New Democratic Party bylaws ignore reformers

New Democratic Party bylaws ignore reformers

As a member of the R.I. Democratic State Committee (RIDSC) representing District 40 I am absolutely livid over the “updated” bylaws that the committee will be voting upon Nov. 18. The bylaws were written by 19 people, most if not all part of Speaker Mattiello’s inner circle. It is now obvious as to why the recommended women from the R.I. Democratic Party Women’s Caucus or reform members such as myself, a 2015 Bernie Sanders delegate, were not one of the “chosen ones” to be on the committee.

Chair Rep. Joe McNamara and the entire Executive Committee wanted to keep us out of the process. I personally made numerous attempts to get status updates on the committee and I also requested the option of being an independent onlooker. All of my good faith attempts were stymied.

The proposed bylaw changes are an affront to any Democrat who believes the party is headed in the wrong direction. It is an egregious stifling of free speech for the independent caucuses. It stops caucuses from being self funded, and to have a real voice in the direction of the party. Most outrageous is caucuses have to divulge all of their members every two years to the Executive Committee regardless if individuals want their information shared or not. This is an invasion of right to privacy.

The fact that committee members had no time to discuss the changes in an open forum prior to the vote is another example of how un-democratic the process is. The reform suggestions that were requested for the committee to review were obviously ignored. For example, limit the amount of General Assembly members on each committee; Have more non-GA members heading committees; allow additional meetings for issue-based initiatives such as The Green New Deal or Medicare for All; have an unbiased committee selection process instead of all members on each committee being selected by the chair himself; paper ballot voting for executive members to end the intimidation factor. Instead we have the loss of independent caucuses and the loss of faith with party leadership.

Also infuriating, the chair of the party Rep. McNamara, now has carte blanche with how the committee’s funds are being spent up to $25,000. Previously it was $2,500.

These changes are divisive and will be met with serious challenges and opposition.The proposed bylaws further divide the party when we should be uniting. McNamara is not the leader of just the “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party,” he is the leader of all Democrats in the state and he needs to start acting like one.

I strongly encourage all Democrats to contact their state committee members and ask them to vote No, but don’t bother to look at the R.I. Democratic Party website because as of Saturday, Nov. 9, the member list still is not updated from the September 2018 election.

Rest assured District 40 Democrats know that I am an emphatic no!

Lauren Niedel-Gresh


Niedel-Gresh is District 40 State Committeewoman