Off with his head, seems to be the agreement of many local bloggers, radio news talk show hosts, both political parties, the local politicians running for U.S. Senate and Congress and even outgoing Senior U.S. Senator Pete Domenici, the ranking member of the State’s Republican Party.
That would be Bernalillo County Republican Party Chairman Fernando C de Baca’s head, right, they’re calling for. They want him removed because of his reported comments to BBC Reporter Jon Kelly during an interview at the State Fair last Thursday. Kelly is riding the election bus called "BBC Talking America US08" project sponsored by the BBC Radio World Service. The bus is on a 37-day cross-country tour leading up to the American election Nov. 4.
The BBC article quoted C de Baca as saying:
"The truth is that Hispanics came here as conquerors," he said. "African-Americans came here as slaves.
"Hispanics consider themselves above blacks. They won't vote for a black president."
Many have interpreted C de Baca’s words as racist and have called for his resignation or removal. C de Baca claimed his words were taken out of context; that he was talking about a historic view of some old -- 50 to 60 years ago -- older Hispanics.
It’s pretty obvious that he is not going to vote for Democratic candidate Sen. Barak Obama, here in Espanola, before a large crowd, well populated with Hispanic supporters, at the same time C de Baca was talking to the BBC; not because Obama’s black, but because he’s a Democrat. If nothing else, C de Baca is a loyal Republican.
Most of the people calling for his ouster have every right to call for his removal under their First Amendment right to free speech, just as C de Baca had the right to say what he did and Kelly had the right to publish what was said.
C de Baca agreed to meet with the County Party Executive Committee Tuesday morning to discuss what he should do in the wake of the mounting controversy.
The Executive Committee took a vote of confidence in their Chairman and supported C de Baca staying in his position.
So what’s wrong with this picture?
This is New Mexico Republican Party Chairman Allen Weh with 1st Vice Chairman Jon Barela, Nina Martinez, Vickie Perea, and 2nd Vice Chair Chris Saucedo during a hastily called news conference on Tuesday afternoon.
Weh expressed his disappointment and obvious anger, though he denied it and claimed he had the unilateral power to remove a County Chair under undefined special circumstances.
There is one major problem; the Republican Party is bound by rules. The County Party has rules that include provisions for removing any of its elected officers. No one at the County level has started the process, nor does it seem that they will.
So Weh has taken it upon himself to threaten to exercise some undefined power and unilaterally remove C de Baca. Jeff Jones of the Journal reports.
Before exercising his self proclaimed power, Weh, hoping to allow cooler heads to prevail, appointed a committee of high-ranking Republican Party members, to try to reason with the County chair.
After hearing out the delegation Wednesday, C de Baca chose to hold on to his seat. He has retained a lawyer and personnel laws are now in play. C de Baca, without saying so, is invoking his right to have a fair process if he is going to be removed. Weh has been moving cautiously; possibly some Party member who is a lawyer has warned him off because of the fight that might ensue.
At the press conference, Weh said he was not going to take any immediate action because it would create a sideshow and detract from the task at hand: electing John McCain President of the United States, a new United States Senator, and three Congressmen from New Mexico.
If Weh wants to condemn C de Baca’s speech, he may do so till he’s blue in the face. However, if he wants to take action, he must act within the law.
Any attempt Weh makes will be outside the rules.
Let’s look at those pesky State Party rules. They are specific on how County Officers may be removed from their position:
3-1-4. COUNTY - CENTRAL COMMITTEE - COUNTY OFFICERS
D. Removal of County Officers: Any Officer of a County Central Committee may be removed by a two-thirds vote of all the members of the County Central Committee present in person at a meeting properly called for the purpose and attended by at least 51% of the entire membership of the Committee. In such voting, proxies shall not be recognized.
Due process is an important concept in American government and the Party that hopes to retain the White House and vacated U.S. Senate seat and gain a seat from the Democrats in the House of Representatives must be seen as willing to follow the laws of the land and the rules of their Party.
The mass hysteria surrounding C de Baca’s comments, the rush to simply be rid of him, is exposing the leadership of the State Republican Party to worse than what C de Baca might have said.
There is no discussion about what C de Baca’s words impart. The effort is to simply shout down anybody who recognizes some truth to the unresolved problems in ethnic and race relations in this country and particularly in the State of New Mexico.
I can empathize with C de Baca, right. When I was President of the Police Union. I spoke with the press about the way, then Chief of Police Sam Baca, selected supervisors.
In an of Oct. 4, 1986 Albuquerque Journal article entitled, “Union Head Accuses Police Chief of Disruption:”
…Bralley said in an interview this week that Baca runs the department on what he called the patron system. “He’s the boss, the patron. You are either for him or against him… People who are loyal to Sam Baca are rewarded. Everybody else, watch out. And like every good patron he has a spy system, whose network runs through the department,” Bralley said.My comment was perceived as racist and the Union Board not only called for my resignation, but also proceeded to formally oust me. I survived a recall vote by a two-to-one margin. I know what I meant and I now know how it was perceived.
“Baca has told me that loyalty to Baca is the most important attribute a member of this department can have,“ Bralley said.
Being in an elected position and in the public eye, sooner or later, of your making, or of a reporter’s, you’re going to have a bad day with the press.
The fourth U.S President, James Madison, when he was working on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, championed the “Marketplace of Ideas.” This is a concept in challenging offensive speech, which is done with a calm reasoned response. One does not suppress bad speech, but to the contrary, uses more speech to counter.
State Representative Janice Arnold Jones of Albuquerque, seen sitting behind C de Baca at the GOP State pre-primary convention, wrote a letter of support for C de Baca to the County Executive Board Tuesday. As a result, a robotic phone message has been generated that automatically calls people and a prerecorded voice states that Arnold Jones had written a letter supporting C de Baca after he had made racist comments. The voice goes on telling listeners to call the Representative, giving her home number and implores them to tell her to change her position and condemn C de Baca. The robo-call does not identify who commissioned the project as required by law.
"Have confirmed six recipients of robo call." Arnold Jones wrote in an email response seeking comment. "Four called and left message for me saying 'keep up the good work!' I'm sure that was not the desired result of the robo call. "
I know Arnold Jones; I took a campaign photograph for her two years ago. She is running unopposed this cycle. She holds a Saturday morning constituents’ coffee-office hours, which has about 20 people regularly, attend, including myself.
Has someone in the Party, beyond Weh's knowledge, started an "Enemies' List" and are they engaging in dirty tricks reminiscent of Richard Nixon's Watergate Plumbers; except against one of the Party's own elected legislatures?
Sheriff Darren White and Republican Congressional District One candidate told Peter St. Cyr’s “What’s the Word” blog that he will have nothing to do with the County Party until C de Baca is gone from his post.
White, seen here, after his recent back injury and weeklong hospitalization, at the end of a press conference where he announced he was fit to continue his campaign, is attempting to intimidate C de Baca.
“What’s Wrong With This Picture?” believes White may have left his backbone at the hospital and no longer has the necessary courage to call for a meeting of the County Central Committee to address C de Baca’s continued standing in office.
Instead of taking the time to dictate a letter, he took time with the news media to rail and spew using words towards C de Baca that don’t help.
Weh and White are acting more like some dictators of history; like the Soviet Union’s Joseph Stalin, or Iraq’s Saddam Hussein or Chilean Gen. Augusto José Ramón Pinochet, who all made their political and real enemies disappear without so much as any due process.
It ultimately appears that Weh wishes to remove C de Baca over his words. They have ideological differences and Weh is dictating what C de Baca must not say in order to remain a Republican leader.
C de Baca has just resigned under pressure according to a St. Cyr posting.
Bernalillo County Party Treasurer Ryan Cangiolosi will become the Chairman according to 770 KKOB News Radio.