Monday, March 17, 2008

Proposed Amendments to the By-Laws of the Medina County Democratic Party

Medina County Democratic Party

Paragraph two of The PREAMBLE of the BYLAWS for the Medina County Democratic Party:
“We acknowledge that a political party that wishes to lead must listen to those it would lead; a party that asks for the people's trust must prove that it trusts the people; and a party that hopes to call forth the best our nation can achieve must embody the best of the nation's heritage and traditions. In accordance with the Constitution of the United States and the State of Ohio and the Constitution and Bylaws of the National and Ohio Democratic Parties, we pledge to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of a society of free people.”

So how are we doing? From the perspective of having served for two years as a Precinct person and Central Committee Member, we are doing reasonably well, but we should be doing better, for the following reason.

• Medina County has 151 Precincts but only 63 Precinct persons were elected at the just completed March Primary. This means that 88 (~58%) of the Precincts do not have benefit of an elected Precinct person. If Precinct persons serve a beneficial role, then why are there so many vacancies?

Speaking as a Precinct person who was appointed to the Central Committee in 2006, I have, by my initiative been involved in various activities. However, there has not been a meeting of the Central Committee, to my knowledge, since my appointment. Nor have there been any communications to me about activities of the Executive Committee. This concerned me, so I undertook to try to find out why. A careful review of the BYLAWS received by me shortly after appointment, but only now critically examined, reveals some likely causes that should be changed to achieve possible solutions.

1. Precinct persons are elected on the same four year cycle as the Presidential election in the March primary. The filing petition deadline is 60 days before the primary date, or about 3 January for 2008. This means the candidates will very likely need to secure the petition form from the BOE, and then make contact with at least five registered Democrats, who reside in their Precinct to seek their signatures on the petition, during the busy holiday season which may why many Precincts have not even a single candidate filing for Precinct person. Perhaps there is a way to do better than this.

2. Once elected, the Precinct persons and now Central Committee Members are called to an organization meeting to elect a fifteen member Executive Committee and four Committee Officers. This is the only meeting of the Central Committee until four years later when the next four year election cycle produces a new group of elected or re-elected Precinct persons. Perhaps there is a way to do better than this.

3. The fifteen Central Committee Members elected to serve as the Executive Committee participate in Executive Committee meetings, at least six per year, and it is the responsibility of the Secretary to provide access to meeting proceedings or minutes to the Executive Committee Members only. The Executive Committee has no apparent accountability to provide feedback to the Central Committee. Perhaps there is a way to do better than this.

So what might be done in order to try to improve? The BYLAWS can be changed by amendment. The BYLAWS stipulate that the BYLAWS should be reviewed every four years, and any proposed changes are to be voted on at the organization meeting of the Central Committee. With the organization meeting date close upon us, perhaps in early April, now is the time to get the amendments on the agenda, where they can be debated and voted upon. If not done now, it will be 2012 before we will have the next opportunity!

The BYLAWS contains eighteen ARTICLES. It is proposed that seven ARTICLES need to be amended to accomplish the following changes.

1. Change to a two year election cycle from the current four year election cycle for the Central Committee Precinct persons.
• The next election will be in two years, or 2010, which has a later May primary. This moves the petition process until after the busy holiday season for the candidates for the off-Presidential election years at least.

2. Clarify language to reflect that the four officers; Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, Secretary, and Treasurer serve as officers for both the Central and Executive Committees to be elected by majority vote of the Central Committee at the organizational meeting.

3. Hold the Central Committee organization meeting following the Precinct person elections on a two year cycle.
• This doubles the frequency that the Central Committee will meet.

4. Expand availability of the official proceedings or minutes, of the Executive Committee meetings to both the Executive Committee and Central Committee members to accomplish accountability feedback.
• This increase of communication should facilitate more bottom-up participation, input to party activities, and improve teamwork.

5. Change the cycle for BYLAW review from four years to two years to be acted upon at the organizational Central Committee meeting.
• Enables a more nimble organization, ready to more quickly change process to improve when it is recognized that improvement is needed.

If you are a Precinct person who will be participating in the upcoming organizational meeting, it is requested that the proposed BYLAW amendments be given your serious consideration and ultimately your support.
Thank you,

Bob Simmons, Wadsworth Township Precinct B committee person.


The Sage said...

How in the world did you get a copy of the By-Laws? I am a Committee Person too, and I once was very interested in figuring out how our county party was structured. I asked many times for copies of the structural documentation for our party and, I am a little ashamed to say, I was stonewalled so effectively that I gave up.

I am still interested in how things work in our county party. Would anyone be willing to share our county level By-Laws and/or Charter and/or Constitution?

Anonymous said...

DEM protein bylaws:

A. Medina County Precinct persons must approve Central Committee actions. (Grass roots instead of perforce top-down).

B. Medina County Precinct persons must vote and authorize drop shipment of all Central Committee actions to the State Central Committee. (Grass roots instead of top-down.)

C. SCC must respond to each action within sixty days. If no response to each action, Medina Central Committee must ignore SCC rules, policies, procedures and rally cries for 366 days. This bylaw imposes penalty upon SCC. Violation of this section by member(s) of Medina Central Committee is removal of member(s) from Medina Central Committee.

NOTE: Do not worry about in-fighting and frivolous charges; because now these take place at meeting instead of whisper campaigns.

The intent of your bylaw changes is cosmetic. Economically speaking, Monopoly and monopolistic competition can gouge the people far above fair market value. Current and proposed Central Committee bylaws classify 21% of voters as followers. Central Committee reality proves members are bullies and power brokers willing to grant support to candidates for a few words in black and white, while adding ME NEXT!

It takes 50 % of voter approvals to outright win an election. Current Bylaws keep everything a secret to, at the proper time (election); impose central thought and central action on followers (blind sheep) by power broker.

Free people and free competition assumes full knowledge of political actions and consequences.

NOTE: So you irritate a few power brokers, they will not leave their power base, but you inform voters and this raises the positive voter level to 50%.

If you want serious presidential candidates to stop in Medina County, let them know that Medina Central Committee, with its bylaws, is grass roots.

Just Bob

Anonymous said...

Dave Osborne says: As a new precinct committeeman but a former 19 year elected officer, to change from a 4 year term is impractical. The 1st proposed amendment reason (getting 5 signatures over the holidays) just isn't valid. You can get your petitions whenever you want. Surely getting 5 signatures can't take so many hours so to promote changing the entire 4 year cycle. I see no problem with proposed amendment 2. If there is another argument against it, let's hear it. #3 Instead of just after election, why not amend the bylaws to require an annual meeting of the central committee? Proposed #4 could be added (or amended to) the current bylaws to REQUIRE minutes of ANY meeting be made available to all central committee members through whatever venue the committeeperson chooses. #5 is OK but I recommend the BYLAWS could be amended at any of the annual meetings as I suggested in #3.

Bob WTwpB said...

Blog Response:
Good to see some debate, thanks to those participating and others are encouraged to join in.
If we can agree that the objective is to improve upon the current condition that about 60% of the county precincts won’t have an elected party representative for the next four years, then a solution is needed.
To quote the Party Chair: “As Chair, however, I take responsibility for this and know that we should begin much earlier and much more comprehensively 4 years from now to field a full slate for the Central Committee.”
However, if Bylaw changes are required to adjust the process and significantly increase the percentage of precincts represented, the first opportunity for Bylaw changes is the upcoming Central Committee organizing meeting, or wait the next organizing meeting in 2012. Thus, the urgency to develop proposed Bylaw amendments for consideration and action by the Central Committee.
Let’s consider again what any proposed Bylaw changes should accomplish.
1. Cause the Central Committee to meet more frequently that every four years when the primary purpose is to re-organize.
a. How about having the Central Committee meet at least once annually with a review of Bylaws as one agenda topic?
b. With the reorganization meeting date typically in early spring, say April, the next meeting could be held at a future time, at the discretion of the Executive Committee, determined to be most beneficial for activities prior to the November general election.
c. There could be an attendance requirement for Precinct representatives to insure participation and facilitate networking.
d. With the current practice of appointing some number of Precinct Representatives who did not petition for election, for whatever reason, this would provide for those appointed to have the opportunity and requirement to attend meetings of the Central Committee.
e. More frequent Central Committee meetings with concurrent Bylaw review would enable the opportunity to address process changes, Bylaw or other, to deal with the recruitment and participation of more Precinct Representative Candidates in the next election cycle and stay with the present four year election cycle. If needed, following appropriate debate, additional Bylaw changes may or may not be needed, but opportunity for those changes would be possible at each of the Central Committee meetings.
In response to Dave’s comments, it is accepted that a perspective candidate does not need to wait till middle or late December to obtain a petition, collect at least five valid signatures, and file the completed petition with the BOE. So if the holiday season barrier is not the primary barrier to filing, what is? If the process is initiated by some action or communication from the Party Leadership, it is perhaps too late in starting. Perhaps something else is the barrier. The process needs to be evaluated and efforts to improve should be made. What brings a registered Democrat to want to participate in the County Party organization as an elected Precinct person and thus a Central Committee member? I have some ideas, what are yours? Perhaps a survey of the newly elected Precinct Representatives and the yet to be appointed Precinct Representatives needs to be made.
Operating with no official timing for the upcoming Central Committee re-organization meeting, one can only guess how much time is available to meet the current Bylaw amendment process. According to an article in the Sunday Beacon Journal, Summit County Democrats are holding their meeting on April 17th.
Bob – Wadsworth Township Precinct B