Wednesday, June 16, 2010

626. Untimely Passing; Timely By-Law

Several years ago I proposed an amendment to the Kentucky Democratic Party's By-Laws, specifically to a by-law pertaining to Special Elections in Jefferson County. That was 2003. For the most part, I was ignored by the powers-that-were (and in many cases still-are) and my proposal went nowhere.

I was told that one way to have my idea heard by a bigger audience was to speak with members of the Kentucky Democratic Party State Central Executive Committee, the body that would or could ultimately approve or not approve my proposed change.

In 2004 several friends, including Aaron Horner, his former wife Mary Ellen, along with Ted Shlechter, and others suggested I run for a seat on that committee as a Third Congressional District voting member. I knew the drill as I had been nominated (mostly self-nominated I might add) at every state convention I had attended back to my first one in Frankfort in 1980. I had lost all of the previous elections.

The race for Third Congressional District Committeeman was a three person affair - the two incumbents and me. I defeated one of those incumbents and went on to serve a four-year term. I first formally discussed my proposed by-law amendment at one of the "road" meetings then-Chair Jerry Lundergan held. I'll be honest; I don't remember where it was, it may have been in either Carrollton or Henderson. Shortly thereafter, I became ill, suffering from a brain tumor and a very slight stroke. I was hospitalized the summer of 2005 and recovered in the fall, during which time my proposal went by the wayside.

Throughout my term, I worked with then By-Laws Chair George Blackburn of Rockport, a small village on the Ohio County side of the Green River, opposite Muhlenberg County, just north of where the Western Kentucky Parkway crosses into "Paradise." Despite George's help, my by-law proposal was never fully heard, although it was scheduled to be heard at the 1st Quarter meeting of the Committee in 2008.

That day's meeting ran very, very long. At one point, the Vice Chair of the Committee, Nathan Smith of northern Kentucky, simply got up from the meeting and left. When the time finally came to hear my proposal, the discussion was blocked by Jefferson County Chair Tim Longmeyer, saying we could table it until the next meeting. I pointed out to Tim that the next meeting was the state convention, meaning that it would not be heard until at least September. He suggested I run for re-election and bring it back up. Rather than table the item, he moved to adjourn the meeting and his motion passed.

I took Tim's advice (for once) and ran for re-election. After some work, I was finally seated on the Committee in September 2008 at a meeting at KenLake State Park in Aurora, just inside Calloway County where the new KY80 finally leaves its long sojourn with US68 across southern Kentucky. Although I requested to be placed on the By-Laws Committee, as I had served there for the previous term, then-Chair Jennifer Moore failed to name me to any committees. I remain a member of none of the KDP's various committees, all of which are appointed by the chair.

In April 2009, I made a call to the new By-Laws Chair George Mills, an attorney from Lexington. I eventually addressed my concerns with him and through his hard work and that of his committee, my proposal was finally heard and passed, taking effect just over three months ago.

The jist of my proposal was to expand the voting body of special committees which have the power to name candidates in certain cases, such as when a candidate resigns or, perhaps, dies. The old rules allowed for some of these special nominations to be wholly controlled solely by one person, an idea I felt undemocratic and unbecoming the Kentucky Democratic Party. The amendment calls for a minimum of three people (and in some cases more) to make such a nomination. While no one ever expects or seeks the need to use the rules, it is necessary to have rules in place to assure a continuity in governance. Most people felt the adoption of my proposal wasn't all that important given that such needs are rare - few and far between.

Last week one of Louisville's Metro Council members collapsed at City Hall and later that same evening passed away. While it is important for individuals to mourn the loss of a civil servant, it is also important to have rules in place for the continuity in governance, as I previously stated. One set of rules, the Kentucky statutes, governs an interim appointment to be made by the Council. Due to the timing of this great loss, there will also be required a Special Election this November to serve out the term of the deceased councilman. This process is laid out by the Kentucky Constitution. And the rules on how the Kentucky Democratic Party will nominate their candidate for this special election in Jefferson County are governed by the very recently amended By-Laws of the Kentucky Democratic Party, amended by a proposal first made in 2003.


REST IN PEACE - George Dorsey Unseld. May his soul and all the souls known to God rest in peace. +

1 comment:

Bruce said...

It's a shame you don't live in Unseld's district -- or do you? I'd love to see you on the Council!

Good post, and a good by-law. Thanks for both.

The Archives at Milepost 606


Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Never married, liberal Democrat, born in 1960, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.