Category Archives: MCDCC

The Top Twenty Seventh State Posts of 2020, Part Two

By Adam Pagnucco.

Yesterday, we listed posts 11 through 20 in terms of page views for the year 2020. Here are the top ten.

  1. Volcano in Rockville

In the wake of former Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Andrew Kleine’s admitted ethics violations, County Executive Marc Elrich wanted him to stay in his job. But the county council was outraged by the scandal and exploded in public fury. The council’s anger wound up forcing Kleine out and opened the door to the ascension of the new CAO, former county budget director and state senator Rich Madaleno.

  1. Repeal the Linda Lamone for Life Law

The problems with the 2020 primary election prompted this historical post summarizing why the state has a law protecting its elections administrator, Linda Lamone, from accountability. Comptroller Peter Franchot and Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford called for Lamone’s resignation but she survived for the thousandth time. Thankfully, the general election was a smoother affair than the primary.

  1. Sitting Judges Get Temporary Restraining Order Against Pierre
  2. Progressive-Backed Judge Candidate Courted, Donated to Republicans
  3. Judge Candidate on Floyd Cops: “Lock Em Up”

It’s fitting that these three posts finished back-to-back-to-back because they all concern the nastiest judicial election in recent MoCo history: the challenge by attorney Marylin Pierre to four sitting judges. This one had a LOT going on: partisanship, charges of racism, charges of lying and even a temporary restraining order. The whole thing cast a foul odor over the ballot box and led me to conclude that judicial elections should mostly be abolished.

  1. Harris Blasts MCEA Over School Reopening

School board elections are mostly sleepy affairs in which candidates agree at least 90% of the time and the only difference between them is which ones are endorsed by the Apple Ballot and the Post. Not this year! MCPS’s boundary study dominated the primary and school reopening took the spotlight in the general, with Lynne Harris (the Post’s candidate) blasting the teachers union for allegedly resisting reopening. Harris told Blair High School’s Silver Chips newspaper that the teachers “were obstructionist, inflammatory, and just said ‘no’ to everything.” That provoked a furious response and the teachers are unlikely to forget it.

  1. What’s More Important? The Liquor Monopoly or a Thousand Bartenders?

Early in the COVID crisis, Governor Larry Hogan gave counties discretion to allow restaurants to offer takeout and delivery of mixed drinks. Many other states and the City of Baltimore allowed it, but MoCo’s liquor monopoly did not. The issue prompted a mass revolt by restaurants and consumers and the county ultimately allowed it.

  1. IG Investigates “Overtime Scam” in the Fire Department

County Inspector General Megan Davey Limarzi blew the lid off county government with her landmark report on an overtime scam in the fire department. The scandal involved more than $900,000 of overtime which exceeded limits set by the fire chief and was scheduled outside of the system usually used by county public safety agencies. Readers were all over this but I have not heard of anyone being disciplined for it. As of this writing, this is the sixth most-read post in the history of Seventh State measured by page views.

  1. Restaurant: My Staff Will Not Wear Face Masks

Last July, The Grille at Flower Hill in Gaithersburg posted this on Facebook: “Let me be very clear…my staff will not wear face masks while working here at the Grille. If that bothers you then please dine elsewhere and please try to find something more important to occupy your time such as volunteer at a nursing home or soup kitchen. Whoever you are that filed the complaint, you need to take a good look in the mirror and try to find some real meaning in your life.” The post provoked a huge firestorm from irate customers resulting in the permanent closure of the restaurant four days later. As of this writing, this is the fifth most-read post in the history of Seventh State measured by page views.

  1. MoCo Democrats Issue Statement on Ballot Questions

This post reprinted the Montgomery County Democratic Party’s statement on the four ballot questions. It was originally published on September 17 and initially attracted little site traffic. But it started to pop in early and mid-October and dominated page views in the latter part of the month. Most of the traffic was generated by Google searches. This provided valuable intel: thousands of people were seeking out what the Democratic Party had to say about a group of arcane and confusing ballot questions. And if they were coming to Seventh State, they were no doubt also visiting other sites with similar information like news outlets and the party’s own site. In the end, it seems likely that the party was the dominant force in driving voter reaction to the ballot questions as its positions carried the election by double digits. It was also a huge boon to us as this post ranks third in page views in the history of Seventh State.

On to 2021!

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Winners and Losers of the Ballot Question War

By Adam Pagnucco.

This year, MoCo saw its biggest battle over ballot questions in sixteen years. Most county players lined up on one side or the other and victory has been declared. Who won and who lost?

Winners

Council Member Andrew “Real Deal” Friedson
Friedson authored Question A, which liberalized the county’s property tax system to allow receipts to increase with assessments. Wall Street applauded its passage. Even progressives, who don’t love Friedson but owe him big-time for opening up the county’s revenue stream, have to admit that his Question A was the real deal.

Council Member Evan Glass
Glass authored Question C, which added two district council seats and defeated the nine district Question D. Lots of wannabe politicians are going to look at running for the new seats. Every single one of them should kiss Glass’s ring and write a max-out check to his campaign account.

County Democratic Party
It’s not a coincidence that MoCo voters adopted the positions of the county Democratic Party on all four ballot questions. With partisan sentiments running high and information on the questions running low, MoCo Democrats went along with their party and dominated the election.

David Blair
Blair was the number one contributor to the four ballot issue committees that passed Questions A and C and defeated Questions B and D. By himself, Blair accounted for nearly half the money they raised. Whatever Blair decides to do heading into the next election, he can claim to have done as much to pass the county Democrats’ positions on the ballot questions as anyone. (Disclosure: I have done work for Blair’s non-profit but I was not involved in his ballot question activities.)

Ike Leggett
The former county executive was key in leading the fight against Robin Ficker’s anti-tax Question B and the nine county council district Question D. Thousands of MoCo voters still like, respect and trust Ike Leggett.

Jews United for Justice
While not having the money and manpower of many other groups who played on the questions, Jews United for Justice played a key role in convening the coalition that ultimately won. They have gained a lot of respect from many influencers in MoCo politics.

Facebook
Lord knows how much money they made from all the ballot question ads!

Losers

Robin Ficker
At the beginning of 2020, MoCo had one of the most restrictive property tax charter limits of any county in Maryland. For many years, Ficker was looking to make it even tighter and petitioned Question B to the ballot to convert it into a near-lock on revenues. But his charter amendment provoked Friedson to write Question A, which ultimately passed while Question B failed and will raise much more money than the current system over time. Instead of tightening the current system, the result is a more liberal system that will achieve the opposite of what Ficker wanted – more revenue for the county. This was one of the biggest backfires in all of MoCo political history.

Republicans
The county’s Republican Party did everything they could to pass Ficker’s anti-tax Question B and the nine county council district Question D. In particular, they gave both cash and in-kind contributions to Nine Districts and even raised money for the group on their website. In doing so, the GOP provoked a fierce partisan backlash as the county Democrats rose up to take the opposite positions on the ballot questions and most Democratic-leaning groups combined forces to support them. With President Donald Trump apparently defeated, Governor Larry Hogan leaving office in two years and little prospect of success in MoCo awaiting them, where does the county’s Republican Party go from here?

This tweet by MoCo for Question C from a voting location explains all you need to know about why Question D failed.

Political Outsiders
It wasn’t just Republicans who supported the failed Questions B and D; a range of political outsiders supported them too. What they witnessed was a mammoth effort by the Democratic Party, Democratic elected officials and (mostly) progressive interest groups to thwart them. Even the county chamber of commerce and the realtors lined up against them. Whether or not it’s true, this is bound to provoke more talk of a “MoCo Machine.” Machine or not, outsiders have to be wondering how to win when establishment forces combine against them.

Push

MCGEO, Fire Fighters and Police Unions
These three unions are frustrated. They have not been treated the way they expected by the administration of County Executive Marc Elrich and they are also upset with the county council for abrogating their contracts (among other things). They wanted to show that they could impose consequences for messing with them and that was one reason why all three made thousands of dollars of in-kind contributions to Nine Districts. On the negative side, the nine districts Question D failed. On the positive side, the passage of Friedson’s Question A will result in a flow of more dollars into the county budget over time, a win for their members. So it’s a push. On to the next election.

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MoCo Democrats Issue Statement on Ballot Questions

By Adam Pagnucco.

In the wake of their vote last night, the Montgomery County Democratic Party has issued the following statement on their position on this year’s ballot questions.

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Montgomery County Democratic Party Recommendations on 2020 Ballot Questions

For immediate release
September 17, 2020
Contact Linda Foley
chair@mcdcc.org

The Montgomery County Democratic Party has announced its voter recommendations on County and State Ballot Questions for the 2020 General Election. The recommendations were issued following a vote by more than 170 grassroots Democratic officials on September 16.

“The State and County questions on the 2020 ballot will have an enormous effect upon our ability to provide vital public services locally,” said Linda Foley, Chair of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee. “Democrats understand the value of public education, healthcare, transportation, public safety, libraries, and other vital services our State and County governments provide. That’s why we urge voters to vote FOR County Charter Questions A and C, vote FOR State Questions 1 and 2, and vote AGAINST County Charter Questions B and D.”

Here are the Montgomery County Democratic Party recommendations:

Vote FOR Question A: Council Property Tax Limit – Limit Tax Rate Increases
Question A establishes a cap on the property tax rate instead of the total revenue that the County can receive. This amendment would allow revenue to grow so County services can keep up with increased population and needs. Property tax rates will remain the same as this year. Any future increase would require an affirmative vote by all Councilmembers, as is currently required to raise the revenue limit.

Vote AGAINST Question B: Property Tax Limit – Prohibit Override
Question B is a bad way to fund public services. It prohibits the County Council from increasing the total revenue received from the property tax beyond the rate of inflation under any circumstances. This measure, proposed by Republican activist Robin Ficker, would cause a reduction in public services and threaten the County’s AAA bond rating, which enables the County to borrow at the lowest rate.

Vote FOR Question C: Increase to 11 Councilmembers
Question C expands the Council from 9 to 11 members. District Council seats would increase from 5 to 7. The number of At-Large seats would remain at 4. Each voter would continue to vote for 5 members of the Council. It reduces the number of residents represented by each District Councilmember, thus increasing representation.

Vote AGAINST Question D: Alter County Council Composition to 9 Districts
Question D eliminates the current Council composition of 4 At-Large and 5 single district seats. It establishes a Council of 9 members, each elected only by voters in their own district (eliminating At-Large seats). It would reduce from 5 to 1 the number of Councilmembers for whom each voter can vote.

Vote FOR Question 1: Balancing the State Budget
Question 1 allows the Maryland General Assembly to increase, decrease, or add items to the State budget provided such changes do not increase the total budget proposed by the Governor.

Vote FOR Question 2: Expansion of Commercial Gaming – Sports and Event
Question 2 would authorize the General Assembly to allow betting on sports and other competitive events to generate funding that must be used primarily for public education.

Vote YES to retain State Appellate Judges: Mary Ellen Barbera, E. Gregory Wells, and Steven B. Gould. The Party reviewed the records of the three State appellate judges on the ballot and supports their continuance in office.

By Authority: Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee, Dave Kunes, Treasurer.

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MoCo Democrats Take Position on Charter Amendments

By Adam Pagnucco.

As they do in every election year, officials of Montgomery County’s Democratic Party gathered tonight to take positions on charter amendments and ballot questions.

The standard format is for the party’s ballot question advisory committee, which studies such questions, to present information to the party’s precinct organization. The precinct organization, comprised of the party’s network of precinct officers, hears opinions, discusses the questions and takes votes. The party’s central committee takes the final votes establishing the party’s position, although they usually don’t go against the precinct organization’s stance unless the latter’s vote is close.

Tonight, County Executive Marc Elrich and a majority of the county council made their case to the precinct organization on the county charter amendments. The precinct organization voted in line with their recommendations and so did the party central committee. I don’t have exact vote tallies but my sources say they were all lopsided.

The ultimate vote by the MoCo Democrats was:

Yes to Question A, which was Council Member Andrew Friedson’s proposal to redo the county’s charter limit on property taxes.

No to Question B, which was Robin Ficker’s charter amendment to impose a hard cap on increases to property tax collections.

There was huuuuuge support for A and equally huuuuuge opposition to B (the Ficker amendment).

Yes to Question C, which was Council Member Evan Glass’s proposal to increase council district seats from five to seven and retain the current four at-large seats.

No to Question D, which is a charter amendment to convert the county council into nine district seats. No doubt the Democrats paid heed to the fact that Republicans support this proposal because they believe it might create a Republican council seat.

The party also voted to support state question 1 (which would grant more budgetary authority to the General Assembly over the governor’s budgets) and state question 2 (which would allow sports betting).

The exact language of all the questions and charter amendments can be seen on the official county ballot.

The party’s vote tonight is important because it will be expressed on its sample ballot, which is customarily mailed to hundreds of thousands of registered county Democrats. The vote is a particular blow to the Nine Districts for MoCo group, which has depicted its charter amendment as bipartisan but now has it supported by county Republicans and officially opposed by county Democrats.

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MCDCC Slams Phony Dem Club

By Adam Pagnucco.

The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee (MCDCC) has issued a press release denouncing a group that claims to be a “Democratic club” but has not been chartered by the party. The group has attacked Delegate Aruna Miller (D-15), who is running for Congress.  We reprint the release below.

*****

For Immediate Release

6/6/2018

Contact: Dave Kunes, Chair

Chair@MCDCC.org

The MCDCC has received several complaints about the origins of the officers and disputed claims of the unchartered organization calling itself, “Asian American Democratic Club.” While the Democratic Central Committee does not censor the comments of local Democratic voters or organizations, in this case we must publicly make clear, the group, “Asian American Democratic Club” has never applied for an official charter with the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee.

Central Committee Chair Dave Kunes said, “We have already seen the damage fake news and fake groups can do to our elections. The ‘Asian American Democratic Club’ is representing itself as a chartered Democratic organization and publishing highly questionable claims about Democratic primary candidates. Earlier this year, the founding treasurer of this group was exposed as using an identity stolen from a Texas student from Baylor University. Based on these issues, the Montgomery County Democratic Party disavows this group. We are also filing a complaint with Facebook to stop outside influencers who masquerade as legitimate Democratic organizations in order to inappropriately influence our elections.”

“This unsanctioned group should not be confused with our chartered organization the Coalition of Asian Pacific American Democrats (CAPAD). CAPAD has a longstanding reputation of legitimate and outstanding work supporting the communities of Democratic Asian American and  Pacific Islander communities in Montgomery County. The job of the Montgomery County Democratic Party is to protect our legitimate and chartered organizations, who put in the work to engage Democratic voters.”

Dave Kunes

Chair

Montgomery County Democratic Party

www.mcdcc.org

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Democratic Central Committee Candidate Endorses Republicans

By Adam Pagnucco.

Jordan Cooper, who is running for a seat on the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee (MCDCC), has endorsed five Republican candidates for office.  That’s an interesting choice given that the entire job of MCDCC is to promote the Democratic Party’s agenda and candidates.

Cooper ran unsuccessfully for Delegate from District 16 in 2014.  He is running for that seat again while simultaneously running for a seat on MCDCC.  Cooper blasted the county Democratic Party as “corrupt” for passing a rule barring candidates from running for party office and government office at the same time.  But as the links above plainly show, he is not covered by the rule since he had filed for the two offices before the rule was passed and it was not retroactive.

Since then, Cooper sent out a questionnaire to other candidates for the purpose of endorsing them.  In defending his “endorsement process,” Cooper said he intended to endorse Republicans.  He spoke the truth.  His Public Interest Podcast endorsed 88 candidates for office, of whom five were Republicans.

The endorsed Republicans include:

Robert Drozd, State Senate, District 14

George Hernandez, Delegate, District 17

Joe Norman, Delegate, District 8

Doug Rathell, Delegate, District 30A

Anjali Reed Phukan, Comptroller

Other endorsed candidates who are not Democrats include:

Jon Cook, Delegate, District 18 (Green)

Nathan Feldman, Delegate, District 11 (Green)

David Jeang, State Senate, District 19 (Green)

Ray Ranker, Delegate, District 21 (Unaffiliated)

Ian Schlakman, Governor (Green)

As a private citizen, Cooper can support anyone for office he wants.  But he is running for a seat on the governing body of the county Democratic Party.  Article II of MCDCC’s by-laws state, “It shall be the responsibility of this organization to promote, establish and conduct political campaigns in Montgomery County, Maryland for the nominees of the Democratic Party and to act as spokesman for the Democratic Party in this County on all questions of public policy.”  In other words, one of the prime reasons for MCDCC’s existence is to elect Democrats in Montgomery County.  Of Cooper’s endorsees, six – Republicans Drozd, Hernandez and Phukan and Green Party members Cook, Jeang and Schlakman – are running against Democrats for offices representing Montgomery County.

Is it too much to ask someone who wants a seat on the county’s Democratic Central Committee to support the party’s candidates for office?

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Precinct Power! Renewing the Democratic Party in Communities Across MoCo

By George Neighbors.

From the Commander-in-Tweet’s public policy pronouncements in Washington to blocking dissent on Facebook in Annapolis to the NRA’s endorsements of the duo, there’s a lot of unhappiness with the current US President and Maryland’s Governor.

Angry and teary eyed emojis don’t change public policy, and they sure don’t alone change who’s in power.  We need to move beyond social media rants and listserve brawls. We need to engage our neighbors. We need to build and bridge community with our neighbors to take action.

Personally, in April of last year I decided to raise my hand and step back in to the political arena. With encouragement and a little arm twisting by friends, I signed up to be a ​Precinct ​Leader​ for the Democratic Party​.  Now I’m the face and connective tissue of the Democratic Party to my neighbors.

Most Seventh State readers will know what a ​”Precinct​”​ is and what a ​”​Precinct Leader​”​ does, but I ask that you indulge me as part of what I’m trying to do to open up the opportunities and break down the barriers within the Democratic Party.

Precincts are the most local part of the Democratic Party. Each community is made up of voters in a community with a common voting location, aka polling place. These polling place communities are “Precincts.”​ In Montgomery County alone, we have 255 Precincts​!​ Each ​Precinct has a leader (or two) who is responsible for reaching out, engaging, educating and mobilizing voters and would-be voters in her​/his​ community.

Precinct officials and volunteers gather at the party’s precinct organization meeting on March 10.

Because I’m relatively new to the inner workings of the Democratic Party, and I have an  organizational development background, and I kept asking a LOT of questions, I was asked to co-chair the Precinct Organization of the Montgomery County Democratic Party in August. You know the drill… you keep asking questions, you’re put in charge.

The Co-Chairs’ role is to empower, engage, mobilize, communicate, recruit and retain across all 255 Precincts – and ​engage with our 500+ leaders!

What I’ve learned is that we have many amazing people who have been doing the ​Precinct ​work of the Democratic Party for a long time: 20+ years! And we have a lot of new people, like me, who are keen to engage, and make a difference.

I’ve been asked, “What are we doing differently with the Party?” I tell people that we’re renewing the Precinct Organization. We’re refocusing on Precinct Power.

Renewing means prioritizing resources​​,​ training, mobilization, outreach, communication, and appreciation to recruit and retain great ​Precinct Leaders. Renewing also means we have to do things a little differently.

Renewal goal number one is to be strategic and intentional about our voter turnout strategy. We aim to increase Montgomery County Democratic midterm general election voter turnout by 15 percentage points, from the 45% in 2014 to 60% in 2018. We have a plan.

Renewal goal number two is to empower Precinct Leaders. We’re gathering the Precinct Leaders from across the County together every few months to discuss the strategy of the Party, evolve their role beyond Election Day to engage with their communities throughout the year, and build the infrastructure at the State District level so that we can inspire people across the County, coordinate across the Districts, and engage in each Precinct community.

Renewal goal number three is to mobilize the Precincts. Beginning last summer and continuing through the fall and winter, we engaged Precinct Leaders in canvassing to learn what Democrats think. ​”​Canvassing​”​ means you go door-knocking  to reach and talk with​ people. ​It’s proven to be the best way to reach voters and get ​them engaged.

These canvasses were not asking the voters to donate or vote. Rather, these were “listening canvasses” to have voters share their thoughts. During these conversations ​we listened and helped connect neighbors with their elected Democratic officials to address issues ranging from a broken street light to an erroneous utility bill to navigating healthcare.

The canvasses also provided an opportunity to train our Precinct Leaders in canvassing and outreach. It was about making a personal connection with voters. Bringing the Democratic Party to them!

​Renewal goal number four is to activate each Precinct. To help grow the Precinct Organization, ​I’ve spent the past six months ​speaking to clubs and organizations across the ​County about the ​Precinct ​Organization, and how people can get involved.

Many Precincts could use new blood to assist current Precinct Leaders, and many other Precincts are in need of new leadership either because of an absence or because someone is ready to step aside.​

We also need to engage new voters and immigrants as well. Having people who look, live and speak like they do, is the beauty of the Precinct Organization, i.e., neighbors talking to neighbors.

So now comes the pi​tch… With the June primary counting down, and the general election in November, we need to organize. We need to mobilize. We need to engage. We need voters to turn out. We need voters to vote.

We also need ​Precinct ​Leaders. We need bilingual leaders. We need new leaders. We need leaders who represent their community. We need leaders up county, down county, east county, west county and mid county. Opportunities abound to do something that matters. Together we can build stronger and engaged communities.

I’m asking all Democrats reading this to do four things.

​1. Go to the ​Precinct ​Organization map on the Montgomery County Democratic Party website and look up your ​Precinct.

​2. If you have a ​Precinct Leader, reach out to say ‘thank you.’ Then offer your help to knock on doors, call, enter data, host a meet and greet, etc.​ (Please email Precinct@MCDCC.org if s/he does not get back to you.)​

​3. ​If you looked up​ your Precinct​ and you don’t have a Precinct Leader, ​YOU can apply to be a Precinct Leader​ with this application!​ You can also email my cochair Mumin Barre and me at Precinct@MCDCC.org to set a time to talk about it and answer your questions.

​4. ​Please share this story with as many people as you can ​via email, social media, ​and ​word-of-mouth. We need engaged and empowered Precinct Leaders, who are building and bridging communities, to take back the governorship.

I’m committed to making sure that no one come June or November wonders how they can get involved and engaged… how they can build stronger and engaged communities… how they can make a difference.

As we ​renew our Precinct Power, we need everyone- new and lifelong Democrats- to help build the Democratic Party, listen to residents, and reach voters to make a difference in their lives and our community.

George Neighbors is the Democratic Party Precinct Vice Chair of Precinct 13-21​, Co-Chair of the Montgomery County Democratic Party’s Precinct Organization, and the male District 20 Candidate for the Montgomery County Democratic Party’s Central Committee in the June 26 Democratic Primary.

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Women’s Democratic Club President Responds to Cooper

The following piece by Fran Rothstein, President of the Montgomery County Women’s Democratic Club, is a response to Jordan Cooper’s critique of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee’s (MCDCC) recent actions.

As a lifelong Democrat and a 36-year resident of Montgomery County, I must protest Jordan Cooper’s recent opinion piece, “Montgomery County Democrats make a mockery of democracy.”

I know what a mockery of democracy looks like, and Montgomery County isn’t it.  I grew up in Washington DC, where my parents were completely disenfranchised. They couldn’t even vote for President until 1964. I grew up with no home rule at all.  Even today, Washingtonians remain scandalously unable to participate fully in our democracy.

Contrary to Mr. Cooper’s assertion that “the Democratic Party of Maryland has long prioritized the party above the public interest,” I see exactly the opposite in today’s State and County Party.

At the State level, Maryland Democratic Party chair Kathleen Matthews has worked tirelessly to reach out to the many new activists who have come together in new groups since the 2016 election.  Some of these activists are outspoken Democrats; others are progressives active in new nonpartisan but progressive organizations.  She has met with them, she’s invited them into the Party’s big tent, and quite a few of them have joined the Woman’s Democratic Club of Montgomery County (WDC), which I lead.

At the County level, rather than the “gross abuse of the public trust” Mr. Cooper sees, I see a Democratic Central Committee striving to expand voter choice in selecting our representation.  I happened to be at the most recent Central Committee meeting, when the Committee became the first in Maryland to endorse Del. David Moon’s legislative proposal to create special elections to fill a General Assembly vacancies.  Why is this important?  If passed, a state Senator or Delegate vacancy in the first year of a term would trigger a special election, rather than being filled by Central Committee appointment as is now the practice.  (When a vacancy occurs later in a term, the Central Committee would make a temporary appointment, with a special election held during the next Presidential election, thus avoiding the cost of a special election when a regularly scheduled election is on the horizon.)

The vote that seems to have prompted Mr. Cooper’s protestation was the adoption of a proposal to restrict candidates from running on the same ballot for a government office as well as the Central Committee.  This makes great sense, for several reasons.  First, it would avoid the possibility that a candidate may – intentionally or not – use public financing and traditional financing simultaneously.  Second, it avoids the possibility of conflicts of interest that would inevitably arise should one person hold both positions.  And third, from my perspective, is that it opens up more opportunities for the many newly energized Democrats to serve in leadership positions.

Personally, I appreciate the County Central Committee leadership’s willingness – indeed, enthusiasm – to engage in collaborative efforts.  Among many examples, the Central Committee and WDC are working together to recruit and train precinct officials, a critically important function.  Precinct officials are the ones who rally local residents to vote – certainly the essence of a strong democracy.

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Ed Kimmel: Sex Discrimination at MCDCC

Today, Seventh State is pleased to present “Sex Discrimination at MCDCC” by Edward Kimmel, the first of a short series of posts on the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee’s (MCDCC) decision to switch to separate elections for male and female members of the committee.

Democrats who read all the way down to the bottom of the ballot in June, 2018 will discover  that the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee has divided itself into “male candidates” and “female candidates.   Most will think nothing of the fact that Homer cannot run against Marge.  But I believe that this is a huge step backwards in the quest to end sex discrimination.

I protested this in a piece on Facebook.  There, I warned that such blatant, de jure discrimination that would be enforced by the  Board of Elections (obviously, an agency of the State of Maryland) was almost certainly illegal.   I took down once I saw a Fourth Circuit opinion that upheld Maryland’s rule that half of the national convention delegates must be male and half female.   Although that opinion found that the Fourteenth Amendments restrictions against sex discrimination must be balanced against the amount of the imposition upon the First Amendment’s protection of free association, the fact that a voter who wanted to vote for only one gender of delegates suffered little because the voter’s principle decision was to vote for one candidate or another.  That tipped the balance in favor of keeping its hands off of the party’s delegate-gender rules.

I was hugely disappointed to find that political parties are, generally, beyond the reach of heightened scrutiny of governmental sorting of the sexes.  Anti-discrimination laws that would prohibit golf clubs from obtaining tax exemptions if they have too many “men only” golf tournaments would likely not prevent MCDCC “men only” elections for seats on the “government” of the Democratic Party of Montgomery County.

So I gave up trying to warn them that what they are doing is illegal.  Courts might well strike down their system – there are no controlling opinions on elections that absolutely forbid elections that pit men against women – but I was shocked to find that generally, courts that will allow girls to play on the boy’s football team are reluctant to declare that competition between male politicians and female candidates may be made illegal.

That shifts the debate to “why?”   Why does the Democratic Party of Montgomery County want to ban inter-gender competition in 2018?

They say that this is their attempt to comply with the Democratic National Committee’s  “Equal Division Rule” that requires that governing bodies of Democratic state and local parties have equal numbers of male and female members.   For years, they have been achieving “gender balance” on MCDCC by waiting until after the election and then adding some extra members of the gender that lost.  As if to prove that the entire notion of second guessing the voters by diluting their choice with some appointed members, sometimes this has required them to add men and sometimes they have had to add women to achieve “gender balance.”

Not many comments on my now-deleted thread attempted to defend the policy.  Some said that compliance with the DNC’s Equal Division Rule was mandatory so that debate was nugatory.  Some said that under the system of appointing new members of the MCDCC to bring the committee into balance, the number of members had swelled from the statutory 24 members to more than 30, a situation that will be corrected if men who resigned are only replaced by men and women with women – without addressing why they couldn’t do that before.

But mostly, they reacted with rage, ad hominem attacks and outright defamation.  An officer of a state-wide Democratic organization said he was disappointed with me for suggesting that “separate is inherently not equal.”  He said that as an attorney, I “knew” that the Supreme Court was stating that segregated schools could not be equal because the minority schools were dingy and not maintained at the same level as majority schools were and that this was inapplicable here because male members and female members would serve in the same quarters.

I beg to differ.

I believe that what SCOTUS was saying was that the act of categorizing along discriminatory lines is what makes them unequal.   Drawing a line between black students and white students was what placed the stigma.  Asserting that there is a reason to sort blacks from whites is, by itself, illegal discrimination.

And so it is with gender.  Pretending that there is something about ovaries or testicles that causes a person to make better/worse/different policy decisions is, itself, a slanderous statement.

Finally, I don’t believe that it is women who will have seats preserved on any Democratic body this year.  Although, as the courts have noted without presentation of evidence, the population at-large may be presumed to be about equally split between males and females, I don’t think that is true of Democrats and especially not of active, working Democratic activists.   My view may have been skewed by the fact that I have been among the most active Hillary Clinton supporters over the past ten years, but the events I have been to have been dominated by women.   Saying that the voters will not be allowed to elect seventy or eighty percent female leaders of our party may well be what keeps a certain amount of men at the table.

It is time to allow Democratic voters to decide who they want to lead them.

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