Tuesday, May 13, 2003

MDC By-Laws amendments defeated, despite Pettis' and Grodman's Support

Well, as I reported on Sunday, the MDC met last night to consider some by-laws changes. The effect of these changes, produced with little input beyond MDC Chair Doug Bland and By-Laws Committee Chair Jon Zeifert, would have been to stifle debate within the party, entrench the leadership, and allow the nominating process to proceed "under cover of darkness."

The by-laws changes were, by the way, defeated on almost straight factional lines - the Profeta/Bland/Newark Machine members voting in favor of the amendments, the remainder voting to keep openness as a party principle by opposing the changes. It was telling that, on a vote intended to prevent most secret ballots, district leader (and Pettis/Leventhal campaign committee member) Henry "Dytunck" Hamel requested a secret ballot. Bland, to his credit, ruled the request out of order.

It was clear from the start that Bland didn't have the 2/3 majority he needed to pass the changes, but he soldiered on and put them to the membership anyway. As noted, the votes were on almost straight factional lines. I apologize in advance if I have the vote counts off slightly - I didn't write 'em down at the time. There were, I believe, 14 members of the Profeta/Bland contingent present as well as 14 others. It was surprising how few of Fred's/Doug's folks showed up - they were the ones who called the meeting, after all. (If someone has the actual attendance/vote count numbers, please send 'em to me.)

The first of the amendments, to curtail the right to a secret ballot, was defeated 13-15. The second and third amendments, extending the terms of MDC officers, were also defeated, 14-14 (thus failing of a 2/3 majority). The fourth change, allowing the MDC Candidates Nominating Commitee to ignore any candidates they don't want to talk to, also failed of even a simple majority, garnering only 10 votes in favor.

The most notable thing to come out of these votes was to see where MDC member and current TC candidate Ken Pettis stood. I was personally disappointed to see my friend Ken go along with the machine guys and vote to stifle openness within the MDC...but there it is - Ken Pettis voted YES on every single one of these amendments. So much for the Pettis-Leventhal campaign's tag line "...not politics as usual"

Related, and not unexpectedly, Maplewood Township Committee member Ian Grodman also voted to enact three of the four amendments, abstaining on the final one (maybe because he saw which way the wind was blowing ???).

Considering the lengths Doug Bland, Jon Ziefert, and MDC Vice-Chair Lydia Lacey went to in order to slip these changes in under the radar, they certainly didn't manage it very well. It doesn't bode well for the town if the machine's hand-picked candidates win the Primary and then try to manage the Township in the same way - i.e. poorly planned, poorly communicated, and intolerant of dissent. Maplewood deserves a lot better.

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