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To Become A Strong Organization, The MCDP Central Committee Must Commit To Acting As A Representative Body

I recently got a scalding email from a Central Committee member who had attended the meeting that approved the Rev. Ward endorsement. He was indignant that I had written: “Nobody in that group wanted the vote concerning Ward / Fairchild to be on record and to be made public.” He wrote: “I was in that group, and your assessment of my motives is simply incorrect.  What proof do you have to back up your claim?”

I replied that the proof of such a claim starts with the fact that not one person in the group called for a roll-call vote. The Rev. Ward endorsement amounted to a secret vote, because there was no record kept. For this bonehead decision there is no accountability. There is no way to discover who voted to endorse, who voted to not endorse and who failed to vote.

But, I’ve thought it over, and I can see that the complaining Central Committee member makes a good point. He’s right: I really can’t know the motives of the people who were in the room. The group was simply following its usual pattern. There may have been members very concerned about the lack of transparency in this endorsement decision, but who didn’t realize that making a motion for a roll-call vote was even an option. Maybe there were those who wanted a roll-call, but realized that a majority of the group would never support such a motion. In the eight years I served on the Central Committee, from 2006-2014, I didn’t make such a motion for a roll-call vote in any meeting either and I can’t recall there ever being a roll-call vote.

My thinking has changed. Thank you Donald Trump. I’m gripped by the conviction that we are in desperate need of a strong Democratic Party. We need a sense of urgency that maintaining the status quo is not good enough — doing more of the same, but with greater enthusiasm, is not good enough.We need a vision of a twenty-first century Democratic Party.

We need to have a debate about what a strong twenty-first century Democratic Party would look like. I’ve come to the conclusion that only democracy can save the Democratic Party, and that only a Democratic Party committed to democracy can be saved. A commitment to democracy must begin in the party. We must walk the walk. The Central Committee must come to grips with its responsibility to act as a representative body.

Endorsements require a super majority — a two-thirds vote — in the Central Committee. Some endorsement votes would not clear this high bar — if there was opposition whipping a “No” vote. The problem is, the MCDP Central Committee doesn’t have a history of seeing itself as a legislative body. By long tradition, it sees itself as a rubber stamp to the actions of the Executive Committee and the Screening Committee. It’s my conclusion: To Become A Strong Organization, The MCDP Central Committee Must Commit To Acting As A Representative Body.

I’ve had a couple of good discussions with other Central Committee members about the proposed change to the Constitution calling for  roll-call vote for all motions concerning endorsement. I agree, in a political party our obligation is to be transparent to our constituents, not to the whole world, so I’ve revised my proposed amendment (#9 below).

See: Montgomery County Democrats Should Debate Competing Visions Of The Future of The MCDP Organization

 

Proposed Changes to the MCDP Constitution

  1. PREAMBLE: “WE THE REPRESENTATIVES of the Democrats living in Montgomery County — in order to form a strong party organization that empowers representative democracy within our party and throughout the county — do establish this Montgomery County Democratic Party Constitution.A New Name: “The Montgomery County Democratic Party.”
  2. A New Name: “The Montgomery County Democratic Party.”
  3. A New PURPOSE: “In accordance with the provisions of Section 3517 of the Ohio Revised Code, this organization shall be the “Controlling Committee” of the Democratic Party of Montgomery County. The purpose of the Montgomery County Democratic Party is to represent and to serve Montgomery County Democrats. The MCDP advances this purpose: by connecting Montgomery County Democrats within an extended MCDP community where every member has a voice, by advancing candidates of the people who are dedicated to public service and whose principles align with those of the Democratic Party.
  4. An expansion of MEMBERSHIP: “The MCDP welcomes all Democrats registered in Montgomery County to become a member of the MCDP organization.”
  5. Endorsement recommendations by the Screening Committee shall be announced at least three days prior to the Central Committee meeting at which the recommendations will be acted on.
  6. Central Committee members may register their vote with the MCDP Secretary at any time during the three days prior to the Central Committee meeting.
  7. During the Central Committee meeting, any endorsement recommendations made from the floor, and seconded, will be communicated to Central Committee members not attending the meeting. Voting on these recommendations will occur via communication with the MCDP Secretary and voting will be concluded after 48 hours.
  8. The endorsement of Democratic Primary candidates shall occur after the Board of Election deadline for Democratic candidates to file for the primary.
  9. Central Committee votes on all motions for endorsements shall be by roll-call or by paper ballot with the member’s signature, or by registering the vote with the MCDP Secretary. For each endorsement, a record showing each Central Committee member’s vote shall be made available to all members of the MCDP organization.
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At the MCDP Reorganization, Amending The Constitution To Nullify “One Must Be Present To Vote” Rule Will Initiate Needed Debate In The DNC

One proposed change to the MCDP Constitution nullifies the “one must be present to vote” rule. Change #6 (see below) allows a Central Committee member three days to contact the Central Committee Secretary to register his or her vote on endorsements.

An administrator at the Ohio Democratic Party has ruled that this proposed change in the MCDP Constitution is inconsistent with ODP policy and, as such, is not allowable. If the Central Committee at the Reorganization ratifies a rule that allows remote voting, then the MCDP will need to appeal to the ODP Executive Committee to overturn the administrator’s ruling. If the ODP Executive Committee rejects the appeal, then the MCDP can appeal to the Democratic National Committee.

The ODP administrator explained to me that in all representative assemblies, a member must be present in the room in order to vote. Regardless of his state of health, for example, in order for John McCain to cast a vote in the U.S. Senate, he must travel from Arizona to Washington. I replied that the “must be present to vote” rule contributes to inefficiency. Why should we model the Central Committee after a U.S. Congress that is infamous for its dysfunction?

The “must be present to vote” rule is out of date. Requiring MCDP Central Committee members to travel to downtown Dayton to the MCDP Headquarters in order to register a vote, needlessly diminishes the number of members who participate in important questions. It’s like saying one must be present in a bank building in order to do banking business.

By voting “yes” to allow remote voting, the Central Committee will initiate a discussion and review and appeal process within the Democratic Party that is long overdue. The DNC should not put prevent a county group, like the MCDP, from making changes to its procedures that will empower it to move into the twenty-first century.

 

Proposed Changes To The MCDP Constitution

  1. PREAMBLE: “WE THE REPRESENTATIVES of the Democrats living in Montgomery County — in order to form a strong party organization that empowers representative democracy within our party and throughout the county — do establish this Montgomery County Democratic Party Constitution.
  2. A New Name: “The Montgomery County Democratic Party.”
  3. A New PURPOSE: “In accordance with the provisions of Section 3517 of the Ohio Revised Code, this organization shall be the “Controlling Committee” of the Democratic Party of Montgomery County. The purpose of the Montgomery County Democratic Party is to represent and to serve Montgomery County Democrats. The MCDP advances this purpose: by connecting Montgomery County Democrats within an extended MCDP community where every member has a voice, by advancing candidates of the people who are dedicated to public service and whose principles align with those of the Democratic Party.
  4. An expansion of MEMBERSHIP: “The MCDP welcomes all Democrats registered in Montgomery County to become a member of the MCDP organization.”
  5. Endorsement recommendations by the Screening Committee shall be announced at least three days prior to the Central Committee meeting at which the recommendations will be acted on.
  6. Central Committee members may register their vote with the MCDP Secretary at any time during the three days prior to the Central Committee meeting.
  7. During the Central Committee meeting, any endorsement recommendations made from the floor, and seconded, will be communicated to Central Committee members not attending the meeting. Voting on these recommendations will occur via communication with the MCDP Secretary and voting will be concluded after 48 hours.
  8. The endorsement of Democratic Primary candidates shall occur after the Board of Election deadline for Democratic candidates to file for the primary.
  9. Central Committee votes on all motions for endorsements shall be by roll-call or by paper ballot with the member’s signature, or by registering the vote with the MCDP Secretary. For each endorsement, a record showing each Central Committee member’s vote shall be posted online
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Seventeen MCDP Central Committee Members Work In Prosecutor’s Office — My Email Urges Matt Heck To Stand For Transparency At Reorganization

Shown is County Prosecutor Matt Heck (in the front and in the middle) with his staff. Twenty members of the Prosecutor’s office were elected to the MCDP Central Committee and are eligible to vote at the MCDP Reorganization Meeting on June 6.

 

Seventeen of the 138 Democrats that were elected on May 8 to serve on the MCDP Central Committee work at the County Prosecutor’s office. This includes the prosecutor, Matt Heck, who was elected to be represent Centerville 1-B.

I’m wondering how such a large group emerged from Mr. Heck’s office and I wonder if they intend on voting as a block. In the wake of the Fairchild / Ward endorsement fiasco, the big issue for the MCDP is transparency. The MCCP endorsement of Rev Ward was bad politics, but the kicker to this bad decision is the fact that it was done in secret. There is no record of how individuals on the Central Committee voted.

My Email To Matt Heck

Mr. Heck:

I googled the name of each of the 138 Democrats recently elected to the MCDP Central Committee. You can be proud that more employees in your office have volunteered to be a Precinct Leader and to serve on the Central Committee than any other of the county offices. I count sixteen in total — and I wonder if I found everybody. (See list below.)

Several weeks ago, I sent by U.S. Mail a letter to all elected Central Committee members outlining ten proposed changes to the MCDP Constitution. After a good conversation with Mark Owens, I’ve simplified this list to nine items. You can read them in this post: Will The Montgomery County Democratic Party At Its Reorganization Meeting Choose To Be Transparent?

The MCDP must come to grips with the Fairchild / Ward debacle. The notion that a group of insiders would endorse one well-qualified Democrat over another well-qualified Democrat — and then spend party funds to force their choice on voting Democrats — is preposterous. Democrats are losing faith in the Democratic Party.

The key issue, however, is not that the MCDP is making ill-advised endorsements. The big problem is there is no accountability. I can’t discover who on the Central Committee voted to endorse, who voted against endorsing and who didn’t vote. If the MCDP continues to make decisions in secret, it does not deserve support.

As an influential voice in the community and in the MCDP, I hope that you will take a stand for transparency. I am going to make a motion for a roll-call vote on proposed changes to the MCDP Constitution. Sarah Greathouse is preparing a printed ballot to record each member’s vote so this will be an efficient way to have a record of each member’s vote.

Your sixteen employees who are Central Committee members may be looking to you for guidance. Please consider making a public statement, or a memo to these sixteen, indicating that you support a roll-call vote on changes to the MCDP Constitution. We need to leave the Reorganization Meeting as a united group. If we can’t agree on transparency then we will leave as a divided group.

Thanks for your consideration.
Sincerely, Mike Bock

Kettering 4-J

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Will The Montgomery County Democratic Party At Its Reorganization Meeting Choose To Be Transparent?

Nan Whaley, Dayton mayor and a big influence in the MCDP and Mark Owens, MCDP Chairman

I had a good meeting this morning with Mark Owens, Chairman of the Montgomery County Democratic Party, concerning nine motions I am making to change the MCDP Constitution. At the Reorganization Meeting on June 6, only a majority vote is needed to change the constitution.

I emphasized that the newly elected Central Committee must deal with Ward / Fairchild debacle. How did the party make such a bonehead decision that it should choose one qualified Democrat over another — and then proceed to spend party funds to tell Dayton Democrats how to vote?

The big problem is transparency. There is no record of how the decision was made to endorse Rev. Ward. There is no record of how Central Committee members voted. In this Ward / Fairchild matter, the MCDP acted like a secret society of insiders, rather than a representative body looking after the interests of all Democrats. Sarah Greathouse, Executive Secretary, wants to defend the action of the group by saying that the MCDP follows Roberts Rules, and that nobody asked for a roll-call vote. Yes — exactly. Nobody in that group wanted the vote concerning Ward / Fairchild to be on record and to be made public.

Roberts Rules says a motion to vote by roll-call, in order to be approved, requires a majority of those voting. I told Mark that, concerning all proposed changes to the Constitution, I would be making a motion for a roll-call vote and I asked if he would support such a motion. He refused to commit and said he would not make a recommendation to the Central Committee. I think it is important that he and other party leaders, like Nan Whaley, speak out in support of this motion for a roll call vote.

I said that Getting Out The Democratic Vote is a number one concern of the Democratic Party and that as a party we need to do some soul searching as to why so many Democratic voters are refusing to vote. I said we need to consider the possibility that some Democrats are not voting because they are mad at the party, they’ve lost faith and trust in the party.

A commitment to transparency as a party is one way to build trust. The elected members of the Central Committee, I believe, should make a change to the MCDP Constitution to make sure that in the matter of endorsement, that the party meet a high standard of transparency. I now have a list of nine proposed changes to the constitution — modified somewhat from the list of ten I shared in a previous post. For the first four there seems general agreement. The ninth proposed change is the key — a commitment to transparency.

At the Reorganization Meeting, my motion will be for a roll-call vote concerning changes to the constitution. I’ll be disappointed and somewhat amazed if a majority of the members of the Central Committee in attendance defeat the motion. I’m hoping that by wide consensus, the Montgomery County Democratic Party At Its Reorganization Meeting Will Choose To Be Transparent.

Proposed Changes to the MCDP Constitution

  1. PREAMBLE: “WE THE REPRESENTATIVES of the Democrats living in Montgomery County — in order to form a strong party organization that empowers representative democracy within our party and throughout the county — do establish this Montgomery County Democratic Party Constitution.
  2. A New Name: “The Montgomery County Democratic Party.”
  3. A New PURPOSE: “In accordance with the provisions of Section 3517 of the Ohio Revised Code, this organization shall be the “Controlling Committee” of the Democratic Party of Montgomery County. The purpose of the Montgomery County Democratic Party is to represent and to serve Montgomery County Democrats. The MCDP advances this purpose: by connecting Montgomery County Democrats within an extended MCDP community where every member has a voice, by advancing candidates of the people who are dedicated to public service and whose principles align with those of the Democratic Party.
  4. An expansion of MEMBERSHIP: “The MCDP welcomes all Democrats registered in Montgomery County to become a member of the MCDP organization.”
  5. Endorsement recommendations by the Screening Committee shall be announced at least three days prior to the Central Committee meeting at which the recommendations will be acted on.
  6. Central Committee members may register their vote with the MCDP Secretary at any time during the three days prior to the Central Committee meeting.
  7. During the Central Committee meeting, any endorsement recommendations made from the floor, and seconded, will be communicated to Central Committee members not attending the meeting. Voting on these recommendations will occur via communication with the MCDP Secretary and voting will be concluded after 48 hours.
  8. The endorsement of Democratic Primary candidates shall occur after the Board of Election deadline for Democratic candidates to file for the primary.
  9. Central Committee votes on all motions for endorsements shall be by roll-call or by paper ballot with the member’s signature, or by registering the vote with the MCDP Secretary. For each endorsement, a record showing each Central Committee member’s vote shall be posted online.
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Proposed Change To MCDP Constitution —All Endorsements Shall Be By Roll Call Vote Of The Central Committee

With its endorsement of Democrat Rev Ward over Democrat Rev Fairchild, the Montgomery County Democratic Party further eroded confidence in the party. The Selection Committee’s decision to endorse was not based on the competence and character of the two candidates. It was all about party politics. Evidently, Rev. Ward had more friends than Rev. Fairchild on the Selection Committee. There is no record of how this decision was made. The constitution calls for all endorsements to command a 2/3 support in the Central Committee. The problem is, there is no transparency. There is no way that I can discover who on the Central Committee voted for the endorsement and who voted against and who failed to vote.

The MCDP has lost legitimacy. I believe many Democrats are refusing to vote because they have lost confidence in the Democratic Party. To gain legitimacy, the Montgomery County Democratic Party Central Committee must uphold high standards for itself as a representative body. Of the ten proposed changes to the constitution, at the June 6 Reorganization Meeting, the one most crucial to find agreement on is number nine — calling for all endorsement votes to be by roll call and for this record to be made available to all Montgomery County Democrats. In addition to making a commitment to transparency, the MCDP must make a commitment to full participation. There is no good reason to maintain the rule that only those present at a meeting should have the right to vote. We need to make it easy for Central Committee members to participate in endorsement votes. Change number five calls for a period of five days for members to record their endorsement votes

 

1. Proposed Change — Addition of the following PREAMBLE, that will articulate the purpose of the Constitution:

WE THE REPRESENTATIVES of Montgomery County Democrats — in order to form a grassroots Democratic party organization that empowers representative democracy throughout the county — do establish this Montgomery County Democratic Party Constitution

2. Proposed Change — A New Name that will indicate that the MCDP is an organization of all Montgomery County Democrats, not just the Central Committee.

“The Montgomery County Democratic Party.”

3. Proposed Change — A New PURPOSE, that tells what the party seeks to accomplish.

The purpose of the Montgomery County Democratic Party is to unite Montgomery County Democrats within an extended MCDP community that nurtures, prepares and elect candidates that are of the people, for the people.

4. Proposed Change — An expansion of MEMBERSHIP so that the MCDP welcomes all Montgomery County Democrats, not just the Central Committee, into membership in a MCDP community:

The MCDP welcomes all Democrats registered in Montgomery County to become a member of the MCDP community. Every person who joins a local Democratic Committee also joins The MCDP. One reorganization goal is, by 2022, to create a large MCDP online community of at least 15% of Democrats registered in Montgomery County.

5. Proposed Change in Endorsement to increase the number of Committee Members who vote on Endorsement recommendations:

Endorsement recommendations by the Selection Committee must be announced at least five days prior to the Central Committee vote and Central Committee members may register their vote with the MCDP Secretary at any time during those five days. A vote of two-thirds of those voting is needed for endorsement.

6. Proposed Change in Endorsement to increase the number of Committee Members who vote on on Endorsement recommendations:

Endorsement nominations made from the floor, and seconded, will be communicated to Central Committee members not attending the meeting. Voting on these nominations will occur via communication with the MCDP Secretary and voting will be concluded after five days.

7. Proposed Change to prohibit early endorsements that suppress Primary participation:

The endorsement of Democratic Primary candidates must occur after the Board of Election deadline for filing for the primary.

8. Proposed Change in Endorsement to require the Endorsement of Primary candidates to command a super majority vote in the Central Committee:

To endorse a Primary candidate requires a vote of 75% of Central Committee members voting.

9. Proposed Change in Endorsement to show, as a representative body, transparency in Central Committee members’ votes:

All votes on endorsements will be by roll call. This roll call record, showing the action of each Central Committee member, will be posted on the MCDP website.

10. Proposed Change in STRUCTURE to undergird the present structure with a network of interconnected grassroots communities led by MCDP Central Committee members..

Democratic Caucuses for each of the five Ohio House Districts in the county.
Democratic Committees in each of the county’s sixteen political jurisdiction.

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