Sunday, May 11, 2003

What's up with Doug Bland and the "New" Maplewood Democratic Committee?

I guess it wasn't enough for the Newark Democratic machine to wrest control of Maplewood's party organization. They have to make sure that we locals never get control back, either.

With little advance notice, Maplewood Democratic Committee (MDC) Chairman G. Douglas Bland distributed some proposed changes to the MDC's by-laws, to be voted on at the next MDC meeting on May 12. Although MDC district Leader Amanda Jaffe is a member of the by-laws committee, she was never called to attend a meeting where these changes might have been discussed. Theodora "Theo" Buklad, former Township Committee member and previous party Chair, is a member of the MDC Executive Committee and, although the current by-laws require Executive Committee approval of any proposed by-laws changes, she never saw them either. Mr. Bland, when asked about the apparent oversight, merely referred Ms. Jaffe to the by-laws commitee chairman, Jon Ziefert (who has, so far, not responded).

Of course, neither Ms. Jaffe nor Ms. Buklad are on Mr. Bland's "good guy" list, because they chose last year to support the party's "line" candidates, who lost to the challengers in last year's primary. Mr. Bland and the majority of the current MDC were elected as the challengers last year, with the encouragement and financial support of that quintessential Newark Machine guy, Joe DiVincenzo.

It's also worth noting that Mr. Bland called this meeting for 6:30 PM - an hour earlier than any MDC meeting in memory. I guess he's figuring that he only needs a quorum of 13 members to pass the changes, and if everyone else shows up at 7:30, so much the better - the new by-laws will be a fait accompli by then.

Reading through by-laws can be a dry, uninspiring experience, but read them I did - with the proposed changes close at hand. Doug provided only the few changes themselves, without the originals for comparison. When I asked for a copy, his reply was, simply, that everyone ought already to have a copy. Here are the changes, the original texts,, and my comments on what these changes might mean. I think you'll see what I had in mind in the opening paragraph of this item.

The By-Laws changes unleashed
Location in By-LawsOriginal TextNew TextMy Analysis
Article Three, Section 2. Voting Rights (last sentence)Unless any member calls for a secret ballot, all votes shall be by hand and shall be open votes."Unless the majority of the members present calls for a secret ballot, all votes shall be by hand and shall be open votes."MDC members have no right to a secret ballot, unless the majority wants one. Can you say "tyranny of the majority?" Or maybe "intimidation?"
Article Five, Section 2. Term of OfficeThe term of office for all officers shall be one year or until a successor is duly electedThe term of office for all officers shall be concurrent with their term as members of the Committee or until a successor is duly electedTThe officers may serve, at their own discretion, until they choose to step down or they are defeated for re-election. Sure, this may just be incredibly ham-handed wording intended to make the terms 2 years instead of 1, but it could certainly be interpreted the other way - and it no doubt will be, sooner or later.
Article Five, Section 3. Election of Officers (second sentence)All officers shall be elected annually at the June organizational meeting of the CommitteeAll officers shall be elected at the June organizational meeting of the Committee immediately following the Democratic primary election in which the members of the Committee were elected.Reinforcing the Article 5 Section 2 "serve forever" change
Article Seven, Section 4. Nominating Committee (second sentence of subparagraph (a) )It shall interview persons who wish to run for the position of Township CommitteeIt may interview persons who wish to run for the position of Township CommitteeThey won't have to talk to anyone, for any reason - they can pick their candidates without reference to anyone outside the committee. No need to bother ever again with those tediously inconvenient Democrats who don't kowtow.

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