My tenure on the DPOC Central Committee has been eye-opening to say the least. It’s often said Democrats aren’t an organized party and that’s completely true. Often times, it’s herding cats.
The leadership of this party seems to be more into settling scores. Holding certain Democrats accountable while the people holding certain Democrats accountable aren’t held accountable for actions that are sometimes even worse infractions.
The Party’s executive board decided to call for the removal of council member Farrah Khan, a former South Vice Chair, due to her vote to appoint Mike Carroll, a former Republican , to the city council. They cite a bylaws violation that should be debated more fully.
This message was sent in advance of the meeting:
The Executive Committee of the Democratic Party of Orange County (“DPOC”) hereby give notice of its intent to seek the removal of DPOC Central Committee member Farrah Khan by resolution at the regularly scheduled meeting DPPOC Central Committee meeting on July 22nd, 2019.
It is hereby resolved that the central committee impose the sanction of removal or any lesser sanction, on central committee member Farrah Khan for violation of Bylaws, Article II Membership, Section 6 Removal, A. The office of any member, alternate or associate, may be declared vacant by resolution of the County Committee if any member, alternate or associate, affiliates with or registers as a member of another party, publicly advocates that voters not vote for an endorsed nominee of the Democratic Party, gives support or avows a preference for a candidate of another party or a candidate who is opposed to a candidate nominated and endorsed by this party.
On May 14th, 2019 Central Committee Farrah Khan voted to appoint Michael C. Carroll to the Irvine City Council. Mr. Carroll is not a registered Democrat and is registered as a No Party Preference (NPP).
NPP is not a party. Carroll, prior to appointment, registered NPP from Republican. There’s a part of me that wonders if this action applies to Democrats on public/private boards who vote against appointing a Democrat and instead support Republicans — like what happened on the Irvine Community Land Trust when longtime Democrat Marianne Gaido was not re-appointed. Silly me, that’s a different standard.
Never mind that Khan followed Irvine City Council policy that places an appointment first over a special election. Never mind that there were no candidates for the position, only applicants. Never mind that Khan met — in public — with virtually every applicant. For any elected official who isn’t ex-officio on the Central Committee, this ruling is chilling. It suggests you — as an elected official — run your city/county/school board votes by the party first before you vote in what you believe is in the best interest of your community or in adherence to your elective office’s laws or policies.
Or you will be “held accountable.”
But this action wasn’t about that. It was about settling a score. DPOC Vice Chair Jeff Letourneau confronted Khan at the Irvine City Council meeting in late June, blaming her for Carroll’s appointment that led to the failure of the Pride Flag resolution in Irvine. “This is your fault” was the charge from our party’s Vice Chair before the Republican mayor and mayor pro-tem called for Mr. LeTourneau to be removed from the chamber by the sgt-at-arms. Don’t take my word for it; it’s all on video.
The Irvine police were so concerned for Khan’s safety that they escorted her to her car. There are those in party leadership who defend Letourneau’s action citing his years of LGBTQ activism as a justification for his anger and outburst, but others were there that night asking the council to consider the Pride flag resolution and none of them lost their temper or screamed at a council member. And the defense of his actions has a big hole — the vote would have failed anyway on a 2-2 vote if Carroll weren’t on the council. Khan voted in support of the measure and did everything a good Democrat should do on this worthy case. I have to wonder why Council member Melissa Fox didn’t propose this in 2017 or 2018 when she was part of a de facto Council majority. I also remember former Anaheim mayor Tom Tait voting against the pride flag in his city, but there’s plenty of chummy photos on social media with Tom Terrific and DPOC party leaders.
Did the party exercise its policies about bullying in this case? No, they didn’t. Did the party full investigate the January charge of bullying by LeTourneau against Khan? Not to my knowledge; mediation was encouraged and there are different versions of the outcome depending on who you speak with (Khan sought me out minutes after this happened and Diana Carey, Annie Wright and Tiffany Ackley were all with her within minutes — Farrah is many things, but she’s not an actress and I believe her version of events). Our Party’s North Vice Chair is clearly held to a different standard than anyone else. He can get away with anything. Who holds him accountable?
It’s hard enough to elect Democrats to city councils and school boards without handing Republicans a gift like this. And this is a gift. Wait for the mail against Khan in 2022 about her being forced to resign from the party’s central Committee. It’s coming.
Facing removal, Khan decided to step down. It takes two-thirds vote of the Central Committee to remove a member, and I’m certain Khan would have survived but she wanted to spare her supporters from having targets on their backs. As I’m certain I still have one, I have no problem writing this. I’m told there were more that 50 pieces of communication in support of Khan sent to the party as well as some calling for her removal; Central Committee members saw none of this. Additionally, a post on the Party’s Facebook page condemning the action was scrubbed (not before a source emailed it to me). I thought we were the party of free speech. It’s posted below.
I don’t think is going to hurt Khan in Irvine when she runs for re-election. The DPOC has been on the wrong side of a number of issues and candidates in Irvine in recent years. For example, the party’s endorsed candidate for Congress in CA-45 was David Min, not Katie Porter. The endorsed candidate in CA-48 was Hans Keirstead, not Harley Rouda. The party came out in support of the Measure B land swap that was resoundingly defeated by Irvine voters. The party did not intervene in a timely manner when the Democrats of Greater Irvine’s Facebook page was hijacked. I’m very disappointed Khan’s action as a city council member who represents Irvine residents of every political persuasion was placed in this position in the first place.
Here’s the letter she had volunteers distribute to Central Committee members as they entered the meeting last night:
Dear Members of the DPOC Central Committee and Executive Board,
The past six months have been eye opening. Any illusions that my election to the City Council would allow me to fully direct my energies towards positive interests have been set aside as reality has set in. There is no pleasure to be taken from having the leadership of an institution I have represented as an elected member and Vice Chair focus their energies on challenging my credibility, questioning my motives and recommending my removal from the seat I was elected to, by a vote of the people, but sadly, that is where the leadership of the DPOC has chosen to go.
I received the e-mail from Secretary Aleman the same time you did. It is clear that the leadership will settle for nothing less than condemnation and removal which you will be asked to affirm.
Despite this assault on my credibility, my passion for public service and the democratic values I have long embraced have only grown stronger. I have never lost sight of why I ran, what I stand for or who I was elected to represent.
Some have questioned why I have not aggressively challenged the assault on my loyalty and integrity. I do not believe in feeding conflict. It’s that simple. That is why I asked my alternate, Beth Krom to read my statement at the DPOC meeting and when I learned she was not granted the time to do so, I sent a copy
to each of you. That was my way of responding without feeding the drama. Had I not been in LA celebrating Ramadan at an Iftar with Mayor Garcetti, I would have read it myself, though one minute would not have been enough time for me either.
Who among you would like your loyalty to be questioned by people you once counted as allies? I made a difficult choice under less than optimum conditions, but I did not do what I have been accused of. I did not endorse a Republican over a Democrat. I chose appointment over a special election and after supporting every Democrat who applied for appointment, voted for a registered NPP.
Again, to be clear, I did not give support or avow a preference for a candidate of another party. This was not an election so there were applicants, not candidates and NPP is not a party designation. Yet this line in the by-laws has been used as the basis for pursuing my removal.
Let’s not deceive ourselves into thinking this action against me comes from a place of respect for upholding our Democratic values. There has been a target on my back since the night of the DPOC election in January when Jeff Letourneau verbally attacked me and told me four people had already approached him about mounting a recall effort against me. He stated he would make sure I was removed from the DPOC and did not serve out my first year on the City Council.
So, given that my choice to appoint an NPP applicant does not, as the action to remove me asserts, “ give support or avow a preference for a candidate of another party ,” this challenge to my duly-elected position on the DPOC Central Committee appears as though Vice Chair LeTourneau and his four unidentified allies are simply seizing the opportunity to selectively misinterpret the by-laws in a way that allows them to follow through on that threat.
Unlike Jeff and the other members of the Executive Committee who have recommended my removal, I earned my seat on the DPOC Board and the Irvine City Council through a vote of the people. I’m proud of that. I’m also proud to have a family that stands solidly behind me and a community that appreciates the work I am doing on their behalf. I was honored to work for the election of our Democratic Congressional Representatives, Assemblymembers and State Senators and I will continue to work to see them succeed in future elections because any hope we have of continuing to move Orange County forward requires strong leadership at every level of government.
I think the energy of our DPOC leadership would be better directed toward supporting elected Democrats and building the strength of our party, but it doesn’t matter what I think. As a woman, a woman of color, a woman of faith, a mother and a foster mother who has always tried to do the right thing, live my values and teach them to my children, I do not want to have to explain to my family and my community that the DPOC is intolerant and punitive and has chosen to use their power to condemn me when there are so many more important issues we should be working together on to move Irvine, Orange County and our country forward.
Thank you to those who urged me to fight this and expressed concerns about the future of the DPOC. My hope is that you will use your voices to inspire, engage and advance positive interests, focusing your energy on the difficult work ahead and urging our Party leaders to set aside their personal agendas, apply an equal standard to all and demonstrate in every way possible that we are stronger when we work together.
It is not my desire to place any of you in an uncomfortable or compromising position. I have enjoyed my service on the DPOC Board and Central Committee, but after much reflection, I have decided to voluntarily step down and resign my elected position on the DPOC Central Committee effective immediately.
This is not goodbye, for I am more determined than ever to do my best for the community I represent and the party I am proud to be associated with. Again, thank you to those who urged me to fight for my seat. I hope it will be filled not by a party insider but by someone who offers something new and different — as I tried to. The decision is ultimately yours.
In Unity and Strength,
There was significant discussion about the upcoming Truman dinner and how crucial it is to the Party’s ongoing budget. Before I was elected to the Central Committee in 2016, I had purchased a table a few times even if I could not attend and almost always bought a ticket; I’ve also made contributions to the silent auction and won items from the silent auction. The only resolution passed last night was to support union workers at the major grocery chains in Orange County and not to spend a cent in any of those stores should a strike be called. The intent is to hurt the stores economically. Its remarkably similar to a resolution for Democrats not to patronize the Terranea Resort in Los Angeles County because there’s an effort to get employees there unionized.
As economic boycotts reflect a particular party strategy, I’ll apply this standard to the upcoming Truman dinner. I’m not going to even buy a ticket this year. The Party needs to evenly apply its rules to everyone. It clearly doesn’t. My checkbook will instead be used to support candidates I like in advance of the party’s nominating meeting.
Imagine if all the energy we spend as a party “holding people accountable” was instead used to displace Republicans in elected office.
Just imagine what we could do.