Minnesota Democrats just can't seem to get their act together -- at least as far as the national Democratic Party is concerned. The party's Compliance Assistance Commission ruled that the state party had failed to live up to an agreement that would allow Minnesota Democrats to hold precinct caucuses to select delegates to the Democratic National Convention on Feb. 23 -- two weeks earlier than national party rules allow -- but not report the results until March 8.

"We sent in a plan that was basically dictated to us and now they say the plan is no good," Minnesota Democratic chairwoman Ruth Esala said.

The national party could impose a range of punishments, including a refusal to seat the Minnesota delegation at the convention, if the Minnesota party chooses its delegates under the rejected plan. The state party has until Feb. 23 to bring its rules into line with national requirements.

Rick Stafford, a Minnesota member of the Democratic National Committee, said state party officials would not modify their implementation of the agreement: "We made an agreement and we're going to stick to it."

The ultimate punishment would be to take control of Minnesota's selection process. But commission chairman Kathleen Vick said, "I would sincerely doubt that there is any sentiment anywhere for that."