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14 January 2013

#GaDems Vice-Chair: Chairman Berlon, Don't Demand I Resign. I'll Be Good. I'se Be a Good Vice-Chair, Suh

I know what some of you are thinking. This is old news. But news is news, old or new. And this news deals with a political party who wants to govern our great state of Georgia.

Baseball great Babe Ruth had his heart set on managing a team. Ruth's heart was broken when Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert reputedly said, "How can you manage a team, when you can't even manage yourself?"

In that same vein, I ask, how can Democrats govern Georgia, when they can't even govern their own organization?

Over the past week, I've detailed resignations and sniping emails from Georgia Democratic Party leaders. These emails and resignations all stem from a common source -- the special called state Democratic executive committee meeting held 22 February 2012.

Other Democrats have said Party chairman Mike Berlon used fear and threats to tamp down criticisms of his tenure. To a large extent, this reign of terror seems to have worked. Many Georgia Democrats remain silent out of fear. But there are some who find solace in Joshua 1:9, which says, "Have not I commanded you? Be strong, vigorous, and very courageous. Be not afraid, neither be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

R.J. Hadley, a Democratic Party of Georgia Vice-Chair who presided over the 22 February meeting, was allegedly informed by Mike Berlon that a move was afoot to remove him from office for "signing along with 12 others in calling for a special meeting." R.J. remembered the Lord's commandments, and vigorously defended himself.

A few months later, the stakes were raised as Berlon told R.J., "There are now two formal complaints that have been filed against you concerning actions that have been taken in relation to County parties.

"These are both serious and need to be addressed by the DPG. In both cases [Wilkes and Houston] the complainant is formally seeking your removal as Vice Chair for willfully violating your authority under the by-laws," Berlon wrote in an email to R.J. Hadley.

R.J., the Democrats' Vice-Chair of Congressional Districts and County Parties, mockingly responded to Berlon's email:

"Please Chairman Berlon don't continue to go after me and demand I resign like you did Treasurer Russell Edwards last week. I'll be good. I promise. I'se be a good Vice-Chair suh."

Russell Edwards abruptly stepped down as Democratic Party of Georgia Treasurer, 16 May 2012, giving no reason for his resignation.

Below are the emails from R.J. Hadley to members of the state Democratic executive committee . . .

Dear District Team and DPG Officers,

Good evening all. I've been a little busy, but there's lots of stuff down below that relates to something Chairman Berlon desperately wants you to know. My role as Vice-Chair is to be the point of contact for you all and THAT'S IT. Anything else is outside the bylaws and you know Chairman himself would never go outside the bylaws.

Here's the important section:

BL4.1.7 The Congressional District/County Liaison Vice-Chair shall be the primary point of contact for all Congressional District and County Chairs. Such Vice-Chair shall hold a meeting with the Executive Director and the Congressional District Chairs and County Chairs at least twice annually. Such Vice-Chair shall be an ex-officio member of the County Affairs Committee to assure its goals are achieved by the Party. Such Vice-Chair shall perform such other duties as may be delegated by the State Chair.

So if I ask you to do something outside of BL4.1.7, please let Chairman know. As you can see below, he's been working hard to build a list of complaints against me. So let him know right away. Chairman really needs all of that to have me removed for the terrible things I've done. Please, I beg of you for my sake, please send confirmation to Chairman Berlon that you understand the bounds of my authority. If you don't, he may call a meeting of District Chairs without me or WORSE... you may be subject to sanctions from the Chairman. I care about each of you. I don't want any of you to have the bear the awesome burden of facing Chairman Berlon's scorn on an almost daily basis. Let him know that you understand RJ's role - TODAY!!!

Just to be clear here is my own understanding. RJ's Statement of Understanding: "I am the Vice-Chair of Congressional District/County Liaison. I am the primary point of contact for CD Chairs and County Chairs. Anything, Anything, ANYTHING beyond that must be authorized from Chairman Berlon. If I do something outside of the authority that Chairman Berlon rightfully chooses to give me, then I am violating the bylaws. I had no understanding of the bylaws, as relates to my role, before Chairman Berlon explained them to me below. Now I understand my proper role in the DPG. Now I understand my proper authority under Chairman Berlon."

Please Chairman Berlon don't continue to go after me and demand I resign like you did Treasurer Russell Edwards last week. I'll be good. I promise. I'se be a good Vice-Chair suh.

Thanks all and I hope you can make the telecon on Tuesday. Otherwise I will see you somewhere in Macon on the 19th. rj


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Home [mikeberlon@~~~.com]
Date: Sun, May 13, 2012 at 7:51 PM
Subject: Re: Meeting at the DPG-ASAP
To: Mike Berlon
Cc: RJ Hadley, Michael Jablonski, Philip Anthony Laporte

RJ,

I wanted to follow up with you about meeting as soon as possible. I have written to you now on several occasions and want to nail down a date where we can cover the issues I've previously raised but have not had any kind of response.

Can you please respond? I really need to set up a time to meet with you, me, Mike and Phil concerning your authority ASAP.

There are now two formal complaints that have been filed against you concerning actions that have been taken in relation to County parties. These are both serious and need to be addressed by the DPG. In both cases [Wilkes and Houston] the complainant is formally seeking your removal as Vice Chair for willfully violating your authority under the by-laws. In both cases, they are also asking for the removal of the Congressional Chair based on instructions you gave them. I think I managed to get the one in Houston dropped [not 100% sure] but you are putting some of your CC's at risk because of your misinterpretation of the by-laws. I also understand that a third complaint is also going to be filed in the near future as well. This doesn't include the complaint that was dropped by Tony Center in Chatham. We need to get these under control ASAP. It's becoming an real distraction.

If I don't hear from you in the next few days, I will schedule a meeting with the Congressional Chairs without you to discuss the actual scope of the by-laws. I'd like to meet with you first if at all possible but this can't wait any longer.
Mike

sent from my iPad


On May 6, 2012, at 2:29 PM, Mike Berlon wrote:

RJ,

This is a follow up to my previous e-mail concerning a meeting between us at the DPG. I'm not sure what the issue is. You failed to show up for the Caucus elections after your blow up with Billy Mitchell at a time when we needed your help the most and then didn't even respond to our inquiries about attending the State Committee meeting or the JJ Dinner. I now have complaints that have been filed against you and Pasty Harris concerning Wilkes County and have been advised that another complaint is going to be filed out of Houston. There may be one or two more as well. They are starting to pile up and this is taking way too much time to address.

These complaints all follow a common theme-that you are unilaterally deciding whether a county party is in "compliance" with our by-laws and are then replacing them with new officers of your choice or that you are forcing parties to change they way their operate by telling them you are there on "behalf of the DPG". Tony Center is a classic example of that. I walked into a hornet's nest I didn't create because of it. So was Bibb County. Lincoln also comes to mind.

I really want to see you succeed but I haven't heard from you in quite some time. I think it's time for us to take a good look at your actual authority under the by-laws. You have broadened these well past their definition. You really need to understand how they work. I want to meet with you as soon as possible with Mike Jablonski and our Parlimentarian Phil Laporte to discuss these issues. Its fairly clear to me that you really don't understand the By-laws. In case you don't have them, this is your basic role:

BL4.1.7 The Congressional District/County Liaison Vice-Chair shall be the primary point of contact for all Congressional District and County Chairs. Such Vice-Chair shall hold a meeting with the Executive Director and the Congressional District Chairs and County Chairs atleast twice annually. Such Vice-Chair shall be an ex-officio member of the County Affairs Committee to assure its goals are achieved by the Party. Such Vice-Chair shall perform such other duties as may be delegated by the State Chair.

There's nothing in there that gives you any other powers in regard to compliance or grant you the authority to shut down a County party without due process. You can't be judge, jury and executioner. If a county is out of compliance, we should be notified at the DPG and we will start the process. The by-laws are set up so that most all of the power belongs to the Congressional Chairs. They are the ones that should be making these decisions since they are at the point of contact and should be reporting back to you. It's a ground up operation. You should also be informing me about any elections that are set. Last week I received calls about the 4th Congressional and had no idea that you were calling an election in the 14th. We should be setting those up.

You also need to know when certain provisions of the by-laws apply. You repeatedly cite BL 7.13.1 as the basis for your authority. That section of the by-laws only applies in a county in which there is no party. In a case where were are sure no party that exists, and only in that case, does that section of the by-laws gives the Congressional Chair the authority to appoint an acting Chair. That information is here:

BL7.13.1 In any county not having a duly constituted County Democratic Committee the appropriate Congressional District Chair(s) may appoint an Acting County Chair and an Acting County Secretary to receive declarations of candidacy and qualifying for nomination in the Democratic Primary and to certify such candidates to the appropriate authority.

BL7.13.2 Where there is no existing County Committee, the Congressional District Chair(s)shall call an organizational meeting, specifying the time and place, or name an acting County Chair to call such a meeting.

You also can't demand that these County Committee's report to you. Our by-laws require that the County Committee report directly to the Chair. There is no requirement that they report to the Congressional District Vice Chair or to the Congressional Chairs. This means that you can't decertify a party since they are not required to respond to you:

BL7.7.6 In meeting filing requirements, County Committees shall report directly to the State Chair. County Committees shall file with the State Chair a list of membership, all rules, regulations, bylaws, and charters of affiliates, an annual report of activities or minutes, the location and signatories of Committee bank accounts, and certification by the County Committee Chair that the Committee duly constituted and organized, and is following sound financial operating procedure.

All of the by-laws layer on each other and you really need a crash course in how they work. You should also understand how the Charter works as well. That could have saved all of us a lot of time and angst over the meeting that you called in February.

Please let me know the dates you can be available over the next two weeks. I'll follow up after I get them with Mike and Phil and set up a time when we can go over all of this together. None of this is meant to offend you-we just need to get this right. I am going to hold a workshop sometime in June for all the Congressional Chairs so that we can cover the by-laws completely and explain everyone's roles. I'd like to get with you before then if possible.

Mike