I last wrote, via email, to State Committee members on July 12, 2018 right before the State Committee meeting. For purposes of convenience I have decided to communicate with DPG officials, members of the media, and other interested parties via this blog. I wanted to give you an update on our problems here in Richmond County since then. Unfortunately, things have only gotten worse since my July email.. You recall from my July 12th email that I discussed the mistreatment of committee member Joe Traina. They have illegally kept him out of the Party since February and are now going after his mother (see below). As you recall Joe was illegally banned from our Party by RCDC “leaders” via a certified letter, in complete violation of DPG bylaws which prescribe due process for removing members.
SECTION 10. REMOVAL PROCEDURE
BL7.10.1 County Committee members and officers may be removed by the County Committee for cause, with reasonable notice, and with the opportunity to be heard, by a 2/3 vote of the County Committee provided a 40% quorum is met.
BL7.10.2 Any person subject to removal shall receive written notice of the alleged reasons for removal.
BL7.10.3 The removal procedure shall be conducted by a subcommittee appointed by the County Committee Chair. Where the Chair is the subject of the removal procedure, the subcommittee shall be appointed a majority of the other County Committee Officers.
BL7.10.4 The person to be removed shall have the right to be informed of all persons who will be witnesses against him/her and who will testify in support of the charges against him/her, at least ten days before a hearing on said charges before the full County Committee.
BL7.10.5 The person to be removed shall have the right to counsel and to present all witnesses, documents and arguments in support of his/her position. The subcommittee which has tendered the charges may likewise have counsel and present witnesses, documents, and arguments in support of its position.
Below is an article that fully explains the circumstances surrounding Joe’s treatment and reasons for his illegal removal.
You may also recall that Joe Traina was the campaign manager for CD 12 Congressional Candidate Trent Nesmith. Below is a story of how RCDC was able to keep Joe from attending a Richmond Co fundraiser after selling him tickets.
You should know that the restraining order issue eventually ended up in court. Below is a video that shows Joe purchasing tickets from RCDC 3rd Vice Chair Jean Embry. Does she seem afraid to you? This clip also includes her testimony in court where she admits under oath that Joe has never actually threatened her, she just wants him kept out of meetings:
https://www.facebook.com/PDRAugusta/videos/2042772476051160/ Even though the restraining order was not extended, RCDC officers are still using this as an excuse to keep Joe out of meetings and they continue to bring Richmond Co deputies to meetings to keep Joe out and to threaten anyone who dares to challenge them at meetings.
How RCDC leaders have treated Joe's mother, Denise Traina
I recently attended the State Convention in Atlanta as a delegate on Aug 25th and wanted to inform you regarding events related to our State Convention delegate election. The video below shows how our County Chair treated Joe Traina’s mother, Denise Traina, when she tried to run as a delegate candidate in our public delegate election. Even though she was duly elected as a post holder in our June 30 membership elections, and had formally resigned from the Green Party and had signed an affidavit pledging loyalty to our party, Chairwoman Wright refused to let Denise participate in our public delegate election. https://www.facebook.com/PDRAugusta/videos/2079135495748191/UzpfSTEzMjY4OTQ3ODU6MTAyMTMyMzgwMjM4MDgyNzc/
Here is a copy of her complaint to DPG: From: Denice Traina<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Thu, Aug 9, 2018 at 3:22 PM Subject: Richmond County Issues have Deteriorated To: Dem Mike Jablonski <email@example.com>
Dear Mr. Porter, What exactly does it take to convince the State that RCDC is continuing to repel and not accept members, meets secretly without informing its members, fails to share election results in a timely manner, fails to mobilize members to work in the county on important issues, failed to initiate any conversation regarding mediation regarding false allegations of trespassing and stalking against post holder, Joe Traina. Add to this list that last night I was denied the opportunity to run for a seat as a (public) delegate to the upcoming convention. The prior election for district post holders has not yet been "certified" so they did not let me know if I gained a seat as a post holder. (most likely not)The sole reason for denial of my right to run was because of past association with the Georgia Green Party. Please consider this my formal complaint with the State Committee for preventing me from actively participating in this election and possibly the prior one. The Chair also made it clear that she believes she has the authority to "appoint" folks to the vacancies. What is happening to the democratic process in Richmond County? They are spending more time preventing Party growth and criminalizing truth and transparency. Please respond with an explanation of what in the mind of the State committee constitutes a valid reason to revoke the charter of a local Democratic committee?When I attended the Macon meeting I was welcomed to become the county's liason on environmental affairs. I have been phonebanking and canvassing on behalf of Stacey Abrams, am frequently receiving mail and surveys from the national Party and have agreed per county paperwork that I support Democrats. I am being accused of lying by the RCDC and therefor the State as well? Is there now a test for being a Democrat? I anxiously await your response.Thank you for all you are doing to ensure fairness and spread democratic values in Georgia.-- Denice Traina, MHe P.T.706-951-2413 Below is a video clip showing how RCDC was called out by DPG's Credentialing Committee at the DPG Convention for violating her voting rights. (something we Democrats constantly accuse the Republicans of doing)
While we were happy that DPG heard our complaints and had ordered 12th CD Chair Chris Johnson to allow Denise to run for convention delegate in our membership elections, it was too little, too late. Below is an audio recording of the membership delegate election where 12th CD Chair, and RCDC 2nd Vice Chair Chris Johnson publicly maligned Denise Traina (mother of Joe Traina) and when she tried to object, she was silenced by Sargaent of Arms Franklin Williams. (Chris Johnson begins badmouthing "dissenters" and eventually starts badmouthing Denise Train starting around 21:25 Remember, he was doing this WHILE PEOPLE WERE VOTING!!)
Finally, you should know that in spite of DPG's public declaration that Denise is a "strong Democrat" according to her voting record, Mtesa Wright is refusing RCDC membership to Denise Traina on the same bogus claim that she belongs to the Green Party. Below is a recent article from the Augusta Chronicle illustrating additional craziness by our officers.
If you listen to the audio clip posted below (46:00) you can hear Chris Johnson laughing about Bob Ingham running as write in candidate.
Below is a video file of Chris Johnson actively promoting fellow officer Bob Ingham during our primary season. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ev6FuQ8Pgyg
RCDC CHAPLAIN SID GATES HAS BEEN TRYING FOR OVER A YEAR TO URGE MEDIATION BUT HAS BEEN IGNORED
Our sitting chaplain and RCDC officer has recently wrote the following letter to his fellow officers right before our State Convention calling for immediate mediation. While his letter is quite long (you can come back and read the entire letter later) , I implore you to read it carefully as he makes an impassioned plea for mediation and the democratic method. Here is an excerpt:
"I do not believe that anyone,ANYONEon the Executive Committee should remain in their current position if they cannot with honesty and integrity commit to the “mediation mandate” being handed down by the DPG. But, more importantly, there is just the smart, erudite, and just impetus to mediate in good faith. Folks, this is really “no-brainer” motivation here. So, I will plainly state again, no matter your office on the Executive Board, you “self-convict” yourself as being “unfit” for your position at this juncture in our party’s history if you cannot, with dispatch, commit yourself to an expeditious process to resolve this impasse.”
RCDP: BREAKING APART OR BREAKING THROUGH? AN OPINION.
SID GATES, D.MIN., M.S., LMFT
*Note: Admittedly, the ensuing apologia is not a study in cogency. I would hope that it will be read in its entirety, however, as it is an “equal opportunity” affirmer and probably offender as well. It definitely is written “absent malice” and in a spirit of care and remediation.
We must continue to remind ourselves that in a free society all are involved in what some are doing. Some are guilty; all are responsible.
--Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
Ok, granted, I am an ordained minister and psychotherapist; optimism is part of my job/s. But beyond that, history teaches us that tremendous odds have been surmounted, wrongs amended, failures morphed into lessons, and oppression of all sorts have been defeated. I, as others, choose to be buoyed actually more by “hope” than optimism. Optimism is wired more for a certain outcome. Hope allows us to have the conviction that meaning and worth can come from any situation and that we can define these challenges and not let them define us, if we have a support system, and we have the coping skills to transcend and reimagine certain realities. Thus a Cornel West can opine: “I am in no way optimistic, but I remain a prisoner of hope.”
Such reasoning allows me to with resounding words unequivocally state I believe the Richmond County Democratic Party (RCDP) party is not actually “breaking apart” but “breaking through”! Put another way, we are experiencing an “evolutionary stage” which has proven difficult, but the results will validate the effort. As I once shared in my role as RCDP chaplain during the monthly time accorded me for spiritual reflection, this process is akin to childbirth. Post-childbirth having the gift of the child, the mother often dismisses the pain of birthing (Jn. 16: 21). There was effort and painful cost, but the result in many ways justifies the means. Am I glorifying the means or minimizing its conflict. No! And, with regards to the RCDP, there are many ways this evolution could have taken place sans the collateral damage. But, back to Rabbi Heschel’s quote, we all bear “responsibility” with a “means” that at times has been very frustrating , damaging to relationships, and unpredictable. But in no way, has the means sealed
the fate of our local party that has blessed no few with its utilitarian tenets and advocacy efforts for many years.
Must we be about robust diplomacy, negotiating, and compromise? Yes. Must we have steadfast courage, forbearance, charity, and wisdom ever constraining our moving forward? Yes. Must we have leaders in place and some who can rise up to energize and help guide this process? Yes. Must we understand an axiom from systems psychotherapy that it is not the “differences” that divide but “how” we handle the differences? Yes. Must the 2 sides grasp that the zero-sum game approach will keep the party hemorrhaging? Yes. Must we, as St. Augustine reminds us, “Never fight evil as if it were something that arose totally outside of yourself.” Yes. Must we get that there is room in the tent for all of us? Yes. This is a great tenet our national Democratic Party has consistently espoused. Must we have hope, vision, and imagination to believe, truly believe that the late great unpleasantness can galvanize and strengthen us as a local party. Yes. Is all this possible? Yes. But, can we do it together? And let the people say, “Yes we can!”
Recent Stage & Plumbing Lessons
We show greatness not by being at one extreme, but by touching both at once and occupying all the space in between.
In June with family and friends, while visiting in Atlanta I had the opportunity to take in the play Hamilton and to visit an aunt (former Director of the Capitol Museum in Atlanta). The play was brilliant and should be required viewing for all Americans! My aunt was an actress back in the day, and I acted in local (Augusta & Aiken, SC) theater groups in the ‘80s. I had several leading roles, won an award, and just really dig live theater. My wife and I see plays in NY whenever we get the chance. Segue back to Hamilton, would have loved to have been at the NY performance when VP Pence was in attendance! The play is brilliantly written, staged, and our touring group we saw at the Fox Theatre offered a superb show. But one takeaway indubitably is that democracy is MESSY! It has been in this country since jumpstart, remains so, and will probably always be so. But this is ok. Remember the childbirth thing!
Alexander Hamilton’s story is not one that we all know by heart. Yes, we remember his federal banking system contribution and most remember his fatal duel with nemesis, Aaron Burr. But the play fleshes-out his incredible drive, pluck, patriotism, leadership ability, and, yes, his human foibles. “Real” man who did some “unreal” nascent nation-stoking with his own topspin. But, as many tend to forget, democracy is often an arduous process with steps forward as well as backwards. It was certainly then, and not just fighting the superior fitted-out British army and navy, but it was conflicted even amongst co-independence adherents. And, I would hold as many do, that democracy standards are just as hard to defend today in this country in many ways. Remember, the Princeton Study (got to love those Presbyterians!)
reveals that we are officially an “oligarchy.” Plutocracy dynamics are rife in this country, and owing to such, there are a plethora of concerns which need to be addressed. It is certainly not
as simple as blaming a president who virtually daily manifests deficits of character, leadership, mental and emotional imbalance, and no solid appreciation of the importance of his station.
So, democracy-creating and sustaining has always been a challenge in this country. As the bumper sticker has it: “Democracy Is Not a Spectator Sport.” There is an onus for us all to participate in its solvency, no matter the locus (local, regional, state, national) for such. I shared the parable of “The Backyard” at the July stated meeting (7/11/18) of the RCDP as my moment of reflection/invocation. Probably should have tagged it a “Plumbing Parable.” I told the story from a couple of weeks ago having to do with “serious” plumbing issues leading to our backyard looking like trench warfare of WWI fame. I expected someone to blow a whistle and the Germans, British, Americans, whomever, to start streaming out of the ditches. It was a mess! And partly a mess due to what all we know are in sewer lines leaving a house to join the main. Yes, that kind of “mess” too.
A downside to an older home in an older section is that much of the lines were terracotta pipe back in the day. So, they don’t last as long as the newer PVC pipe. Trenches were dug around the backyard to find the source of the blockage, determine if it could be repaired, and how such repairs should be made. It was finally determined that actually terracotta pipe could still be used for an initial part under a cement patio, it would be joined for most of the backyard with new PVC pipe, then the last few yards it would fit back into terracotta pipe going under a shed and other obstacles.
Many got the metaphor before I spelled it out! This in many ways is the RCDP right now. Things are certainly a mess! There has been open conflict and rancor. While not open warfare, Thomas Mann is helpful here for us: “War is a coward’s escape from the problems of peace.” Yes, peaceful, harmonious alliances often demand consistent robust negotiating and just compromising. Sure there are “just wars” (venerable theologians Calvin & Augustine espoused such), but most conflict, wars or small group agitation (e.g., RCDP), are perpetuated by feckless leadership who either 1) deem compromise as capitulation and weak, or 2) they just don’t “get” the essential compromise concept in the first place. Again, we are not talking effete Neville Chamberlain cap in hand negotiating here!
But, as with Sid’s backyard dilemma, mess can be rectified with viable, pragmatic solutions. It should not be lost on any reader of this missive, the mess, in my personal at home situation, was literally dealt with by a deft combining of the “old” and the “new.” There were places the old (terracotta) was holding strong and doing the job, and places where new (PVC) outfitting was warranted and capably assisting. And folks, that is where we are with the RCDP currently. It really is no more difficult than that. We have got to find a way to join older (not age necessarily but regarding party history/longevity) established membership with new membership. I shall henceforth refer to the RCDP membership who have had history and sway
with the party as “Loyalists” or the “L-side.” The group who came into the party largely after the 2016 election I will label the “Reformers” or “R-side.” The Reformers have self-labelled with this moniker as well. (Accurately, “some” members are not affiliated with either side.) Both sides have their place and merit! Pascal’s preceding heading quote is most helpful here.
Some Party Cred
Beware when you fight a dragon, lest you become a dragon.
I don’t want the ensuing material to come off as self-aggrandizing hooey! But, I thought it important to inform some who will read this as to who I am in the RCDP and beyond. I walked into my first RCDP meeting in 2002 with a dear and respected friend I had met at our place of work (Charter Hospital) where I was Director of Family Therapy and Pastoral Services. For most of the 16 years I have been a member of the party, I have been its Chaplain. Don’t hold me to the math, but for something like 12 or so years I have been about sundry functions in the role of Chaplain. I credit the former chair (for over 2 decades) for supporting the need to have a Chaplain in our party, and for encouraging me to be creative with my “prophetic role” in and out of the party. (Prophecy in the Judeo-Christian tradition is not so much about predicting the future as it is about truth to power rhetoric and action confronting societal injustices.)
So often the press and conventional wisdom has it that the party who recognizes and reveres spiritual concerns would be the Republican Party. This really rankles me as that party can often obfuscate and manipulate deftly with such wedge argument concerns as God, guns, and gays, or whatever to curry votes. Shameless! (I gave a talk for the Honors College at Auburn Univ. in 2011 entitled “A Southern Strategy Gone South: Anti-Democratic Effects of Religious Politicization,” that targets such political malfeasance.) Data verifies something like 77% of Democrats are members of some type of religious community! Our local and national party certainly venerates persons of faith (varied!),no faith, secular humanists, and other philosophical persuasions who bless us with their wisdom, compassion, and moral/ethical commitments. Democrats are not bereft of spiritual needs-appreciating, and a host of us are imbued, challenged, encouraged, and remain hopeful owing to our spiritual holdings (Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, etc.).
I was decorated by the RCDP 7/21/12 for my work as Chaplain. The plaque I received reads in part, “Whose invocations and compassion as our chaplain have moved us to higher heights.” Though I am an ordained Presbyterian (USA) minister, I am a full-time psychotherapist (licensed marriage and family therapist) with over 30 years experience who is a founding partner in a private practice. I have endeavored in my role as RCDP Chaplain to use skills both as clergy and therapist/counselor in various roles with the party. Interfaith veneration and inclusion have been hallmarks of my work with the party. RCDP monthly invocations (have done such for state-wide Dem events) and other party work, along with community advocacy roles have been
opportunities for me to frame societal and “common good” issues with religious/spiritual precepts. And, as the Nietzsche quote above has it, I have endeavored to infuse the message that our confronting of “societal dragons” should not compel us to act with the spirit and means these antagonists are demonstrating.
Endeavoring to be a good steward of gifts God has given me, I have been active and engaged in professional and societal realms. I have helped organize and presented at numerous symposia, conferences, and the like interfacing the behavioral sciences and common good concerns. My work in solution-focused grief therapy and my presentation were recognized in Dallas at the annual conference for the American Association for Marriage & Family Therapy as part of the
“Best Of” series. I am a cofounder of the Progressive Religious Coalition (PRC) in Augusta which seeks to bridge various faith traditions in pursuit of addressing societal ills. I have been “lead” on securing such social justice champions as Cornel West, William Barber, Arun Gandhi, and Otis Moss for the PRC’s annual interfaith “Why Dr. King Still Matters” worship service. I have been active with the Coalition for Mental & Spiritual Health Ministries and spearheaded its interfaith component. I am the chaplain for the Georgia Bulldog Club in Augusta. I have been recognized by Planned Parenthood and Child Enrichment, Inc. for child and family advocacy work in the Augusta area. I have been asked to run for Congress by the then chair for the DPG, and this cycle was supported in this same direction by a very influential source at the Carter Center.
Bottom line, I do believe I have some “cred” in not only matters pertaining to the RCDP, but I humbly assert my acumen and ability in numerous areas relative to my community and beyond have been solicited and validated. I would hold I have history, insight, and a reputation allowing me to speak out on current RCDP strife and resolution potential. I have been a “loyal” Dem, and I am financially supporting 3 Dem candidates currently. I will organize at least one meet and greet for a candidate before the Nov. elections.
Regarding religious and spiritual dynamics, it has been truly dismaying to witness leaders of this party and on the Executive Board, who profess to be persons of faith, have sundry biases and prejudices manifested with regards to LGBTQ concerns and interfaith respecting. It has reminded me several times of the great Jonathan Swift quip: “We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love, one another.” Sorry, but these are basic, fundamental Democratic Party platform and ideology areas of respecting and understanding! As Augusta’s great nationally renowned singer-songwriter, bard, and personal friend Larry Jon Wilson used to say, there are just some things that are “cosmically correct.” Not only healthy sociological and humanistic dictates are in place here, but spiritual faith, development not limited by “premature closure,” validates the aforementioned concerns and the mandate to appreciate their worthiness.
Owing to the preceding personal and professional hallmarks, and other places of distinction as well, it has been especially galling to me and others who believe in the role of Chaplain for the
RCDP to witness attempts to “marginalize” this role. Perhaps, more accurately, it is to marginalize the “individual” in the role and their “message.” As stated previously, I have endeavored to function in this role in part by messaging hope, healing, reconciliation, righteous causes, moral/ethical perspectives, and peace. Sadly, from the L-side for several months there have been actions taken to censor invocations (Moments of Reflection), script them, and even omit from customary “stated business” the “duly elected” Chaplain doing his “duly elected duty.” From many perspectives, the rationale transparently seems to be simply that any reflective message (e.g., prayers, readings, etc.) designed to reunite the party and extol the future benefits of such have proven to be disconcerting to certain L-side leadership on the Executive Board. These, and other individuals, find such words of cohesion and remediation threatening in some way to sundry ideology or leadership authority, it would appear. Healthy, secure, purpose-driven leadership qualities committed to the good of the whole (i.e., the RCDP), I think not. This would be the opinion of the DPG and other groups and individuals as well.
FORMER CHAIR HOMAGE & DISRESPECT REALITY
People are often led to causes and often become committed to great ideas through persons who personify those ideas. They have to find the embodiment of the idea in flesh and blood in order to commit themselves to it.
--Martin Luther King, Jr.
As I indicated previously, I have personally benefitted from the counsel and support of the former RCDP chair. I consider him to be a mentor and friend. Even through disagreements, as all relationships weather, mutual respect has not wavered. The former RCDP chair has enjoyed renown and acclaim not just locally and regionally, but nationally as well. Fierce intelligence (professionally was in the world of medical academe), coupled with a command of political issues and compassion for those marginalized in society, have ensured his reputation as a party and community leader. He and his wife, they are most assuredly a team, are on a first name basis with a number of politicos of national prominence.
This man has been the face of our local party since I have been a part, and certainly well before that. Again, his influence as chair and other roles spans well over 2 decades! He and his wife have financially gifted the party in many ways: Headquarters rent, event sponsorships, financial aid for hard-luck experiencing party members, candidate support, and so forth. He has remonstrated via various media mediums (e.g., newspaper editorials), and local media have long deemed him the “spokesperson” for Democratic affairs of all sorts. When his retiring from the chair post was announced, a number of conservative pundits and leaders offered their words of respect and appreciation for his standard-bearing efforts. And it was sincere!
The preceding and a whole lot more that could be said of this “mover and shaker” makes it all the more enigmatic and astounding that when he raised in a RCDP stated meeting the idea and
need for “mediation, “ the response from the L-side was essentially crickets! Forget that efforts (more on this to follow) had been made for such months prior, that the Democratic Party of Georgia (DPG) had suggested such previously (DPG has very recently directed such again!), this appeal to diplomacy came from an individual whom virtually all in the local party are beneficiaries of his political work. The old standing on the shoulders of giants thing! The MLK quote above applies most assuredly to this individual.
It still grieves me to dial up the scenario of this man’s emotional and erudite appeal, and those on the L-side and Executive Board not heeding the wise counsel. Yes, I am on the Executive Board, and any criticism I make of this body, I have to allow my own culpability to be included. I continually ask myself what more I could have and can do towards fostering constructive party action around coalescence, healing, and redefining. Scapegoating is not helpful! All in the RCDP have some culpability here. Rabbi Heschel again: “Some are guilty; all are responsible.” But the “all are responsible” charge does not remove the “guilty” reality from certain individuals. This does need to be reinforced.
Change Is the Essence of Life
Only that which can change can continue: this is the principle by which infinite players live.
--James P. Carse
Confession time, the preceding heading (not Carse quote) is the caption of a picture that hangs in my office depicting the metamorphosis of a butterfly. The rest of the quote is pretty good too: “Be Willing to Surrender What You Are for What You Can Become.” The message is pretty obvious. I want to reinforce to my clients that the “only constant” in the universe is change. We don’t have to like it always, but the healthier happier individuals are those who can accommodate change. Some changes we have to respond to “reactively,” and some changes we must initiate “proactively.” I think our RCDP party situation requires both types of change-realities to be understood more fully and executed more efficiently and responsibly. And, as the Carse quote admonishes us, our RCDP’s future depends on sagacious, prudent change- progress. Now!
But, reality is, most of us are suspicious of change; especially if we have not sponsored it ourselves. Pretty human stuff! But, change-negotiations (i.e., coping with and appreciating change upsides) are crucial for healthy living. Not all clergy quote Darwin, but I deem all good and lasting truth to be of the numinous (God for many of us). Darwin opines: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but rather the one most responsive to change.” We/RCDP have to get our singular and collective heads around the fact that our party, though advocating change-desire, has in fact not handled an incoming pocket of prospective members very suitably. The influx was not as envisioned, and as a result we did not always act as accommodating and reflexive as we should have. I can readily believe that we promoted somewhat of a static and “clubhouse” feel. I want to explicate on this more
subsequently, but we all (Ls & Rs) have to respect more that change is difficult for both those coming “in” and those “in place,” having to do with membership and true “belonging” dynamics.
We need to get back to some basics here apparently. Who doesn’t get that Dems (not past Dems with history of Jim Crow and moribund ideology) have for a long-time prided themselves on such group-strength needs as diversity, inclusion, iconoclastic thinking, and a utilitarian penchant due to the “we all do better when we all do better” mantra?! Unfortunately, we are coming off to local and regional outside interests that we have for expediency sake abandoned these principles! It conflicts me deeply that a “precious few” have consistently sounded the party “unity call.” I can count them on the proverbial one hand! I’m talking both the L-side and the R-side respectively have a paucity of folk championing the unity call. We have going now a dichotomous “us vs. them” mentality that in no way qualifies as healthy group maintenance, spiritual soundness, moral correctness, or anything approaching the Democratic Party’s philosophy. Both sides in the impasse with concerning consistency have offered rhetoric riddled with absolutist (i.e., we are blameless and 100% correct in our comportment) and punitive-driven rationales.
A political party, not unlike a worship community, is a “volunteer organization.” We don’t get to choose who sits next to us. Yes, an organization needs certain constraining bylaws, policies and procedures, and quality assurance enhancers, but we don’t get to hand-pick who is a
member provided they meet extant standards. The future holds numerous ways for this body to amend, abolish, and create codified documents (e.g., bylaws) which stimulate greater party cooperation. Most Reformers and some Loyalists concur that certain old and new bylaws are not solidly and consistently underpinned with party precedents (i.e., local, state, or national) and smack of certain special-interest control. (Rs hold only 10% of new bylaws are onerous!) No question opus justitiae pax (no peace without justice) is operative here. A rabbi-friend I knew during a sojourn in South Georgia always reminded me that the “great Jewish contribution to the world is the law.” Without it and matters pertaining to it, we tempt social Darwinism. JFK pitches in here too: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable.” Is he or am I advocating violence or untoward behavior as preferential or inevitable? No! But the point is that unjust dictates, even from the good guys (Dems), is egregious and tempts blowback action of various sort.
A RECENT PARTY SYNOPSIS
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
The following may be deemed somewhat simplistic and, therefore, not nearly as nuanced as it needs to be. But, my intent is not to write a tome rivaling War and Peace in length. (Yeah, I know, too late Sid!) Even if I did, some would say it is not covering all it needs to and accuracy
could be debated. Hey, granted, this is very “subjective,” and I have owned such in this address throughout. My experience as of late has been, it would seem, to frustrate Ls and Rs as I have endeavored to be a just, benevolent conduit or bridge bringing both sides together for mediation and compromise. So, tempting such frustration again, my blame-analysis has it 60% the fault of the Ls and 40% the Rs. As Santayana warns, we had better learn some party-lessons here, or we will subject ourselves to more of this kind of repetitious failure. Kind of like shill economists who trumpet “trickle-down” as a viable economic policy, and it fails each time!
As I view it, following the 2016 election, we had some local individuals become motivated to be a “part” of something designed to foster change and resist certain trends. These trends essentially being conservative derivatives (e.g., Neocon, Alt-right, etc.) that helped sweep Donald Trump into the White House and certainly other elected official offices. In several waves we had such individuals present for RCDP meetings. Their energy was “high” as well as their conviction that they could make a difference in the local party.
At times there was the appearance of members of the R-side wanting to come into leadership positions almost from the get-go. This ironically is what a democracy hopefully engenders (i.e., resolve to join and possibly lead). I perceived that certain L-side adherents took some umbrage that these newbies were 1) not seemingly the most respectful of the success of the RCDP, particularly regarding local and state elections, and 2) there was L-side logic that they (Rs) had not “paid their dues” in order to be “seriously” considered for elected positions in the party. Again, this appeared to be a mindset, I am not saying in actuality all these dynamics were being realized.
The R-side, conversely, deemed there to be resistance and rejection towards their party involvement virtually from their initial appearances. I have to agree that there were certain unexplainable or thinly reasoned stances taken by the L-side and certain Executive Committee members which thwarted R-side office holding and even membership in certain cases. For example, there was an inordinate amount time taken to “finally” produce a list of post holders in the respective districts. The Rs had codified examples of places old and newly inserted bylaws were not congruent with state and national Democratic Party tenets. Rs had and have serious questions about certain party election protocol and implementation. I and others, L and R-sided, saw merit to many and most of their allegations.
Rs grew weary of repeated dissembling and obfuscation, or certainly the appearance of such, and their frustrations manifested in various ways (e.g., radio and tv remonstrations, sound and videotaping of meetings and individuals, newspaper articles, etc.). DPG bylaws do allow taping of meetings, but there were at times awkward and intrusive ways such was done “in” and “out” of party meetings. And, yes, attributable to these and other factors, both sides could be provoked at times in meetings. Does anyone approve of the very palatable tension and lack of consistent impulse-control occasioned in party meetings and other ancillary affairs (e.g.,
committee meetings)? No. But, again, democracy is “messy” and often courage, personal strength, and an appreciation for the “goal” of it all is essential.
I must restate, I am very disappointed and frankly nonplussed that both sides, at this juncture, are evidencing few individuals sounding the call for unity, reparations, and a pathway for party peace and solvency for the future. A paucity of folks!
A PURPOSEFUL PATH FORWARD
When you have exhausted all the possibilities, remember this: you haven’t.
At the risk of being a “master of the obvious,” the path we have trod as the RCDP for well over a year has not born meaningful fruit. Certainly with regard to remediating the L and R debacle! One does not have to be a maven of systems theory, organizational psychology, group processes or anything approaching these schools of thought to comprehend that we have failed “collectively” to stop the hemorrhaging and foster individual and group healing. We all know the famed Rita Mae Brown definition of insanity: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” This is in the ballpark with Churchill’s great line about a fanatic being someone “who can’t change their mind and won’t change the subject.” Hello! Allow me to venture, this posturing for the past year might be best tagged “fanatically
insane.” This isn’t working, folks!! This morass for well over one year needs to come to an end. And, I still believe we have the leadership to do it. Really I do!
But our leadership must put a little FDR in the tank. And now! Staring the Great Depression in the face following his election, FDR and others were not sure how to proceed. Yet, he voiced old school wisdom so well by stating: “It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.” True dat! There are pathways forward if we but would believe such, cull from our best resources, and act as-if.
Okay, this is probably invoking ire on both sides, so allow me to endeavor in good psychotherapeutic style to positively “reframe” some things. Both sides, Rs and Ls, have gone to the mat about some concerns. Really dug in about some things they have respectively deemed important. John Kennedy, as he so often is, may be of help here yet again. Kennedy wrote:
We shall need compromises in the days ahead, to be sure. But these will, or should be, compromises of issues, not principles. We can compromise our political positions, but we cannot compromise ourselves. We can resolve the clash of interests without conceding our ideals.
I would submit both sides have articulated, not always in dispassionate and respectful ways, concerns which they in their truest convictions believe are key “principles,” as JFK would state it. Not exhaustively, but I would list these from the L-side: the need for respecting of party history (especially pre-Reformer impacting), decorum in meetings (MLK’s admonition to “disagree without being disagreeable”) and tolerance for political positions of a more “moderate” defining with some issues (i.e., Blue Dog Dem vs. Yellow Dog Dem). From the R-side I hear a call to such issues as: fair elections, an unencumbered membership process, and bylaws fully discussed and understood, underpinned with wider Democratic Party sanctioning, and voted on only after such prerequisites are in place. Again, these are not all the respective concerns, but I would hold that they are the crux of the flashpoints.
The “Queen of Soul” died as I was writing parts of this address. Aretha Franklin had the classic hit “Respect.” Wow, do we need this perspective in so many quarters of the world today! And the RCDP really needs to get behind this mantra as well. So many of our differences could probably be more than halfway settled with greater “mutual respect” for one another. This, of course, doesn’t mean you have to agree totally with another’s perspective on matters, but it does mean that you can recognize their right to opine.
Broadening the “respect net,” the RCDP needs to get back to some “former,” and kick-start some “new,” community-impacting actions. Some, not all, have been stymied with the in-house backbiting. The Democratic Party has historically been about some impressive change-needs in this country and the world. Certainly, the RCDP has had real influence for societal
betterment as welI. If we do not respect in greater measure in-house, we will not have the coalescence to “respectfully” be a catalyst for society at-large changes.
While charges, allegations, and denigrating accusations have emerged from both sides, and the removal of officers chant has been heard, I will assert that the Executive Committee of the
RCDP has the singular and corporate makeup to surmount the current challenges. I am not being a party lackey here or offering unqualified loyalty and support, but I really do assess that
this body has the “right stuff” to seize victory from the jaws of defeat. These individuals are friends of mine, and I have firsthand witnessed their leadership capabilities. There is the requisite leadership quotient in each one of them to fairly and efficaciously deal with this situation. But, I will quickly add, there must be “swift” and “decisive” changes made!
This is really throwing down the gauntlet, but here we go! I do not believe that anyone, ANYONE on the Executive Committee should remain in their current position if they cannot with honesty and integrity commit to the “mediation mandate” being handed down by the DPG. But, more importantly, there is just the smart, erudite, and just impetus to mediate in good faith. Folks, this is really “no-brainer” motivation here. So, I will plainly state again, no matter your office on the Executive Board, you “self-convict” yourself as being “unfit” for your position at this juncture in our party’s history if you cannot, with dispatch, commit yourself to an expeditious process to resolve this impasse. This can and should be a “litmus test” for
leadership mettle, party loyalty, and one’s commitment to helping to carry the RCDP forward with “lessons” learned.
I twice had both sides close to being at the table, and both times powers on the L-side of the Executive Committee blew up the brokering. The second time, at the behest of the L-side Executive Committee bloc, I even had very specific concerns delineated by a spokesperson for the R-side for review. Frustrating! But, I am still pitching to win because I believe in this party. More importantly, I hold to certain spiritual, moral, ethical, and “common good” beliefs that supersede party if need be. Maybe “anathema” to some, but if we Dems were doing the current Republican 1% favoring, warring on the environment, debilitating public education, promoting draconian immigration policies, serving corporate masters, fostering individual rights/needs over the wider public’s, favoring opinions over facts (I hate this too Patrick Moynihan!), voter suppressing, quashing unions, compromising this country’s safety and longstanding values and law regarding foreign powers and elections, foisting a victimizing healthcare system on our citizens which has the World Health Organization ranking the US 37th, supporting gerrymandering, backing Citizens United, favoring Supreme Court justices who are biased to certain sectarian groups, and believing that “might makes right” in the world regarding situational spurious military action (I could keep going on here!), I wouldn’t be a Dem!
Right now, we (RCDP) aren’t acting very much like Democrats. Not at all! And as a result, we are losing credibility amongst ourselves and in the community. Some of our local on-air
conservative pundits are even taken aback by our recalcitrance. This is really not good! But, we have the ability and resources to right the ship! I am calling upon the Executive Committee to approve a Special Called Meeting of the Executive Committee ASAP! This should happen before the State Dem Convention of 8/25/18. It would be great to be able to have reported at this State Dem Convention meeting that Richmond County has courageously and effectively emerged from a barren period with renewed vigor and commitments.
The Special Called Meeting’s agenda prior to 8/25/18 would be to “approve” for the routine and plenary Stated Meeting of the RCDP in September open discussion regarding mediation needs. DPG’s recommendation for an “outside” party or parties to conduct the mediation process needs to be detailed at this meeting. Internal mediation would be more expeditious, of course. Internal configuring could be achieved by the end of August. But, certainly Reformers and Loyalists would need to agree on the forward-directed plan. Both options, internal and external, have merit. The September meeting would put in motion, by vote, approval of internal or external mediation. Both options would need to be detailed with their respective “upsides” and “downsides” at the September meeting. An ad hoc committee would be warranted to frame the internal or external pathway once mediation is approved of in the September meeting. The ad hoc committee must be equally balanced with R & L representation!
Lastly, anyone who believes legal proceedings preclude this is not really paying attention. I think all attorneys and court officials would love to see this “go away!” Meaning, all those powers that be probably hit their knees every night hoping we can solve this “family squabble.” Yeah, we (RCDP) are a family, albeit rather dysfunctional right now. Reality is all families are at times. But, you don’t quit on yourself or your family members!
Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are.
Theologian Martin Marty provides us with an inspiring tale; he tags it the “Parable of the Procrastinator.” Deists, persons of non-Christian faiths, and persons of no faith bear with me here! The story goes that Satan convenes a meeting to strategize about how to conquer the earth for evil. Three volunteer their plans. The first tells Satan he would tell earthlings there in no God. Satan scowls and bellows that this has been tried. The second offers the plan of proclaiming there is no such thing as sin. This too meets with harsh disapproval from the Devil. The third, wiser more crafty minion, declares: “Send me to the world, Satan. I will tell them ‘there is no hurry!’”
There is urgency here. There really is. Again, attempts, “if” such could be said, to quell the RCDP situation for well over a year have not been successful. This is not “fake news” or “fake facts”! Eleanor Roosevelt echoes the kind of optimism and hopefulness we all should have when she allows: “I honor the human race. When it faces life head-on, it can almost remake itself.” And as Augustine reminds us, anger and courage are often needed to galvanize and energize. Not anger that destroys and just seethes, but anger that helps convict that we can and must do “better.” It most assuredly takes courage as well to advance certain principles in the face of conformity, misinformation, opposition, and resignation. Roosevelt and Augustine aren’t postulating anything we all don’t know to be true. This is partly why we are Democrats! We believe in the need for creative, reactive, and proactive change in the world and that our best days are ahead of us! Sorry DJT! MAGA needs to morph into “just” MAG in the “now.” Not stoking a retro-goal for now that was not great for women, minorities, and certain marginalized folk. Sure, retain and conserve viable commitments, precedents, and constraints from the past, but Dems believe we can always “do better” in the light of “current” science, empirical data, spiritual and wisdom traditions contributing, scholarship, and with a whole host of evolving knowledge-based entities informing.
I do firmly believe, however, that this party can once again be reunited to be more “fully” about requisite common good and just causes in our community. It can get behind candidates with renewed vigor and recruit candidates with worth and ability as well. With charity and boldness the RCDP can reemerge to impact for societal betterment; not just have impact in the
community via mass media “sensational stories” which characterize us currently as disorganized and divided, albeit rather accurate in ways! Yes, we have a real challenge here, but I assert that we (RCDP) have the individual and collective resources to meet this challenge. Lincoln was once asked by a friend what he thought of the sermon preached that AM which they both heard. Lincoln affirmed sermon construction, delivery, theological integrity, and all that, but replied there was a huge missing piece. When asked about the piece, the President responded: “The preacher failed to ask us to do anything great.” That’s pretty cool!
I, and others as well, are asking us to do something “great” here! Great not because “we” are doing it, but great because it has the restorative potential to ignite processes for enhanced life for us and around us for all stakeholders. We most certainly can come through this process of conflict, dissent, and disruption, with greater strength, unity, wisdom, convictions and aspirations to be of service for the betterment of others. We are stronger as a nation, religious sect, business, POLITICAL PARTY, no matter the enterprise, if we can integrate and swell our number with passionate, diverse, balanced, capable, individuals working toward sanctioned goals.
I close with a “new” spin on an “old” Roman dictum. The worn dictum, which has been followed for over 2,000 years and has occasioned untold conflict and war, goes, “If you want peace, prepare for war.” I concur with David Krieger and others who antithetically propose: “If you want peace, prepare for peace.” I humbly, prayerfully, and fervently appeal to the powers that be, within and those with leverage ability outside of the RCDP, to with posthaste energize and synergize for “peace” in this great party. Negotiation/mediation options abound which can have either inside or outside sponsorship and deliverance. Peaceful “means” and “end”? Yes We Can!!!
Our Chaplain has even gone so far as to locate and recommend an outside mediator, but his suggestion has been completely ignored.
To Whom It May Concern:
I have made several attempts to apprise certain members of the RCDP and other “invested” individuals of mediation proposals, such as the DPG has requested of the RCDP. I send this email out with a very specific, solution-focused, and most hopeful recommendation. While I tried to detail the merits of inviting Omar Neal of Tuskegee, AL previously, he has been kind enough to send me more complete data which should validate further the ability of this truly results-driven professional. Neal was the first African American mayor of Tuskegee. He has had a national radio show, been about national and international pedagogy, and his skill set encompasses the requisite tools for facilitating competent mediation. I, Terence Dicks, and others of the Progressive Religious Coalition have discussed Neal coming back to Augusta for various community-galvanizing programs. I secured him as keynote one year for our annual MLK “interfaith” worship service. He acquitted himself most capably, as others such as Cornel West, William Barber, and Arun Gandhi have as well. Omar Neal is the “real deal,” and we would be hard-pressed to bring anyone in from around the country more skilled in this direction. I strongly suggest to the Executive Committee of the RCDP and to influential “others,” that this proposal be taken under “serious” advisement and with dispatch. As I have asserted numerous times, whichever side (Loyalist, Reformer, Independent) you have been aligned with in the RCDP’s 18 months or so Family Feud, for me this is almost a “litmus test” of one’s willingness to really be about party/group unity. Zero-sum game mindset is not helpful for our party which is poised to come through this ordeal more viable than ever. As I mentioned in my recent 14-page address, the end result of our party rebirthing (Jn. 16:21) will have lasting effect to enhance our party’s tranquility and allow for greater community impacting. Blessings on you and yours! Peace and courage, Sid Gates, D.Min., M.S., LMFTChaplain, Richmond County Democratic Party You should know our Chaplain tried to arrange mediation A YEAR AGO, but was ignored, and even ostracized (not allowed to say invocation at our meetings, not invited to Exec Meetings, snubbed by fellow officers, etc). Below is a copy of his letter.
From: Sid Gates <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: August 10, 2017 at 4:15:56 PM EDT
Cc: "'William T. Herring'" <email@example.com>
Subject: Mediation Concerns
“We will always be willing to talk and seek fair compromise.”
--Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dear Mtessa & Others:
I write this rather hurriedly, so forgive any incongruous places and such. I had been asked earlier today to write some kind of missive for DPG purposes. I have no issue if this effort is sent along in that pursuit. Some accuse me of naïve confidence and belief in the power of negotiation. Negotiations do not always work, but they are worth the effort! They often do not work because 1) they are not skillfully handled, 2) the quid pro quo goal is not sought, and 3) often they are abandoned prior to a successful outcome. As a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice and with close to 30 years of experience, and having taught marriage and family therapy, I do not underestimate the conflict-potential in highly-charged debate and negotiation. Family dynamics are akin to what we have with our local party at this time.
The above MLK quote I think should constrain us with our local matters. He also once opined famously, “We can differ and still unite around common goals.” I have plumbed sundry ideological concerns somewhat on both sides, and I still am committed to the idea that there is more positive and galvanizing for the “long haul” in and between the factions than is divisive. We need “mediation” ASAP and “fully” committed to. I am convinced that a group who has come into the party mix “primarily” has common goals with any of the rest of us (e.g., electing competent dems, progressive change, inclusion, diversity, justice, empowerment, etc.). Yes, there was “seemingly” a jam the ballot box attempt for the Chairperson position, but I do not sense that was the lone objective. Too many from this ensemble deny such and rattle off solid Dem principles.
So to be clear, I would suggest, and STRONGLY so, that a meeting be called for next week that would include all parties who have interest and history with our local party. Newbies and loyalists! Perhaps, several of us at the top of the meeting could discuss the importance of this meeting and the ground rules. A state official as principal moderator might lend a more serious and committed interest in all factions’ needs/interests. Arnold (blocking on last name) who was recently in Augusta for an Exec. Committee training session could fit the bill. Dubose Porter might be a possibility.
I am hearing 3 concerns primarily from the strident and anxious group. I believe that if all 3 were soberly and competently addressed in this meeting, we have a real chance to move forward as a party without extreme measures (e.g., RCDP recertification). This group is asking for admissions regarding some lazy protocol/bylaws adherence. Fair enough. They want a ruling on who is in the various districts. And they want a fair election for the district seats. I think all this is rather doable! I also think having someone from their midst in the Secretary role could be a good faith gesture from the loyalist side regarding inclusion and a willingness to move forward.
I support our Executive Committee and deem us to have most “effective” and “capable” leaders in the various positions. I believe Mtessa has acquitted herself honorably and with distinction during a most difficult time that is truly unique in my 15 years with the party! We have a “narrow window,” however, and we need to proceed with dispatch and purpose to heal, regenerate, encourage, and cobble this historically successful and achieving party back together. This community and beyond needs this local party to continue to be responsive to societal needs, as we need the national party to impact the gaping wounds in our nation currently. YES WE CAN!!!
Peace and courage,
Sid Gates, D.Min., M.S., LMFT
An Exec meeting was held the very next day but Sid’s letter was not even discussed by his fellow officers. Below is a recording of that meeting where Sid’s appeal was mentioned (26:03) and appeal for mediation was also encouraged by State Committee Member Terence Dicks (29:10), only to be ignored and shut down by 2nd Vice Chair (and now 12th Cd Chair) Chris Johnson and membership Chair Rosalyn Shepard and the RCDC Execs ultimately opted to hire deputies to attend meetings (38:00) based on false rumors of “threatening behavior” that was NEVER substantiated. There were also insinuations made by Chris Johnson that I had vandalized his car and that I had threatened to sue him……both accusations are blatantly false, and I have asked our Chair numerous times to appoint a committee to investigate his charges (as is prescribed by DPG bylaws and by Roberts Rules of Order), but she refused, saying only that she would “refer my requests to the Exec Committee.”
RCDC Executive (secret) Session held Aug 11, 2017
Why were RCDC officers so paranoid about a lawsuit at this Aug 11, 2017 secret meeting? Gee, I wonder if it might be related to this letter they received on Aug 8, 2017 from DPG official Sarah Todd?
Dear Chairwoman Wright, August 8, 2017
Thank you for the invitation to join your regular membership meeting of the Richmond County Committee. As you are well aware, there has been considerable disruption at your meetings. We have received reports of physical damage allegedly caused by attendees to property of other attendees at meetings, verbal altercations, threats and intimidation. Additionally, we are all still in the process of working out how best to address the County Committee bylaws while moving forward to address our shared goal—electing more Democrats. After Chairman Arnold Martin’s experience last week (and let me say that he was very pleased with the Executive Committee meeting you hosted—but we are incredibly concerned about what happened in the parking lot after the meeting), we are recommending that you cancel tomorrow’s meeting. Please let me know as soon as you are able if you concur with this recommendation.
I also suggest that you send this letter out, in its entirety to the entire membership, as I will be sending it to the Executive Committee of the DPG tonight as well. Many of the points below specifically refer to actions and words by members of the committee and those who are not members but are still disrupting the process.
The Democratic Party and the County Committees should operate in a spirit of bringing people together to elect more democrats and to improve our communities. It appears there are so many bent on disrupting the progress of the Richmond County Committee that the spirit is broken.
Chairman Martin and I will be bringing this situation to the Executive Committee of the State Party. We will discuss the various issues that we are aware of and their potential solutions. This includes:
- Elections have not been held in accordance with the bylaws for much longer than can be controlled by the current leadership. We will discuss various options for remedy which capture the spirit of our purpose. Ideally, we would meet your committee at an agreed upon place of membership and move forward with elections for vacancies. We will also discuss re-chartering if necessary. Any decision will be made so as to best create a strong foundation from which Richmond County Democrats may do good work.
- We will be asking the Executive Committee for guidance for your committee on how best to handle people who are disrupting your work, making threats, verbally harassing and/or physically harassing the members. There is absolutely no place for this in our organization and we will NOT tolerate it. We also want to make clear the following points:
- We are here to help County Committees grow stronger and achieve greater
success. Bullying tactics used by members or those who want to be members will not be successful, nor will they spur the State Party into action on their behalf.
- At this point, the process is in place and we will communicate to you when it is complete.
- Any harassing email sent by any member to the State Party staff or leadership will not be responded to. And in fact, at this point, the next steps are to be completed by the Executive Committee of the DPG, and there is no need to engage the staff in any further communication.
- We have great care for the many committed individuals to the County Committee in Richmond County and we do not condone any environment that makes them feel threatened or otherwise unsafe. We hope that you concur with our recommendation to cancel tomorrow’s meeting. We are concerned about the escalation of disruption at your meetings and we want to help you carve a way forward for all members to attend and work towards electoral success with joy and community in the future. Sincerely, Sarah Todd Vice Chair of Congressional Districts and County Affairs Democratic Party of Georgia
Reports of vandalism? Threats? Intimidation? Incredible concern about what happened to Arnold Martin in the parking lot after his July visit? What is Sarah Todd talking about? Could it be this?
In what way was Arnold Martin threatened? He CHOSE to speak with us in the parking lot and answer our questions. I want you to notice two things: at no time does anyone threaten to sue anyone else. Jerod Gay specifically says to Arnold Martin "Please impart to them that at this point we are given the impression that there's no other way we can have this settled outside of court. We are talking to lawyers in the ACLU, they are reviewing our case, they told us we have a case. They said it will take about 3 to 4 weeks to review it and get us ready to have it filed. That's pretty much the time. We can file it now, but we want to give them a chance to review everything and to give us their impression. So, either way, at this point it's not an abstract thing, this going to court. Right now we're being given the impression from the DPG and the RCDC that's the only way we're going to get redress from any of our complaints. For that not to happen we need across the board elections and some commitment made to them, or else the courts are the only other place that this can get adjudicated."
Remember, this conversation took place after 8 months of asking Chair Mtesa Wright for a membership list. There was confusion about who the actual members were, we had no way of calculating quorum, we weren't being allowed to make motions in meetings, etc. Mtesa kept promising to "get us the list" but also kept telling us "we're still working on it." The REAL issue, of course, was that they did not have a valid list because they had not held membership elections in 2016 (while Mtesa was 2nd Vice Chair in charge of membership and Rosalyn Shepard was the appointed membership chair) as specified by DPG bylaws and they did not want to admit it. We had begun complaining to DPG through Melva Steps. It was OUR complaint that ultimately led to DPG forcing RCDC to hold new elections and rewrite their bylaws! But we could not get RCDC officers to meet with us, in fact 2nd VC Chris Johnson and his evil sidekick, Rosalyn Shepard, began a smear campaign against us making up stories that we had vandalized Chris's car, threatened little old ladies, threatened to sue people, etc. Things were veering into craziness thanks to Chris and Rosalyn, and we felt legal action might be the only remaining option. For months DPG was giving us the runaround, Melva Steps referred us to Sarah Todd, who referred us to Arnold Martin, who referred us to Melva Steps! Total lack of accountability! But all we really wanted were new elections so that we could establish our membership and then begin functioning as a valid party. ......which is exactly what DPG ordered them to do in Jan 2017!
The second thing I want you to observe from this Arnold Martin video was that Rosalyn Shepard is the one desperately trying to get Arnold to stop talking to us. In fact, Arnold got in her car afterwards and G-d only knows what she told him. So this is the context surrounding the executive session held just a few days later where Rosalyn and Chris convince the others that members are being threatened, lawsuits are imminent, etc. Incidentally, it should be noted that Rosalyn Shepard chose not to participate in our DPG mandated Jan 2018 membership elections so she is no longer a member. After severely damaging our Party for months by spreading vicious lies, she just walked away from the smoldering ruins leaving the rest of us to deal with the aftermath. Rosalyn claimed for months that she had been threatened at our Jan 2017 meeting when new members were kept from joining the party. Is that true? See for yourself in the video below: (I have included a timestamp below the video so you can fast forward to the juicy parts)
RICHMOND COUNTY DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE MEETING
JAN 11, 2017
Background on the above video: After the Nov 2016 Presidential election, several new people, many of them ardent Bernie Sanders supporters, wanted to join the local Democratic Party in Augusta Georgia. They were told by Mtesa Wright (who was then 2nd Vice Chair and over the membership committee) to come to the office to fill out membership elections, but when they came to Democratic Headquarters they were ordered to leave by Chair Lowell Greenbaum. At one point Lowell cried "I smell a takeover!" and and threatened to call the police! Their membership was not voted on in the December meeting as they were promised. This is the Jan meeting, after new officer elections had been held in December, and now Mtesa Wright was the newly elected Chair of RCDC.
00:00 - 11:15 Routine business (approval of minutes, Treasurer report, raffle discussed)
11:15 Mtesa welcomes new people. The following people…..Meagen, Monica, Michel, Daniel, Jerod, Melissa, Jason, Carless, Thomas, Ali, Brittany…..all these energetic new people eventually quit coming after months of being shut out and made to feel un-welcome by leadership.
13:15 2nd VC Chris Johnson “re-certifies” existing members (a procedure nowhere allowed by DPG, as members are to be elected) many of whom have not attended meetings in months. Members were supposed to be elected in the summer of 2016 but no elections had never actually been held by RCDC. Joe Traina tries to bring point of order that “recertification” is not in DPG bylaws and that elections have not been held, but he is ignored.
13:48 Joe wants to raise point of order about the “re-certification” process, but is denied.
20:00 Chris Johnson discusses “three absences and you’re out” bylaw, a rule that has NEVER been applied. We have members who NEVER come to meetings except when they are needed for quorum.
23:45 Vote is held to re-certify existing members.
26:00 Chris calls out names of new members whose applications were approved by Exec Committee. These people were not elected (there was no election prior to this time) and most of these people have NEVER come to our meetings.
31:00 Jerod Gay “What about the rest of us?” Chris “See me after the meeting.”
Thomas Moss “Why aren’t WE being voted on?”
VOTE IS CALLED TO RE-CERTIFY. VOTE IS DIVIDED, BUT THE “NO’”VOTES ARE SIMPLY IGNORED
32:55 - 47:25 Vigorous debate regarding membership process ensues
35:25 Membership Chair Rosalyn Shepherd starts yelling
37:22 Sameera inquires about process to join RCDC.
38:15 Mtesa admits Exec Committee “screens” applications and admits applications “were misplaced.” She also admits that there were some “concerns about loyalty to the Democratic Party” from some of the applicants.
42:55 Joe Traina initially refused point of order when he asks to read from by-laws concerning membership. Eventually Joe is allowed to read from bylaws.
45:25 Mtesa quotes from completely unrelated by-laws (having to do with filling *officer* vacancies, not post holder vacancies.) She then refuses to recognize any more points of order.
47:25 3rd VC Jean Embry yells “Shut up and let me finish!”
57:30 Mtesa gives speech about mutual respect. She complains about folks going on local talk radio to complain about not being allowed to join the Party.
1:01:35 Sameera makes an appeal for civility.
1:09:00 Jerod discusses why he appeared on local radio talk show.
1:12:30 Rosalyn appeals for patience.
1:16:20 Rosalyn claims someone threatened her TWICE during this meeting. Really?? When? By whom?
1:18:24 Michel speaks about marginalized people being shunned and compares those who are being shut out to MLK.
1:20:20 Rosalyn takes offense and yells “No you’re not!”
12TH DISTRICT CHAIR RESIGNED
Things got so bad that our District Chair at the time, Bill Herring of Statesboro, resigned. And rather than informing membership of the 12th District that his position was now available for interested candidates, executives of RCDC and our State Committee members kept that information private which allowed Chris Johnson to be the only applicant for the position. When Rebecca Dehart was told the committee was never informed she demurred that it wasn’t their responsibility to hold them accountable for that, simply that she and state execs did what they were supposed to do by informing district committee members.
In March 2018 we were forced to vote on bylaws which were NEVER sent out to the membership and we were never allowed to discuss prior to the vote. Below is a copy of a letter sent by one of members, retired Rabbi Robert Klensin:
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Sent: 3/19/2018 11:08:28 PM Eastern Standard Time
Subject: Thoughts from Rabbi Robert Klensin regarding the RCDC
Dear Members of the RCDC Executive Committee,
First, I want to thank all of you for all the work you do on behalf of our local Democratic Party. I know it must seem frustrating and thankless at times. I appreciate that all of you continue to "hang in there" in spite of the current conflicts which are getting in the way of what we want to accomplish. I am sure we all want to find a way to achieve the unity which we talk about.
Second, I want to offer my help, especially at the present time with the tension over the approval of the proposed bylaws. I do not see myself on one "side" or the other. As has been said, we should all just see ourselves as Democrats. An "us and them" perspective is just not helpful.
I am writing to share some thoughts which I hope will be constructive.
As I am sure you will all agree, the conflict taking place within the RCDC is extremely hurtful, to some as individuals, and to all of us as Democrats. I have heard that the RCDC is becoming the laughing stock of the community. If I were an outsider looking in at all of this, I would ask myself why I would want to associate myself with the Democratic Party, or even vote for Democratic candidates. In many ways I think we are functioning just like all the things we criticize about the Republicans. We are so critical of the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee for closing down the investigation, especially without even informing the Democrats on the Committee of what they are doing. Before that, the Republican members released their report, but tried to block the report prepared by the Democrats. Horrible! But yet we ask members of the RCDC to vote on Bylaws that were given out at a meeting where there were so few members present that we did not even have a quorum, and failed to send out copies by email to all RCDC members. It would have been so simple to attach a copy of the Bylaws to the notice of the meeting. I would guess that most members would not study the text, but it should absolutely be made available. Would we really want outsiders to know that we asked members to vote on a very important document which most of our members had never seen? I do not want people to think that is the way Democrats do things.
I just read about the approval by the Georgia House Government Affairs Committee of a bill to shorten Atlanta voting hours and curtail Sunday voting. All Democrats on the committee opposed the bill. Terrible - trying to block full voting participation, yet we are asked to vote on the proposed bylaws without full review and discussion by our members.
We criticize how the Republicans, and especially their leader, are often very disrespectful of others, yet we see repeated disrespect, at times seemingly to come from all sides, at our meetings.
We can do better!
As I mentioned at the last meeting, I was impressed by the information provided by our Second Vice chairperson, Rev. Johnson, to the new members before the February meeting. I especially appreciated the suggestions about how the post holders of each district should work together. However, there is no way we can do this if we do not have contact information for the other members of our district. I very much appreciate the effort of the leadership to protect the confidentiality of addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of the members of the RCDC. But again, we cannot work together if we cannot contact one another. I suggest that the contact information at least be given to the Captain of each district so that she or he can write to other members of the district and possibly set up district meetings. If necessary, everyone could be asked if their contact information could be shared in this way. A statement could be put at the bottom of each email that contact information should not be shared with others outside the district. Alternatively, the Captain could send email messages with a bcc (blind carbon copy) to the members, so no one except the Captain would see the email addresses. Or, would it be possible for each member of the RCDC to have an email similar to those of the officers, e.g. Chairperson@rcdcvote.org. For example, I could have an email address of District3post2@rcdcbote.org. That might be complicated to set up for close to 100 post holders, but, if we are to function properly, we must have some way of being in touch with each other. I would also suggest that that at the beginning of each meeting, we introduce ourselves, including the district we represent, so we can at least see who are the other members of our respective districts.
I understand that there is a need to get our new Bylaws to the State Committee in a timely manner. However, I find it hard to believe that the State Committee would prefer our getting our new Bylaws to them by the end of this month while we remain in such turmoil with frequent intense conflict, rather than giving us another month or two if we can approve new Bylaws in manner that will bring us together and eliminate, or at least minimize, the tension and negative image which we now have.
I do believe that there ought to be some changes in the proposed Bylaws, and I think the list of "Problems with Newly Proposed Bylaws" which was distributed at the last meeting should be given serious consideration. However, in my opinion, the process is even more important than the content. We can always make some additional changes to the Bylaws, but the animosity created and intensified by the process will remain with us and only cause more problems in the future.
I very much appreciated the suggestion made by our Chairperson Emeritus, Dr. Greenbaum, at the last meeting, that a few people with different perspectives meet to discuss the proposed Bylaws. I believe that would be the best way to relieve much of the current tension, bring better understanding, and create an even better draft of the Bylaws. I mean, isn't what Dr. Greenbaum suggested the way we should function, rather than having a quick vote without open discussion, thereby creating more division and anger.
As part of the process, I urge that both the old (current) Bylaws and the draft of the proposed Bylaws be sent out by email to all members. Any members who do not have email, should receive copies by mail. How can it make sense or be argued that we should not send out the proposed Bylaws to all voting members before the meeting at which we will vote on the Bylaws. (Actually, I think it would also be helpful to send the link to the GDP Bylaws for those of us who would like to read the state Bylaws as well to help us understand what should be in our RCDC Bylaws.)
I also suggest that before we meet to vote on the Bylaws, we have a meeting of the RCDC, to have an open discussion, Article by Article, of the proposed Bylaws. Announce in advance of this meeting that no vote will be taken during the meeting, it will only be for purpose of hearing everyone who has specific concerns about, or suggestions for, the proposed Bylaws.
Finally, I know that it took a great deal of time and work to prepare the proposed Bylaws. However, as I carefully read through the document, I found over 20 typos or grammatical errors. I would be very happy to go over these errors with anyone you would like. It should only take a short amount of time to make the corrections. I believe that there will not be anything in what I will suggest that will change the meaning of what is written or cause any controversy.
Thank you for taking the time to read through this long message, and thank you again for all your hard work in leading the RCDC.
Rabbi Robert G. Klensin
After WEEKS of ignoring our emails and phone calls from us and from fellow DPG officials, the following email was sent out by Arnold Martin (Chair of DPG County Affairs Committee). Please note this email was sent out the very next morning after I sent you my July 12 email saying we were coming to State Convention to voice our complaints. Please note that 12th CD Chair Chris Johnson accused a DPG official of “racial bias” (which Arnold’s email admits turned out to be a FALSE accusation) because that official was trying to bring our complaints before the County Affairs Committee.
From: Arnold Martin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: July 13, 2018 at 7:21:24 AM EDT
To: County Affairs <CountyAffairs@georgiademocrat.org>, Chrystian Woods <email@example.com>, Rebecca DeHart <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Michael Jablonski (email@example.com)" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Arnold Martin <Arnold@georgiademocrat.org>
Subject: County Affairs Committee Meeting recap
County Affairs Committee (CAC) Members;
I hope this email is finding all of you well. I first want to apologize for just sending out this recap of our meeting at the end of May. I have been having major technical difficulties with my DPG email, which kept me from all of my contacts, and I have been traveling extensively for my "day job" .For those of you who were able to attend the conference call meeting that lasted over 2.5 hours with in-depth deliberation and recommendations of the issues that presented to us from around the state, I sincerely thank you.
The work of the County Affairs Committee is quite challenging, as all of you know. I want to thank and acknowledge you for your commitment to the committee. We must stay positive and focused on the great work that we have been doing to support and build up County Committees across the state. Therefore we must not be fully distracted by the small percentage of Counties that have had ongoing challenges that may or may not ever be resolved. 159 Counties need to be attended to, in one way or another. That is our focus.
We came up with solutions and recommendations for the following subject matters. I will recap from my notes :
Congressional District Chair, Bobby Fuse, brought it to the committee's attention that the Democrats of Dougherty County were at the end of their tolerance with the long-standing leadership of the Dougherty County committee. For several years there have been complaints of disorganization, financial malfeasance and more. Therefore a motion was made to disband the current county committee, and allow a new committee to be In-Formation. A formal letter to inform the Dougherty County leadership of the decision by the DPG has been requested from our Legal Counsel, Michael Jablonski. Michael had stated that he would draft a letter to Dougherty with this notification.
A complaint with several accusations by Sarah Moody has been brought forth to the County Affairs Committee about the leadership in Columbia and how it has been operating its affairs. Copies of the complaints and responses from various Executive Committee members of Columbia were sent out to our CAC members for review. From our discussion after reviewing the complaints, it appears that many of the issues were more personal than bylaw violations. However, we did conclude that there must be greater transparency of the finances by the Treasurer on a regular basis being reported to the full County Committee at their meetings. Additionally, no person should be holding funds that belong to the County Committee. It has been indicated that Ms. Moody is refusing to release funds to the County Committee that came from a fundraiser for Columbia County. If this is still the case, the funds must be released to the County Committee. All County Committees must abide by their bylaws with the intention of inclusion and the greatest transparency as possible.
Richmond has had so many issues for many months based upon their internal elections, personal attacks, and now have risen to a full legal matter. There have been threats, verbal attacks and so much more beyond the scope of what the DPG can truly intercede in. The DPG/County Affairs Committee has assisted Richmond County multiple times with specific guidelines and recommendations on their policies and procedures. We have traveled to Richmond, held meetings, received calls, reviewed emails and more. While also being vilified, personally attacked and even accosted by those who do not agree with what has been recommended. Because this matter has risen to a legal matter on issues beyond policies and procedures, we recommended that Richmond County retain its own counsel. Additionally, it was recommended by our counsel that we should not be communicating directly, anymore, with the complainants who have communicated to the DPG and Richmond County through their legal counsel.
Therefore, the CAC has concluded that final recommendation to Richmond County and the Complainants is to enter in to a full mediation and attempt to work it out in this manner. We recommend that both parties agree to retain a professional Mediator who would be non-biased and that the parties involved proceed based upon the recommendations of the Mediator. I found several Mediation and Arbitration associations on-line and recommend that they search for a local Mediator if one is not already known.
Once again, the DPG has provided numerous recommendations to the Executive Committee of the Richmond County Committee. We have guided them on their scheduled future elections. We have found, recently, that overall the Richmond County Committee has been following the recommendations of the DPG and following their bylaws. No County Committee has operated perfectly and we should not be holding Richmond County to any standard that we are not holding all County Committees to. To reiterate, as this issue in Richmond has risen to personal attacks where individuals are literally fearful for their safety at Richmond County events and legal counsel has been retained, our counsel has recommended that we can no longer involve ourselves in the matters outside the scope of policies and procedures. We support all of our County Committees in their efforts to operate in an ethical manner and in accordance to their bylaws. We cannot be the referee for issues of a personal nature.
Sarah Todd Complaint:
A complaint has been lodged by 12th District Congressional Chairman, Reverend Christopher Johnson, on behalf of the Richmond County Committee against Sarah Todd, Vice Chair of Congressional District Chairs & County Party Liaison. This complaint included accusations of bias and racial discrimination from Sarah Todd in her communications and role of authority toward the Richmond County members and its leadership. The County Affairs Committee reviewed the complaint and discussed in detail. Vice Chair, Todd recused herself from the final portion of the discussion in our conference call meeting, after giving her response to the complaint. We take concerns and accusation presented to the CAC very seriously with the intention of fairness and impartiality as we review each situation. It was the conclusion of the committee that Vice Chair Todd has operated in a fair and ethical manner within her role with Congressional Districts and County Committees, inclusive of Richmond County. Vice Chair Todd's position often requires listening to all complaints and concerns and giving guidance and sometimes opinion that may or may not be agreed upon by all involved. As Vice Chair Todd has traveled tirelessly across the state helping counties to be the best that they can and guiding them to understand and adhere to their bylaws, we recognize that this is not always the most popular position to be in. The entire DPG has been advised, by our counsel, to no longer directly engage with the Complainants of Richmond County. Therefore we know that Vice Chair Todd will be adhering to the same. The CAC's response to this complaint is that we recommend to Vice Chair Todd to continue to be mindful of any perception of bias as we all must and no longer engage with the Complainants from Richmond County. We support her great work for all County Committees.
CAC members, the work we do is essential to the DPG. However, we operate in an advisory role and always defer to our Chairman, DuBose Porter and the Executive Committee of the DPG. Therefore, we understand that any of these recommendations may be changed by a higher authority. Thank you once again for all that you do for the Democratic Party of Georgia.
Arnold L. Martin, III
Chairman, County Affairs Committee DPG
Fayette County Democratic Committee
678-232-4073 Finally, I will tell you that since I first begin contacting State Committee members (and other DPG officials) I have received MULTIPLE complaints from various State Committee members who are also having issues with their County Committees and they have not been given guidance from DPG. I think it’s fair to say that County Committees are pretty much functioning independently, everyone doing their own thing with little regard for bylaws and without adequate oversight by those very DPG officials whose job it is to hold County Committees accountable to DPG by-laws. This email thread contains MORE THAN ENOUGH documentation to demonstrate blatant corruption and ineptitude in our County Committee and it clearly demonstrates that our sitting DPG leadership is inadequate/unwilling to take action. And I will remind you that THE STATE COMMITTEE IS THE GOVERNING BODY OF DPG…..not the so-called “leaders.” It is up to the STATE COMMITTEE to deal with these problems if DPG State Leaders will not. DPG bylaws allow State Committee members to call for meetings whenever they deem necessary. In fact, we attended the State Committee meeting on July 14 and a State Committee member tried to bring our complaints before the body, but the only concern at the time were the newly proposed DPG bylaws and since quorum to pass bylaws (2/3) was not present, no other New Business was discussed, even though anyone could have moved that we allow *other* business since there was sufficient quorum (20%) to conduct other business. But no one even wanted to talk about our problem, even though many expressed concern for what was happening in Richmond County. Finally, State Committee elections come up in February and I want to implore you…..if you don’t think your State Committee member is taking their job seriously or if you don’t think sitting DPG officers are taking their jobs seriously YOU NEED TO VOTE THEM OUT!! Nothing is going to change if we don’t have activists in office who are serious about reforming our Party. Feel free to share this blog with anyone you wish including social media.
On Jul 12, 2018, at 10:18 AM, James McBrayer <email@example.com> wrote:
Dear Democratic Party State Committee Member,
I last wrote you on April 23 regarding our problems here in the Richmond County Democratic Committee. Here is the most recent article about our issues, printed just yesterday in the Augusta Chronicle. Some of us will be attending the State convention this coming Saturday, July 14 in Macon. We look forward to meeting some of you and hope to find allies willing to assist us. The State DPG officers have completely failed to address our issues and so we now look to the governing body of the party, the State Committee, for help. Thanks for your interest.
On Apr 23, 2018, at 12:48 PM, James McBrayer <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Begin forwarded message:
From: James McBrayer <email@example.com>
Subject: DPG unwillingness to intervene in Richmond County
Date: April 23, 2018 at 12:27:44 PM EDT
To: Jim McBrayer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
April 23, 2018
Attention Democratic Party of Georgia and members of the Media,
I am writing to you because we are having numerous problems here in our Richmond County Democratic Committee with local party leadership and with DPG’s unwillingness to intervene. I am wondering if you may have similar problems in your County.
Our problems began after the 2016 Nov election. Several new people in our community decided to get more directly involved in politics and wanted to become members of RCDC. But when one of our RCDC post holders (Joe Traina) brought these young people to Dem headquarters to fill out applications the Chair told them they were holding a private meeting and were not accepting applications for membership and then threatened to call the police! (incidentally, everything I am telling you is well documented with video, emails, phone conversations, text message screen shots, etc).
Below is a link to a local media article referencing the Nov controversy.
Here is the video showing what happened at that Nov encounter.
Joe was able to get the applications from these folks and turn them in. However, at our next two meetings these new people were told their applications had been “misplaced” or were “still under review.” It took up to 4 months, in some cases, for some of these folks to become members and in some cases they were NEVER approved, even though they were all charged a $15 “application” fee.
The next problem emerged when we tried to organize. We asked the Chair repeatedly for a membership list but were told the list was “private” and that they were working on a way to allow members to make contact with one another while maintaining privacy. After complaining to DPG officials (Melva Steps) we found out that the membership list was a public list available at our local Board of Elections. This was infuriating because one of our officers and one of our State Committee members also sit on the local Board of Elections, so they knew all along our membership list was a public document and they didn’t tell that to the new members! Here is what DPG requires from the Counties regarding maintaining a public membership list and other requirements (notice that Counties are required to keep a list on file with Local Board of Elections that INCLUDES membership contact information). RCDC is STILL failing to comply with this requirement!
We also discovered, once we got the membership list, that the list was outdated and it did not contain the names of any post holders whose terms expired past 2018. Why not? Because they did not hold elections (as required by DPG bylaws and our own bylaws) in 2016! When we brought that to DPG’s attention they ultimately ordered RCDC to 1) “redo” the 2016 elections 2) update their bylaws and 3) develop a Strategic Plan.
Although RCDC “leaders” were eventually ordered by DPG to “redo the 2016 election” in Jan 2018, they were done in a confusing, underhanded way http://www.augustachronicle.com/opinion/letters/2018-01-28/letter-local-election-rigging
Anyway, the elections were conducted but when Joe Traina went to the voting site and dared to ask questions about his ballot he was thrown out.
In February Joe was sent a letter from our Chairwoman and told he was banned from RCDC for a period of seven years and would only be readmitted pending extensive psychiatric evaluation. When Joe tried to attend our Feb meeting, he was escorted out of the meeting by local police over our vigorous objection.
On March 16, 2018, our officers forced membership to take an up or down vote on new bylaws. There were several problematic bylaws, including, for example, a bylaw that would give our Chair the right to expel members from the Party for speaking critically to the media.
When the bylaws failed to pass by two votes, they immediately tried to hold a second vote that same night! When Joe Traina tried to address the membership they had him arrested!
They then called a special meeting two weeks later and told the membership that the bylaws MUST pass by March 31 or we would lose our certification, but members were not allowed to make amendments. Instead, we were given 3 choices on the bylaws…Yes…..No……Yes With Conditions (we were told “yes with conditions” meant that any objectionable bylaws would need 2/3 approval in the future). They did not get enough “Yes” votes, so they combined the Yes votes with “yes with conditions” to get the 2/3 majority they needed and declared that the bylaws had passed! And even though they told us these new bylaws would need DPG approval they are already making decisions based on these new bylaws as if they are already valid and in effect. Finally, you should know that Joe Traina came to the March meeting and was arrested on the spot and taken away in handcuffs on charges of “trespassing.” Below is a video of our April meeting where they ejected a member merely for raising a point of order that we did not have quorum to hold a meeting and two other members walked out in protest that night (both of them District Captains) when they realized they had been lied to about the status of the so-called “yes with conditions” by-laws.
One final thing you should know. Joe Traina is the CAMPAIGN manager for a candidate (Trent Nesmith) who is running for the Georgia Congressional District 12. You should also know that one of the RCDC officers (Bob Ingham) is also running for District 12. So they have kicked out the campaign manager of Mr. Nesmith while actively trying to recruit volunteers for one of their own officers. This is a blatant violation of DPG bylaws. You should also know that the 2nd Vice Chair of RCDC, Rev Chris Johnson, is also the Party Chair for the 12th District!! This behavior is highly unethical and a blatant violation of DPG bylaws that forbid the Democratic Party from playing favorites during the primaries. This is exactly what the DNC did when they played favorites in the 2016 Democratic primary.
Why am I writing to you? Because we have been complaining to DPG officials for over a year and have gotten very little response from Arnold Martin (Chair of County Affairs Committee), Dubose Porter, Melva Steps, Sarah Todd, Rebecca DeHart, or any other DPG officials. We want you to know what is going on in our County and we want to know if you are having similar problems. We need folks in Atlanta that take their responsibilities seriously and understand the importance of compliance with our bylaws. Our previous 12th District Chair, Bill Herring, resigned because of the failure of DPG officials to address problems here in Richmond County. We want to know if you are having similar issues, because if so, we want to form partnerships with other counties that will bring pressure on DPG officials to take our concerns more seriously. Thanks for your time and I look forward to your response.
Jim McBrayer, RCDC post holder District 3