If you are a member of the Columbia Democratic Club or just a member of the Columbia Democratic Club Facebook Group you may have seen the turmoil that has been happening in that group for a while. I have seen posts about (or been told about) a number of issues within the group.
Here is the latest significant happening I though worth documenting here on the blog:
Statement from Members of the CDC Executive Board
We, the undersigned members of the Executive Board of the Columbia Democratic Club (CDC) submit this statement of “no confidence” in the leadership of the CDC president.
We ran for positions on the Executive Board, many of us at the personal request of the current president, because we wanted to help lead an organization that promoted Democratic values and fostered collaboration within the community. At the beginning of our term in office, we were excited about the opportunity to serve on such a diverse board where we could bring together a range of Democratic perspectives to serve the community. Instead, due to the polarizing tone of the president’s leadership, the CDC – and the greater Democratic community – are splintering. This is despite the enormous amount of time and energy many members of the Executive Board have spent creating positive programming and outreach for the CDC. Put simply, the deep divisions within the CDC and the Executive Board are a reflection of the president’s leadership.
The CDC president has engaged in conduct that we believe is detrimental to the Club, including but not limited to the following:
- Unilaterally overriding the decision made by a 7-2 vote at the January 31, 2021 Executive Board meeting to adopt a social media policy and designated team (comprising three Board members) to administer/moderate the CDC’s Facebook group. Specifically, he removed the administrative rights from 2 of the 3 members of that team without discussion, explanation, or warning.
- Unilaterally changing the passwords or administrative access to block the Club Secretary from accessing and/or posting on the Club’s Twitter account, email account, Google drive, Facebook Page, or Mail Chimp (e-newsletter) account, again without discussion, explanation, or warning, and in direct contravention of the bylaws provision specifying the Secretary’s responsibility to send out all meeting notices. (CDC Bylaws, Article XI, Section 2.4.)
- Repeatedly attacking and smearing Board members and individual Club members on social media and grossly misrepresenting events and the personal positions of Board members in his public discussion of the divisions within the Board.
- Refusing to convene a CDC Executive Board meeting to discuss ongoing concerns despite repeated requests for discussion since February 4, 2021.
- Unilaterally planning the March 2021 membership meeting agenda and inviting speakers for the March meeting, without inviting any collaboration with the full CDC Board as to who those speakers might be, or even informing Board members of his plans, despite requests for that information. This is contrary to the norms established by the current CDC Board for 2020-2021.
These recent actions are a continuation of a pattern of bad faith behaviors that have fractured the CDC Executive Board. We have discussed our concerns with the president, individually and as a group, on multiple occasions since October, 2020. Nonetheless, he continues to conduct himself as if he were a “unitary executive” with sole authority to run the Club as he sees fit, rather than in stewardship with the full Executive Board and Club membership.
The undersigned considered seeking a Recall of the president in accordance with the CDC bylaws and Robert’s Rules of Order, and consulted with a professional Parliamentarian regarding this option. Based upon that consultation, we determined that proceeding in compliance with the logistical, procedural, and timeline requirements of such an action is ill advised with only about 75 days remaining in the president’s term. Accordingly, due to his failure of leadership, as a majority of the Executive Board, we intend to move to table any action proposed by the president until the issues above are able to be resolved at a Board meeting. We formally request that the president schedule a Board meeting on or before March 31, 2021. We further request that he act immediately to restore to the Secretary access to all email, newsletter, and social media accounts using the name or logo of the CDC, and that he refrain from removing her access in the future.
Cynthia Fikes, Vice President
Bob Ford, Treasurer
Linda Lamppert Leslie, Secretary
Dawn Popp, At Large Board Member
Candace Jaimes, At Large Board Member
JC Hendrickson, At Large Board Member
See the PDF version of this letter here: CDC-Executive-Board-Member-Statement-March-11-2021
Cynthia Fikes, Vice President The Columbia Democratic Club, also posted the following Open Letter to Maryland Young Democrats:
RE: Columbia Democratic Club President
I am Cynthia Fikes, current Vice President of the Columbia Democratic Club in Howard County Maryland. I have been largely silent on this matter, but I feel compelled to speak up now.
Maryland Young Democrats, the opportunity to select your next President has arrived. The Columbia Democratic Club of Howard County, Maryland had that same opportunity September 2020. We completely squandered that choice on Jake Burdett.
There are two sides to every story, and he will quickly tell you all that I say is untrue.
Regardless of anyone’s assertions, the Columbia Democratic Club has been in turmoil for months. Take a gander at the manifestos and all infighting on full public display on the CDC Facebook page. Republicans have been joining our FB Page in droves to enjoy the spectacle. Recordings of our meetings and member names are being shared across various groups, to the delight of those who do not share our Democratic values.
CDC welcomed Jake, young people, greater activism, and Progressive ideas. Once he came into full autonomy as President of the CDC, his actual style of authoritarian leadership and aggressive public attacks of our members became apparent. Jake seems to believe he personally owns the terms Progressive, Corporate Democrat and Moderate and publicly doles out negative labels according to his personal assessment, regardless of peoples’ actual values.
To be fair, some good has been done, but it is hardly worth the hours of behind the scenes strife. The ends do not justify the means. As is his White privilege, Jake expects to be embraced with a second chances again and again, even after being forcibly removed from the Wicomico Democratic Central Committee and creating trouble (not good trouble) for the Salisbury College Dem Club membership.
A copy of vote of no confidence from the majority (6 of 9) from the Columbia Democratic Club Executive Board accompanies this statement. If we had a larger interval prior to the election, we would absolutely move to recall, correctly according to Roberts Rules of Order. I fully expect his supporters to jump on and drag me in the comments for speaking truth; however, this is too important to let go. Our Club has been and remains polarized and fractured under the reckless leadership of Jake Burdett.
The Maryland Young Democrats have a choice to make this weekend, and your choice will be respected no matter who you choose.
I have no vote, but I do have a voice to share my story. I hope you heed this cautionary tale.
Cynthia Fikes, Vice President The Columbia Democratic Club Howard County, Maryland
I will be reaching out to the President of the CDC (Jake Burdett) to see if he will be interested in providing a statement on this topic for the Blog.