Friday, January 7, 2011

Bexar County Democrats meeting breakdown a lesson in dysfunction

Posted By on Fri, Jan 7, 2011 at 10:06 AM

Judge: Mr. Kirkland you are out of order! Arthur Kirkland: You’re out of order! You’re out of order! The whole trial is out of order! They’re out of order!

—   And Justice for All

Ugh. Without any background on the boiling animosities roiling Bexar County Democrats, a visitor to the monthly meeting of the County Executive Committee Meeting held in the Granada Ballroom of a downtown retirement home Tuesday night would have received a free lesson in dysfunction anyway. And, yeah, if you’re a Republican, it was a pretty good night as long as you don’t mind your party name being used as a pejorative put-down of the “other guys” across the room. After declaring the meeting had a quorum — which at just under half of the chairs present, didn’t exist — chatter at the back of the room anticipated “fireworks.” A member started opening 14th-floor windows, but, fortunately, by the time the meeting was adjourned almost two hours later with no action taken, no one had leapt out of any of them. The first “point of order,” involved a question for Party Chair Dan Ramos before the meeting had been officially opened for business. “When are you going to swear in the new committee members?” a small woman with a large voice asked. As a tide of groans answered her back, she shrugged, “I’m just asking!” With two very different agendas circulating, one from Ramos and another from an anti-Ramos faction, Ramos was set to swear in new members. The smartly appointed Bexar County Commissioner Paul Elizondo waited at the table at front to do the honors. Then came a barrage of Robert’s Rules objections. A move to suspend the rules to make the appointments in the absence of a quorum was defeated in a 46-26 vote. Precinct Chair Dante Basilios Small (right) objected to the move, saying the law must be followed. “We followed the law under Carla Vela and look what happened,” a nonplussed Ramos responded. Vela had been running the party when more than $200,000 went missing from the group’s bank accounts. Former party treasurer Dwayne Adams is awaiting trial in the case. Now the party is indebted to taxpayers to the tune of $195,000 following the November election. Distrustful of BCD machine, many prominent Democratic leaders have attempted to pull and end-run by making their donations directly to Bexar County instead. Complaints that a quorum had not existed at the last monthly meeting were steamrolled. But a second roll-call vote shut down the swearing in. And while the basic housekeeping items could have been performed without a quorum, Ramos shut down the meeting. A proposed resolution to censure Ramos and Treasurer Joseph Nazaroff was just one measure that will now have to wait till February.

Former secretary Fernando Contreras blamed racism, suggesting Northside democrats had balked at canvassing the south- and southwest sides of the city last election cycle. It’s a charge that anti-Ramos members object to. Precinct chair Joel Mayer said he and others opposed to Ramos were busy at work in South San Antonio last fall, but didn’t see any of the Ramos faction there. Both sides accused the other of operating like secret Republicans.

Jacob Nammar was one of those who attended the meeting to be sworn in as a new precinct chair. He admitted he didn’t know the history of the animosity on display, but said: “They don’t know which road to take. Id’ rather sit at home and watch the Spurs play. They’re making a mockery of the whole thing.”


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