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  • Writer's pictureBen Yee

Breakdown: 10/1/18 State Committee Organizing Meeting

Updated: Apr 19, 2019

Monday, October 1 was the 2018 Re-Organizing meeting of the State Democratic Party - and it was a travesty.

After every election of Committee members, the political Parties are required to meet within 20 days to “Re-organize”. That is, elect new Committee leadership and adopt rules for the governance of the Party. At this past meeting, several resolutions were also to be considered, including one condemning #MailerGate and requiring new rules for the sending of State Party mailers.

While I could go into the intricacies of the resolutions, their complex introduction given the compressed 20-day timeline before the meeting and election of new Committee Members, it’s largely beside the point. While I could ask why Michael Reich, Joe Crowley’s enforcer from Queens was running the meeting when we have an elected Chair, it’s meaningless. Immediately after the voice-vote confirming the election of Party leadership slate, and in the middle of a motion to address questions about that vote, the meeting was illegally and summarily adjourned.

While the full meeting may have lasted 20 minutes, business is only conducted in the last five; ending in a shouting match as to whether the Committee can be considered adjourned without a vote (it can’t).

I’ve been working for reform within the Democratic Party for nearly a decade. I’ve seen a lot, but very few things as bad as this. In their rush to confirm their leadership slate, in their fear of addressing deep concerns about the impartiality and misuse of the Democratic Party, they shut down a meeting with representatives from all across the State after 5 minutes of business. While a motion to adjourn technically takes precedence over all other things, the fact that the vote was called from a podium where the acting Chair’s decision was currently being challenged, without any visible or audible input of the body, is a disgrace.

While we can introduce the #MailerGate resolution before the next State Committee meeting and ensure it’s on the agenda with the signatures of members, restoring democracy to the Democratic Party is a much harder process. Rest assured, reformers are exploring our options - including legal recourse - to force the Party to recognize its rules and undertake meaningful votes in the governance of our Party.

Following the debacle in the full Committee meeting, members from each Judicial District were split up to elect two Executive Committee members - one male and one female - each. Manhattan comprises its own Judicial District, JD 1, and unanimously re-elected Dan Cohen as the male representative.

The female representative position was a hotly contested race between Maria Luna, a District Leader and State Committeewoman from uptown and Rachel Lavine, the Committeewoman from my home district of AD 66. In the end, Lavine edged out Luna by a single vote (or 600 weighted votes) to become JD 1’s female representative. The Executive Committee representatives have votes on the Executive Committee, but with 31 (effectively) appointed vice-chairs many of whom are NOT elected State Committee Members, their voices are often muted.

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