Interesting exchange last evening with Kurt Hatcher, Executive Director of the MCDP, following the March meeting of the MCDP Central Committee. I told Kurt that I’d like to be sent a list of members in attendance. Kurt replied that he would not honor my request because the Central Committee had voted in the January meeting to omit any record of attendance in the minutes of the Central Committee meetings.
I have no memory of a vote to make Central Committee attendance a secret. We checked the January minutes and agreed that there is no record in the January minutes of such a vote. Kurt said that since he feels certain that the minutes are in error, he will not include Central Committee attendance as part of the March minutes, nor will he honor my request that he forward the attendance information to me.
A decision by the Central Committee to make the record of attendance of its meetings a secret would be perfectly absurd, but Kurt’s memory about the January meeting might be correct. After all, in that same January meeting, the group voted that the email addresses of Central Committee members should be kept secret — even from fellow Central Committee members. Yes, read that again.
Ohio’s Revised Code sets out rules for elected bodies. I wonder if laws establishing transparency for elected bodies apply to Central Committees — elected bodies established by Ohio law? I am going to do some research.
In the May 2018 Democratic Primary, there were about 130 members elected to the MCDP Central Committee. Of those, only about 100 showed up to the Reorganization Meeting. Now — thanks to the yeoman work of Tim and Alison Benford — about 110 new members have been appointed to the Central Committee. (Unlike elected members, appointed members are not required to live in the precinct that they represent.)
This evening, of the 240 individuals who are members of the Central Committee, only 60 showed up — 75% of the Central Committee was absent.
I’ve got to think that wanting attendance to be secret is about absence, not attendance. Remember, every four years these absent members must put their name on the ballot and stand for reelection. Incumbents are rarely challenged. Members of the Central Committee supposedly are accountable to Democratic voters — that’s why we have elections — but, accountability requires transparency and in Montgomery County the Democratic Party keeps secret the record of attendance at Central Committee meetings.
The MCDP needs to make Central Committee meetings more meaningful. Why show up to a meeting where nothing of consequence happens? Here is the agenda for last evening’s evening: The Pledge of Allegiance, the introduction of one newly appointed Central committee member, a report from each of the leaders of the four Democratic Clubs, an appeal to purchase Frolic For Funds tickets, a moment of Silence for John Chatman, and a pitch to attend the ODP Legacy Dinner ($200). That’s it.
After this short agenda was concluded, I asked to address the group. I pointed out that nothing much of consequence had happened in the meeting and that this failure to have a meaningful meeting is maddening — because Democrats are looking to the party for leadership. The Democratic Party has huge challenges we are failing to address. There is much to be deliberating about, but deliberation requires planning and effort. I pointed out that in any legislative group, or club, the real work is done in committees and then the committee’s research and recommendations are presented to the whole group for deliberation. Kurt verified that the MCDP has no active committees. There was more discussion and push-back. A motion was made to table the discussion and the group enthusiastically agreed.