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

Friday, March 25, 2005

HOPE AT LAST: Ken Molberg reports that Dallas County Democratic Party Chair Susan Hays is sending out a letter saying that she is resigning on midnight April 1. As he points out, she told the media about this even before she told the party. Here's part of the Dallas News story:
Susan Hays announced Thursday that she would resign as chairwoman of the Dallas County Democratic Party on April 1, saying she was the victim of a witch hunt.

In a letter mailed Thursday, Ms. Hays asked precinct chairmen to meet April 2 at the Hall of State in Fair Park to select the next leader.

She appointed precinct chairman Robert Franklin as temporary chairman for the April 2 meeting.

"I am saddened to say that infighting has broken out, giving the public appearance that we prefer to fight among ourselves rather than stand united behind our Democratic beliefs and work together to get Democrats elected," Ms. Hays wrote. ...

Ken Molberg, a former county chairman and longtime member of the State Democratic Executive Committee, said Ms. Hays had a tough job but did some good things.

Mr. Molberg was part of a movement of Democrats who questioned Ms. Hays' performance as chairwoman.

"She was very gracious," he said. "She's made the right decision."

Michael Moon, a precinct chairman and critic of Ms. Hays, said the dispute was not a personal attack of the chairwoman but a way to get ready for the 2006 elections.

"It's important for the party to prepare for 2006," he said. "It's not about her."
What happened at the last meeting, which I've written about before here, was so gross a violation of the rules, parliamentary procedure, and elementary respect for the rights of the Precinct Chairs, that she disqualified herself from continuing to hold the job of County Chair. Long before that her wrong actions and refusal to interact properly with the executive committee had lost the confidence of most of the party activists. Her horrible performance at, and since, that meeting drove the point home to any objective observer who was aware of the facts.

Questions have been raised about whether her call for a meeting to replace her, and her appointment of a person to preside at that meeting, are another violation of the rules, which call for the County Secretary or the State Chair to call the meetings to fill a County Chair vacancy and to appoint the presiding officer there. The meeting should also deal with the unfinished business from the last meeting, which was illegally shut down by her hand-picked "sergeant at arms", for which the head of the union which owned the hall has sent a letter of apology to the Precinct Chairs. There are still Precinct Chair vacancies to be filled, and the next item on the unfinished agenda after that is a motion to deal with her unauthorized support of a Republican judicial nominee.

This resignation will clear the decks so that the party can get its act together in time for the next election campaigns. Because there is so little time before the April meeting, it has been suggested that it should choose a temporary chair, to serve only until a permanent one can be elected at another meeting a month later. We can expect to hear much more in the coming days.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

NOTA AL PIE DE LA PÁGINA: This forgotten true story would make a wonderful novel and movie.
During the buildup to the Mexican-American War (1846-8), scores of immigrant Irishmen joined the army for the $7 a month. "The U.S. anti-immigrant press of the time caricatured the Irish with simian features, portraying then as unintelligent and drunk and charging that they were seditiously loyal to the pope," ... many of those Irish soldiers who found themselves heading west to fight a war of conquest were Catholic. ...

One such deserter was John Riley, an Irishman from Galway who swam across the Rio Grande after asking permission to go to Mass. "As the U.S. Army marched through Mexico’s northern deserts, others followed, and Riley became captain of a 200-member rogue column in the Mexican army," ...

The group was unofficially known as the "Irish Volunteers" but Mexicans often referred to the redheaded and ruddy-complexioned men as the "Red Guards." ... In five major battles, the San Patricios earned a reputation for bravery that peaked on August 20, 1847 at Churubusco where, over the course of three hours, 60 percent of the San Patricios were killed or captured by a numerically superior American army. ...

While 50 San Patricios were sentenced to death, five others were pardoned and 15 others received a reduced sentence. Riley himself was given 50 lashes and was hot-iron branded with a two-inch letter "D" for deserter. The San Patricios who faced the gallows were hanged in their Mexican uniforms and buried in graves dug by Riley and the other branded prisoners.
(Found at Mickey Z..)
During last year's presidential campaign, the AP filed federal and state suits that uncovered new, long-sought military records of Bush's service.

Weeks after Texas National Guard officials swore under oath they had released everything, two retired Army lawyers searched again under an agreement between the AP and the Guard and found 31 unreleased pages. These included orders for high-altitude training in 1972, less than three months before Bush abruptly quit flying.

Defending the failure to find the documents, Guard spokesman Lt. Col. John Stanford said searching the old, disorganized boxes was tough. "These boxes are full of dirt and rat ... (excrement) and dead bugs."

The AP's general counsel, David Tomlin, said the company spent almost $100,000 litigating the case. The government was ordered to pay the AP's legal costs, but disputed the amount. The AP settled for a fraction of what it spent, Tomlin said.
(Spotted by edwardpig.)
THE DARK SIDE IN OZ: The Australian timber company Gunns Limited works like this in Tasmania:
First, their loggers come and clear-cut an area. Then, rather than hauling out the felled trees, helicopters are sent in to drop incendiary devices to light the slag on fire. ... The dense hardwoods burn hot and slow for days, but eventually cool back down, and that’s when the loggers return —- but not to plant new trees yet. Instead, they scatter the charred forest floor with carrots soaked in a chemical known as 1080. All the animals that then come to feed on the carrots -- including wombats, possums, and wallabies -- quickly die. Only when all the native life has been drained do the foresters return, to plant non-native trees in massive plantations, which are then aerially sprayed with chemicals.

Whether those chemicals are dangerous or not is anyone's guess. Gunns lobbying has eliminated most oversight ...last December, a helicopter spraying near the town of St. Helens crashed, dumping some 80 liters of its load into the hillside. Gunns insisted there was no danger, and it took seven months for the Department of Health to check the small town's water supply. By then it was too late. In January, a "once in a lifetime flood" had roared through the area and within a week, more that 95% of the oyster beds in nearby George's Bay were dead or dying. Government and industry officials chalked it up to "excessive fresh water."
There are more horrors; read it all at "Fighting the Big Gunns in Tasmania". Thanks to Lying Media Bastards, which adds "Is Halliburton still single? Cuz we gotta set these two up on a blind date." Jean's reaction was to wonder if any member of the Bush family ever emigrated to Australia.
ONE MAY SMILE AND SMILE (HAMLET, ACT 1, SCENE 5): Proving that a picture really is worth a thousand cliches, Long story; short pier lets someone writing about Lebanese protesters set himself up for a fall, then destroys him with the caption to one photograph. Watch the knife slip in with gleeful skill at "Pretty good".
ONE MORE REASON BUSH WANTS TO PACK THE COURTS: He wants to avoid decisions like this one:
The United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled that the State of Texas illegally denied federal funds for family planning agencies including Planned Parenthood of North Texas (PPNT), in a move that would leave more than 25,000 North Texans with no other accessible health care.

"We are naturally pleased but not surprised by the court’s ruling because the state law clearly violated federal law," PPNT Vice-President of Community Relations, Kathryn Allen said. "It is unfortunate Texas Legislators with a personal and partisan agenda went so far as to waste tax payers money, waste the state and federal courts’ time and put more than 25,000 North Texans' only source of health care in jeopardy. The authors of the bill knew it was an unconstitutional law while they were writing it and lobbying it."

The lawsuit was initiated by PPNT and five other Planned Parenthood affiliates against the State of Texas when Rider 8 was included in the state Appropriations bill. Rider 8 prohibits any federal family planning funding from going to organizations that also provide abortions through private funds. 98% of PPNT patients are seeking basic reproductive medical care; only 2% are seeking abortions.
(Thanks to Janis Delmonte of the GDCRF's email list for the notice.)

Friday, March 18, 2005

In a surprise move, the Senate also voted to approve a total of $134 billion in tax cuts, $34 billion more than President Bush requested and $64 billion more than the Senate Republican leadership had initially proposed.
--The Sideshow
In the weeks after a popular uprising toppled a corrupt government in Ukraine, President Bush hailed the so-called Orange Revolution as proof that democracy was on the march and promised $60 million to help secure it in Kiev. But Republican congressional allies balked and slashed it this week to $33.7 million.
--The Mahablog
FUTURE HISTORY: I roared with laughter at this. Go enjoy the whole thing at "Triumph of the Wolfowitz".
May 29, 2005: After days of study, the World Bank’s Office of Really Special Plans releases a 500-page report entitled, "A Really New Strategy for Securing the Realm: Promoting Democracy and Energy Security in the Middle East." It recommends the World Bank finance the construction of an enormous bridge and a pipeline connecting the oil-rich republic of Turkmenistan with staunch U.S. ally Azerbaijan on the other side of the Caspian Sea. ...

March 30, 2007: Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif, announces that investigators on his staff have discovered that the Caspian Sea is, in fact, approximately 170 miles wide, not the 17 miles claimed by Halliburton and the World Bank. No previous bridge project has ever crossed such a large stretch of open sea, Waxman notes. ...

September 11, 2007: The Caspian Sea Thermonuclear Prevention and Social Security Reform Act is approved by Congress, after 42 out of 44 Democratic Senators vote to invoke cloture on a Democratic filibuster attempt. By a somewhat narrower 88 to 12 vote, the Senate also accedes to a House rider funding construction of the world’s largest Native American gaming casino on the so-called "Azerbaijani Rivieria." ...
The Italian mobile operator TIM, one of the largest mobile phone companies in Italy has issued a unique warning that the number of wiretaps has reached the limit. In a fax sent to all Italian public prosecutors they say that they have already over-stretched their capacity from 5.000 to 7.000 simultaneously intercepted mobile phones. New requests now have to be processed on a 'first come first serve' basis, they write.
(Found at the Daily Irrelevant.)
So far there have been 32 friendly fire incidents committed by Americans on the British. Then again, since so many wing nuts want to return us to the 19th century, it may be that they haven't quite gotten over the War of 1812 yet.
(Found at Mykeru.)
EQUAL JUSTICE: Jeneane Sessum of allied has the pictures to show how the law still works in its majesty at "White Men Can Jump Bond".

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

READ THYSELF: I found this quiz linked from bookofdays. It's a good answer, since Hugo is my favorite novelist, but this is only my fourth favorite novel by him. (His best is Quatre-vingt-treize.)

You're Les Miserables!

by Victor Hugo

One of the best known people in your community, you have become something of a phenomenon. People have sung about you, danced in your honor, created all manner of art in your name. And yet your story is one of failure and despair, with a few brief exceptions. A hopeless romantic, you'll never stop hoping that more good will come from your failings than is ever possible. Beware detectives and prison guards bearing vendettas.

Take the Book Quiz at the Blue Pyramid.

Saturday, March 05, 2005


March 4, 2005

Dear Fellow Democrat:

Last Monday night’s meeting of the Dallas County Democratic Executive Committee was one of the most interesting and revealing in our County Party’s history.

We want to thank the large majority of you who petitioned for that meeting. The petition, signed by more than 200 of you, was an historic event–the first time in memory that the Precinct Chairs themselves have undertaken the difficult task of calling their own meeting. This is proof that our Party is strong, active, energized and ready to wrest control of this county from the Republicans.

We are sorry, however, that our opportunity to plan the future of our Party was not completed, and it troubles us that the meeting’s unnecessary and abrupt conclusion silenced many of your voices. Troubling, too, is the mis-portrayal of the meeting by our local daily newspaper, in a story written four days after the fact. As for the meeting itself, we saw no reason for the extreme delay between the announced start time and the time the meeting was actually called to order. It was clear to all that a quorum was present within less than 20 minutes. The meeting should have been opened then. And, as a last point here, many of us cannot quietly accept the action of the Chair in recognizing a strategic quorum call designed to hobble the meeting, which had the immediate and damaging result of preventing us from filling numerous Precinct Chair vacancies. Many pending Precinct Chairs were in attendance, each one ready to become an official part of the Party structure and move forward. Instead, they were needlessly sacrificed, and that misguided act cost us valuable time, resources and political personnel.

Nevertheless, two very positive things happened. First, you unanimously passed a rule requiring that the Executive Committee meet no less than quarterly, thus ending the chance that the Executive Committee will be forced by the Chair’s inaction to sit idle during a volatile election season. As you know, until the other night, we had not met for some 10 months, not even before the presidential election. Second, you overwhelmingly approved the creation of a Democratic Party Advisory Committee ,whose purpose, among others, is to develop a strategic political plan for our county. This is long overdue. The Advisory Committee is made up of three persons elected from each Senate District, and each district has now elected its representatives and is preparing to move forward.

We have a common goal: securing the election of Democratic candidates who will promote the interests of the many rather than the few, and to do so with an inclusive and active Party structure, one that translates words into action at the grassroots level. For the Party Chair to refer in the press to your actions in your leadership roles as “mob rule,” and to claim with a straight face that the only reason the reformers have taken action is because of a desire for “jobs” from the Party, pointedly illustrates, again, the Chair’s failure to recognize the purpose and value of the Party structure. It is neither wise nor proper to ignore, be intolerant of, or disrespect the Precinct Chairs. One thing is certain, however: a solution cannot be imposed from the top down. A solution must involve the governing organization of our local Party, and it can only be reached through our collective wisdom and experience.

We ask for your continued input. Your voice does matter. We also ask for your help in reaching a quorum at the April 2, 2005 Executive Committee meeting, so that we may fill the vacant precincts. Working together, we will soon put an end to the current difficulties and unite to accomplish our goals in 2006 and beyond. The issues are too important to allow any other result.

Concerned Democrats of Dallas County

Theresa Daniel, SDEC

Ken Molberg, SDEC and former County Chair

Shannon Bailey, SDEC and President, Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus

Steve Tillery, SDEC

Martha Williams, SDEC

Gregory Carter, Precinct Chair and Former Secretary, Dallas County Democratic Party

Michael Moon, President, Stonewall Democrats of Dallas

Dorothy Dean, Precinct Chair, former SDEC

Bruce Rothstein, Precinct Chair

Gary Fitzsimmons, Former SDEC

Janice Mattox, Precinct Chair

Buck Massey, Precinct Chair

Ricardo Medrano, Precinct Chair

Friday, March 04, 2005


I've met the reporter who penned the tale below. He seems like a nice guy. Unfortunately, he obviously accepted the spin offered by the principal person discussed, and as a result is totally wrong on several points.
After curtailed meeting, Democrat may resign

Security shut down gathering after man rushed chairwoman

09:15 PM CST on Thursday, March 3, 2005

By Gromer Jeffers Jr. / The Dallas Morning News
It's already wrong on the sub-headline. No such thing happened. Plenty of witnesses say so.
Embattled Dallas County Democratic Party leader Susan Hays said Thursday that she's studying ways to bring the splintered party back together -- including the possibility of departing as chairwoman.

"I'm considering all options," Ms. Hays said. "The overall goal is to stabilize the situation."

Dallas Democrat Ken Molberg, one of Ms. Hays' harshest critics, did not publicly call for her resignation, but he said there were problems in the party.

"There is some dissatisfaction with the chair in some respects," he said. "But disputes are a tradition in both parties. I've seen bigger brawls in church."

Monday's meeting of the Dallas County Democratic precinct chairs was anything but churchlike. It featured shouting matches, dueling microphones and walkouts.

Security at the Communications Workers of America union hall ended the meeting early and ordered the Democrats out of the building.
Way off again. There was no building security ordering anyone out. Gene Freeland of the AFL took on himself the authority to declare the meeting unruly and order everyone out. He did this not because of any imaginary disturbances or threats to anyone, but because disgusted Democrats were criticizing the Chair who appointed him Sergeant-at-arms and demanding that she follow the rules -- which would have meant yet another embarrassing defeat for her, just as had happened on every vote already taken that evening.
Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, a strong supporter of Ms. Hays, called her from outside the meeting and warned that it was not safe for her to leave.

According to Ms. Hays, a man rushed her and snatched a microphone from her hand, which helped lead to the abrupt end of the meeting.

"I had to leave through the side door," she said.
Utter nonsense. She was never threatened or endangered in any way, much less "rushed" by anyone. There were people demanding that she recognize valid points of order she refused to follow. It was her improper conduct which was disrupting the meeting, not that of the Precinct Chairs who were consistently voting against her misrule. It was the admitted efforts by her supporters (see their comments at Burnt Orange Report) to get people to leave to break a quorum when they saw they were losing that was threatening democracy.
Ms. Hays feared that her opponents had orchestrated the meeting as a sort of witch hunt.
The meeting was called, against her will, by a perfectly legal petition by Precinct Chairs because she had refused to call one for far too long. It had already passed two positive and helpful resolutions to improve the party's internal communications and controls, in accordance with the Committee's assigned duties under the Rules, when her backers engineered the vanishing quorum.
Although precinct chairs serve essentially as Ms. Hays' supervisors, the chairwoman, whose term ends in 2006, can't be removed from office because she was elected by a vote of the people.
This may be what she says and believes, but it is not true. She is subject to removal for cause. I am not aware of anyone who has accused her of the kind of serious offenses which would most obviously justify that (like embezzling money), nor of anyone who advocated removing her. A growing number would be happy if she resigned, and some have called for that, but as Bush says about Iran, all options are still on the table. No elected party officer is exempt from removal for cause. (And if she had endorsed a Republican candidate for judge in the election, instead of just a Bush appointee, her removal would be automatic.)
Her detractors include Mr. Molberg, Democrat Theresa Daniel and Shannon Bailey, head of the Stonewall Democrats, a gay and lesbian political group. ...

But some Democrats have become disenchanted with Ms. Hays.

In online communications, they complained about her inability to keep "faulty" ballots from 10,000 voters in the congressional race between Democrat Martin Frost and Pete Sessions.

And some complained that she has written letters of support to at least one Republican judicial candidate.

But Ms. Hays says her detractors are angry with her for more personal reasons, including her refusal to give some of them jobs.
The idea that any of those three people mentioned, or any of the other leading spokespeople opposing her, sought, wanted, or needed a job from the party is so obviously untrue that it is laughable. This kind of wild lashing out at people who have been devoting their lives to the party since she was still in school is just sad.
"It's just devastating for this to be happening at this time," she said. "Mob rule will not have an effect on our elected officials. They are not going to play."
Some of these Precinct Chairs she is disrespecting and ignoring the rights of were last called a mob when they testified at legislative hearings against Delay's redistricting. Of course then it was Republicans who were calling them a mob.

Another attendee at the meeting Monday was Precinct Chair Mike Moon, who writes this in response to that article:
Were there two different meetings?

"...Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, a strong supporter of Ms. Hays, called her from outside the meeting and warned that it was not safe for her to leave..."

MM: I thought that Susan walked out with the precinct chairs. I could be wrong. The only person I remember wanting to charge the podium was Pauline Dixon. No... really.

"...According to Ms. Hays, a man rushed her and snatched a microphone from her hand, which helped lead to the abrupt end of the meeting..."

MM: I was 10 feet from Susan and I really do not remember this happening.

"...Her detractors include Mr. Molberg, Democrat Theresa Daniel and Shannon Bailey, head of the Stonewall Democrats, a gay and lesbian political group...."

MM: I will have to give Mr. Jeffers a call tomorrow. I was elected President in November.

"...But Ms. Hays says her detractors are angry with her for more personal reasons, including her refusal to give some of them jobs...."

MM: What is she talking about?

Although I am serious about these curiosities, not everything that happened Monday night was bad, some good did occur. The executive committee passed two positive resolutions: the first one requires the DCDP Executive Committee to meet at least once each quarter to provide Executive Committee members with the most up to date information. The second resolution creates a DCDP Exec Comm Advisory Committee with the charge to develop a two year campaign and finance plan. Three members were elected from each State Senate District. I was honored to be elected to be one of the representatives from the 23rd Senate District. Regardless how this chapter ends, Democrats can be assured that we will be prepared for the 2006 election season.
And, just to cover the legalities, here's the usual fine print about posting the story above:
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


A filibuster is a parliamentary tactic used to prevent the majority from getting its way. The method itself is neutral; it can be used by the good folk or the bad ones. It is always employed by the side which would otherwise lose. Usually this is done by a minority which once had control but has lost it, and so has resorted to this desperate tactic to prevent change.

The best known example was the segregationist Southern Democratic caucus in the U.S. Senate. Those battlers for the status quo prevented Congress from passing civil rights bills for generations. Most of the country was changing its views. Most of the U.S. House was willing to pass such bills. The Senate racists still kept them bottled up. At the time, liberals kept denouncing this obstructionism as anti-democratic.

More recently the filibuster has been used by non-Southern and non-racist Democrats in the U.S. Senate. They have employed it to block a tiny few of the more extreme theocratic reactionary judicial appointments of George Bush. They have to resort to this because the Republican majority of the Senate would lay down willingly before the juggernaut. It is a holding action, done in hope that future elections will change the President or the Senate majority.

When the rules of a legislative body, like the U.S. House, do not allow filibusters to continue against the will of the majority, those who are desperate to stop action resort to another tactic. Perhaps the most famous early use of this method was by the man who became the first President from Bush's party:
As a leading member of the Illinois legislature, Lincoln repeatedly opposed proposals by Democratic legislators to audit the Illinois state bank. In December 1840 the Democrats in the legislature wanted to require the bank to make payments in specie (that is, gold) instead of paper. ... Lincoln wanted desperately to avoid this move ... he and his fellow Whigs headed for the door, which was locked and guarded. Their objective was to leave the room so that there would be no quorum ... Blocked from the door, Lincoln jumped out of the first-story window and was followed by his Whig compatriots; after this event, the Democrats began referring to "Lincoln and his flying brethren."
--The Real Lincoln
More recently, the Democrats in the Texas legislature have felt forced to resort to this by leaving the state in an effort to stop Delay's "Perrymandering" of Congressional districts to benefit the Republicans. In both cases the "vanishing quorum" was an attempt by those who were out of power to prevent the will of the majority.

This is not just done in legislative bodies. Those of us who have attended several state Democratic Conventions in Texas have seen this more than once. A state Chair does not want certain resolutions considered, because they would pass on the floor and "embarrass" some candidates. (Repealing motorcycle helmet laws was a famous instance a few years back.) The Chair simply "runs out the clock" until so many bored and frustrated delegates leave the hall in disgust that fewer than a quorum remain. Once that happens, some shill of the Chair makes the point that there is no quorum and the Convention adjourns without taking up those bothersome matters the Chair opposes. It has become a quorum-breaking filibuster by delay.

All of these are just variations on the same theme: a few people using procedure to prevent losing, when the majority opposes them. This is just what happened at the meeting of the Dallas County Democratic Executive Committee on February 28.
Well, I don' know why you people seem to think this is magic. It's just this little chromium switch here ... My, you people are so superstitious....
--The Firesign Theatre
The embattled County Chair didn't even want to have the meeting, but it was forced upon her by an unprecedented petition from the Precinct Chairs. She planned to preserve her unquestioned control by preparing an agenda loaded at the front with chances for her and officials supporting her to stuff propaganda down the throats of the members. They were having none of that, and came with their own agenda, which pushed speeches to the end, after considering the actions they wanted to take to reel in the out-of-control Chair. She cleverly started her "running out the clock" by beginning her orations about how great her administration was before calling the meeting to order, thus preventing the adoption of the people's own agenda that would have moved stright into business instead. (The two alternative agendas can be seen on the web HERE.) After over an hour of this, with the frustration of the members about to boil over on the stove, she finally opened the meeting.

She first sought to yield the gavel to one of her supporters so that she could speak against the grass roots agenda. With her usual lack of adherence to the Rules, she tried to hand it to an elected official. When the members correctly objected that he could not preside, since he was not a Precinct Chair, she tried to give it to a former Precinct Chair that she had named Sergeant-at-arms for the meeting. (That office had not been needed since the bitter, often physical, liberal-conservative battles of the one-party sixties. This time there was no ideological split with the Chair, a noted proponent of choice, but a vast methodological and procedural divide.) When the members continued to stand up to her, she finally had to give the gavel to an actual Precinct Chair, David Griggs (who quickly gave it back once that matter was resolved).

The Precinct Chairs voted overwhelmingly first to close debate, then to adopt the alternative agenda. This meant real business would come before any more of her put-up program to a captive audience. The small group backing the Chair then tried to suspend the agenda to let one of her supporters, the newly-elected Sheriff, to speak out of order. This was voted down by almost two-to-one by people who wanted to get on with the real business of the already needlessly prolonged meeting.

They promptly passed by large margins two motions. One required regular meetings of the entire Executive Committee, which she had refused to call. The other established an oversight committee to develop coordinated campaign strategy, and to watch operations of the local party. Both of these are assigned by the party Rules to control of the Executive Committee. The Chair was accused of grossly neglecting or mishandling both of these herself, while keeping the Precinct Chairs in the dark. Passing those two resolutions dealt positively with two of the three actionable complaints about her administration, not by means of heaping blame for what had gone wrong before, but by requiring better communication and conduct in the future.

By this time the members had made it blindingly clear that they wanted serious changes. After the routine swearing in of new Precinct Chairs to fill vacancies, the next item on their agenda would take up the third actionable complaint against her, namely her letter, on party stationery, signed by her as County Chair, supporting a reactionary theocratic Republican Bush appointee for federal judge. Texas Republican U.S. Senator John Cornyn had spoken to Congress and entered this letter in the record as a sign of "bipartisan support". At this meeting she expressed regret only for using the letterhead, but declined to apologize for, much less promise not to repeat, the endorsement of a legal dinosaur she still gigglingly defended. The meeting agenda item intended to deal with this was "direction to correct Congressional record".

This was definitely not anything the County Chair wanted the meeting to take official action on. The writing was clearly on the wall that this group was out of her control and would do just that. It was time for the next stage of her quorum-breaking filibuster by delay.
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it."
--Upton Sinclair
I have known several people who claim to practice witchcraft. They all assured me that the literary cliche of a fortune teller asking someone to cross her hand with silver is only a Christian canard. Real magic, they say, has to be done for love, not lucre. Taking pay poisons the potions. This confirmed what most of us had already learned from Mark 8:36.

For several years now the Democratic Party has been infected with a deadly cancer, the so-called political iron triangle of consultants, pollsters, and fundraisers. Losing touch with the grass roots, its leadership has often sold out the real interests of the ordinary working people of this state and country to chase corporate contributions. They have settled for token victories in gerrymandered districts, whose minority voters they take for granted. Meanwhile they run mealy-mouthed mass-media watered-down Lowest Common Denominator national and statewide campaigns that avoid issues and concentrate on personalities and private scandals instead of serious debate.

Continuing this suicidal machinery of futility requires an organization, not of local voters, but of willing cogs in the gears grinding away our future. Some of us hope that Howard Dean's internet ties will help him flush out some of this clog in the pipes. Time will tell. There are a lot of mercenary bricks in that human wall. One of the lesser contributors to that political constipation proved to be the perfect person to play here the role we have seen others perform on the floor of several state conventions.

A self-appointed minion of the status quo claimed that there was no longer a quorum sufficient to elect replacement Precinct Chairs. I quote from Byron LaMasters's more detailed report:
... supporters of the chair, seeing the lopsided margins of victory on procedural votes for the petitioners, engaged in further stalling tactics. This time, the tactics meant preventing a quorum....

... the chair ignored points of order, and insisted upon a roll call of the 300+ precinct chairs. She began the roll call vote and halfway through the A’s she got to the name of the aforementioned deceased precinct chair that was still on the list of precinct chairs. At that point, a respected precinct chair, and longtime activist notified Chair Hays that the member was deceased, and if the chair would bother to pay any attention to her executive committee, she would be aware of that fact. The comments received a strong ovation.
As this seemingly interminable delay continued, a former legislative candidate got to a microphone and started denouncing the Chair's conduct. Instead of simply declaring her out of order, the Chair's enforcer-at-arms announced that this meeting had become unruly, and on behalf of the union whose hall this was, he was ordering everyone out of the building. His portfolio to do so was in doubt, but an SDEC member contacted the actual head of the local CWA who agreed with the unprecedented eviction, and so the meeting broke up.

When I was a youngster in east Texas, the clique in control would do things like bar the doors to the place Precinct Conventions were being held in, once they had all their people inside. If you can't even get your way by driving folks away for a rigged quorum call, you can always resort to old fashioned bullying. It is sad to see such means employed again by the threatened powers that be.

People then caucused outdoors by Senate districts to elect members of the new overseeing Advisory Committee. One of those new local party overseers from the 23rd Senate District (which contains the bulk of the Democrats in the county), was Precinct Chair Elaine Wiant. She wrote:
If the chair had allowed the meeting to proceed – from the very beginning -- none of the disruptions would have occurred. The meeting was called by petition, not by the Chair. This should have been a clue to the Chair. She took every step possible to delay and obstruct the meeting.

From the viewpoint of the petitioners, the request for Sheriff Valdez to speak early was clearly a delaying tactic. We would have all liked to hear from her after the business was conducted. It could have been so easy – if only the chair had allowed it to be so. The meeting did NOT have to be a marathon session, and I, one of the petitioners, didn’t expect to be one.

Interestingly, the 23rd Senate District caucused on the street corner after the meeting was recessed and elected its representatives to the advisory committee.

Also, interestingly, I talked to a least one precinct chair who was prepared to support the chair when he arrived and changed his mind after observing her obstructionist tactics.

Kudus to David Griggs, who probably should have chaired the entire meeting!
Precinct Chair and long-time Platform Committee member Tom Blackwell reports that at the conclusion of the meeting, former Dallas County Chair Ken Molberg said:
I am not a member of the Committee, therefore I could not speak tonight. Being your SDEC person - - Let me go on record as saying how disgusted I was with our Party Chair who could not control the meeting, and who did everything to deliberately thwart your voice, regardless of which side you were on. I think this is testimony to the fact that this party needs to get itself together and move on, and she is not part of the plan.
What will the future hold? The next meeting of the Executive Committee seems set for April 2, and some Precinct Chairs are saying that should be a continuation of this one which was involuntarily terminated. Byron sums up this way:
... Susan Hays does not have the confidence of the vast majority of the grassroots and precinct chairs in Dallas County. Hays refused - just as she has refused for the past ten months - to accept a forum for grievances against her. Furthermore, she used continuous stalling tactics to prevent business from being accomplished. I offer this summary as evidence that Dallas County needs new leadership, and if Chair Hays will not step down, it is critical that Dallas Democrats work to elect a chair next March that will lead a united Dallas Democratic Party to victory in November 2006.
It is inconceivable that this person who has consistently refused to seek or accept advice from the party activists (thus following the lamentable model of the first campaign she was active in here, that of Victor "no, you can't use me on your party slate card" Morales), would even consider resigning. We have had County Chairs before who hoped to use the job to bolster their resume or name ID for a political future. For that to have any chance of working one needs to spend the time in the position making friends in the party and building favorable contacts. Ignoring and offending the party loyalists is downright counterproductive to any future aims. It has been reported that she previously said she does not intend to run for another term next year anyway. If true, that will spare us a very divisive primary. People should start recruiting good candidates now, and make sure they are the kind of folk that genuinely respect and want to work with other Democrats.

We used to have petty tyrants as County Chairs, who would ignore and try to circumvent the Executive Committee. That was more than three decades ago, before reform rules gave the grass roots a recourse to challenge their power. All of those bullies were conservatives who later became Republicans before they died or retired to rocking chairs. Good riddance. Democracy must be not just an abstract concept, but a vital means of dealing with others with respect to make a better world together.

UPDATE ON THIS: This came later today in a letter from longtime Democratic activist Ann Hubener, who is the mother of the former legislative candidate whose own outburst the Sergeant -at-arms used as an excuse to finally throw everyone out. It looks like they would have been happy to have done so earlier. The last paragraph quoted is disgusting, but the next-to-last one is downright scary. "First they came for...."
I do think that "I" got out of hand talking to the chair from the sidelines. However, if you are truly a party chair who cares about democracy, the democratic party, you really want to work with people, you care about your constituency, winning elections, and you want to have a civil discourse you do not chair a meeting that you "THINK" may not be civil without all of your ammunition. Our party chair appointed a Sargent at arms, but did not appoint a PARLIAMENTARIAN? We have had a parliamentarian at every county party meeting since this party chair was elected, but we had no parliamentarian last evening? And, our party chair, by her own admission does not know all of the proper procedures and "rules" (very few people do..). So, this could lead one to believe that perhaps following the rules and conducting a meeting was not a priority.

The quorum, according to the list of precinct chairs provided by the county party office, was reached at about 6:55 p.m. The meeting was not called to order until almost 8:00 p.m. Now, was this respectful, civil, or in the spirit of democracy? So, this could lead one to believe that perhaps respect, civility, democracy or having a meeting was not a priority either.

The whole meeting got off to a bad start when Democratic Party Staff called the police on Democratic Party Chairs to attempt to have them evicted from the property prior to the beginning of the meeting. This could not be accomplished because the Democratic Party Chairs were the ones who reserved the building for the meeting. So, this could lead one to believe that the intent was to have the meeting canceled. ...

Then, to add insult to injury, our newly elected Sheriff, Lupe Valdez, was encouraging members of the executive committee to leave their meeting-- that was disappointing.