Political And Other Miscellany From A Stout Democrat In Dallas Texas.
"Politics is the only game for adults." --from Robert A. Heinlein's Double Star

Saturday, February 26, 2005


[UPDATE ON THIS, LATER THE SAME DAY: The local party's big guns have now weighed in on this, per the following letter:]
Concerned Democrats of Dallas County
February 26, 2005

Dear Fellow Democrat:

By now you have no doubt received a letter from Dallas County Democratic Party Chair Susan Hays about the County Executive meeting called for 6:30 p.m. Monday at the CWA Hall. We write in response.

The County Executive Committee (made up of you, your fellow precinct chairs, our county chair and secretary) is by law the governing body of the Dallas County Democratic Party. In other words, the Party is our responsibility - not only morally but legally.

The Chair takes the position that the petition calling the meeting was unnecessary. She further implies that the meeting was improperly called. Neither is correct. Despite an intervening presidential election, the executive committee has not met since early May 2004. When we met at that time, the meeting almost turned to chaos. No meetings were called after that date to coordinate the efforts of the precinct chairs for purposes of general election victory, even though Party rules charge us with the task of planning and coordinating the general election campaign, fundraising, and producing materials and coordinating services for the benefit of local campaigns. No meetings of the committee have been called by the chair since the general election. In truth, many of you, as well as Democratic organizations and other party leaders, have repeatedly requested the chair to call an executive committee meeting for the purpose of planning strategy, re-invigorating basic party political programs, fundraising efforts and traditional party events that have withered, and mobilizing our precincts to work on behalf of our Party and our candidates. Those calls have been ignored.

As a result, more than 60 percent of you–substantially more than the required number–took the option specifically provided for by Democratic Party Rules: to call a meeting by a petition process. More than 210 of you have signed that petition and many more sought to sign but were unable to because of time limits. Thus, to imply that this meeting has been called by a handful of disgruntled people is at the least misleading. At the very least, it is an unjustified indictment of the vast majority of the committee.

The calling of the meeting is both necessary and lawful. And given the current circumstances, the action was wise.

The chair personally attacks David Wilkins, our unanimously elected Party Secretary, as the one who called the meeting. That is not correct. Mr. Wilkins merely posted the legally required notice of the action of the precinct chairs in calling the meeting. We applaud him for doing what is no doubt his required duty. To chastize his legitimate actions in an effort to personalize this process is wrong.

You are the Democratic Party of Dallas County. Many of you, like us, have dedicated immense time and effort to the Party over many years – often at great personal expense. You have an absolute right to call a meeting. As Party rules state, the executive committee, among other things, may adopt continuing rules for the conduct of its business and establish committees as it deems appropriate. To suggest that a clear majority of you should not be able to call a meeting for this purpose is not only an affront to you as a precinct chair, it sets a dangerous precedent.

In our collective memory – dating from 1972 – there has not been a meeting called by a majority of the executive committee. That an overwhelming majority of the committee has now succeeded in the difficult job of doing so is evidence of the importance of this gathering.

We look forward to a productive gathering. This meeting is important to you and our beloved Party. Please be there Monday evening.


Theresa Daniel, SDEC

Ken Molberg, SDEC and former County Chair

Shannon Bailey, SDEC and President, Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus

Steve Tillery, SDEC

Michael Moon, President, Stonewall Democrats of Dallas

Dorothy Dean, Precinct Chair, Former SDEC

Bruce Rothstein, Precinct Chair

Janice Mattox, Precinct Chair

Gary Fitzsimmons, former SDEC

Buck Massey, Precinct Chair

Ricardo Medrano, Precinct Chair


The Dallas County Chair has asked concerned Democrats to provide her, in writing, with a list of concerns and complaints regarding her leadership. Although these issues have been addressed with her on numerous occasions both individually and through our Democratic Clubs, we have narrowed that list into a few items that clearly show a history of financial mismanagement, statutory negligence, irresponsibility and malfeasance that threaten our Party’s financial integrity, reputation and cost our Party votes in November:
  • Chair Hays approved a defective 2004 General Election ballot that placed Martin Frost's name next to Republican Robert Frost's such that it was unclear which oval belonged to which candidate. The Frost campaign, after discovering the defect, made an emergency appeal to the County Elections Department to prevent the use of the defective ballot. The Elections Department complied but only after approximately 1,000 ballots had already been mailed to early voters.

  • Chair Hays reluctantly litigated to protect our vote in 2002 when Dallas County early voting machines malfunctioned from mis-calibrations. When our counsel subpoenaed the defective machines, Chair Hays became upset that this action "would upset the Republicans."

  • After the revolving door of four Executive Directors in less than three years, the excessive salaries paid to staff ($5,000 per month for the first two directors and $4,000 per month for the third) have left party coffers nearly dry. Dallas Democrats have no idea how much the fourth is being paid.

  • The annual Fish Fry in its first year took in $13,000, $25,000 in the second, and $50,000 in the third attracting nearly 400 participants. In 2004, after disbanding the fundraising committee which was responsible for that success, Chair Hays produced a Fish Fry that was an embarrassing failure attracting less than 100 with some invitations arriving the day of the event and most the day before.

  • Dallas for Kerry made an agreement with Chair Hays to raise funds that would be turned over to the Party in order to purchase yard signs to sell or give away to those who could not afford them. After selling out of the yard signs twice, Chair Hays refused to purchase any more even at a $4 per sign profit. Chair Hays indicated that it was too much trouble for the Party staff to continue to collect purchaser contact information even though Dallas Republicans sold 18,000 Bush signs and collected contact information for all those purchasers.

  • Chair Hays' poor judgment extended to consolidating and moving polling places without consultation of longtime Election Judges during 2004 Primary Runoff causing voter confusion and chaos. When one elderly Election Judge from the 23rd Senate District, understandably upset to find her election materials at a distant location, complained to Chair Hays, the Chair responded with "just shut up!"

  • The Chair failed to call the Executive Committee together as required by Party rules so as to mount a coordinated campaign; failed to initiate any voter registration projects; has disbanded the party structure of volunteer committees; has staffed the office with inexperienced staffers and one with Republican voting history; has turned successful fundraising events into money-losing failures; and created an atmosphere of dissension, chaos, and distrust through her callous, reckless and irresponsible behavior.
[Observe that these leaders among the party activists are not calling for specific actions at the meeting, only defending the legality of and need for this meeting, against attacks by the Chair which demonstrate why so many are upset with her. You can see a copy of the letter she sent out which provoked this intense response at THIS SITE. Another blogger on top of this ongoing crisis is Byron LaMasters at Burnt Orange Report. Back to the original post:]
"... win or lose, we shall not falter. Whatever fate may at the moment overtake any of us, the movement itself will not stop. Our cause is based on the eternal principle of righteousness ... you ... who ... have come together to spend and be spent in the endless crusade against wrong, to you who face the future resolute and confident, to you who strive in a spirit of brotherhood for the betterment of our nation, to you who gird yourselves for this great new fight in the never-ending warfare for the good of mankind, I say in closing ... We stand at Armageddon and we battle for the Lord."
--Theodore Roosevelt, 1912 National Convention of the Progressive Party, Chicago, Illinois
The conflict between the current County Chair and many of the Precinct Chairs and Democratic organizations and unions here is coming to a head. Pent-up anger and resentment have resulted in this self-explanatory notice, which is unprecedented since the forces of truth and light reformed the party rules to drive out the DINOs (Democrats In Name Only), that were really Republican conservatives, but ran the local party by controlling our primary with big donations:

Whereas, a petition bearing the signatures of more than 51 percent of the members of the Dallas County Democratic Executive Committee to request a meeting of said committee has been duly filed with the Dallas County Democratic Party and its secretary, pursuant to the Rules of the Texas Democratic Party you are hereby notified that said committee will meet on the following date and at the following time and location:

Monday, February 28, 2005
6:30 p.m.
Communications Workers of America (CWA) Hall
1408 N. Washington
Dallas, Texas 75204

Signed and posted this 21 day of February, 2005

David Wilkins, Secretary
Dallas County Democratic
Executive Committee
This assault against the inert status quo has provoked an attempt at intimidation by the usual group of "don't make waves, I've got my own" crowd.
February 24, 2005

Dear Precinct Chair,

We stand today at a crossroads. Our local success in the November 2004 elections was remarkable, and our potential for building upon that success in 2006 should be unlimited.

We stress that phrase, should be, because the momentum we’ve fought so hard to gain is unquestionably ours to lose — and we fear that internal squabbles over our Dallas County Democratic Party leadership may soon sap our ability to achieve the local election victories so important to us all.

You may have gotten notice of a precinct chair meeting next Monday. Some of those calling for this meeting have been attacking the County Party and our Chair at the very time we should be celebrating success. This infighting must stop. Otherwise, we are doing a disservice to the Party and our ability to win elections in the future.

We urge you to come to the meeting on Monday at 6:30 p.m., and support the Chair and our Party. If there are specific criticisms of current leadership, those should be articulated in writing before the meeting and aired in a productive atmosphere. You can email any concerns to the Chair or to either of us at:,, or

This is the new Dallas Democratic Party — one where we work together toward victory unafraid of new ways and innovations. If we are to achieve the victories we deserve we must unite as we did when we worked together and with the Chair on a coordinated campaign to get out the vote in our districts in 2004. We now urge you to work together, with us and the Chair toward a 2006 Democratic victory.

These are challenging times. If we don’t succeed in pulling together, our Republican opponents won’t have to work to divide us — we will have done it for them. We’ve achieved too much to help them in their efforts to derail us. Please work with us to find common ground and renew our unity of passion of getting Democrats elected.

Sen. Royce West
Rep. Rafael Anchia
Commissioner John Wiley Price
Sheriff Lupe Valdez
Yes, two of these people (West and Price) are very good at their elected jobs, but as Jean told another official once, "I elected you to represent me, not to tell me how to vote." They can happily stay in their gerrymandered districts forever -- unless the grass roots feels empowered enough to challenge their own machines in the primary. Naturally, they have every incentive to discourage any such revolt. Valdez is an innocent being misled by others, because she was never active in the party and does not understand how important it is to have a local organization which can work together with mutual respect.

As for Anchia, he is a longtime Republican, with an anti-progressive record, who in effect stole an open Democratic legislative seat by getting that same embattled Chair to make a bad ruling to keep the real Democrat off the primary ballot. Naturally, he wants to keep his patroness in power. Naturally, he isn't bothered by her similar support of another Republican for a federal judgeship, which is the main (though far from only) provocation of the outrage against her. Here's a reminder of that incident, from the U.S. Senate records. Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn, blithely ignoring Democratic protests against the GOP barrier to Clinton judges and greased track for Bush's nominees, said
I ask my colleagues to support this nomination. I say how delighted I am, given this late point in the year when many judicial nominations would not ordinarily be brought up, that there has been bipartisan consensus that this good man and this good judge be put up for an up-or-down vote.
To demonstrate this wholly illusory "bipartisan consensus" for one more reactionary theocratic judge, he said this:
I also ask unanimous consent to print in the RECORD a letter from the Dallas County Democratic Party.
Note that he said the letter was "FROM THE PARTY". Of course the party never authorized any such thing. He was intended to believe that by the author of the letter, who wrote it on official party stationery and signed it as Chair:

July 6, 2004.
Chairman ORRIN G. HATCH,
Members of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

Re Nomination of Michael H. Schneider, Sr. for the United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Texas

TO THE MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE: I write to encourage you to confirm the nomination of Justice Schneider. As the Dallas County Democratic Chair, I supported Justice Linda Yanez, Justice Schneider's opponent in his 2002 race for the Texas Supreme Court. During that election season I learned a great deal about Justice Schneider, namely how well-regarded and well-respected he is by the bench and the bar in Texas. Even the plaintiff's bar in Houston, Justice Schneider's home base, supported his race out of respect for his dedication to following the law.

During his tenure on the Texas Supreme Court I have followed his performance closely. (I served as a law clerk on the court during the 1997-1998 term, and specialize in civil appellate work in my law practice.) While on the Court he has been a voice of moderation and judicial conservatism. In the many conversations I have had with Texas appellate lawyers--of all political persuasions--the overwhelming consensus is that Justice Schneider has done a wonderful job on the Court and fully deserves to be elevated to the federal bench. Justice Schneider is dedicated to the rule of law and the integrity of the judicial system. The only reservation I have about his nomination is that I hate to lose his influence on the Texas Supreme Court. In addition to being a Democrat, I am a member of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association and the Dallas Trial Lawyers Association. Speaking both as a Democrat and as a plaintiff's lawyer, I urge the Committee to confirm Justice Schneider.

While much has been made in the press about partisan gridlock over judicial nominations, as a partisan leader and as a lawyer I know there are times the parties should come together to support a nominee. This is such a time. I urge the Committee to vote on Justice Schneider's nomination at Wednesday's hearing. A quick vote is critical this late in an election year. if you have any questions about my support of his nomination, please call me at 214-557-4819.

Susan Hays,
Needless to say, there are good Democratic attorneys, and former judges themselves, who totally disagree with this characterization of this right-wing hack. Once we had Dallas County Democratic Party Precinct Chairs who kept holding office, and voting in our primary (for the most conservative "Democrats" they could find), then backed Republicans in the fall. Notoriously, several of them actually had signs in their yards for Republican Barry Goldwater in 1964, when a Texas Democrat, Lyndon Johnson, was running for reelection. Reforms of our Rules finally forced these people out, but at the time they were fully supported by our own party's conservative county Chairs, who usually refused to even call executive committee meetings, out of fear that the moderates and liberals who were really loyal to the party might actually take action.

Now we face a more subtle version of the same thing. Republicans who cannot possibly win a general election in gerrymandered minority districts have to win by infiltrating our primary, with help from bad rulings. As demographics make the county more Democratic, they will run still more such camouflaged contenders, and will want to count on help from the party office. Win or lose, a grass roots revolt against that kind of dismal prospect is very good for those who really believe in what the party stands for, and don't like to see it hijacked the way it was up through the 1960s.


  • At 9:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    On what do you base your allegation that Rafael Anchia is a longtime Republican?

  • At 1:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Well Rafael voted in a Republican primary.

  • At 11:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hmm...sounds like there is some uniformed bloggers. Typical. By voting in a Republican Primary that automatically makes you a Republican? What about the Democrats that vote with Republicans? Those that support redistricting? It is obvious people are envious of the young up and coming Anchia. I think he record in Austin will speak volumes. For sure he brings life into a Democratic party that has been dead since the late 90's


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