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, April 02, 2005

SOMETIMES THE GOOD GUYS WIN: "Yes, let the joyous news be spread."

Today the Precinct Chairs finished reclaiming control of the Dallas County Democratic Party.

They had begun at the end of February by passing resolutions requiring regular meetings of the Executive Committee (which is made up of the County Chair, County Secretary, and Precinct Chairs), and establishing an advisory committee to handle various business. That meeting was of course illegally adjourned in the midst of several gross attempts at manipulation and efforts to get people to leave to break a quorum, all propounded by angry supporters of the County Chair the members were in revolt against.

Quashing that meeting did not end the revolt, and the party office, bleeding money for bloated salaries and simply incompetent at collecting the usual drafts and sustaining memberships, actually was not even open for business for at least the past two weeks.

In the interim, that County Chair had finally resigned under fire effective April 1. Her parting shot was to call for a meeting to replace her to be held today, presided over by a Precinct Chair of her choosing. When rebel leaders protested that this was a violation of state law about how meetings to replace County Chairs had to be called and presided over, the State Chair ruled in the rebels' favor. That sunk the angry die-hards supporting the outgoing Chair by pulling the rug out from under their manuvering. Very few of them, and none of the most obnoxious ones from the last meeting, even showed up today. The now resigned County Chair herself also did not show up. As a result this was a much more peaceful and productive meeting.

This afternoon, Shannon Bailey (SDEC member for the Stonewall Dems, and a Precinct Chair) opened the meeting, announcing that this was a continuation of the adjourned February meeting. The long-time Dallas County party attorney (and SDEC member and former County Chair) Ken Molberg explained that, in accordance with the State Chair's ruling, the outgoing County Chair had no authority to call a meeting to choose her replacement, as only the Secretary could do that. Taking up the business which was before the last meeting when it was shut down, the Precinct Chairs elected one of their own, Mike Moon, a former executive director of the local party, as presiding officer for the rest of this meeting. He appointed me (a former County Chair) as Parliamentarian, and several younger Democrats as Sergeants-at-Arms. Their role here was mostly honorary, since there were no disturbances to deal with.

The party then turned to the vital task of filling vacancies among the Precinct Chairs. The chaos of the party office's records meant that several who had every reason to believe they had been properly elected long ago had to be added again, just to make their tenures official. Several other new folk joined their ranks.

One lovely piece of karma came home in the vacant spot which Gene Freeland was seeking to fill. He was the one designated by the ex-Chair as the Sergeant-at-Arms for the last meeting, who then illegally declared it adjourned as disruptive, claiming he represented the union which owned the hall. Since then, that union, the CWA, had repudiated his action in a letter from its actual leader to all the Precinct Chairs. People were still resentful over his role, and in a highly unusual event, someone else ran against him for Precinct Chair. Freeland, who does know how to count, withdrew, and the other man was elected.

Members passed a resolution repudiating the letter on party stationery signed by the ex-Chair supporting a Bush Republican appointee for judge, and calling for a correction of the Congressional Record. Though this was expected to be a major bone of contention with her supporters, it passed with no opposition.

The party voted to call another meeting in several weeks to choose a new permanent County Chair to fill the rest of the vacated term. This was described as giving all possible candidates (including unannounced ones) time to campaign and meet with the Precinct Chairs. [Parenthetically, I have long believed that is how County Chairs should always be chosen, rather than in the primary, by voters who have usually never heard of the candidates for that office, their backgrounds, or what they stand for. This ensures that the County Chair knows and is likely to be able to work together with the grass-roots activists. This would also avoid problems like the year Harris County unknowingly elected a LaRoucheite as County Chair in the primary.]

For now they elected an interim County Chair to serve until a permanent one is elected at that next meeting. Their choice for that office was Theresa Daniel, a long-time SDEC member from the 16th SD. She is generally very respected, and the sort of person who brings people together and works with all sides well. She also announced that she would not be a candidate for the permanent spot.

Energized by the show of unity and hope for the future, people started giving money, raising close to $9000 today. That may well be needed, as the party finances, unreported on in real numbers to the membership, appear not to be in peak condition (and yes, I'm being very diplomatic about that). Three experienced number crunchers (one of whom is Precinct Chair and former county Executive Director Elaine Wiant) have volunteered to audit just what the situation really is and reveal the dismal truth about whatever happened to the large sums supposedly raised by the now resigned Chair.

There were generally upbeat remarks of high expectations for next year's elections by State Senator Royce West and State Representatives Terri Hodge and Roberto Alonzo. A large group of candidates for next year (already circulating ballot petitions for the primary at this meeting) were also introduced. The general attitude at the end of the meeting was relieved, cheerful, and enthusiastic about our prospects.

At a post-meeting gathering at a local bar, interim County Chair Daniel publicly thanked all of those who had joined in the efforts to make today's meeting a success. She announced that she had gone by and gotten keys for the party office, and publicly presented one to me. I have volunteered to be there and help keep the office open for her, and we'll begin at 10 AM Monday morning. I think we all have reason to be excited that this bump in the road is behind us, and we are moving forward together again.


  • At 4:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ding dong the witch is gone and the reign of terror is over.
    So proud of my Dallas Democratic friends.
    Note to Republicans: Now we are coming for you!

  • At 2:30 PM, Anonymous yellowdog said…

    Bill failed to mention that the after-meeting party felt like a true victory party, with hugs all around. I don't know when there's been such a feeling of unity in a group of Dallas County Democrats.

  • At 2:31 PM, Anonymous yellowdog said…

    Bill failed to mention that the after-meeting party felt like a true victory party, with hugs all around. I don't know when there's been such a feeling of unity in a group of Dallas County Democrats.

  • At 11:41 AM, Anonymous Michael Moon said…

    I honored and proud to serve as the temporary chairs of Dallas County Democratic "Love Fest" last Saturday.

    It was good to see Chair Howell up at the podium once again... a reminder of more genteel times.

    If I were the Republicans, I'd be scared!

    Michael Moon


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