05 May 2005

Will Florida Democrats ignore their own rules?

Following reports in the Tallahassee Democrat and the St. Petersburg Times regarding the disagreement within the Florida Democratic Party, concern is growing regarding Saturday's election for a new state chair. Current chairman Scott Maddox intends to resign following the legislative session and is expected to announce his candidacy for governor or some other statewide office. His smooth ride to the governor's mansion however has hit some bumps in the road after reports have emerged that the rules of the party are not being followed.

Numerous members, including three Florida members of the Democratic National Committee, are expressing their irritation over the lack of professionalism involved in the handling of this weekend's meeting. The latest bombshell regarding this issue involves a message sent to a Democratic email group this morning. A member of the party's State Executive Committee has stated that he/she believes the rules can be waived and the body can vote on whatever they deem appropriate.

The Florida Democrat who forwarded this email to FloridapolitiX.com expressed great concern over the willingness of a member of the state party's executive committee to simply ignore their rules when they are inconvenient. The text of the email, with personal information omitted, is as follows:

From: name omitted
Sent: Thursday, May 05, 2005 10:53 AM
To: name omitted
Cc: Dec-florida@yahoogroups.com, LCDEC@hotmail.com, name omitted
Subject: [dec-florida] Re: Fw: Meeting Sat.
If I were a betting man, I'd give you 100 to 1 odds that (the Rules Chairman) will tell us that, as an Executive Committee, we have a right to waive the rules established by Constitution, Charter or Bylaws, particularly when as here, even accepting everything (a different executive committee member) says, the Central Committee's action is intended only as a temporary (30+ day) solution until the next meeting of the Executive Committee. I would further bet that, if (the Rules Chairman's) ruling is challenged, the Executive Committee will vote overwhelmingly to sustain (the Rules Chairman).

The sender of the email, who claims to be a Thurman supporter, questions whether the rules may be waived simply by motion without any notice.

Parliamentarians are encouraged to send their input to floridapolitix@yahoo.com or comment below.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know if the rules can be waived, but even if they can, it shouldn't be done. This just isn't right.

The Democratic Party can't just ignore its rules because they are inconvenient. We are better than that.

7:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a Democrat who really cares about the party, I am very disturbed by what has been happening.

Part of me thinks the party should just ignore the rules and go forward with the election. (I like Karen Thurman and would like to see her as chair.) But I don't like how the rules are being broken so that the party elites can play power games.

At this point, I'm glad that Scott is leaving the party. I think we need someone who will really put the party FIRST for a change so we can rebuild.

8:45:00 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

I have to say, regardless of who wins this race, I think it is sad that rank and file Democrats have no chance whatsoever to lead (regardless of merit or ability) thanks to a very restricitve eligibility policy.

It is even sadder though, that for even those few who are eligible to run within the party, they have little chance of being elected legitimately thanks to back-room negotiations and selective adherence to the rules.

However, I've seen the bickering within this party for over four years, and the pettiness of many of its members, and the blame that is dished out every time we lose ground. I've seen three chair transitions in Palm Beach County, two at the head of the state. It's easy to blame the man or woman at the top, but the blame needs to be shared by all the rank and file...particularly if we can see the manner in which this election is being "rigged" and no one but a few bloggers have the courage to cry out about it.

If there were ever a time for the rank and file to stand up and be noticed, this is the time to do it. The press is watching, the party rank and file is watching, the bloggers are obviously watching. This is a perfect opportunity to take back our party by simply making sure that as Democrats we make certain the Democratic party adheres to a Democratic process in selecting that leader. How can we expect the people to trust us, when we can't seem to trust our party to choose a leader for themselves?

If we don't, I'll predict here and now that we won't be doing much better in '06 than '04 or '02, and even if we do, it will have more to do with public backlash against an overreaching GOP than anything we've done overtly over the next 18 months.

9:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Couple of observations...first, any legislative body can waive its own rules.

Secondly, and most importantly, I have to ask--what is this all about? Whether or not the meeting was "technically" noticed correctly, it's not like this meeting, nor its purpose, is a surprise.

Now, it wouldn't shock me that Maddox and his crew would get the notice incorrect (they can't even get out of their own way). But then again, everyone knows this meeting was called to elect a new Chair---and no one complained about the meeting until certain candidates for chair were unable to get the votes to win. It appears to be more about certain party activists trying to extend the campaign in order to tear down Thurman, rather than a legitimate concern about parliamentary procedure.

Really now, even if the notice is not correct, what does delaying the election get us? IMHO, nothing good. All it does is delay another month our ability to start organizing, hiring staff, and raising money. Thanks to Maddox and crew, we are already six months behind, and everyday we wait, we simply extend the Republican advantages.

Karen Thurman is going to be our next chair. Instead of continuing the circular firing squad, let's rally together and support her. Waiting another month for the inevitable is just foolish.

11:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree.... This crap only begun once Ryan couldn't run and Glassar had to drop out...

This meetings has been called for weeks. Why did it take a week or two to figure this hole thing out?

And yes, any body can waive the rules and if needed, they should do so here. This is an abnormal situation and sometimes rules should be waived. Lord, the Legislature and Congress do it all the time.

Go Thurmon!

11:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's time for the party to get some new rules. This is crazy that when there are high-caliber Democrats out in the state like Karen Thurman, Bob Graham, Alex Sink, Bud Chiles, etc., that they are not eligible to run because they are not a member of the College of DEC Cardinals.

It's time to break up the self-important ego-obsessed coffee klatch that is the DEC system and bring some real democracy to the Florida Democratic Party. If not, Democrats will lose, lose and lose again.

And that would be too bad to the people of Florida that this party is supposed to stand up for.

11:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The comments above about any legislative body being able to waive the rules are simply idiotic. Yes the state legislature and Congress can waive their rules, but last time I checked the FDP State Executive Committee was not a legislative body! Do they pass laws? That comment was just plain stupid. (Forget about the fact that legislatures and Congress have the right to waive rules codified into their own rules of procedure and don't just do it when they feel like it from the floor.)

Plus as the blog this morning pointed out, an organization can only waive rules that deal with procedure. You cannot just waive rules that deal with the structure of an organization.

For example, the name of the Florida Democratic Party is established in the charter and bylaws. Can you imagine if at one of the meetings, without providing any notice to the millions of Dems in the state, the executive committee just decided on a whim to change the name? Just waive the rule that requires notice for amending the charter and bylaws, then make a motion from the floor to change the name of the organization. According to the comments above, that would be totally acceptable.

I do agree however that Jeff Ryan being forced out started all of this. That event started a chain reaction of people getting sick of the party chairman using strong arm tactics to get what he wants. I think it also pointed out the hypocrisy when the party enforced eligibility requirements when they applied to Jeff Ryan, but looked the other way when they applied to Karen Thurman. That was the straw that broke the camel's back for a lot of people.

I personally want to see Karen win this election, and I think that she will. But I would like to see her win fair and square. It's not her fault that the party screwed this up, and I do feel bad for her. But we as a Party can't just let the rules be ignored when they are inconvenient. How can we as Dems criticize DeLay and Bush for playing fast and loose with the truth and the rules, but make it OK for us.

If the FDP doesn't hold a legal, by the rules election for state chair, I will personally be disgusted with the Party and I'm sure I won't be alone.

6:25:00 PM  
Blogger thelastdem said...

Glad to see the election went smoothly. The last thing we need is a messy transition.

This was a good lesson for Democrats. When we look less than united, the only winner is the Republican Party. Yes, a good exchange of ideas is healthy---but not public accusations of one team trying to steal the election from another.

Hopefully from this point forward, we will take a lesson from the Republicans and keep our leadership battles out of the press.

6:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope that one thing we learn from this mess is that the FDP rules need a major overhaul!

The truth is that the Party ignored the rules last Saturday. Whether you like the final result of the election, and I personally do, we cannot allow our Party to be one that simply lets the ends justify the means.

Congrats Karen!!! Now please for the sake of the Party, get rid of Dr. Bailey and Mark Herron, who are completely worthless, and get someone competent to rewrite the rules of the Party and enforce them.

11:34:00 PM  
Blogger Hoodia said...

Help me Dude, I think I'm lost..... I was searching for Elvis and somehow ended up in your blog, but you know I'm sure I saw him in a car lot yesterday, which is really strange because the last time I saw him was in the supermarket. No honest really, he was right there in front of me, next to the steaks singing "Love me Tender". He said to me (his lip was only slightly curled) "Boy, you need to get yourself a San Diego cosmetic surgery doctor ,to fit into those blue suede shoes of yours. But Elvis said in the Ghetto nobody can afford a San Diego plastic surgery doctor. Dude I'm All Shook Up said Elvis. I think I'll have me another cheeseburger. Then I'm gonna go round and see Michael Jackson and we're gonna watch a waaaay cool make-over show featuring some Tijuana dentists on the TV in the back of my Hummer. And then he just walked out of the supermarket singing. . . "You give me love and consolation,
You give me strength to carry on " Strange day or what? :-)

6:03:00 PM  

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