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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Half-Truths, Non-Truths and the Facts

Joe Monahan has a rambling and often ill-informed piece up today on his blog about Democratic Party Chair John Wertheim, a letter sent to the Party's State Central Committee (SCC) members from a group of their colleagues and an alleged effort by ex-Albuquerque mayoral candidate Judy Espinosa to become Dem Party Chair at some point. I need to clear up some of the misconceptions communicated by Monahan.

First off, a group of SCC members (including me) did draft and send off a letter to other members expressing concerns about how the Party is functioning and where it is headed. Click to read the letter (pdf). We're following up with phone calls to these same people. We did not send the letter to bloggers or the media. We did not mention anything about the Party's actions to keep Nader off the ballot. We are not connected with any effort to have Judy Espinosa become Party Chair. We are expressing our own views as SCC members, not those of any Party staffers or officials who recently resigned. The signers of the letter are not "Deaniacs" per se. We arrived at our views from many points on the political compass.

The letter was meant to generate interest in moving the Party forward, to gauge how Party members around the state view the Party's efforts and to urge Party officers to follow the Party's rules and bylaws so our Party might function more effectively and efficiently.

This was not an effort to push a clandestine agenda or seek support for a run for chair by Judy Espinosa or anyone else. It was meant as a grassroots effort to engage more people in the discussion of where the Party should be headed -- a lively and often heated discussion that has been taking place all over the nation. We see ourselves as grassroots activists interested in various reforms and improvements that can make the Party, its candidates and its positions more representative of core Democratic values. We want to win and we strongly believe these kinds of changes can make that happen more frequently.

Unlike the Republicans, most true Democrats believe debate, brainstorming and inclusive discussions among our diverse members yield positive results. As you may have noticed, we don't favor the lockstep exclusivism and elitism that characterize Republican politics. We see ourselves as members of what has long been the Party of the People, not some club organized for wealthy movers and shakers.

We don't know who contacted Joe Monahan with the info he published, but it wasn't us. And we have absolutely nothing to do with any effort by Espinosa to take over the reins of the Party. We didn't call for Chairman Wertheim's removal.

Of course our letter expressing concerns and ways we might address them don't "pose a threat to either him [John Wertheim] or the party," a Wetheim quote included in Monahan's post. Our goals are to strengthen the Party, help improve how it operates and activate Party members around the state to become more actively engaged in developing our message and assuming the responsibilities delineated in the Party rules for SCC members.

We believe the Party's focus has been on candidates and their big personalities at the top instead of on principles and positions that come from the bottom up -- the very things that define who we are and what we stand for as a Party.  And we're willing to do the often tedious work necessary to help the Party regain its footing and once again represent what rank and file Democrats believe, not just what politicos see as good matches to poll results.

We want Party members, its staff, its officers, its candidates and its officeholders to be proactive leaders who carry a message from the grassroots up. And to communicate that message persuasively and boldly. We're part of a very large number of Democratic activists around the nation who have become precinct and ward officers, central committee members, state and county Party chairs, phonebankers and doorknockers. We believe we bring much-needed positive energies and new blood to a Party often seen as tired and stuck in the past, or cynically tied to today's big dollar donors.

Perhaps most exciting is the fact we're finding so much support and encouragement from long-time Party members here in New Mexico. Reaching out via conversations, letters and phone calls, we are finding that a majority of NM Democrats share many of our concerns about how the Party is operating today, as well as a hope for a stronger, more effective Party if we are willing to work together.

So don't believe Monahan's take on what we're doing (or that of whoever is feeding him distorted info). We're not out to toss around personal insults, trash the Party or launch a destructive attack on anyone. What we're trying to do is set the bar higher on the quality of the Party's transparency, communication, accountability, efficiency and inclusiveness. Party rules set out the duties of our officers and require SCC members to approve budgets and expenditures. They delineate clear responsibilities for the SCC and Party officers. We've decided we need to take these responsibilites seriously and we want everyone concerned to do the same. This is not a time for complacency or business as usual.

We're asking questions, expecting answers and demanding accountability. Is that a bad thing? We think it's a good thing. What do you think? --Barbara Wold

P.S. Sorry this is so long, but I felt I had to be in this case.

November 1, 2005 at 12:39 PM in Democratic Party | Permalink


"What we're trying to do is set the bar higher on the quality of the Party's transparency, communication, accountability, efficiency and inclusiveness."

Well said!

Posted by: Nancy | Nov 1, 2005 2:23:17 PM


Posted by: nmexdem | Nov 1, 2005 3:06:30 PM

Funny, every time I've been involved in something Joe wrote about he got it wrong.

I think his problem is he's used by certain people for their own purposes, and now that he's not the only blog in town, it shows.

He needs to find better sources, or quit the game. (And learning basic grammar and spelling wouldn't hurt either. It makes NM look bad!)

Posted by: KathyF | Nov 1, 2005 3:40:13 PM

Listen folks the management at the party is a disaster the Chairman and Executive director must resign IMMEDIATELY!! The chairman cant even balance his his own books. Check link https://query.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/fecimg/?C00343442
also HOWARD DEAN is NOT COMMING TO NM. Its a Lie!! Call the DNC ask some insiders !
Everything that comes out of the Chairmans mouth is a LIE !
The ship is sinking the question is ? Did you bring a life jacket or a LAWN CHAIR !

Posted by: FDR_Democrat | Nov 1, 2005 4:40:04 PM

I think FDR Democrat proves the point that your effort is more than just a friendly, kind, innocent endeavor meant to improve the party .

Why are you permitting people to go after John Wertheim personally like FDR Democrat just did? That's awful. How does that help us?

We can improve the party but we don't have to tear fellow democrats and our party apart in the process

Wertheim just like any chair is a volunteer and we should respect the time and effort he and the other volunteers put into this party.

You wonder why people have a negative impression of your activities.

Posted by: JB | Nov 1, 2005 4:51:09 PM

JB: May you don't understand what blog comments are -- comments by people who read the blog. They aren't controled by the website. Readers can write whatever they choose. It is up to those reading their comments to believe them or not, or respond back or not.

Have you ever read the comments on the Santa Fe New Mexican website, just for one instance? Do you blame the New Mexican for what people say there or imagine that what commenters write is the opinion of the newspaper?

If you read blog comments anywhere on the web you'll find ones that make sense and those that don't. Unless you are for censorship, this is what makes the internet interesting.

Posted by: Old Dem | Nov 1, 2005 6:23:11 PM

JB you are distorting so much here. You are as off base as is the FDR post. In my view. We are working hard for change. It is imperative at this point to as you say work together. I do not see your post as productive. No more whining! let's get to work and build a great dem party!

Posted by: mary ellen | Nov 1, 2005 7:02:45 PM

Change is hard, but we must change how we are doing things if we are ever to win for president, get back congress and get better candidates. Change always brings battles between ideas and ways of doing things. This is expected, and it is healthy at times like this.

Not only does the party chairman work hard as a volunteer, so do thousands of other Democrats who serve their wards and precincts and do volunteer work for the party and candidates. To me door to door work is the hardest but the most needed. We need leadership.

Posted by: Thomas | Nov 2, 2005 8:31:59 AM

So did anyone actually check this link: query.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/fecimg/?C00343442
How can a person manage the state party when they havent filed their FEC reports from a campaign that WAS FIVE YEARS AGO !!! Being a volunteer chair is the excuse ? If we are going to win in 2006 we need something called EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP.Also as I said HOWARD DEAN is not comming to NM this is another lie spewed out of the chairmans mouth. I guess some would rather setup their lawnchairs on the Titanic.

Posted by: FDR_Democrat | Nov 2, 2005 9:21:01 AM

FDR Democrat may have some points but they are made so hysterically they can't be taken seriously.

As to Dean, I hear he was tentatively confirmed to come but had scheduling problems.

Posted by: RUpolitical | Nov 2, 2005 10:23:14 AM

Obviously, some people like FDR Dem are trying to use your efforts as a way or excuse to bash Wertheim by posting his old FEC reports and claiming that has something to do with his activites at the party. That's a shame and if you are leaders, you should denounce that type of personal politics.

Let's go back in time for some of you neophytes and remember that John Wertheim took on Republican Congressman Steve Schiff, when no other democrat would step up and held that Republican to 55% of the vote after Schiff got 72% of the vote in '94. That took a lot of balls and a lot of skill. A lot of people talk about recruiting democrats to run in important seats, no one recruited him for the swing district seat, he took it on himself. You probably also don't remember that John ran Bill Clinton's campaign in '92. But why would you trouble yourselves with that or attempting to understand the experience John brings to the job?

You also haven't been around long enough apparently to remember when party operations basically shut down in the non-election,odd years and if they raised $100,000 in a whole year it was miraculous. That was certainly the case in '95, '97, '99. The party never had a full time press secretary or organizers or any of that (they were lucky if they had an ED). I remember they didn't even type their FEC reports, they were done illegibly, by hand.

Now John has a staff of more than six and is raising money in the hundreds of thousands. I know you'll say "what have you done lately" but it is important to realize from where we came in this whole journey. There has been dramatic change in the party over the last 4 years. You just weren't there to see it or aren't willing to give credit for it.

So, before you turn over the apple cart. Take a minute to reflect on where this party has been. Also take a minute to think about what happened to the Republicans a few years ago when they went through a turnover and look at where they are now.

I think the way you have handled the press and PR around this issue and your letter is emblematic of your inexperience and speaks volumes about how your supporters would go about running the party. If you can't handle Joe Monahan, a blogger, how would you handle the state-wide press?

Not as easy as it looks, huh?

Posted by: Don | Nov 2, 2005 10:27:28 AM

Sure some people are bashing Wertheim. Some of it he deserves, some of it he doesn't. Reformers, progressives, Dean people and anyone who doesn't approve of spineless Dems or wants to operate with some sense of urgency are bashed regularly here too and in many other places. Including by DLC and big dollar types within the Party. As I'm sure you've noticed Don, there are many who like things just the way they are, with their personal kingdoms intact, whether the country goes to hell in a handbasket or not.

We're not all "neophytes" as you say. In fact, some of the hardest criticisms I'm hearing are coming from long-time regular Dems, many outside the Albuquerque/Santa Fe area, who are fed up and feel neglected and abandoned by the party. They can't even get their phone calls returned by Vanessa or John. Some of them are county chairs. By far their biggest complaint is "we don't stand for anything." Second: "we are way too disorganized and where is all the money going?"

One excellent result of all this attention to party affairs is that Democrats from all around the state are talking to each other and bringing up many good suggestions for how to improve things. You would think the party bigwigs would be happy to have so much energy and opinion out there but many seem dismayed that regular Dems are interested in getting results and reforming the party.

With the horrors of the state treasurer scandal bringing up some of the dark underside of Dems in this state, you'd think they'd be more interesting in taking advantage of this energy to cleanse the party and make it effective again instead of taking all this time to bash those who bring up problems that are obvious to anyone paying attention.

Posted by: Old Dem | Nov 2, 2005 11:12:46 AM

"...by posting his old FEC reports"

And by "old," Matt, er.. "Don" means five failure to file notices from 2004 and 2005. The most recent of which was filed in August 2005. Yea, those are certainly "old" FEC reports. Why is Wertheim failing to file when, according to PoliticalMoneyLine (www.fecinfo.com), he still carries over $140,000 in debt? If you're carrying debt and you haven't closed your Congressional committee, you're legally obligated to file.

"...held that Republican to 55% of the vote after Schiff got 72% of the vote in '94."

"Donny," stop spinnin' - I know you're good at it... but... comparing a 1996 result to a 1994 result? Isn't that like comparing apples to oranges? Perhaps "Don" forgot that 1) 1994 was an OK year for Republicans and 2) Wertheim spent nearly $300K in 1996 vs. Pete Zollinger's $5K in 1994.

"if they raised $100,000 in a whole year it was miraculous. That was certainly the case in '95, '97, '99."

Oh Don, you spinmeister you! Why not compare Wertheim's $50K cash on hand to a more recent off year filing! As of September 30, 2003, the DPNM reported nearly $120K COH.

"The party never had a full time press secretary or organizers or any of that (they were lucky if they had an ED)."

Don't take credit for the organizers, Donny! You know that they're paid for and responsible to the Howard Dean's DNC - not the state party.

In closing, Matt, er, "Don," I think the way you have handled the blogosphere around this issue is emblematic of your inexperience and speaks volumes about how you run the party. If you can't handle Barb Wold, a blogger, how do you expect to energize, active and GOTV the progressive base you need to win elections?

As opposed to having an anonymous, antagonistic relationship with the blogosphere - perhaps you could use some of the tactics you've honed dealing with the media. Engage, inform and activate.

Posted by: not matt farrauto | Nov 2, 2005 11:38:55 AM

Hey Don you sound just like Matt F. communications director at DPNM. So you guys are bankrupt over there but JW has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars ! BS ! Do your job and stop blogging!

Posted by: FDR_Democrat | Nov 2, 2005 11:45:13 AM

Wow. Which disgruntled former Party employee are you, FDR Dem? Gideon? Joaquin? Sara?

Posted by: Not a former party emplyee | Nov 2, 2005 12:28:54 PM

Posted by "not a former party employee" should say " only party employee left Matt Farrauto " at 72,000 dollars a year you should do your job.

Posted by: FDR_Democrat | Nov 2, 2005 1:05:09 PM

I think we have many more disgruntled paid political operatives and consultants here and nationally than we have disgruntled anything else.

I don't understand why these operatives would be so down on SCC members following party rules and trying to live up to them by trying to be in the know about finances and how things can work better. What's wrong with that?

Would you prefer to have them disconnected, lazy and following along like sheep? Apparently so.

To improve things, certain facts need to see the light of day and that's happening. I guess that is threatening to some.

Posted by: Old Dem | Nov 2, 2005 1:18:02 PM

It seems to me that the conflicting information in these comment sare an excellent example of what the so called "neophytes" are complaining about. Everything really does come down to power and money, doesnn't it? Are we in Washington, or New Mexico ? Why don't we spend our political energy trying to decide what we as democrats stand for and work for it.And let's begin at the SDC meeting on Nov. i9. 2006 is not that far off, and unless we clean up our act=and soon-we'll lose again. Or am I just stating the obvious.?

Posted by: jeanne carritt | Nov 2, 2005 11:52:46 PM

What "SDC meeting on Nov 19"??

I just checked the DPNM site and the DPBC site, and found no mention of any party meeting on or about 11/19. Is this another example of our party failing to communicate?

Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Nov 3, 2005 9:53:56 AM

Michael - There's three or four links about the meeting on the right side of the website.

Posted by: | Nov 3, 2005 11:45:04 AM

Sorry about my error. The meeting on Nov. i9 is theDemocratic Party of New Mexico. Guess I shouldn't put up messages so late at night.

Posted by: jeanne carritt | Nov 3, 2005 5:18:56 PM

Aha! The State Central Committee meeting! Thanks for the pointer and clarification.

I had foolishly been looking at the Calendar (events) section of the DPNM web site, thinking that the SCC meeting was surely an event. Apparently it's not. It never occurred to me that I should scroll down and read the small print on the right hand side of the home page, where it is indeed mentioned. Now all I need to do is spend several hundred dollars to buy a copy of Microsoft Word and then I'd be able to read the Call.

I infer from the layout of the DPNM website that the really important thing, placed top center, is the "Important Alert - Act Now WATCH HEATHER WILSON STEAL FILES." The SCC meeting, in much smaller type below the fold where one must scroll to see it, doesn't even rate a mention on the calendar.

This is where I part company with the DPNM. I think it's important for ordinary Democrats to be informed of, and involved in, the activities and organization of the party; to participate in party affairs. This means that I'd put notices of party activites such as the SCC meeting prominently on the website where they'd be easily noticed and in a format that's easily read. I'd make sure that events such as the SCC meeting were announced through emails to everyone for whom the party has an email address. I guess the party thinks it's more important for web site visitors to know what the DPNM thinks of Heather Wilson - and that the SCC meeting is only for SCC members and other insiders. I believe in participatory democracy. The DPNM believes in making sure the right people remain in control.

Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Nov 3, 2005 6:52:10 PM

The New Mexico Democratic Party (NMDP) was Hijacked by Gov. Richardson after his election for Gov. in 2002. Richardson has Used, Abused, and has CONTROLLED the NMDP by appointing his "Drummer Boy" Party Chair. Richardson divided the NMDP when he selected whom he wanted to run for Political Office in the Democratic Primary in 2004. Richardsons Controlling Action will never be forgotten by Democrats, that Selfish Opportunistic Egocentric Action Pinned Democrats against Democrats. NMDP members are leaving the NMDP on a daily basis in PROTEST and the Majority of them are becoming Independents. Our Independent "Moving Train" will travel throughout the State of New Mexico beginning in January 2006. Richardson has and continues to condone Rampant Cronyism and Corruption within the NMDP and within his Administration. DEMOCRATS we welcome you on board "Our Moving Train" that will address all issues and Expose Richardsons Greed, Ego, Lies, and failure (s) to address New Mexicans Needs. Eli Chavez, Independent

Posted by: Eli Chavez | Nov 3, 2005 7:46:19 PM

Eli Chavez is truly insane. I would be scared to ride on that train.

Posted by: MO | Nov 3, 2005 10:43:09 PM

A bit too much overheated hyperbole.

Posted by: Pseudonym | Nov 3, 2005 11:40:12 PM

Michael Schnieder has a point. It's much better to post documents like the SCC meeting call in pdf format rather than as a Word doc. Adobe Reader, which opens pdfs, can be downloaded free on the net. An added benefit is that people can't mess with the document as easily. A pdf is like a photo, preserving what is there originally. Anyone with a computer that can visit a website can read a pdf. Well worth the investment for the Party to purchase Adobe so you can save out documents in pdf.

Posted by: ghseil | Nov 3, 2005 11:53:32 PM

Ding Dong the witch is dead,the witch is dead,the witch is dead,the witch is dead,Ding Dong the witch is dead,the witch is dead,the witch is dead,the witch is dead . One head (Vaness Alarid) of the two headed beast has been lopped off . WEEEEEEE. Wow MATT F. Communications director NPNM you have been silent for a few days . R U OK ! MAYBE U R NEXT !

Posted by: Spanking the Donkey | Nov 4, 2005 8:35:14 AM

I strongly support reform and problem solving within the party but the kind of juvenile and personal attack expressed in the above comment is meanspirited and out of line.

This effort is not about making personal attacks on individuals. It is about positive change and accountability. Whoever wrote the above comment in three comment threads is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Shame on you.

Posted by: The Lobo | Nov 4, 2005 9:37:15 AM

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