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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Sound Off: A Party Out of Order

Picture this: A large, long meeting room dominated by a raised stage at the front where the Chairman of the Democratic Party of New Mexico and other Party officers sit or stand at a lectern high above the crowd of State Central Committee (SCC) members at their 11/19/05 meeting. The only microphones in the hall are at the lectern and in front of the officers. No provision is made for members in the hall to be heard if and when they are allowed to raise questions or make motions.

The Chairman announces, in a series of admonitions, that Robert's Rules of Order will be employed to control the procedings so that the views of both the majority and the minority will be protected. Hmmm. He introduces a "parliamentarian" he says will ensure that these rules are followed. Even at this early point in the meeting, it seems clear that formalized control of speakers and top-down authority will trump any rights of the members to express their views, propose actions or ask questions. The Chairman and other Party functionaries have established an intimidating physical environment coupled with threats of an intimidating enforcement of nitpicking rules to set the stage for a meeting of what used to be called the People's Party.

According to State Democratic Party Rules, it's the SCC that is charged with reviewing, analyzing and approving the Party's budget and spending, and it's designated as the governing body of the Party generally. The Rules state that, "The State Central Committee is the supreme governing body of the DPNM when regularly convened . . . It shall have general supervision and control of the political affairs of the party." Moreover, "It shall have the authority for appropriation of state party funds." The Party Rules also stipulate that "the Chairperson and the Treasurer shall present a financial report and proposed budget for the Committee's consideration."

Given such clearly delineated powers, you'd think a significant focus of those organizing any SCC meeting would be to ensure that members of the Party's "supreme governing body" have a chance to be heard, literally and figuratively. You'd be wrong.

Over many years, the so-called leadership of the DPNM -- Party officers, powerful elected officials, candidates -- has become accustomed to calling all the shots at SCC meetings and in almost every decisionmaking circumstance. Meanwhile, the SCC has been effectively demoted to the minor role of rubberstamping the decisions that come down from on high, and has generally been kept out of the loop as the Party retreated from anything but surface adherence to principles of transparency, accountability and inclusiveness. The Party Rules have not been changed to reflect this, but it's how the Party has been functioning -- as a top down, secretive collection of insiders.

Enter many new faces who were elected to the SCC after Kerry's loss in the 2004 presidential election, many of them grassroots activists of one persuasion or another. I, myself, am included in this new crop of SCC members. We showed up ready to rock and roll, return the Party to its roots and resurrect the Party's former bottom up power structure. As you might expect, we weren't exactly welcomed with open arms. Generally, we were treated like a rag-tag bunch of mouthy peasants who didn't know our place in the centralized scheme of things.

We started making noise, proposing changes, getting active, asking questions, studying the Party Rules and demanding they be followed. Having worked so damn hard since the early days of the presidential primary campaigns and continuing through the Congressional and Presidential races, volunteering, knocking on doors, phonebanking and donating money, we were dedicated to fixing the things we saw as broken within the Party. Unfortunately, many in the higher echelons of the Party saw this, and continue to see it, as a threat to the status quo, to their little kingdoms of influence, power and money that keep Party business running as usual, with the usual suspects in charge.

After learning alot about how the Party operates and what levers of power we could possibly use to implement change, we organized as an ad-hoc group called NM Grassroots Democrats. Not progressives. Not liberals. Core Democrats on the ground. We organized, held meetings, sent a letter to the other SCC members around the state, made phone calls, built a listserve, raised money and created materials for a table to attract support at the SCC meeting in Santa Fe last Saturday. We paid $150 for a literature table at the SCC meeting, the same amount charged to candidates.

Over several months, we developed a series of motions and inquiries to raise at the SCC meeting that addressed some of our primary goals. Most of these had to do with pushing the DPNM to follow its own rules. They included getting members named to the Rules Committee with a meeting scheduled within two months, reinstituting a meaningful platform process that encourages the input of ordinary Democrats around the state, following rules in getting resolutions approved, ensuring that accurate meeting minutes are kept and distributed in a timely manner, getting the required affirmative action committee back into action and obtaining budget and spending information in a format that allows the SCC to make informed financial decisions, as delineated in the Party rules.

Real radical, huh? You'd think so by the reception we got at the SCC meeting. Even though our group provided the Chair with copies of our proposed motions and inquiries before the meeting and made a concerted effort to follow Robert's Rules in presenting them, we were stymied at every turn by the Chair. It was evident that Chairman John Wertheim and the powers that be were hell bent on rushing through the meeting, calling votes on committee reports before any debate or discussion could occur and confusing those trying to participate with often incorrect applications of Robert's Rules. The so-called official parliamentarian was never allowed to weigh in.

To make a motion or ask a question, we had to jump up from our seats and try to get the chair's attention without benefit of a microphone or run up to the front of the room, below the towering stage, to beg a microphone from the table. This often resulted in the individual being rudely chastized, criticized, humiliated or ruled out of order while they stood alone at the front of the room with Chairman Wertheim looming above. Despite the Chair's statement that he would help participants navigate the complicated fine points of Robert's Rules, we were usually refused an answer when we tried to ask how best to get our motion or question addressed. Clearly, the plan was to isolate those who dared to try to speak, portray them as "troublemakers" who were disturbing the conduct of business and shoot them down using unevenly applied parliamentary procedures.

The Chairman would make a pronouncement and if a speaker tried to respond with a question, watch out. A couple of the more persistent questioners were even threatened with removal from the hall by security unless they immediately fell silent. Ah yes, real democracy in action. Which brings to mind this quote from Major Roberts, who wrote Robert's Rules:

"While it is important to every person in a free country to know something of parliamentary law, this knowledge should be used only to help, not to hinder business. One who is constantly raising points of order and insisting upon a strict observance of every rule in a peaceable assembly in which most of the members are unfamiliar with these rules and customs, makes himself a nuisance, hinders business, and prejudices people against parliamentary law. Such a person either does not understand its real purpose or else willfully misuses his knowledge."

Despite all this, we did manage to get a number of our motions approved in between the protestations of the Chair and the congratulatory appearances of candidates and elected officials, flowers for the departing Executive Director and the rushed committee reports. We found that rushing into a motion before the Chair could get a protest out was the best method. It worked much better in the earlier portion of the meeting, before the Chair knew what was coming. Later, the only way to get a complete sentence out was to get your hands on a microphone and bellow to the crowd despite the Chair's threats to have you removed.

End result of this long litany of undemocratic conduct? Creating more mistrust, anger and disappointment in the Party's rank and file members. Discouraging participation and action. Stifling energy. And for what? You have to ask what the Party is hiding, don't you? What are they afraid of? In a political environment rife with corruption and dishonesty on the part of the now resigned Democratic Treasurer and other Dems, you'd think that transparency, responsiveness and conducting businesss according to the Party's own rules would be paramount. Guess again.

--This is a personal Sound Off by Barbara Wold, SCC Member and Chair of Precinct 462. Sound Off is a regular feature of the blog that allows individuals to voice their views on timely issues and controversies. Click on the Email Me link on the upper right-hand side of the page if you'd like to submit your own Sound Off.

November 22, 2005 at 12:03 PM in Democratic Party, Sound Off! | Permalink

Comments

From what I saw, I think you were unprepared. You want to address the party rules and change procedures but don't want to follow the rules for running the meeting.

Also, if you had such pressing matters and good points to make, why didn't anyone else from the central committee stand up and defend you? You are right in saying the central committee governs the party, and they did on saturday. You're just upset that the rest of the governing body didn't believe your points had merit. Welcome to the democracy.

I think you want to run the Party but don't have the support to do so, that's why you found it difficult to take over the meeting.

I remember Saturday taking about 1/2 hour to amend the minutes from the last meeting on one of your group's motions. By taking up that much time on a saturday right at the start of the meeting to debate such a small point, you exasperated every one in the room and you lost any will of the majority to listen to your points.

Just as in the letter you sent to cent com members, this effort on Saturday was poorly planned and executed and shows why you have had difficulties.

I would suggest you spend more time involving yourself in the party and recognize that we are all democrats and want what's best for the party. Perhaps if you focused on what everyone has in common on the committee and worked with everyone to move the ball forward you might be more successful.


Posted by: Eli | Nov 22, 2005 1:14:44 PM

True we were unprepared as far as being able to counter another on the Robert's rules. Naive yes thinking the chair would conduct the meeting in a more friendly manner. The minutes were amended because the chairman used them to stop us from getting information since April. Not to say I think you are exagerating saying a 1/2 hour. What the SCC members whom have stepped up to take action are doing is enforcing the rules within the Democratic party of new mexico rules.
You dont think it could be the rest of the SCC members do not want to put themselves through such a humiliating experience over very important issues. I am curious Eli what issues raised by these fellow dems did you think were not appropriate to be brought forward?

Posted by: scc dem | Nov 22, 2005 2:37:10 PM

The time wasn't taken up by our questioning of the minutes. It was taken up by the Chair fighting the corrections. As a matter of fact, the problems from the minutes should have been cleared up months ago but unfortunately the Chair did nothing despite his promises to us. When you have a Party Secretary who allegedly can't be reached for months at a time and who doesn't perform her official duties, that creates problems. Especially when the Chair does nothing to remedy them.

If the Chair would have applied the rules evenly and fairly and correctly, the meeting would have run smoothly. However, he clearly just wanted to shut people down.

I don't know who you're talking to "Eli" but I talked to people from all over the state at that meeting and almost to a person they thought Wertheim was a crook and liar and totally ineffective. Many told me they were glad someone was finally standing up for the little people, even though they didn't dare do so for many reasons.

And yes, when Wertheim "permitted" votes, we won every time. Every time. So I agree, the SCC spoke despite the Chair's antics and insults. What did HE win? Only more disgust on how he operates from Dems around the state.

You know what almost everyone on the SCC has in common? A real distaste for how the Democratic Party has fallen into the sway of big money donors, how they've lost any respect for the ordinary working people, and how they offer up weak candidates and weaker ideas instead of standing up for what's right. "Eli" you obviously need to get out more and knock on doors, do phonebanking and talk to people outside the circle of elites. You know?

Posted by: SCC Member Too | Nov 22, 2005 3:18:43 PM

I went to the meeting on Saturday and I had a nice time.

I was not so sure what all the fuss is or was about. It was good to see my old friends.

I think we got these Republicans up against the ropes. There was a good turnout at the meeting and the party is more organized than I've seen it in a long time.

It is nice to see the young leaders like John Wertheim take over. And we need more like him. I don't like the sour grapes crowd. I want to beat those republicans!!!

Posted by: Stanley | Nov 22, 2005 3:39:00 PM

Funny. I know who "Eli" and "Stanley" are and believe me they ain't regular ole SCC members. People forget that the person who runs the blog can often tell who people are by the IP number associated with comments. You two guys should own up to your opinions by identifying yourselves and quit posing as rank and file Dems. Do you have the courage to do it?

Posted by: barb | Nov 22, 2005 3:44:40 PM

I was at the meeting too. I talked to some of the people working on this thing at the grassroots table they had and they were very cool. I want them to keep fighting for the people and putting the bosses in their place.

Posted by: Richard | Nov 22, 2005 4:06:54 PM

Stanley, I am not sure if it is meant to be a nice time while we are at war and the country and world is in jeopardy! Just that statement alone from me tells much.

I guess Cindy Sheehan is sour grapes too. Losing a son....sour grapes. I am so frustrated over what went on saturday. The scc members myself included were trying to implement the DPNM rules, it is our job.....sour grapes.

I want to beat those repubs too, however in the words of howard dean....we are the party of honesty and inclusiveness- I did not see that on saturday.

I guess you are saying we should turn the otehr way and not care that bad contracts are let, and that there is no affirmative action committee, and the resolutions brought forward on the floor were instructed to be brought forward by the resolutions committee. I am truly a wounded dem after that meeting. I was brave enough to get up in front of that crowd and speak for what i think is honest and right. Only to be seriously humiliated. We are just a pain in the ars to Wertheim and the rest of the paid people of the party. Meanwhile more people die, more kids without healthcare, more billions spent.

These are sad days. Sorry for the sour grapes.

Posted by: mary ellen | Nov 22, 2005 4:21:46 PM

I thought the Saturday SCC meeting provided a clear example of the misuse of rules which were enforced selectively and randomly, and worse, they seemed to be used more to stifle discussion than to encourage and assist it.

John Wertheim started the meeting with an announcement that Robert's Rules of Order would be strictly followed, and then he randomly failed to follow them whenever it suited his purpose.

He repeatedly violated his own agenda, taking items out of order, and overlooking approval of the minutes and resolutions altogether until the audience insisted they be addressed.

The agenda itself failed to list standard items of old and new business, and to make matters worse, no time was made available for the "other business" item that actually WAS on the agenda.

The Chair introduced "dignitaries" at random throughout the day although there was a specific agenda item for that purpose. {Random introductions strike me to be a way to encourage a political elite attitude. As far as I am concerned, every SCC member is just as important as any elected official or candidate, and a real "Party of the people" would be sure to model that principle.

There were also the routine celebrity speakers, at the start of the meeting, although requests had been made to put speeches at the end to allow the SCC members the maximum amount of time to discuss issues important to them. As a result, important discussions were cut short and other important discussions never even occurred (e.g., the $40,000 consultant contract and other budget issues) while candidates preached to the choir.

This business of putting candidates at the beginning of the meeting and not making it clear they are expected to attend the entire meeting and participate is still another demonstration of political elitism, and then we wonder why our elected officials do not attend to matters of importance to us. I think it should be a RULE that candidates are expected to actually attend the entire SCC meeting and participate, and at the least, only candidates who attend and participate should be introduced, and perhaps the names of candidates who are absent without a good excuse should be named as well, for a different reason. How in the world are candidates and elected officials to learn the views and interests of their constituents, as opposed to the interests of their contributors, with which they are entirely too familiar? We DO get the government we deserve.

As to rules, at the very least there should be no declarations that rules will be strictly enforced if they are not going to be. And, since strict enforcement of rules is not conducive to an egalitarian, democratic process, I think the declaration ought not be made at all. Indeed, I think the Party should consider formally discarding Roberts Rules. Surely someone has developed something better in the several centuries since Robert created them. However, if Roberts Rules are to be followed, there should be a neutral parliamentarian in charge of the formalities, NOT the Chair, so there will be more objectivity and consistency in interpreting and applying the rules. As it was, it appeared the Chair favored some people, was afraid of others and had utter disregard for still others, which is a sure-fire way to get people to feel un-heard and to generate contempt for rules in general.

Finally, there should always be an explanation when the parliamentarian declares that the rules do not permit a specific action or discussion, of exactly WHEN and HOW that action/discussion can properly take place--that is IF the goal of the rules is to encourage participation and open, robust debate, as opposed to the goal being to control, that is to say, exclude certain people or points of view.

Posted by: Anne | Nov 22, 2005 4:25:51 PM

I myself had an interesting conversation with our Chief Operating Officer, now acting Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Matt Farautto - I went over to exchange a nice thought with him fairly early on, or midway throught the meeting. All he could say is " I guess no one here cares about seeing the Lobos game."

MR. COO-CEO you are probably the highest paid person within the DPNM staff. And you can not spend a Saturday trying to hear what your state central committee has to say. Shame on you!

People are dying and the world and country are in jeopardy, and our own COO-CEO of our Democratic Party of New Mexico was PUT OUT he could not go see the lobos play their game. Worse yet he had a puzzled look on his face as to why others were not interested in seeing the game.

THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PARTY AND THIS COUNTRY. HEY MATT...I HAVE AN IDEA FOR YOU.....GO FIND A NEW JOB, THAT KIND OF ATTITUDE IS NOT WHAT WE NEED HERE IN THIS STATE OR IN THIS COUNTRY.

Posted by: mary ellen | Nov 22, 2005 4:58:39 PM

As they say, I don't have a dog in this fight - except hoping we can elect more dems. Having not been able to attend - I'd like to know what you were able to get done - resolutions, etc. and what weren't you able to get done. And was it because the Chair wouldn't let you introduce it or did it get voted down?

Thanks!

Posted by: | Nov 22, 2005 5:04:03 PM

All the resolutions were passed except for those not allowed in as floor substitutes even though these were approved by the resolutions comm. and the person trying to introduce them was directed to do so by the comm. chair. They were never voted on.

A rules comm. was finally appointed and motion passed to have it meet by 1/19. A motion passed to have platform hearings around the state and a platform convention the same weekend as the next SCC and other details.

Minutes were corrected according to a motion and a budget and finance statement provided after earlier pressure although questions about the bare bones numbers weren't allowed to be asked.

Every motion that managed to get onto the floor by the grassroots people passed.


Posted by: Northern enviro | Nov 22, 2005 5:14:48 PM

Good summary above. We also tried to introduce a motion to get an affirmative action committee appointed and working again, but were unsuccessful. Mr. Wertheim claims an affirmative action committee exists, but has yet to provide names of who is on it or any committee report on the plan allegedly drafted and implemented. No affirmative action committee report was made during the SCC meeting. The Chair got quite nasty with the person trying to make this motion. Again, it was just another attempt to get the Party to live up to its own rules.

Posted by: barb | Nov 22, 2005 5:19:09 PM

Just to put some more summary to the treasurer's report:
A one line treasurer's report was approved, no discussion was allowed.
A swag budget, was approved, no discussion was allowed.
No points of inquiry over the budget or report were allowed.
We wanted to pass a motion for the Chair to provide an audit report as the rules state. Not allowed.

This is one of the SCC's major responsiblities to watch the purse strings of the party. We were totally shut down on this effort by the chair.

Posted by: albq dem | Nov 22, 2005 5:32:59 PM

We are with you from other counties. We are tired of not getting our calls returned by Wertheim and staff. We are tired of not being told about the money. We are tired of not getting help. We are tired of Democrats who won't stick up for the poor and against the war. Wake up.

Posted by: County Chair | Nov 22, 2005 5:47:46 PM

The only way to describe the SCC meeting on Saturday is that it was a total disaster.-an example of "top down" politics, which should have no place in the democratic party. I have been on boards that used Robert's rules, and Roberts would never recognize his rules. Did the chair control the parlimentarian too? Could it be that the reason other members didn't speak out to support the few folks who were trying to get some open discussion, be that they were totally confused? Why do we bother to havee an SCC in this state if it will be run entirely by the state chair, and the people he hires and controls?

Posted by: disgusted | Nov 22, 2005 6:38:24 PM

RULE 4. STATE CENTRAL COMMITTEE

4-1. Powers and Authority.

A. General. The State Central Committee is the supreme governing body of the DPNM when regularly convened in the absence of a convention in session. It shall have general supervision and control of the political affairs of the party. Members of the State Central Committee shall serve as automatic delegates to all State Conventions, in addition to those state delegates duly elected at the County Conventions, unless prohibited by the rules of the Democratic Party of the United States.

B. Financing. The policy of the DPNM is that its business shall be financed primarily by contributions from each of its individual members as their means allow. The State Central Committee has the responsibility of fulfilling that policy by maintaining a systematic program for soliciting and collecting such contributions. It shall have the authority for appropriation of state party funds.

C. Assessments. The State Central Committee shall have the authority to levy dues or assessments upon the various recognized party organizations (Rule 23-1) on an equitable basis proportional to the representation such organizations have on the State Central Committee.

4-2. Members. The State Central Committee shall be composed of the following:

A. The Chairperson and First Vice-Chairperson of each county:

B. Additional members elected by each County Central Committee according to Rule 18-6.B.2.

There shall be equal numbers of men and women (within a variance of not more than one) among the members of the State Central Committee from each county;
and the voting procedures of Appendix A relating to equal division of men and women apply.

If the average of the number of votes in each county for the Democratic nominees for Governor and President in the most recent election for each office is from

2,501 to 3,500 inclusive,

the county shall have an additional member. If this average is from

3,501 to 4,500 inclusive,

the county shall have two additional members, and successively so, with an additional member for each additional 1,000 votes.

C. Such other members appointed by the State Chairperson with the consent of the State Central Committee only as necessary to achieve equal numbers of men and women, within a variance of not more than one, after the election of members of the State Central Committee by the respective County Central Committees.

D. National Committeeman and Committeewoman, the State Chairperson, Vice-Chairpersons, Secretary and Treasurer.

E. Two members from each of the New Mexico Senate and House of Representatives who shall be selected by the Democratic caucus from each legislative body.

F. Two members selected by and from the New Mexico Young Democrats organization.

G. Two members selected by and from the New Mexico Democratic Women organization.

H. All statewide elected Democratic officials and United States Representatives.

4-3. Meetings and Calls. The State Central Committee shall meet at least twice each year, the two mandatory meetings being held in the last ten days of April and in the month of September or October. Such meetings shall be upon the call of the Chairperson or by a call initiated by the petition of a majority of the committee membership. The call shall give timely notice to all Committee members and shall be mailed to each member and shall specify the time, place and purposes of the meeting. Where party officers, including delegates, are to be elected, Rule 2-4.E applies.

The call may be amended only by a three-fourths (3/4) vote. A quorum shall consist of twenty-five percent (25%) of the members of the Committee with the additional requirement of at least one representative from each of two-thirds (2/3) of the counties. The Chairperson shall have the authority to levy an assessment equal for all members to defray the cost of the meeting.

4-4. Business and Budget. The State Central Committee shall transact business only at meetings conducted pursuant to a call. At each of the two annual meetings, the Chairperson and the Treasurer shall present a financial report and proposed budget for the Committee's consideration.

Posted by: RULESRULEMOFO | Nov 22, 2005 10:41:43 PM

There seems to be a lot of resentment towards the DPNM. But the truth of the matter is that the DPNM and its county counterparts have the potential to be a forerunner and ideal example for state parties across the nation. NM has a nationally recognized Democratic Governor, A veteran Democratic Senator who sits on one the nations most powerful committees, we run a democratic constitutional candidate system that allows us the privalege of holding dem officials in the Secretary of State position and County clerks statewide. AG Madrid has a chance in hell to take a much needed congressional seat from Haliburton Heather Wilson We are home to the fastest growing minority in the nation: Hispanics. We should be a model State Party for all those blue states and yet we have Barbara Wold, this stinky website, and all of her and this website's associates trying to trash the Party in order to mold it in their vision. Look you come from out of town (last 5 years or last 20 years doesn't matter where you were born they did business different because people everywhere else in WHITE america relates to the WASP culture of individualism and Liberal secularism which is the backbone of this country's political ideology, compared to the isolated forgotten Pueblo Spanish culture which has dominated the power system here in NM) and you expect to transform 400 years of politicking into freaking Portland Oregon. Well Miss Wold and anyone else that likes to fire up the old political nerves so they don't feel irrelevant after so many years after the sixties, please don't use our state or our state party to fast track far left policies into a state which has a large population of Hispanics who sit teetering on the Cenerist line between Conservative and Liberal. Build the Party on UNITY not on distaste for the current Chairman and a poor loser attitude. Run for Chair, set up the SCC meeting yourself lets see what kind of dreamy democratic utopia you can organize in the midst of people like yourself and others who feel that the DPNM has all the time to provide the perfect democratic service. I gaurantee that Miss Wold your going to screw up and compromise your integrity because your only human and some blog somewhere is going to cover it and there will be some separatist group that feels you marginalized which will organize against you. I just don't see your motives winning over the state of New Mexico, just dividing it into a WHITE People for Impeachment for Bush camp and a Hispanic people clinging onto power however they can camp. Why are 20 WHITE people from Albuquerque so interested in a Affirmative Action Committee anyways? Do they feel guilty? Damn it Wold and all you other complainers get your butts into the South Valley and see how far your antics take you, register some newly Mexican-American citizens to vote. LEARN SPANISH LEARN SPANISH LEARN SPANISH. hispanics will be the majority of the NM population within 15 years, and there is no way in hell that it should be that there will be a chairman with the last name Wertheim or a governor named richardson, professors of universities named Berthold or Presidents of Universities named Smith, or doctors named johnson. Why are you trying to take power from the real people of NM. Anyways the best of Luck to you disillusioned Democrats,Keep up the lame fight. UNITY UNITY UNITY UNITY UNITY UNITY UNITY UNITY UNITY UNITY

Posted by: | Nov 22, 2005 10:47:00 PM

Wow, an anonymous, purportedly Hispanic, racist preaching unity. I wonder what the "Pueblo Spanish culture" is - did it arise before or after the Pueblo revolt of 1680? I guess the Athabaskan speakers (Navajo, Apache) are just another of those Juan-come-lately groups. I think my head is going to explode from reading all that offensive and ignorant nonsense.

Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Nov 22, 2005 11:09:27 PM

Wow, that was a scary comment. From my experience as a white woman raising votes in the South Valley, it's not reflective of most attitudes.

At least I hope not, or we're very much in trouble.

I wonder how Richardson thinks he'll get much grassroots and internet support in his upcoming race for president when his state party is in such disarray? And how will this affect his support in the '06 race?

He can't possibly be considered a serious presidential candidate if he doesn't wallop the Republican opposition next November, yet I don't see that he's reached out to the growing progressive community in the state.

Posted by: KathyF | Nov 23, 2005 3:48:02 AM

It'd be real easy to be snarky at this point and say something like "With friends like these, who needs Republicans?" or "now I know we lose every time!", but after reading all the above I'd like to first say thanks to everyone for posting. The meeeting was definitely one of those "Rashomon" type events where different folks saw very, very, very different things.
I appreciate all the perspectives, and I'd like to see the online news and debate continue. I think we need to work a bit on the "play nice" rules here, but at least for me this whole thread is a start to really understanding what the heck is going on.

Now for the bad news. Not much that has been outlined from last Saturday's meeting, including from those defending the DPNM, is making me rush to the next such meeting. Central Committee ("Cen Comm")?, Robert's Rules?, "Chairman pronouncements"? A lot too much Soviet Comintern for me. The overall scene painted, again even by those defending the Party, is so politically enervating one wonders if maybe a well-placed neutron bomb is the only solution to really energize and mobilize the un-Republicans in this State.

I kid. I'm kidding. No more bombs. At the same time, it seems like some sort of "break it down to build it back up right" has to take place. Maybe Sharon in Israel is right on this kinda deal...but in this case we just keep the "Democratic" name and replace all the people and institutional ossification.

Thanks again for the news and views...I'm guessing that in the current framework more might get accomplished in this setting than in "Cent Comm" meetings and such. As for Saturday, I understand the one's gentleman perspective, perhaps more was actually achieved at the Lobo's game.

Posted by: scot | Nov 23, 2005 6:49:26 AM

I now have a recording of the entire SCC meeting and I have taken the time to listen carefully to it. If anybody is interested I will have copies available at the next DFNM meeting. You can judge for yourself how the agenda was manipulated to keep the SCC members in awe of the knowledge and skill of the "leadership" and therefore silenced. There were a few brave souls, and I say that because I was one of them and it took courage, who stood up and were shot down.

I would like to respond to the comment that the reports about the problems at the SCC meeting would discourage people from participating. When you do give in and give up you are giving control or your party and of your government to the manipulators. We cannot retake our country until we are willing to stand up to these ego centric power hungry manipulators. It is easy to complain about the stupid things that our representatives do when in office. They act like they do because they can. We are working to make them accountable but we cannot do it without a LOT of help. When we were at the SCC meeting we had the hardest time figuring when was the right time to speak up or speak out and when it was "legal" to make a motion or wheather to make a point of order or a motion, but we did it. Now, because we were willing to stand up things are changing in our party. Things will get fixed when A LOT of people stand up and demand that things get fixed.

I would like to suggest that at the April meeting we could put the party in order. Non SCC members can attend but cannot vote. Questions or challenges from this group, though out of order, could not be completely silenced. A large contingent of democrats who feel strongly and speak up would be influential. If these supporters worked in coordination with SCC members they would give the quiet SCC members the courage to stand up also. This is what is needed.

You have shown your intent by reading the DFNM website. Now you should act on your intent, make plans to attend the April state pre-primary convention and stand with the SCC members that are leading the charge. Make the Democratic Party the party of the people.

For more information please come to the December DFNM meeting.

Terry Riley

Posted by: Terry Riley | Nov 23, 2005 9:29:38 AM

I was tempted to remove the post about this "stinky blog" and how people pushing for the Party to follow its rules on affirmative action are really racists. However, I thought I'd let it stand so readers can contemplate where something like that comes from -- what kind of mind produces thoughts like those expressed. As usual with such posts, no name is attached.

I think my parents, who grew up in one of the poorest but most vibrant, mostly Polish and Italian and Catholic immigrant neighborhoods in Chicago, would get a good laugh from the poster's comments about a WASPY upbringing. Not that there's anything wrong with that, as Seinfeld would say.

If Democrats stand for anything it's equality and justice for all. That's what I was taught growing up, and that's what I try to work for today. Perhaps I don't do it the best way all the time, but I try to do what I can.

As for the Hispanic thing, I talked to many Hispanic SCC members inside and outside the meeting hall who offered solidarity and encouragement in taking on the status quo. A number of them told me they'd like to be more visible and active in working to bring the Party back to its roots, fighting for the people, but they didn't dare because of various factions that would threaten their job security or cause trouble for them if they stood up for rebuilding the Party so it works for everyone.

Posted by: barb | Nov 23, 2005 9:43:51 AM

We should have all stood up and protested loudly when Wertheim shut up Barb, Mary Ellen, Dallas and Terry. We were all being good little girls and boys, and playing by the rules....Wertheim's rules! That is the last time (and nearly the first) that I keep my mouth shut!!! When I drove my Red Peril at top speed up the aisle of the 'forbidden territory' toward the front, leering and fuming at JW...and he certainly saw me...it didn't seem to matter. But, after this past meeting, I am sure he won't be too surprised if we mutiny. The unmitigated insults that Barb, Mary Ellen, Terry and Dallas had to endure should not go unpunished. In fact, the insults to everyone at that meeting by being given that condescending, ding-dong-school budget are unacceptable.

We need some heavy duty strategizing and we need power in numbers. Eavesdropping on conversations after the meeting, I got that there are a lot of SCC members outside of our group who were not satisfied with the outcome of that meeting...and I heard the words 'budget' and 'treasurer's report' a lot.

Posted by: Lynn | Nov 23, 2005 11:39:46 AM

In spite of professing that the Robert's Rules would be adhered to, in order to give everyone a chance to be heard, the CHAIRMAN used the rules to his own ends...he made them up as he went along. He was officious and condescending, and abruptly ended the meeting when it was starting to get too hot for him to handle.

Not being a member of the Committee, it was extremely frustrating for me to be unable to speak or vote. But John Wertheim, acting as if he owned the NM Democratic Party, stopped people from saying anything he did not want to hear or deal with. That was the worst! We, the People, have a lot of work to do to take back the Party.

Posted by: Lynn | Nov 23, 2005 11:53:36 AM

Guess Wertheim isn't very good at filing FEC campaign reports either:

http://query.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/fecimg/?C00343442

Posted by: Moneybags | Nov 23, 2005 12:18:48 PM

Mister, who doesn't sign his/her name, you sound to me like the Bushies, who say that anyone who doesn' agree with them is a traitor and unpatriotic. Good isn't good enough. What we want is an open, and yes, a unified party, bu one that is really a party that knows what it stands for, and isn't afraid of change, when change is so clearly called for. Nice that you feel comfortable bad mouthing guys who are working so hard for what you sayyou want. Why didn't you stand up on Saturday and voice your complaints, if you feel so strongly about them? What are you doing about election reform, ward and presinct work, etc-all of the things these so-called white elitists are doing? Have you been up at the round house to make your voice heard, as they have, about election reform, or spent hours in resolutions meetings, and sent money to the county and national offices, as they have? If the status quo is so important to you why don't you join the republicans

Posted by: Jeanne Carritt | Nov 23, 2005 5:18:58 PM

I just want to make it clear that the folks at the State Central Committee who followed the Rules and requested affiliation with the DPNM by creating a Progressive Caucus are in NO way associated or affiliated with the people on this blog and or Grassroots NM. Instead we asked to be on the agenda in advance of the meeting. We want to be affilated not alienated from the Party. There was a lot of confusion and many SCC members believed we were them. We believe that you need to have respect for those who have been involved with the DPNM for many many years and you cannot come in to an organization and change it to your way of thinking as fast as these people want to change it. Change takes time and a lot of discussion with an understanding and knowledge of how things have worked in the past.
As far as the Progressive Caucus, we are separate and not part of this group. In fact people on this blog were against the formation of a caucus and were very critical of us. We know we have a lot of educating to do about our intentions and we began by particpating in the other caucuses and not having a caucus meeting that conflicted with the other caucuses. Our own highly respected and for the present time, only Dem from NM, Tom Udall, from Northern NM, belongs to the congressional Progressive Caucus.

Posted by: Charlotte | Nov 23, 2005 11:35:16 PM

I'm an SCC member and I'm glad the people writing here who are working as plain old Democrats or grassroots people are not connected with the so-called progressive caucus. I like that they're working as regular Democrats and reaching out around the state to get support for the party following its own rules. A working rules committee, platform meetings around the state and an affirmative action committee are required by the rules. I don't see why anyone would be against getting these things moving again.

I talked with some of these people at the grassroots table they had at the SCC meeting. They were great to talk to and explained what their goals were and how they planned to go about working for them. They also sent a letter to everyone and called many including me, to discuss what can be done to fix things that are broken in the Party if we work together. We are Democrats and we can work together as Democrats to get things done. I don't think we need another caucus to do this.

On the other hand I only saw a handful of people pushing for a progressive caucus at the meeting. Wertheim gave them free rein to speak and didn't pull Robert's Rules on them. He even named a special committee to help them fix their bylaws. Instead of taking a vote on the caucus when it looked like they would lose, it was tabled. I found that strange.

Wertheim seemed to be backing something few wanted while trying to hold back those who had support. Every motion the grassroots Democrats managed to get introduced passed by a good margin.

I don't understand why any leader of something called a progressive caucus would be criticizing people here for working hard to fix things in the party that have been broken for years. If anyone did not reach out to regular Democrats, it is those pushing the progressive caucus idea. We don't need another set of people fenced off from ordinary Democrats who seem to hold themselves above ordinary Democrats.

Posted by: Regular Democrat | Nov 24, 2005 10:31:29 AM

Charlotte says:

"you cannot come in to an organization and change it to your way of thinking as fast as these people want to change it. Change takes time and a lot of discussion with an understanding and knowledge of how things have worked in the past."

How is asking that the party bylaws be followed to have a rules committee, platform meetings and affirmative action committee changing an organization? That's taking your SCC responsibilities seriously and respecting the organization's own rules.

Now forming a progressive caucus out of thin air with no precedent, little support and almost no outreach to other members seems more like wanting a quick change. Other SCC members spoke against having a caucus when it was moved with only Charlotte and one other person speaking for it. The motions the grassroots group got to the floor all passed.

Posted by: Moneybags | Nov 24, 2005 1:50:34 PM