A DDN article today, “Public Workers’ Political Activity Limited,” tells that one-fourth of the 186 members of the Central Committee of the Montgomery County Democratic Party (MCDP) are employed as Montgomery County government workers, and one-tenth of the 278 members of the Central Committee of the Montgomery County Republican Party (MCRP) are county government workers.
Amazing that the Republican Party, in having a significantly larger number of members of their Central Committee, appear to be more “democratic,” than the Democratic Party. Both parties fall short, since all 360 precincts in the county are eligible to be represented on each party’s Central Committee. But, the Democrats have only 52% of the precincts represented on their Central Committee, while the Republicans have 77% represented.
Interesting that of the small number of active members of MCDP, such a large portion are local government workers. The article explains that Ohio law prohibits “classified” county workers from being members of a political party’s Central Committee, but the law permits “unclassified workers” to be members. A “classified employee” is protected by civil service rules, while an “unclassified” employee “works at the will of elected officials.” The fact that 45 or more members of the Central Committee owe their jobs to Democratic elected officials and have no civil service protection explains a lot about the local party. If employees feel there’s favoritism in the workplace, they can reach out to employment law professionals in Washington DC or any other state or district.
The next biggest bloc in the MCDP are Democratic elected officials, themselves. I don’t know how many, but, I’m guessing a dozen, or more (When I get that data I’ll update this post.) The Party Chair, Mark Owens, is an elected official — appointed as Clerk of Dayton Municipal Court in 1991 and regularly reelected. And, the Executive Committee Vice Chair, Karl L. Keith, also, is an elected official — appointed Montgomery County Auditor in December 2000 and reelected ever since.
The inside clique of the local party actively suppresses participation of Democrats in primaries, preferring to hand pick candidates. They suppress membership in the Central Committee — refusing to advertise to uninformed Democrats the opportunity to be part of the Reorganization Meeting that happens every four years. .
I’ve been a member of the MCDP Central Committee since 2006, and have met many wonderful, dedicated, and well meaning people in the Party. But, the problem is, too many practices of the Party are antidemocratic, and, the result is, the Party is failing to attract young people to meaningful leadership, failing to generate strong Democratic candidates, failing to articulate a progressive vision that would inspire and unite citizens into active participation.
The Party cannot expect to achieve its potential, so long as it clings to its antidemocratic practices. It seems one big factor, making these practices difficult to change, is the fact that the MCDP is essentially controlled by members, who, because of their employment or elected office status, have a personal economic interest in maintaining the status quo.
Special Interests Controlling Montgomery County Democratic Party Suppress Expansion Of Participation
January 22nd, 2010
The leadership of the Montgomery County Democratic Party, it appears, is really not much interested in expanding the Party’s membership. It is all about control. It is all about maintaining the status of special interests.
Last night I attended the January meeting of the Montgomery County Democratic Party. I asked our chairperson, Mark Owens, about publicity for the upcoming Reorganization Meeting. …
At the December meeting, I made a motion that the Party spend $500 in advertising to attempt to inform Montgomery County Democrats about our big Reorganization Meeting this Spring. My motion went nowhere, but Mark, at that time, indicated that he would take action to publicize this important event. But, nothing.
The deadline for potential delegates to the Reorganization Meeting to file with the Board of Elections is soon upon us — February 18.
I pointed out to Mark that information about this deadline is not even on the Party’s local web-site. Mark indicated, however, that he intended on putting a notice on the web-site very soon. Yesterday, I posted, “To Reform Our ‘Political Class’ System, We Need A Grassroots Movement To Reform Our Political Parties.” The current leadership of the Montgomery County Democratic Party shows no interest in motivating such a grassroots movement.
At the start of the Central Committee Meeting, as people were milling about, I pointed out to Gary Steiger (since deceased) that, likely, most of those present were earning their personal income via their political efforts. There was an unusual number of elected officials in attendance — because the all important Screening Committee, of which they are members, had met prior to the Central Committee Meeting.
Those who might be thought of as “regular Democrats,” last night, I’m guessing, were outnumbered by Democratic elected officials and Democrats who earn their income via patronage jobs provided by the Party. These vested Democrats control the local Democratic party. …
The Democrats who control the local Democratic Party organization, it seems, are in one of two special interest groups:
1. Individuals who make their income via their political connection, with the chair, Mark Owens, the model for this group.
2. Individuals who feel that because of their longevity and service to the Party, they are entitled to special privilege.
Individuals in both groups are likable and well meaning. But they are mistaken, because they have no interest in the Party operating democratically, no interest in expanding the group to include a lot of “regular Democrats.”
Mark defends the policies and practices of the current leadership and asserts that a majority of Montgomery County Democrats agree with the current leadership. I believe, absolutely, he is wrong. Mark is not taking a chance. He is not using the opportunity of the coming Reorganization Meeting to invite “regular Democrats” to meaningful participation within the local party.
The antidemocratic policies of the current party leadership, that focuses on advancing the special interests of the current leadership, mean that it is impossible for the Party to do a good job. The inertia of the group is overwhelming. The group is stuck in the old ways — including topdown boss management — from 50 years ago.
The internet makes it possible to form active meaningful communities in which individuals are empowered with shared information and empowered to make meaningful participation. But empowering regular Democrats to full participation in the Party seems risky to those individual who already enjoy special privileges — so the Montgomery County Democratic Party falls far short of accomplishing what it should and could accomplish. …
The only hope for the Party’s future is that the Party begin to act as a meaningful democratic community — infused with new blood, new ideas, new commitment. The requirement written into state law that political parties must organized according to democratic principles, through free elections, is very wise. We simply need to see that this law is effectively followed — regardless that the special interests are now in control of the local party.
Political parties are essential to our democracy. For our democracy to have any chance of working, political parties must themselves be democratic. We now have less than four weeks to alert and involve Montgomery County Democrats — before the February 18 deadline.
Previous posts on this topic:
- Proposal To Stop Democratic Primary Endorsements in Montgomery County Quashed At Reorganization Meeting, June 3rd, 2010
- At MCDP Reorganization Meeting I Will Propose A Change In By-Laws To Prohibit Primary Endorsements, June 2nd, 2010
- Reorganization Meeting For Montgomery County Democrats Unlikely To Bring Any ImprovementBy Mike Bock, on May 13th, 2010
- Mark Owens Says Most Montgomery Dems Approve The Party’s Suppression Of Primary Participation
- The Montgomery Democrats Decide to Suppress Democracy — Just Like the Republicans By Mike Bock, on December 14th, 2007
- The Mission of the Democratic Party Should Be to Empower Democracy to Work By Mike Bock, on October 26th, 2007
- Victor Harris: Surprised That Local Democratic Party Wanted To Suppress Primary CompetitionBy Mike Bock, on February 25th, 2008