County Committee meets next Monday, September 9 at 7 PM in Coney Island. We have some thoughts.
First: We thank Party leadership for directly addressing two of our chief concerns: the resolution we submitted and the need for County Committee members to be able to ask questions directly of leadership during the meeting.
So let’s get into it.
The resolution to convene the Finance Committee and establish financial oversight
New Kings Democrats, in partnership with other political clubs in Brooklyn, drafted a resolution in response to concerning news about the problematic state of the Party’s finances. On August 30, over 75 County Committee members submitted this resolution to Chair Seddio, Secretary Bova and others. The resolution called for an audit of the Party’s finances, as well as convening the Party’s Finance Committee.
We're concerned with the Brooklyn Democratic Party's financial stability -- and Brooklyn's elected officials should be, too. An audit is one tool, but it's more important that we reevaluate together how the Party makes financial decisions. Convening the dormant Finance Committee and opening it up to County Committee members to join will ensure that one individual is not solely burdened with the responsibility of keeping the organization afloat.
It is imperative that the Party convene its Finance Committee. The Finance Committee is a structure by which County Committee members — not just those in leadership — could have oversight of the Party’s finances. Without responsible financial management, the Party is spiraling into disrepair and failing to serve Brooklyn.
Further, leaders of the Party have explained away its lack of openness and accountability due to financial burdens. We consider this excuse unacceptable given that the Party has not convened its Finance Committee, which would be in charge of fundraising. Many members of County Committee have offered to join the Finance Committee and received no response. This is yet another example of the Party failing to take advantage of the available organizing energy and fundraising potential in Brooklyn.
The Party must stop impeding participation from people across the borough who are working to ensure their own communities' voices are heard. Grassroots participation and oversight from County Committee members are necessary to ensure the Party’s financial stability, as well as to ensure that it is a dynamic body that creates space for debate, activity, and leadership development.
Many members at large have reached out to the Party directly to express an interest in joining this and other standing committees. NKD’s vision for County Committee is a body that enables an effective, responsive Democratic Party staffed from the grassroots that is ready to work for the people of Brooklyn, rather than hoard power and resources among a few Party insiders.
The member Q&A
Party leadership announced on September 5 that it would invite members to submit questions ahead of time to the Party for discussion. This invitation follows a statement from Chair Seddio to New Kings Democrats, in response to the resolution we submitted with other organizations, that he would allow for an open Q&A session. We’re happy to see this invitation for dialogue and that Party leadership is making it public; we believe in process and do not want to be part of backroom deals.
The power of dialogue at the meeting should belong to members at large. It is the Party’s responsibility to provide the structure by which members can engage directly with leadership, and we hope they follow through.
New Kings Democrats plans to have some members speak on the club’s behalf as a part of this session at the meeting, and we will identify and name them here before Monday’s meeting.
What Happens Next
New Kings Democrats’ position is not that the Party needs to take emergency financial action, but rather that its financial distress is just one more example of why participation from County Committee members is so profoundly needed. According to its own (bare-minimum) financial filing, the Party is spending money on consultants that aren’t helpful and is using its financial limitations as an excuse to not convene the Party and perform its required functions. The Party should be solvent and able to spend money on community-based work like training candidates, holding information sessions about how everyday Brooklynites can get involved in the Party, and even voter registration.
The Brooklyn Democratic Party should be a body that is accountable to its grassroots. The best policies will come out of a Party that allows everyday people to have a say.
We hope all County Committee members will attend the meeting on September 9. If they can’t, we hope they’ll send their proxy votes to another County Committee member they trust ahead of the meeting so that we can continue to decentralize power and vote as Brooklynites representing our neighborhoods on — and hopefully in favor of — the resolution to convene the Finance Committee and enable oversight over the Party’s finances.