Democratic District Leaders Doug Schneider (D-Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington) and Josue ‘Josh’ Pierre (D-Flatbush, Ditmas Park) kicked off 2019 with the submission of four amendments to the governing rules the Kings County Democratic County Committee (“County Committee Rules”).
The two progressive non-paid party officials called the changes common-sense amendments to address the systematic problems that plague the Brooklyn Democratic Party. They cover four principle areas, proxies/voting; meeting agendas; meeting minutes; and the conduct of meetings.
The proposed amendments comes following a rowdy and raucous Kings County Democratic County Committee meeting last September, in which both entrenched and Progressive Dems agreed on one thing – reforms are needed in the way proxy votes are handled.
The first amendment would change the rules to allow proxies to be submitted electronically; require proxies to be filed 24 hours before the next meeting; and require a list of submitted proxies to be emailed to County Committee Members no later than one hour before the meeting. It would also require a public record to be kept of each vote or abstention of each member.
The second proposed amendment would change the procedures for creating and distributing the agendas for all meetings. If passed, the agenda would be required to include a short description of the matters that will be voted on at the upcoming meeting and the Party would be required to email the agenda to Members of the County Committee, and put it on the Party’s website, no later than five days before the next meeting.
Similarly, the third amendment would address the Party’s failure to maintain minutes of any of its meetings by requiring the minutes from the last meeting to be available for inspection by any Member of the County Committee within 10 days after a meeting and requiring the minutes to be emailed to Members of the County Committee, and put on the Party’s website, no later than five days before the next meeting.
The final amendment would create the position of Parliamentarian. The Parliamentarian would be required to be an expert in Roberts Rules of Order and accredited by the National Association of Parliamentarians, the American Institute of Parliamentarians, or any other reputable body that certifies parliamentarians.
Once established, during any meeting, the person chairing the meeting would have the ability to refer any matter to the Parliamentarian for a binding ruling. Likewise, if the chair issues a ruling without consulting the Parliamentarian, that ruling can be appealed to the Parliamentarian by a majority vote of the Members of the County Committee eligible to vote at the meeting for a binding ruling.
“The Brooklyn Democratic Party can and should be the most influential local Democratic Party in the country. Instead, the only time we get attention is when our local “Keystone Cops” send out fake letters under misspelled names or when our meetings devolve into juvenile shouting matches. The amendments that Josh and I proposed are not revolutionary. They reflect the ways that local Democratic parties operate all over the country. We cannot become the Democratic Party that Brooklyn wants and deserves unless we attack the archaic, disorganized, and opaque rules and conduct of the Party,” Schneider said.
“These common-sense, long overdue reforms would only be the start of the much-needed overhaul of the Brooklyn Democratic Party. The changes we propose would increase transparency and efficiency and, we hope, start to rebuild the trust between the members and leadership of the Party that will be required if we are every going to meet our full potential. I can think of no better way to kick off 2019 then to finally and seriously commit to reforming the Brooklyn Democratic Party,” Pierre added.
Kings County Democratic Party Boss Frank Seddio was not available to comment at post time, but KCP forwarded the proposed amendments to longtime Democratic District Leader, former City Council Member and attorney Lew Fidler, who is a veteran of Brooklyn Democratic Party infighting, and said he took a quick glance at the amendments.
“Some things have merit. Others not so much. They are addressing some areas that need to be fixed but as always the devil is in the details,” said Fidler.
Schneider said he submitted the amendments to the Party’s Executive Director Jeff Feldman this morning where it will be referred to the rules committee meeting sometime this month. It then moves through the executive committee made up of the 42 Democratic District leaders.
“The goal here is obviously is to get the amendments to a vote by the entire county committee,” Schneider said.