MCDP Central Committee Rejects Setting Standards For Itself That Are Generally Expected Of Legislative Bodies

The MCDP Central Committee meeting last night rejected making any requests of Chairman Mark Owens to implement changes to its standards of procedures of operation.

Originally the five proposed rules (below) were suggested changes to the MCDP by-laws — requiring a two-thirds vote to be approved. The motions were changed so that rather than a vote to change the by-laws, the motions were simply requests of the Chairman — requiring only a majority vote.

Last night’s action culminated in complaints going back to January of this year that the Central Committee procedures were unacceptable. The complaint was that the expectations for the Central Committee — procedures and standards — should at least be comparable to what one would expect to find in a well-run student council at a high school: agendas, notifications, minutes, financial reports, etc.

In the discussion, Mark Owens pointed out that because of the interest in improving Central Committee procedures, he has already implemented some changes (R & T, below). The group voted to table item U to the Finance Committee to come up with a plan.

The biggest point of contention was item Q — the radical notion that attendance at Central Committee meetings should be part of the minutes  — and this was rejected. Amazingly, this was criticized as too dangerous — potentially providing important information to the Republicans. What? One positive outcome was that Kurt Hatcher, our Executive Director, promised that if any member wanted a report on attendance, that he or she would be provided that report. So, this morning, I made my request.

Somehow, as part of the discussion, the charge was made that failing to report attendance was a violation of Ohio’s Sunshine laws — the responsibility of public bodies to be transparent. I looked it up. The Central Committee is an elected body, but according to this information from the Open Government Resource Manual: Ohio Sunshine Laws, the sunshine laws generally do not apply to Central Committee meetings.

c. County political party central committees
The convening of a county political party central committee for the purpose of conducting purely internal party affairs, unrelated to the committee’s duties of making appointments to vacated public offices, is not a “meeting” as defined by R.C. 121.22(B)(2). Thus, R.C. 121.22 does not apply to such a gathering.

Our obligation for transparency is not to the general public — but to the Montgomery County Democratic constituency. Our obligation is to conduct ourselves as an accountable legislative body that follows long-held standard procedures expected of responsible groups. At the beginning of this year, the work of the Central Committee was very disordered — not worthy of our constituency. This process of complaining and making motions for improvement has never won a vote, but Mark Owens has responded by making positive changes — including the formation of committees, assigning committee chairman, etc.

 

Proposed Changes To The MCDP Constitution

Q. Minutes of the Central Committee shall include a record of all members in attendance at the meeting and identify the precinct that each attending member represent. The record of attendance shall be included in an email communication to Central Committee members with the minutes from that meeting.
R. Each regular Central Committee meeting will include a review of the minutes of the previous meeting and be presented for changes and vote approval by the Committee.
S. Each regular Central Committee meeting shall include a financial report of the income received and money spent since the previous report.
T. Each regular Central Committee meeting shall include a vote to open the meeting with the adoption of an agenda.
U. Each calendar year, the Finance Committee will propose a suggested operating budget dealing with all income from dues, gifts, and fundraisers. The Executive Committee will review the suggested budget and vote on whether to recommend approval. The budget and recommendation for approval from the Executive Committee will be presented to the Central Committee for discussion and vote for approval.

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2 comments to MCDP Central Committee Rejects Setting Standards For Itself That Are Generally Expected Of Legislative Bodies

  • Chet Bauch

    Hi MIKE: Thanks for your efforts to get things done that need fixing. I wish I knew why all suggestions did not fly. Any comments?

  • Mike Bock

    Hi Chet —

    There is a core group of insider Democrats who are enriched or empowered by the MCDP status quo and so they resist any change that might jeopardize their honey pot. If you would add up the total value of the income and benefits that members of the Central Committee receive from the county government, it would be huge. Establishing the rightful role of the Central Committee as the “controlling committee” — the legislative body to which the chair and the whole organization is accountable to — challenges the status quo. Insiders love the status quo because of the income that it generates for them but also for the privilege it gives them to appoint friends to government jobs — for example, Russ Joseph as Treasurer. (See Will The MCDP Learn From The Winburn / Harris Contest And Choose The Strongest Candidate — Not The Strongest Insider?)

    I know this sounds mean to say, but the evidence is pretty clear that one of the main obstacles to the MCDP growing into a strong organization has been the resolve of the insider Democrats to protect the status quo. A strong, creative and dynamic Central Committee would be great for the total success of the MCDP — but such a strong Central Committee would diminish the insider’s control. The maximum size of the Central Committee is 360, but for years the actual size was about 100. The insiders made close to zero effort to drum up new members. Over the years, I’ve brought in about 20. Ten years ago, I made a motion to the Central Committee that the MCDP budget $500 to advertise Central Committee elections. The motion went nowhere. I finally caught on that the insiders really don’t want a lot of new members on the Central Committee and, as these recent votes illustrate, the defenders of the status quo want to discourage the Central Committee that does exist from gaining legitimacy. Thanks to the work of just one couple, Tim and Alison Benford, the Central Committee has more than doubled in size. It is now about 250. (However, it seems that many of this new group are not showing up for Central Committee meetings.) This big increase could have happened years ago, if the insiders had been interested.

    So, the MCDP is a weak organization — partially by the design of the insiders. If the MCDP is to become a strong organization it must restructure itself so that it will inspire and engage hundred and thousands of Democrats who are now not inspired or engaged. That’s a big goal and I am writing a strategic plan that I hope will move us towards that goal. When I am finished I will email you a PDF for you to analyze.

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