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Theses of Reform of the Constitution Party–#9

December 16th, 2017
Theses of Reform of the Constitution Party–#9

9.  End the injudicious abuse of closed sessions by the national CP Executive Committee.

a.  At a time when the national party is bemoaning and pleading for citizens to become involved in the political process, it is utterly absurd and counterproductive for it to continue its status quo practice of exclusivity and secrecy. The propensity for unnecessary closed sessions on common deliberation matters kick these same citizen members (who are solicited for involvement) out of meaningful participation in the affairs of this political body.  Apparently, the rank and file has been consigned to being merely profiles.  Seen but not heard.

b.  In all instances, whenever held unnecessarily, improperly or carelessly, these closed sessions of the executive board are a hindrance to better national party governance.  Secret sessions for the sake of secrecy are corruptions. When done outside legitimate uses, closed sessions create distrust between the state affiliates and the executive; they condone unnecessary secrecy; they prevent a real voice to the members; and they foster paranoia within the executive board itself, which then becomes self feeding to the point that no open governance of any kind exists at all.

c.  Scripture [1 Corinthians 10:23] is worth citing here: “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” “All things are lawful for me”—has become the attitude of the national CP executive.  That is the attitude of zealots.  And just as wrong.

d.  Robert’s Rules [RONR] do not prohibit closed sessions; however, when closed session are held, RONR imposes procedural conditions. RONR states: “A meeting enters into executive session only when required by rule or established custom, or upon the adoption of a motion to do so.” (RONR 11 p. 95 ll. 26-28).  The executive apparently alleges it holds closed session by “established custom,” and in so doing it ignores the requirements of rules.  Therefore, as the 1st Corinthians quote indicated, the national executive evidently believes “all things are lawful for me.”  But of course, they are not.

e.  When the national executive perverts the purpose and place of legitimate closed sessions within a parliamentary body, it cuts out the very heart of the parliamentary law, killing all truthfulness regarding participatory governance by the People to the point of totalitarian dictatorial darkness.

f.  In organization after organization, each and all caution against an exclusive abuse of closed sessions. Whenever closed sessions are used on a regular basis, rather than on occasional basis as a means for managing private or contractual business matters (which is, after all, what closed sessions are intended for), this  creates a general acceptance of secret deliberations by everyone involved. It desensitizes, in other words, the body to something that is clearly wrong, something that is an antithesis of open and representative government.

g.  The Bylaws of the Constitution Party do NOT grant to the Executive Committee carte blanche to declare closed sessions. Strictly read, the Bylaws expressly vest that power in the National Committee [Article II, Section 2.6, Paragraph 8]; and yet is completely silent on granting such indiscriminate closed session power to the national executive.   Again in several places, the Bylaws plainly declare that the Executive is SUBORDINATE to the National Committee.  Therefore, closed session can only be done when required by rule AND upon an adopted motion to do so.   Closed sessions at the mere whim of the national executive are as unlawful as they are unwise.

h.  Article III, Paragraph 3 of the Bylaws layout the purpose of the executive committee. It may transact the business of the National Committee, defined as “expenditure and contract for services”. It is implied therefore, given the Bylaws lay out typical instances where closed sessions are required—e.g. incurring contractual  liability—that it lacks authority to declare closed sessions for any other purpose.  Indeed, all executive actions shall be subject to review by the National Committee.  That of course is not possible when done in secret.  Closed sessions for ordinary deliberations is an affront to the Bylaws.  It denies the power of full review.

i.  Restrictions on unnecessary and improper closed sessions within a deliberative body also applies to teleconferences, emails and other electronic means. These may not be used to avoid disclosure, because these are meetings in part of the parliamentary assembly itself. Further, it is the general rule that NO discussion of legitimate closed session subjects (which are private or business contractual matters) can be discussed in such telephonic conferences…due to the inability to determine who is on the call.

j.  At each closed session that is properly called under rules and motioned, the chair (1) MUST review the closed session procedures to be followed; (2) specifically list those invited to the closed session; (3) determine appropriate vote procedures—i.e. in closed session or open session; (4) specifically document the reason(s) for the closed session and which are to be placed within the general meeting minutes.

k.  In Idaho, sunshine laws prevail. CP-Idaho insists that the national party comport itself not only in the letter of the law, but in its spirit as well. As the Idaho handbook on open meeting laws states well:  “Open and honest government is fundamental to a free society.”

l.  Further, the Idaho Secretary of State writes: “If a meeting is closed, there must be a compelling reason.”

A carte blanche shrouding of political discussions and deliberations is antithetical to trust.  And no citizen SHOULD trust a political party which works harder at ensuring secrecy than it does in producing workable and sensible legislative solutions. To extend Idaho’s argument (and its State Code): The party’s public business ought to be done in public.

Open that door.

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