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.