The Brooklyn Democratic Party Passes Landmark Reforms to Party to Usher in Era of Increased Transparency and Participation Rules

Brooklyn Reform Coalition 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, May 30, 2013

Press Contact:

Matt Cowherd

Brooklyn, NY Members of the Executive Committee of the Kings County Democratic Party voted on Tuesday night to make final amendments to their by-laws to incorporate major changes to the way the party does business.

These changes, approved in two meetings over the course of the past month, will ensure that there are semiannual meetings of the County Committee, the membership body of most Brooklyn Democrats, and that Executive Committee meetings, comprised of District Leaders, are open to the public. County Leaders will be prevented from unilaterally controlling the party via proxy voting and will not be able to stack the Executive Committee with human proxies to preserve their hold on power. There will also be a fully functional website that opens the Brooklyn Democratic Party up to the borough.

The amendments will increase democracy and transparency in the operations of the Party, which for years has been under fire for being a corrupt, antiquated machine controlled unilaterally by the Boss. These reforms represent a sea change in a borough where County Leader after County Leader has been forced to abruptly end their tenures due to challenges with the law.

Frank Seddio, who was elected last year after scandal-scarred Vito Lopez resigned from his post, says, "These rule changes will inspire a new era of activist energy that can help fuel the party. A strong united Brooklyn can accomplish anything. I am excited for the bright future ahead of us."

Last year, before a contentious primary battle that pitted the old Party Leader against the reformers, the Brooklyn Reform Coalition mailed proposed rule changes to every elected member of the County Committee that included changes that would require the party to have a website, disclose financial statements to the public, make all meetings public, and hold meetings more than once every two years.  

Party Chairman Frank Seddio activated a long inactive sub-committee called the Rules Committee and appointed longstanding reformer Jo Anne Simon and Council Member Lew Fidler to chair the committee.  He also appointed New Kings Democrats' co-founder Matt Cowherd to serve on it.  

City Council Member and Committee Co-Chair Fidler stated: "Democrats should never fear democracy, transparency, and participation. Through these rule changes, we not only fulfilled a promise, but we are building bridges and opening doors. From this new fairness, we are sure to flourish."

Brooklyn District Leader and Committee Co-Chair Jo Anne Simon stated: "These rules changes will go a long way to restore faith in our party and its democratic processes.  By involving Party members in our Rules review and by listening to our district leaders, we are hanging out the welcome sign and signaling the advent of a new era of participation in the Brooklyn's Democratic Party."

Committee member Matt Cowherd added, "These reforms go a long way and are a great first step towards a new Brooklyn Democratic Party. I give a lot of credit to our new Chairman and the Committee Co-chairs for instituting a new dynamic that will help to engage more people in the process. The Brooklyn Reform Coalition is dedicated to building on this promising start to create a vibrant party that will encourage all opinions of Brooklyn Democrats."

About the Brooklyn Reform Coalition:

The Brooklyn Reform Coalition unites many of the borough's reform-minded political clubs, including: Bay Ridge Democrats, Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats, Independent Neighborhood Democrats, Lambda Independent Democrats, New Kings Democrats, Prospect Heights Democrats for Reform, and Southern Brooklyn Democrats.

The goal of the coalition is to clean up Brooklyn politics and promote transparency, democracy, and accountability in the local Democratic Party. Specific goals include:

a) Boosting grassroots participation in the governance and operations of the local party.

b) Educating voters and mobilizing them to become engaged with the political process.

c) Promoting open access to information about local party and local government operations.

The Coalition first banded together in April 2012 to recruit and train approximately 300 candidates for the Kings County Democratic County Committee, the grassroots arm of the Brooklyn Democratic Party.  The Coalition was successful in proposing and helping to pass a set of reforms to the Party's Bylaws as a meaningful first step in effecting real change in how the Party operates in Brooklyn.  The Coalition also helped to organize the campaign to oust former Democratic Party Boss, Vito Lopez, who resigned in disgrace after multiple allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct came to light.


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