Assorted Thoughts!

September 21, 2011

Albuquerque Municipal Election – October 4, 2011

Yesterday I went to early vote at the City Annex at 604 Menaul NW. I was not surprised to see that there were no cars in front, it was mid-afternoon, but I was appalled to find that I was voter number 50 for the day!  What is going on? Do people care so little about their city that they are not showing up to vote on these very important bond measures and City Councilor races?  

I know it is a secret ballot, but I am happy to report that I voted yes for Bonds 1-11 and on Bond 13. I voted NO on Bond 12.

Question # 12:  Gross Receipts Tax Revenue Bond

“Shall the City of Albuquerque issue up to $50,000,000 of its gross receipts tax revenue bonds to finance certain capital projects: Paseo Del Norte and I-25 Interchange Improvements (not to exceed $25 million) and a Multi-Sports Complex (not to exceed $25 million) as identified as part of the program generally known as ABQ the Plan?”  *http:www.cabq.gov/clerk

I voted no because I do not believe the hype and I do not trust the Mayor. I encourage everyone to vote and to be sure to vote no on # 12.

I was also asked for a picture ID in order to cast my ballot. I had forgotten that “the voters of Albuquerque passed an amendment to the Election Code of the Albuquerque City Charter on October 4, 2005, that requires voters in a city election to provide a photo identification card prior to voting.” *http://www.lwvabc.org/elections/index.html

HOW DID WE LET THAT HAPPEN??  I vaguely remember the amendment passing, and believe me, I am kicking myself because I did not become a militant fanatic about keeping it from passing. I am like most other voters; things slip by me as life occurs. Well, I am saying something about it now. One of my litmus test questions to a candidate for mayor or city councilor will be: Do you believe in repealing the amendment that demands photo ID for voting in municipal elections? If they answer yes, I will consider them, if they answer no, they will not get my support and I will be vocal in sharing their answers.

One of the joys about being an openly, active Democrat is that people I know in my everyday life often ask me for my opinion on who to vote for and which issues to approve. I estimate that every election I am responsible for 25+ votes. In a low turnout election, like the October 4th seems doomed to be, this is a huge number. That is why speaking up and sharing your Democratic beliefs is so very important.

Upcoming State Central Committee Meeting and Executive Committee Meeting – September 23 & 24

When I lost the race for State Vice-Chair I also gave up my seat on the State Central Committee (SCC). Well, I am an interested and involved Democrat and I am driving down to Roswell on Friday to spend my money and my time supporting Chaves County Dems and carrying several proxies from my county so that I will have a voice and a vote. I don’t believe that the agenda for the meeting is very pressing but the State Party Bylaws mandate a fall meeting and by golly, a Fall meeting we will have. SCC meetings are always a great opportunity to see Democrats from around the state, old friends, new faces and our State officers. I have attended several of the standing committee meetings and look forward to their reports to the SCC. I am hoping to hear from our DNC members and get substantive reports about what the Democratic National Committee is up to. There was a meeting in mid-September and one earlier this summer. I haven’t seen any reports coming from them as yet. One of the key points of my campaign was the promise to notify each SCC member before I went to a DNC meeting to get their input and then a follow up report when I returned. Let’s see if we can get the current DNC members to do just that.

 

 

 


A Cautionary Tale

August 19, 2011

The last several weeks of my life have been eaten up by a mistake that I made and tried to rectify. I will tell the story without using the real names or organization. It is a story that needs to be told.

The moral of this tale is: Choose your elected organizational leaders wisely, be rigorous in your questioning of their character, their devotion to the organization and their vision of their leadership.

The story begins with an election. The president of the group was going to run for a second term. While the first term was lack-luster at best, the president’s first board seemed to be hostile.  Not much was accomplished, meetings were rarely held and activities were very limited. This is an organization that has flourished for over 40 years. There have been outstanding presidents, mediocre presidents and a few who did absolutely nothing.

The group survived these inconsistencies because the membership remained steadfast and worked around the bad and mediocre and followed the outstanding to great accomplishments. Now, back to the recent election — The person running for re-election packed the appointed members of the  board with  people who had little history with the organization, only a history with the president.  These folks had no idea of the mission of the group, the by-laws or of the many accomplishments of the organization.  The planning on the part of the president was very clever. The board consists of the president, the immediate past president, the recording secretary, the treasurer and appointed standing committee chairs. In this case there were 9 board members.

The president worked diligently to get her votes to the election and won by 2 votes. Not what anyone would call a mandate, except for the president.  I am embarrassed to say that I was one of those votes. I was flummoxed! I admit it because I like to admit my mistakes, learn from them and move on. I was among the few who recognized the truth eventually, but we were slow in coming to that conclusion. We noted a complete disregard for the organization’s by-laws, a dictatorial behavior that was absolutely unapologetic and the slave like devotion to the president of most of the newer board members.

I was appointed to the board and once there started to point out the problems to the president and the board. Monies were spent without board approval, monies were removed from the bank account and subsequently moved to another bank without board approval and without anyone else on the board having access to the organizational funds.  Meetings were conducted without a proper agenda, the president had virtually no understanding of the process of running a meeting (motions, seconds, discussion and voting) and seemed to feel that if the president stated what would happen, then that was the end of that discussion, case closed.

Once there was dissent in the ranks of the board the president ordered a closed board meeting (against all Democratic Party principles) enlisted a bouncer to keep all but those on the list out and proceeded to remove two of the dissenting board members. No big surprise!  

This is a truncated version of the boring details of this current president. The group is stuck with the president for now but many of us are still working to remedy the situation. I will keep you posted. My purpose is not to tell my little story but to warn all – listen to what your instincts are telling you, I knew from the first time I met the president that this person had major issues, as time wore on I looked the other way and it has caused an organization that I care deeply about to suffer.  The suffering will not be permanent, the organization will persevere but as Democrats we do NOT NEED this distraction, we need to WIN elections.


Redistricting

July 28, 2011

REDISTRICTING – This vital activity is happening now.  Several weeks ago Senator Linda Lopez presented a great workshop on redistricting, hosted by the Democratic Women of New Mexico, CD 1.About 50 people met at the UNM Law School for the two hour event.   I knew a lot about why the process happens, it follows the ten year census so that populations are more equally represented.  I knew that keeping strong Democratic districts is crucial and that losing a Democratic district due to population shift is always a threat. What I certainly did not know was just how complex and multi-pronged the process is.

 Senator Lopez serves as the Co-Chair of the Legislature’s Redistricting Committee. She knows what she is talking about. She has served as a state senator for more than 15 years which gives her added as well as experienced insight. I will not write about the intricacies involved, but I will point you in the direction she gave to the attendees – right to the legislative website!  http://www.nmlegis.gov/lcs/redcensus/

 There is a wealth of information there including current district maps, proposed district maps, public hearing schedules and other information sources concerning redistricting.  You can even join the redistricting email list, I did.  The committee is meeting in Acoma, Gallup and Farmington August 3 – 5 and in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho August 15 – 16.  They will head north to Las Vegas and Santa Fe August 30-31.  Public input is encouraged. You can get more about that at their website.

 I have been concerned about the role that the Democratic State Party has been taking in redistricting.  I am told that the Party leadership is in conversation with the redistricting committee and the legislative leadership, but I don’t see anything going out to members of the Party.  There are several gatherings planned in August for interested parties but there does not seem to be a concerted and specific effort to educate and mobilize Party members.  The Democratic Party barely holds the majority in the State House (36 D, 33 R and 1 I). We do better in the State Senate (27 D, 15 R).  These narrow margins are in jeopardy.  This is just the kind of issue that our State Party should be addressing.

 Where is our leadership? Where are the educational events, where are the press releases, where are the press conferences?  I already know that we are stuck with Martinez as our Governor, I already know that she is a nightmare walking, I already know that Heather Wilson is in “bed” with Karl Rove! I want leadership to LEAD my Party. I want them to push our Democratic Values by example and by deed. 

 These are questions we need to ask our Party leadership.  They should be called to answer and then to act.  I plan to attend the Albuquerque redistricting meeting. I will post the location as soon as it is announced. I hope to see many of you there, and I sure hope to see our State and County Party leadership in attendance.


A VERY BIG DEAL!! Supporting the Democratic Party

July 16, 2011

State Party Rule 4 outlines the State Central Committee’s Powers and Authority. Financing is one of those. It reads: “The policy of the DPNM is that its business shall be financed primarily by the 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.”  This is a VERY BIG DEAL!!

 It is also totally overlooked by SCC members and most state officers.  I know that none of us want to give to any organization until we have clarity concerning how the funds are to be used and then see a report on those expenditures, but ignoring the harsh reality of funding the Party is not an option. The State Party needs our financial support. If you want to be a member of the SCC then you had better be prepared to demand a budget and financial reports AND then to contribute as you can afford. I don’t care if it is $5 a month, it is necessary and it is meaningful. My point being, we have to do more than demand transparency, we have to contribute as well.

 I have long believed that this is the answer to Democratic Party finances. When I worked at the Bernalillo County Democratic Party I worked hard to create a sustaining member program – the ask was $10 per month. Some people got on board but most ignored my many requests and some just went ballistic!   There are around 425 SCC members, if each were to give $10 per month we would have $4,240 in the bank each month, a total for the year of $51,000. While this would not completely support the Party’s efforts it would certainly help.  

 Each SCC member should be giving time in some way as a volunteer.  The SCC is the governing body of the State Democratic Party.  SCC members should be the first to step up in their county or in their community.  Recently I was asked to serve on the Bernalillo County Party Budget Committee.  I was honored to be asked by our County Chair and I look forward to serving.   

 The same goes for members of County Central Committees, the responsibility needs to be shared by all.  Financing your party is part of the job description and we can no longer afford to ignore it.


Mission Statement

July 13, 2011

My reason for writing this blog is very simple; I want elected Party officials from precinct chairs to state chair to be held accountable for their actions. I want Democrats who seek and win those positions to pay attention! I want them to understand that they have a job to do and then I want them to do it. The rules spell out the basic duties but I believe responsibility goes deeper than that. I believe that as a Party officer you need to hold your leaders accountable to their promises. You need to demand transparency in financial dealings. You need to ask for a timeline for completion of projects and you need to be there to help get the job done.

Party officers at all levels need to have a good familiarity of the party rules; they are available at http://nmdemocrats.org/ under the PARTY heading. The rules are the bones of the organization and are there to make sure that all members are on the same page. I’ve talked about the rules before, they are messy, they are incomplete, they are sometimes confusing, but they are ours. If you want them changed, and I do, go to the Rules Committee meetings so that you can see what they are up to. The Chair, David Thomson, will take comments from non-members as time permits. Every time I raised my hand he called on me.

I am not a person who keeps referring to Robert’s Rules of Order to make sure that every word is compliant but having a firm foundation to go to in times of confusion or conflict is important.

In my experience, the Democratic Party is loaded with differing opinions, personalities and plans for the future. Those are some of the many things I love about being a Democrat. If I wanted people telling me how to think and then let them do everything they wanted without consulting me, I would be a Republican. Clearly, I do not feel that questioning authority in the Party is wrong. I think it is necessary. I will ask a precinct chair if they are holding meetings, walking or calling their precinct members just like I will question a County or State Chair about what they are doing to forward the Party. I will also ask if I can help in any way. We all need to work together but that does not mean we cannot expect the absolute best from one another.

Democrats are stepping up every day to support candidates, educate each other and spread the good word. On Saturday the Democratic Women of New Mexico, CD 1, are sponsoring a workshop on Re-districting. Senator Linda Lopez will be presenting and this is just one of many opportunities made available by Democratic Party affiliated organizations. This workshop will be held at the UNM Law School, Room 2401 from 1:00-3:00 PM and is free. I know I will be there to learn more about the process and how I might impact the eventual outcome. Last weekend I went to a house party for Sen. Tim Keller to help with his 2012 re-election. There are more planned in the near future. Sen. Keller is not in my district but he is an outstanding Senator and I want to support him.

In my view, this is some of what a political party does. We are a community, we help each other, we educate each other and we support each other to further our common goal – electing Democrats to office.


Wow! A Democratic State Party Legislative Fund Request

July 10, 2011

I imagine many of you received the letter from DPNM requesting that we help to “hold our majorities”. We are told that we can do this by contributing $20, $40, $60 or more to the Legislative Fund.  Sounds reasonable, but when anyone asks me to blindly trust them to spend money on my behalf, I expect to either see a plan, see some results or at the very least have trust for them going in. I do not trust the State Party with my money.

I have trusted them in the past, I have been a monthly contributor but, when we know better we do better. I was an enabler.  I have allowed the State Party to spend my money and yours by not demanding a detailed and clear financial report at SCC meetings.  I served as CD 1 Vice Chair for four years and although I requested it many times, I was NEVER provided with a financial report that gave easy to read information. I have been told for years that all the monies spent are on record with both the FEC and the Secretary of State, available on line.   This is not good enough, we deserve better!

I have looked at the FEC reports on line; they are often over 50 pages in length and are confusing. They reflect monies spent from several of the many accounts political parties must have in order to be compliant, federal, non-federal, and on and on. I worked at the State Party for many years and have more than a passing knowledge of this system but I have not been to compliance training in years and believe me, those rules change almost weekly.

When I say I want a financial report I want to see how much money came in and how it was raised. Was it the result of a fund raising event (like the annual Legislative Dinner), was it from individual one time donors, was it from sustaining (monthly or quarterly donors) was it raised by the Chairman during call time or was it contributed by the DNC? Then I want to see how it was spent. Did it go for staff salaries, rent, utilities, office supplies, printing, or equipment?  I want to know how much was in the various accounts at the beginning of the month and how much was in it at the end of the month. I want to see that report EVERY month. In my experience, when people hide what should be open information, it is usually because they have something to hide.  I am not insinuating malfeasance, I am suggesting incompetence.  I don’t think that the State Party is raising enough money and I don’t think that what is raised is being wisely spent.

One of the State Party employees was at a meeting I attended last week This person proudly stated that a fundraising letter had gone out and that they had done the ENTIRE mailing in house. Are you kidding me? All mailings should be done entirely in house.  They have interns, staff and volunteers who can do those mailings. Copying, folding, stuffing envelopes and stamping a nonprofit post office permit number on the envelope are jobs that interns, staff and volunteers have done for years. Why are any mailings done at a professional printer or a mail house?

I am all for using good union printers when their expertise is needed for flyers, slick mailers, etc. but this kind of project is perfect for volunteers. I have offered my services many times and have not been called.  I know it is easier on the staff to take everything to a printer and whoosh! Just like magic the job is done. Recruiting volunteers and training them can be messy and time consuming.  However the benefit is more than financial.  Volunteers want to volunteer. They want to do their part and they are a part of the much larger picture of getting votes to the candidates for every election.

I have always said that every involved Democrat brings their own vote and the vote of many others to the polls with them. My friends, family and acquaintances know that I am politically involved and come election time they are asking me who to vote for, I am happy to tell them and that gets another person’s vote.  The key word in that sentence is involved.  This is a win/win/win situation. The Party gets free labor, the party members get to contribute and be included and the candidates reap the benefits of more votes at election time.

We can talk all we want about the horror that is Susana Martinez and how she is ruining our state, but something tells me that we can undermine her destruction by getting Democrats to vote, and we can do that in great part by involving Democrats at every level.  I will be pleased to contribute financially in the future… just as soon as I see the budget and monthly financial reports that tell me that there is a plan in place and that the plan is being followed.


A Few Words on Committees

July 7, 2011

Let me begin by saying that ALL meetings of the Democratic Party are public. You do not need to be a committee member to attend.  The meetings are posted on the state party website at www.nmdemocrats.org.  Every two years, following the election of the Democratic Party State Chair and some committee members, the Chair appoints the remaining members as outlined in the Party rules.  There are four standing committees and the Judicial Council.

The Judicial Council

The Council reviews challenges concerning the election of delegates, State Central Committee Members, County officers and County Central Committee members. They are also empowered to interpret rules if the Chair requests in writing that the do so. The State Vice Chair presides and the CD representatives both male and female are automatic members. The Chair appoints three more members and three alternate members.

I served on the judicial Council for four years as CD one Vice Chair. It was always interesting, and sometimes challenging.

Rules Committee

This committee is self explanatory. They recommend revisions to the rules and assist counties in adopting and amending county rules as well. Rules are tough!  The rules don’t state it but the members also have to act as cheerleaders and lobbyists to make sure their rules revisions get passed by the State Central Committee! There have been SCC meetings in the past where a quorum was not present, the only real business was to pass rules revisions and everyone went home unhappy and annoyed because business could not be conducted. The State Rules Committee HAS to make sure that the SCC members are educated about the changes and they need to make sure they can get those members to attend.

The State Rules can be contradictory and confusing. They have needed major revisions for years. The rules are the “bones” of any organization and you want a sturdy set to see the organization through the tough times. Chairman Gonzales appointed David Thomson of Santa Fe as the Chair. The State Chair appoints all eleven members. I attended Chairman Thomson’s first meeting and was impressed. He seems a fair-minded, intelligent man and ran a very good meeting. I have hope for this group and will keep reporting as they progress.

State Platform and Resolutions Committee (SPARC)

I confess, this committee is not my cup of tea. I applaud the members; they are dedicated and work diligently to look over the many resolutions that come from wards and precincts (and districts if you live in Dona Ana County). They meld these diverse resolutions into a workable group that they submit to the SCC for approval.  The final outcomes of the resolutions, after being approved by the SCC go to the DNC for the consideration of the National Platform and Resolutions Committee for possible inclusion in the Democratic Party Platform.  

This year the committee re-elected Nancy Denker as their Chair. She served during the last cycle and has made enormous inroads into the consistency and tenor of the meetings. She and the committee implemented an electronic form for submission of resolutions that was long needed. When I worked at DPNM I can remember long nights of typing resolutions scribbled on envelopes, napkins, whatever  else might have been submitted. The resolutions had to be presented in readable print and, WOW, what a challenge. Sometimes you only had one page, you had no idea who the author was and you just had to soldier on.  Perhaps that is why I cannot fathom why someone would want to do that work, but I am certainly happy that they do.

SPARC is on the frontline of protecting our Democratic Party principles. I encourage everyone to attend a meeting or two just to see how hard they work.

 

Budget Committee

This is a fairly recent addition. The State Party Treasurer is the Chair and there are two members elected from each CD, one male, one female, and the State Chair appoints the other four members. They are  charged with “assuring that SCC members are provided with accurate and adequate financial information to allow them to make an informed decision when asked to approve the proposed budget.”  Well, we have a new Treasurer and I am willing to give him the time to perform this duty. The first meeting has to be formally called by July 15, 2011 and rumor has it that the meeting will be held on July 30th.  In my estimation, the SCC has NEVER been given adequate information  in order to approve a budget. 

I feel that the budget and supporting information should be sent to each SCC member at least 1 month before the SCC meeting that has budget approval on its agenda. Printing a little report in the booklet that is handed out the day of the meeting is not sufficient. SCC members need time to digest the information, ask questions and get answers, before being asked to vote yes or no.  If that kind of (and I hate to use the term!) transparency is not present then there should be no approval… period. This is one of those times when SCC members need to pay attention and perform thier fiduciary duty to the organization.

Affirmative Action Committee

New Mexico should be bursting with pride! We are one of about a dozen states that have an active Affirmative Action Committee. Most states only activate their committees to help with the Delegate Selection process for the national conventions.  Not here, we are a diverse state and there is always plenty of work to be done to assure the participation of all Democrats in our process. The committee is ably led by Chair Barb Glazer.  The committee’s purpose is “to reach out to any and all American Citizens, especially minorities to take an active part in the ongoing political process of the Democratic Party of New Mexico.”  The committee meets every other month and includes ten elected members, six by CD, four at large and four appointed by the State Chair.  These are thoughtful meetings and I again recommend that everyone attend occasionally, I know I will.

To Sum it Up

All I ask is that committee members who won elections and those who sought and received appointments SHOW UP and PARTICIPATE!  There are many who did not win or who were not appointed who are willing and happy to do the work involved.  If you decide it is not for you, for whatever reason, resign and let someone else take your place.  If you are a State Central Committee Member, pay attention! See what these committees are doing and support them or if you don’t like what they are doing let them know. This Democratic Party silence is deafening.


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