The following is from a Press Release issued by Steven White, March 7, 2017.
“The Rockland County Board of Elections has sustained objections filed by Steven White and annulled the takeover of the Spring Valley Democratic Committee by proxies of the Ramapo Democratic Chair, Mona Montal.
Spring Valley Democratic Committee Members Betty Carmand and Steven White objected to an attempt by the Ramapo Democratic Committee to take over and control the Spring Valley Committee.
Ramapo Town Chair Mona Montal used her power to appoint 25 people to the Democratic Committee in Spring Valley Election Districts. One of these appointees, Vilair Fonvil, called a reorganization meeting and made himself chair. Only one other committee member went to the meeting, but 16 proxy votes were carried by people who were not committee members.
Almost all the Committee members appointed by Mona Montal were ultra-Orthodox or Hasidic, which converted the makeup of the Spring Valley committee from mostly people of color to mostly white.
Duly elected committee members, mostly people of color, received notice of the meeting the day after it occurred. The Board of Elections ruled the meeting invalid due to lack of timely notification, in addition to many other violations of the County and Spring Valley Committee Bylaws.
The ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic Montal appointees did not even bother to show up for the meeting; their votes were cast by proxies rounded up by Mr. Fonvil.”
The following is from the decision issued by the Rockland Board of Elections.
“Your specific objections outlined ten separate arguments. We reviewed each point and make the following determinations:
Objections and Determinations:
The County Commissioner of Elections and the Chair of the Rockland Democratic Committee were not notified in advance of the February 20, 2017, meeting in accordance with Article VII, Section 7 of the County Democratic Bylaws.
- Valid. The required notification was not given to the Board or to the Committee. See Rockland County Democratic Committee Bylaws, Article VII, Section 7.
- The meeting was not properly noticed. Notice of the meeting was postmarked for February 16, 2017. The bylaws in place require five-day notice.
Valid. The postmarked envelope and the notice of meeting are both dated February 16, 2017. This is one day short of the required minimum. See Village of Spring Valley Democratic Committee Bylaws, Article 4, Rule 4.4.
- Ephraim Eisenberg, voting by proxy, does not reside within the Village of Spring Valley.
Valid. Mr. Eisenberg may have been appointed to the Village Committee, but he does not reside in the Village and cannot vote. Voter ID: 1021416, R-21.
- Moshe Hopstein voted by proxy. Said proxy is not a registered Democrat and is thus unable to carry a proxy.
Valid. Proxy Rosalyn D. Smith is registered as No Party and could not legally hold a proxy. Voter ID: 0503945, No Party.
- The minutes indicate revised bylaws, apparently ratified during this meeting. The revised bylaws contain Article IV, Section 2, which allows for a ministerial chair. Said bylaws were not in force when the meeting was called. Thus, Mr. Fonvil had no authority to call said meeting.
Valid. The bylaws in effect and on file at the Board of Elections govern this meeting.
- The revised bylaws contain Article IV, Section 5C, which would change the notice requirement to two days instead of ten days. This is inconsistent with the County Bylaws, which require ten days.This is incorrect, in that the County Bylaws require five-day notice. Because the meeting was not noticed properly, the revised bylaws were not legally ratified and we did not consider the question of whether two days instead of five is in conflict with the County Bylaws.
- The revised bylaws contain Article 5, Section 2, which give the Village Executive Committee the power to decide ties in primary elections. This is inconsistent with the County Bylaws. Because the meeting was not noticed properly, the revised bylaws were not legally ratified. However, this objection is valid. This is inconsistent with the County Bylaws and with NYS Election Law 6-148 (3).
- The revised bylaws say that a public office to be filled at a general election, but not subject to a primary, must be filled by the Village Executive Committee. This is inconsistent with the County Bylaws. Article 4, Section 4 similarly states that a public office that becomes vacant after the primary election must be filled by the Village Executive Committee. Because the meeting was not noticed properly, the revised bylaws were not legally ratified. However, these objections are valid. These sections are inconsistent with the County Bylaws and the NYS Election Law 6-148.
- The proposed bylaws, Article VII, Section 1 seeks to require an approved proxy form. This is inconsistent with the County Bylaws. Because the meeting was not noticed properly, the revised bylaws were not legally ratified. This objection would likely be invalid per the County Bylaws, Article VII, Section 5.
- There were only two members of the Spring Valley Democratic Committee present at the meeting. While rules allow for proxies to count towards quorum, it is irregular for 88% of the quorum to be reached by proxy, especially at a reorganization meeting.
Proxies would have been sufficient, if unorthodox. Both the Village and County Committee Bylaws authorize voting by Proxy. Robert’s Rules of Order looks to the association bylaws and, if permitted, proxies count towards the quorum.
However,objections 3 and 4 above mean that only 14 actual votes were present (in person and by proxy). This is under quorum, which would be 16.
The Village of Spring Valley Democratic Committee has been inactive, with no officers of record duly filed with the Board of Elections since 2006-2008.
The meeting held on Monday, February 20, 2017 was not proper and cannot be recognized.
Based upon the foregoing, it is the determination by the Board of Elections that the filing of officers, minutes, and revised bylaws for the Village of Spring Valley Democratic Committee is invalid. Your objections are upheld.
Kristen Zebrowski Stavisky Patricia A. Giblin
Commissioner of Elections Commissioner of Elections