What's Coming?

Read previews of the Pipeline here

Thursday, June 7, 2012

North Greenbush Hosts County Democratic Committee Nominating Meeting

Renss Co. Democratic Chairman Thomas Wade
 The American Legion played host to a meeting of the Rensselaer County Democratic Committee this past Monday June 4th. Usually these events present nothing out of the ordinary but this particular meeting continues to swirl in controversy.

At issue is a contested nomination for State Assembly in the 107th District and a declaration by the Party Chairman that because of questions involving the eligibility of committee members to vote after the creation of new lines. While this may or may not have any validity in preventing a committee vote on these State office endorsements, what happened next was a remarkable display of disdain for long established rules of
procedure at such meetings along with a complete contradiction of the declaration by the County Chairman and his advisers.
Bear in mind, that the no voting on endorsement declarations was not being applied to county wide offices or Federal offices. So the endorsements for congress and county judgeships was uncontroversial. But then the Chairman, Thomas Wade, called for someone to nominate a State office despite his declaration that such voting would not be possible.

This was followed by an endorsement for the 108th Assembly District in which one name was placed into nomination, that of John McDonald. While his primary opponent, Carolyn McLoughlin, was in the room, no one placed her name into nomination. This was followed by the Chairman calling for a nomination of a Chatham resident for the 107th Assembly District that Keith Hammond of Averill Park was prepared to contest with an array of notarized proxies and a large contingent of committee supporters present to vote for him.

Here's where it gets really embarrassing for Democrats. A committee member from East Greenbush which is now part of the new 107th District stood up and made a "Point of Order", a common parliamentary move permitted by Roberts Rules of Order which governs such meetings. The Committeeman, Philip Malone, a Town Board member from East Greenbush, questioned the Chair as to how the committee was now voting at all on these offices after declaring such votes would be improper and could not therefore be permitted?

The Chair attempted to rule him out of order despite the fact that a Point of Order is never out of order under Roberts Rules and long established practice by the Democratic Committee. During the ensuing exchange, Committee Member Malone made a motion to place Keith Hammond's name into nomination. It was quickly seconded by another Committee Member. Chairman Wade insisted they could not place another name into nomination for consideration by the full committee present for a vote. He asked the party lawyer to re-explain, but logic, fairness and established protocols dictated that if you can't have a vote, you can't have any kind of a vote, voice vote or roll call, and certainly not a "vote" in which only one person is permitted to be nominated. A firestorm erupted on the floor, which sadly got personal with the Chairman hitting the personalities trying to level the playing field for the candidates. The Chairman continued to push the nomination of his candidate, Cheryl Roberts for  a second to the initial nomination and then rammed thru a Voice vote, never permitting Hammond's name into nomination.
Keith Hammond

Then Keith Hammond went to the floor and hushed the room, declaring humbly that if this is how the Democratic Committee wants to operate, he accepts it, noting his desire not to divide, but to unite the party. The applause was loud and the sympathy was obvious and sincere, especially when you consider that after the meeting Hammond ran out of Designating Petitions with Committee Members coming to him to take his petition to insure he gets on the ballot.

We in North Greenbush are accustomed to politicians trying to rig elections using clever tactics like getting all the ballot lines so only one candidate is on the ballot.  We saw Republican Lou Desso do it when he invaded a Democratic nominating caucus a few years ago where he prevented any opponent from getting on the ballot to oppose him and we saw Al Spain try the same move unsuccessfully when he tried to get the Democratic line while accepting the Republican, Conservative and Independence lines in his run for Supervisor.

But we never thought an institution like the County Democratic Committee would fall victim to an effort to deny Committee Members their voting rights at a duly convened nominating meeting. We could not have imagined that the Democratic Party that has stood its ground nationally against Republican efforts to suppress and restrict voting rights would become an instrument to deny its own members the right to vote and be nominated at a party meeting convened for that purpose. And to have this happen, in of all places, the hallowed halls of an American Legion Post.

Yes, it could be that such unfortunate behavior could only happen in North Greenbush where it appears to be more common. But fortunately there were those present in that American Legion Hall with the courage and intestinal fortitude to stand up and do so in front of the entire Democratic Committee and a highly respected member of Congress, to remind all of us that voting rights can come under fire anytime, anywhere and from the most unlikely institutions.
Cheryl Roberts

The only question remaining is whether the candidate who was the recipient of this unfortunate vote and endorsement can display her own profile in courage by demonstrating some intestinal fortitude, standing up for fairness and what is right, by declining an endorsement that trampled on the voting rights of an entire Democratic Committee and the right of one man and Committee Member,  to be nominated, just as she was for a fair election and ballot by that Committee. We're waiting Ms. Roberts and hoping you stand for more than winning an endorsement in which your opponent is not allowed to participate.

No comments: