Chair Dan Ramos holds his own gathering as Bexar Dems move to boot him
By Michael Barajas
As members of the Bexar County Democratic Party voted Tuesday night to put their embattled chair on trial, Dan Ramos and a small group of his supporters hunkered down for their own parallel meeting across town. “I’m still here and I’m not going anywhere,” Ramos declared while continuing to blame the party’s discord on anti-Hispanic racism, and not his own toxic and anti-gay remarks last month.
“The gringos have always been against the Mexicans,” he said. “The gringos have been against Dan Ramos since day one.”
Outside his meeting at a Fredericksburg Road Luby’s, Ramos faced protests and chants from about 20 or so LGBT activists and supporters incensed over Ramos’ remarks comparing Stonewall Democrats to the Nazi Party and homosexuals to polio-stricken children. Inside the restaurant, however, Ramos garnered applause and cheers from his small group of supporters, including many Hispanic precinct chairs and two candidates running for City Council – Lauro Bustamante and Ruben Cortez, competing in District 1 and District 7, respectively.
Two protesters actually tried to attend the meeting before they were rushed out by Ramos supporters in a mild scuffle. Jay Morris, an organizer with the Direct Action Network of San Antonio, and other activists were eventually invited back in to speak with Ramos, Morris said.
“He [Ramos] said he didn’t mean to offend anybody, and repeated that he didn’t know he was speaking to a reporter and being recorded. … He said a lot of other things that did not seem completely accurate,” Morris said. “At one point, crowds of his supporters started to gather around us, and the conversation kind of stopped.”
Before leaving the meeting, Morris said he and the other activist again asked Ramos to resign before presenting the chair with a pink triangle.
Ramos and many in his corner claim the lingering fight over the party hinges on racism against Westside and Hispanic Democrats. “I have been saying this for 10 years now: some folks are afraid of the brown tsunami,” Ramos said. “I will apologize to those who felt offended,” he said, while trying to justify his loaded comments by adding, “I was simply talking about those elements of the Bexar County Party that have been a big anchor dragging the party behind instead of forward.”
Dan Graney, president of the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus, said, “That’s not good enough, and that’s not from the heart. He [Ramos] hasn’t been remorseful whatsoever. … This has been dragging on for too long because someone doesn’t have the decency to know when it’s time to step down.”
Ramos and his supporters insist the growing public outcry against him is meant to distract from bringing the real perpetrators behind a damaging embezzlement scandal to justice – in fact, many denied Ramos even made the damning remarks at all, repeating Ramos’ suggestion that his comments were manipulated or even fabricated (Go here to read, and hear, otherwise).
With Dwayne Adams, the party’s former treasurer charged with embezzling more than $200,000, set to go on trial, Ramos repeated his charge that other heads will roll in connection to the fiasco. Claiming to have inside information, Ramos said investigators have broken Adams down, getting him to “name names” of other party members supposedly involved in the theft of party money – a charge the District Attorney’s office has repeatedly ruled out.
“That’s a canard that he [Ramos] is desperately clinging to,” said Todd Hedley, the BCDP spokesman.
Ramos’ venomous comments have stirred an outflow of condemnation, but Hedley said an even larger problem is that the chair has continually refused to give party spending reports.
“He can try to cast blame if he wants to, but the problem we had back then is the same problem that Mr. Ramos is perpetuating – unauthorized expenditures from the party’s accounts.”
Though it has the backing of the state Democratic Party, Ramos has refused to play ball with the larger group, calling them “fake” and “illegitimate.”
Ramos and his supporters scoffed that the larger gathering across town held no weight because it lacked the county chair, and Ramos said he planned to file suit against the larger party in hopes of blocking any future meetings.
“No one has died and crowned somebody else as acting chair,” Ramos said.
But, at their meeting at a downtown Luby’s, the majority of the BCDP moved forward with their plans to knock Ramos from his post. In the week leading up to the meeting, Ramos had “kicked some sand in the air,” Hedley said, by emailing notices of his own alternate meeting to a select few in the party.
At the downtown meeting, the BCDP voted 72-1 to form a seven-member trial committee that will meet, with or without Ramos, April 16 at the Metropolitan Community Church on Myrtle Street.
Precinct Chair D’mitri Kosub, a frequent target of Ramos’, remarked, “We’ve exhausted all other options. This isn’t necessarily to remove him, but to give him an opportunity to explain.”
“I think that’s really what everyone wants, is an explanation.”
The trial committee can decide whether to recommend Ramos be removed as chair for misconduct or neglect of official duty, Hedley said. The larger county executive committee can later vote whether to actually remove Ramos.
For more background on the recent tribulations of the Bexar County Democratic Party, read “Bexarly legit: Bexar County Democrats stuck in whirlwind of controversy, bad blood.“