Ironic — Speech At Central Committee Meeting Calling For The MCDP To Be “A Champion Of Democracy” Interrupted By ‘Non-Debatable’ Motion To Immediately Adjourn

The agenda for the March 28 Meeting for the MCDP Central Committee indicated a short meeting — it amounted to twelve minutes of announcements and reports. The you-tube video of the meeting shows that after this agenda ended, I addressed the group starting at 12:42.

My name is Mike Bock. I represent the Democrats in Kettering 4-J. I first became a member of the Central Committee in 2006, was reelected in 2010. Did not seek election in 2014 and was elected in 2018.

I am very concerned about the party and I think we all should be. How do we create a strong party that has unity? This is the question we need to think about. How do we make these meetings of the Central Committee the kind of meetings that members want to attend?

I checked the sign-in sheet and counted about 60 members in attendance this evening. That’s out of a total membership of about 240. Thanks to Alison and Tim Benford about 110 new members have been appointed to the Central Committee since the Reorganization Meeting last June. This big increase is great, but it’s not going to matter unless as an organization we do better. We should be alarmed that in 75% of our Central Committee members are absent tonight. This is a tiny turn-out. We are not doing anything in these meeting that gives any member a good reason to attend.

I’d like for everyone to have a copy of an email I sent to Mark Owens. In this letter I am saying that the Central Committee must become a deliberative body and we must begin talkinga bout important things. We need to do the hard work of researching and dialoging about questions of real importance. In the letter I suggest six issues for deliberation. In this meeting, nothing of consequence has happened — there only has been announcements and club reports — nothing that would interest the 75% of the members who chose not to attend.

The Central Committee needs to discuss and deliberate important questions. We need to come to grips with what a twenty-first century Democratic Party should look like. Last May at the Democratic Primary, Democrats elected a new Central Committee. At the June Reorganization Meeting there were three big changes to the MCDP Constitution — pointing to a new direction of the party. The new Preamble says: “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 — withing our party, and within the whole county — do establish the Montgomery County Democratic Party Constitution.”

I think we will become a strong party when we become a champion of democracy — when we become known as champions of democracy. I like the idea in the movie “American Creed,” that Alison referred to, that citizens need to work together to find common ground. What really unites Americans is our love for America. We love America. We all want our system of government to succeed but it is falling apart right now. We have no unity, we are pulling against each other.

Ralph Nader famously said that the Republican Party and the Democratic Party are like Coke and Pepsi. They are both trying to sell you something. People are cynical and sick of politics as it is now. We shouldn’t make it our goal to become better politicians. We need to stand for something. We need to stand for something as a party that transcends politics. We need to let people know that we are champions of democracy. We need to do the hard work of deliberation. We need to show our devotion to democracy by what we are doing in this room, by what we talk about in this room, by how we empower ourselves in this room.

There’s only 60 people here this evening. What does that poor attendance say? It says most members saw no value in coming to this meeting. We didn’t have an agenda for this meeting. We are not operating in a professional way. These remarks might sound negative, like I have some animus in my heart. I love you all. I want the party to be successful. How to make the party successful is the question.

Here’s is what we need to do. In most organizations, the real work is done in committees. Deliberation works best in small groups. Right now, this organization has no active committees, except, maybe, finance. (I turned to Kurt Hatcher and he verified.)

Where is the committee to do what our constitution challenges us to do? Where is the committee — “To connect Montgomery County Democrats within an extended MCDP community where every member has a voice…” That’s a big deal. Montgomery County has 60,000 registered Democrats. Why are we not brainstorming and making a plan for engaging our base?

Where is the committee that is studying the 2018 election in Montgomery County? There has been no report. Montgomery County voted for Trump and for DeWine. Why did we allow that to happen? Why won’t Democrats come out and vote? We have precincts that voted 90% – 95% for Cordray. It’s amazing. But these strong precinct only had a turn-out of 40%. What can we do to make 2020 different? Why aren’t we talking about this? What is our plan?

So, I’d like to make a motion …

At this point, although I had the floor, the chair recognized a young woman who had been waving her hand for some time. She identified herself as Kyle Tromley. (Later, I discovered that Kyle is 24 years old and works as an Administrative Assistant for Karl Keith, the county auditor.) Had Miss Tromley had an urgent insight that she just couldn’t wait to share, that would have been one thing. But, as it turned out, her motivation was pure harassment. She said: “I’ve been coming to every one of these meetings for the last two years. I’ve been active in campaigns. I’ve been working my tail off along with a lot of other people in this room. Every meeting we have to listen to hear you go off on this ramble, time and time again. But, I’m just interested in hearing what YOU are going to do to make some of these things happen…” There was some back and forth and I wish I had focused on Roberts’ Rules, and insisted that the chair control the meeting, but I did not.

So, anyway, I’d like to make a motion. I’d like to make a motion that …

At this point, the chair recognized Karl Keith. I hadn’t noticed that he had raised his hand. Karl said, “Madam Speaker, I move to adjourn.” (See 19:02 on video. The meeting had lasted 19 minutes.) Immediately there were three members crying “I second that motion.” Diane Walsh, the Vice-Chairperson of the MCDP who was chairing the meeting, quickly said: “A proper motion has been placed on the floor…” I said that Karl’s motion to adjourn should be discussed. I asked Karl: “Why to you want to adjourn?” He responded that “A motion to adjourn is always in order and it is non-debatable.”

After a voice vote seemed about even, there was a standing vote that defeated the motion something like 48 to 12. Standing with Karl to demand immediate adjournment were at least two of his employees in the Auditor’s office: Kyle Tromley, his 24 year old Administrative Assistant and also Mike Brill, his 25 year old Executive Assistant. Also standing with Karl calling for immediate adjournment was Russ Joseph, County Treasurer, and Jamie Rippey, Dayton School Board candidate.

After some back and forth, I started again.

Thank you for voting to continue the meeting a little longer …

Then I noticed that Heath MacAlpine had his hand raised. Again, I didn’t insist on completing my motion. Heath basically wanted to say that he agreed with one point that I was trying to make — the notion that the MCDP needs to be organized into active committees. After Heath, and after a young woman rose to speak something about working on campaigns and signing up, again, I was just about to make my motion when Kurt Hatcher, the Executive Director, asked to say a few words before I made the motion. I should have held my ground and insisted on making the motion and asking for a second. But, I gave the mic to Kurt. As it turned out, Kurt wanted everyone to know that he is doing his job and trying real hard. Karl Keith asked to be recognized and he said that since Mark Owens, the MCDP Chairman, could not attend this meeting that it would be good to have a one-on-one discussion with Mark, saying, “If there is to be any committees appointed, the chairman will be appointing those committees.” (Karl’s concern that Mark had not been included in my email was not founded. Kurt confirmed that when my email bounced that he forwarded the email to Mark.) Then Beverly King, the MCDP secretary also sitting at the front table, moved to table the discussion until the next meeting. The motion to table quickly got a second and I should have asked for the motion to be discussed, but I did not. The motion passed unanimously by voice vote — almost. I said “No” and I think I heard one other voice say “No.”

The you-tube video shows that entire meeting lasted only 30 minutes.

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