Monday, February 28, 2005

Flamefest, part 2

Well. Again, think of it all as Free Entertainment, and Better than Watching Fear Factor, and this all becomes more fun. I wasn't going to blog this at all, but it seems that everyone else has weighed in, so what the hell.

So. Background. Basically, it's Dallas County Democratic Party Chair Susan Hayes and her supporters vs. everyone else in a catfight that makes one think of Siegfried and Roy's white tigers. Big claws, big teeth, and lotsa raw meat.

Let me say to start off that I did not have a great experience as an activist with the DCDP office over the 04 election cycle, but I was willing to hear what Susan had to say. I am one of the pending precinct chairs, but I worked my precinct in 04 (after practically having to surgically extract my walk list out of the party office and after drawing up my own precinct slate.) And let me also add that this is NOT a "new guard vs. old guard" sort of argument. Those in the anti-Susan camp include many longtime party activists, who handed out a four page (!) written grievance list to the meeting attendees as they walked in the door.

The meeting started off with a disagreement over whose agenda would be followed; in fact, dissenting agendas were passed out as people came in the door. Susan said we needed to determine whether or not a quorum had been obtained, and the REAL meeting would not officially begin until that had been determined. The group needed a 40% quorum to conduct business, and a 50% quorum to appoint new precinct chairs. So the "official meeting" didn't start until quorum was determined, at least 30 minutes into the meeting. Meanwhile, Susan gave a review of what happened in 2004. Interesting, but the crowd was apparently not appeased. It quickly became apparent that most of the people who were voting in the room were not in Susan's court, and were, to make a long story short, not happy with her. The meeting started off pretty tensely, but calmed down some as Susan reviewed the year.

Quorum was determined – but not enough to appoint precinct chairs, just enough to do business. This annoyed a lot of people because apparently this had not been a problem before, but strictly according to the rules, you should have the 50% quorum, so we new precinct chairs were not appointed.

Then Susan wanted to appoint an alternate person to chair the meeting because she wanted to speak about the motion. Two people got shot down because they weren't precinct chairs. Finally someone was appointed and the quorum was reached and, wrangle wrangle parliamentary procedure blah blah blah, and, the meeting switched to the second agenda.

Promptly some folks demanded that the second agenda be amended to include the Pledge .... AND the Texas pledge. (Eyesroll. Who the heck cares? Some folks apparently do. We did the pledges. Only about half the people there knew the Texas pledge, heh.)

Then, two resolutions were promptly shoved through. First, a resolution for quarterly meetings of the executive committee (all the precinct chairs.) Passed, promptly.

Second a resolution to establish a Democratic Advisory Committee. As far as I could understand it, this is a committee that is made up of 3 members per senate district,1 SDEC member, and 2 members that are elected out of the district. The committee was tasked to meet in 35 days, to draft and compose a two year plan with the assistance of the chair, and to present the two year plan to the executive committee within 90 days.

There were a couple of amendments about how the committee would fill vacancies (it was decided that they would follow the original election process) and what would happen if no SDEC member lived in Dallas county (it was decided that the third member would then be elected by the senate district members as well.) Anyway I might have gotten some of that wrong, because by this time we were about an hour and a half into the meeting. Nevertheless, it passed. Yay! The heavens opened, loud hosannas rang out, and work was accomplished. Bravo!

Now, this is where things got interesting. Some folks who were working at the door pointed out that some people had left the meeting and we no longer had a quorum of precinct chairs at the meeting. Could the meeting continue? That was the real question.

THEN, a new precinct chair walked in. Quorum was restored. Or was it?

Susan insisted that the first item on the business was to determine whether or not we had quorum. Others in the room disagreed. And the whole thing started to melt down. Yada-yada-parliamentary-procedure roll-call cakes, and we started in with the A's. Now, some other blogs alleged that the gal who asked for the roll call was "in league" with Susan, but I spoke with her after the meeting, and she just thought the roll call would help. Apparently that's one of those things that seemed like a good idea at the time, but in hindsight, not so much.

Someone in my row had brought a flask. At this point we decided that vodka shots were appropriate. The subjective appearance of the meeting approved dramatically.

Then they called the name of a precinct chair who was DEAD. An activist in the audience informed Susan of this fact with some acrimony. I believe the phrase was, "If you knew anything about your precinct chairs, you'd have known that." Well.

Then Katy Huebner got up and informed Susan that she was delaying. Loudly and in ringing tones. A big chunk of the room stood up and cheered. And then the sergeant at arms threw us all out.

It was very dramatic. And then we went out and had another drink.

All I can say is, it was primo high-quality entertainment, well worth the price of admission, and it totally beat the crap out of staying home watching TV.

Question: What on earth does Susan think she's going to accomplish? I don't know what to think about. Susan was obviously employing delaying tactics. I am completely clueless about her motivations.

I look forward to the next meeting, which should be equally spectacular. Meanwhile, I continue to move ahead my own activist work. This is an entertaining diversion, but it's not gonna elect anybody. I have to find this all extremely funny because if I didn't, I'd be upset. Ooo! The best part? Was at the end of the meeting, when Susan was trying to say something, and someone actually Unplugged. Her. Microphone. Bwahahahahaha! It was priceless.

(Oh, and I keep reading on the blogs that, prior to the meeting, the party staff actually called the cops to try to have the precinct chairs evicted from the building. All I can say is, I wasn't there and I didn't see that, fwiw.)

Onwards, into the fog.....

Other accounts, minus my bad attitude:
Byron at Burnt Orange


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