By Michael Barajas
The Bexar County Democratic Party gathered Tuesday night in a relative calm, some trying earnestly to break away from the bitter atmosphere that has gripped the party since its explosive January meeting.
The group let local lawyer and former State Rep. (and former County Judge and County Commissioner) John Longoria open the meeting. In a brief speech, Longoria repeatedly called for civility between members and urged the party leaders to get along, saying, “We are not going to get anywhere by being angry at each other.”
While the meeting had its share of grumbling, eye rolling and shouting, it was a far cry from the party’s January gathering, which descended into chaos. A weekend mediation session with 379th District Judge Ron Rangel was reportedly called off by Party Chair Dan Ramos, who sent out a last-minute email this weekend trying to cancel Tuesday’s meeting “due to pending mediation.”
Since he took over six months ago, Ramos has battled with other members over the direction of the party. Tuesday’s gathering went forward anyway, though Ramos was notably absent.
At the start of Tuesday night’s meeting, Longoria pleaded, “We all need to work together. We don’t need to wash our laundry out in public and in the press. We have enough enemies.”
The Bexar County Dems are still trying to find their footing following an embezzlement scandal that rocked the party in 2008. The party is currently indebted to the tune of roughly $200,000, money which many say was stolen by former party treasurer Dwayne Adams. Adams has since been indicted and is awaiting trial on charges that he raided the treasury.
Also up for question at Tuesday’s meeting was the decision to boot party treasurer Joseph Nazaroff from his post. The party’s budget and finance committee removed him last month, saying he refused to engage with the committee. It’s clear the overall unease in the wake of the Adams scandal influenced Nazaroff’s ouster, and at Tuesday’s meeting, budget and finance chair D’mitri Kosub stood and explained that for months Adams refused to work with his committee.
“We are once again presented with a treasurer who refuses to engage with the budget and finance committee,” Kosub remarked. “We are not saying that Mr. Nazaroff is Dwayne Adams
We can no longer operate on trust alone.”
The rest of the party’s executive committee voted to uphold the treasurer’s removal Tuesday. Angie Cadena, the party’s webmaster and a close friend to Nazaroff, quit in apparent protest earlier in the day, posting to the party’s website: “Our finances, what is left of them, are in order. Our house is not.”