At the May meeting of the DPOC, held Memorial Day evening, the voting members of the DPOC Central Committee removed Victor Valladares as West Chair over his conduct regarding online comments critical of the party and for failures to fulfill the duties required of Vice Chairs. The vote to remove — which required 2/3s majority, passed 40-11 with three abstentions.
This blog originally called for him to resign over social media posts earlier this month. I sent drafts of resolutions calling for his censure and/or removal seeking support from other committee members. And I did get the support I needed, but got a call saying there was more to the story and others were taking the lead. The whole case came to a head with Monday’s meeting.
Chair Ada Briceno opened the meeting calling it a bad day for our party. She recounted her several meetings with Valladares over his online postings and performance and his failure to take corrective action. Briceno’s words were sharply criticized by vice chairs Jeff LeTourneau and Betty Valencia, with LeTourneau demanding additional time for Valladares to defense himself while ignoring the fact Valencia took almost as much time to defend Valladares during vice chair reports.
All week, a series of emails from party members and club leaders to build the case to remove Valladares were sent to the Central Committee members. On Facebook, Valladares made reference to “they” (whoever that is) “wanting a race war.” The action to remove Valladares had nothing to do with race and, with the exception of Ken Wyant, who brought the motion forward, every speaker for Valladares removal reflected the diversity of the party from people of color to members of the LGBTQ community.
Screen grabs of his social media posts were sent:
And this letter from Ray Cordova, longtime OC Union Leader (apologies for the resolution):
The DPOC has the most diverse leadership team the county has ever had. Only one of Valladares’ defenders expressed any shock over his behavior and language. Only one.
In the days leading up to this meeting, some of Valladares’ supporters were solidifying their defense of his behavior that this was led by “rich, old, white people from South County” and that those seeking his removal were mimicking the alt-right wing attacks on Valladares. That Valladares shouldn’t be removed because he brought a number of people into the party and registered new voters (research into that showed numbers actually decreased).
Monday morning, the conservative blog RedState took aim at Valladares and the Party. I got texts from several Central Committee members with the link.
But charges the blog made against Valladares were not what he was on the block for at all. His conduct against the party and his failure to fulfill his duties was what was on the table. The move to remove him had nothing to do with race (the only person who made race an issue in this case was Valladares himself). Nothing to do with alt-right attacks. Nothing to do with his past. Other right wing blogs are trying to use Valladares as a club to beat Rep. Harley Rouda, claiming Valladares works for the campaign (he does not) or the DCCC (he does not).
What could have saved him? A sincere apology. We got a five minute and 30 second explanation from Valladares of what sounded like a high school kid caught doing something wrong and trying to explain it away with a series of non-sequiturs. “Words have power.” There certainly do. What also hurt Valladares were interactions he had with those who spoke out publicly against him that were borderline intimidation. “I’m not resigning.” “See you at the meeting.” “Bring it on.”
So now the DPOC moves forward, hopefully unified for the November elections. Briceno was spot on to say Monday was a poor mark on the party. The silver lining for me was learning about her efforts to make Valladares a better leader and her disappointment about being unsuccessful. It showed me that our Party chair — and the majority of the Central Committee — held someone accountable to our rules and bylaws. Valladares didn’t get the free pass. And Briceno deserves credit for leading us through an ugly moment by calling for unity.
In his Facebook live video, which you can see on the Voice of OC website, Valladares took note of those who voted against him. He can put my name at the top of the list. I hope he continues to advocate for his community in Huntington Beach. And I’d be more than happy to work with him on issues the party faces. Cases like this are an opportunity to learn and grow. I sure hope he can.