the Pacific Green Party, the Annual Meeting of Health Care for All Oregon, held here in Portland at the Universalist Unitarian Church.
The proceedings went from around ten in the morning to about three in the afternoon; they gave the 125 attendees reports of the past year’s activities, discussed the HCAO strategy for passing universal healthcare in Oregon in 2016, and held the election of officers.
Below is a video advertising the cause of healthcare for all Oregonians which premiered at the meeting
In what follows I will be addressing my fellow Pacific Green Party of Oregon activists.
This annual meeting was memorable for its discussion of how we can succeed in a statewide campaign that we know will be opposed by entrenched corporate interests. The issue came down, in large measure, to how to raise the money. That in itself, the very choice of topic, was interesting: the framing of the question, the education of the electorate, the shape of the argument — they were all part of the discussion, but not dominant the way the question of money was.
The first major speaker, after the introductions, was Bill Whittaker, the HCAO Treasurer (warning we are going to get into the weeds). He spoke of a 2014 budget of 170,000 (all units are US dollars), where so far this year individuals have contributed 29,000, the 2014 Blues Festival raised, net, 13,000 — more than expected, this — and other fund-raising has produced 5000. Although he spoke optimistically about it, there is a projected operating deficit for this year of 13,000, assuming the trends stay as is.
For we PGP activists, this bespeaks an enterprise beyond our fondest dreams, with our typical disposable income of about one to two thousand. But there is that deficit, and discussion touched upon the issue of requiring each member organization to contribute as an organization; it was poignant to contemplate the 50 or 100 the PGP would be able to donate toward a 13,000 deficit. We discussed the contribution requirement for member organizations in small groups, and came to no consensus. All that was managed was, some people, for various reasons, are opposed and others are in favor.
Lou Sinniger, another member of the Board of Directors, advised the audience at around 10:45 of the estimated total it would take to mount, as expected, an electoral campaign that would win against corporate opposition, when the issue, as it must, comes to a vote in 2016 — 7,000,000. Seven million dollars. We are quite sure that the total is in the right ball-park, that is, is approximately correct, and we are wary, very much so, of trying and failing as happened not long ago. One of the much-touted successes of the past year was getting the State Legislature to commission a cost-benefit analysis [HB 3260, for the policy wonks in the audience], the funding for which was not provided. Senator Michael Dembrow told us that in his estimation — this was during his address sometime around 12:30 pm — the Legislature would match HCAO dollar-for-dollar, so that the cost-benefit analysis would be funded (it would cost 200,000) if we could pony up 100,000, 30,000 of which we have in hand. So all we have to do is figure out how to generate an additional 70,000.
Harder than it sounds. Although, to be fair, at the end of the meeting, the fundraisers announced that the attendees themselves had donated 3500 just that day. (Like I said, it’s a different universe from PGP operations.) All we have to do is have 200 more annual meetings. . .
Even having accomplished that, assuming or supposing we could do that, we are still two orders of magnitude short of the ultimate goal of a winning campaign kitty.
The secret appeared to be union money. In place of attending the “Education” caucus, where I went last year because of my background in schoolteaching and found everyone discussing minority groups, I went to the “Legislative” one; for the entire time the discussion was the means we have of making the campaign attractive to unions. I probably would err if I attempted to characterize the discussion in any finer detail, but I am correct in that overall evaluation.
So that’s the way it is with the Healthcare for All Oregon cause at the moment, in June of 2014. If it holds any lesson for the impecunious Pacific Green Party it may be that we would be well advised to contemplate outreach to labor unions to the left of the so-called Working Families Party.
Pacific Green Party Liaison to HealthCare for All Oregon