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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Former air traffic union prez slams claims by state Dem chair candidate Alan Clendenin



A big part of Alan Clendenin's argument that he's well positioned to lead the Florida Democratic party is his track record with the air traffic controllers' union, particularly his work increasing fundraising by the union's political action committee. But now fellow Tampa resident and former national union president John Carr is attacking Clendenin for inflating his record and taking credit for other people's work.

Clendenin tells Buzz he stands by his record - "Facts are facts" - and said he is disgusted by party leaders and supporters of rival chairman candidate, Allison Tant, who would try to smear him. He said Carr is a bull dog well known for attacking people, and that some of the motivation could be personal because Carr's wife used to work for Clendenin.

First, here's the letter that prompted Carr's response:

January 13, 2013

My name is Randy Weiland and I am a former Chairman of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), National legislative Committee. Alan Clendenin held this position prior to me. I am endorsing Alan Clendenin to lead the Florida Democratic Party.  I have known Alan since 1997, and I served under his leadership in various positions for many years. As he moved up through the ranks of leadership I had the distinct privilege of assuming the positions he vacated.

I strongly endorse Alan due to his proven track record and demonstrated skills in not only fund raising (raising over four Million dollars) but also creating grassroots legislative activism. Alan designed a nationwide infrastructure to support legislative activity from the ground up. Alan was able to create a volunteer workforce that was active in every congressional district in the United States. Under Alan’s leadership we were able to forge a body of informed, motivated and highly functional citizen lobbyists. Creating a grassroots army of this size also required Alan to grow NATCA PAC to a sufficient size to command respect from all members of Congress. Alan is an incredible fundraiser.

Under his leadership he grew the NATCA PAC into one of the most successful PACs in the federal union sector. When he started, our PAC was raising less than 200 thousand dollars a cycle.  Alan implemented a strategic plan for growth. During his tenure he increased the fund by nearly 900%. The program he implemented continued to grow the PAC long after he left office.  Using the foundation he left behind, today the NATCA PAC has grown to over 8 million dollars a cycle. When I assumed the chairman position from Alan, NATCA PAC was sought after by many members of Congress on a daily basis for political financial support. NATCA PAC was seated at the table with major party contributors and was continually relied upon by many campaigns to maintain a democratic presence both in the House and the Senate.

It was solely through Alan’s campaign of building legislative activism and raising funds that allowed the legislative activism of the union to grow from a mere afterthought to a fighting vibrant force on the Hill. Alan has a strong record of taking an organization in need of building or rebuilding and making it a highly competitive legislative force.

Here's what Carr sent today:

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is John Carr and I am the past President of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), AFL-CIO.  I must set the record straight concerning claims made by Alan Clendenin, candidate for Chairman of the Florida Democratic Party,  in a press release issued January 13th.

I served two terms as President of NATCA and was in office during Mr. Clendenin's tenure as National Legislative Committee Chairman.  Mr.  Clendenin's narcissistic press release is peppered with inaccuracies and inflated claims, starting with his reference to my Union, NATCA, as "NACTA."

Mr. Clendenin claims to have grown the NATCA PAC by 900%.  This is not true.  Mr. Clendenin was a volunteer activist, serving at the direction and under the supervision of my paid National Office staff.  Mr. Clendenin's volunteer position was overseen and his actions were either endorsed and approved by my professional legislative staff, and ultimately by me, or they were denied.  Mr. Clendenin's assertion that he grew the PAC through his leadership alone is disingenuous at best, an outright deception at worst.

The NATCA PAC was a pet project of mine, and anyone still in the union will tell you that it was a team effort---led primarily by the Union President (me)---that grew the NATCA PAC during Clendenin's tenure.  While growth was robust during my six years in office, it never reached the heights Mr. Clendenin claims of 900% growth.

Mr. Clendenin did not create a "national infrastructure," as he asserts.  Mr. Clendenin inherited a legislative organization which had already proven itself on Capitol Hill, which was already bringing hundreds of activists to Washington each year, and which was already teaching and mentoring volunteers across the country.

Mr. Weiland's claim that the NATCA PAC is now raising over 8 million dollars a cycle is 100% false and says more about Weiland's lack of truthfulness than he probably wanted to share.  Mr. Weiland's claims that Clendenin was solely responsible for growing NATCA's legislative activism "from a mere afterthought to a fighting vibrant force" which "commanded respect from all members of Congress" is conceited in the extreme and does a genuine disservice to the hundreds of volunteers who can rightly lay claim to this achievement.  And finally, Weiland's claim that NATCA was active in "every Congressional district in the United States" during Clendenin's tenure is an outright lie.

Clendenin and Weiland do a disservice to the NATCA National Office Staff and to my six years in office---a time longer than Clendenin's tenure--- during which the NATCA PAC grew fourfold.  In the seven years since I left office the NATCA PAC has continued it's growth, but it does not yet reach the heights Clendenin and Weiland claim to have led it to over ten years ago.

Clendenin's volunteer position was subordinate to the NATCA National Office Staff, the NATCA National Executive Board, and the NATCA President and Vice President.  Clendenin's attempt to portray himself as an independent operator who single-handedly created the Union's legislative activism is egotistical and arrogant and ultimately false.

Mr. Clendenin and his much-ballyhooed endorser Weiland both voluntarily quit the great Union, and their attempt to cloak themselves with NATCA's successes is insulting and offensive.  When my Union's employer, the Federal Aviation Administration, walked away from contract negotiations and imposed cowardly and draconian terms of employment on their workforce, Mr. Clendenin and Mr. Weiland both voluntarily occupied management positions and were directly responsible for implementing harsh treatment and an autocratic, Jurassic management style on their subordinates---union members they each formerly stood shoulder to shoulder with.  These sad facts are noticeably absent from Clendenin and Weiland's egotistical boasts.

The FAA's imposition of their spiteful terms of employment led to a tsunami wave of air traffic controller retirements which jeopardized aviation safety then and continues to affect air traffic facilities to this day.  Over half of our nation's air traffic controllers now have less than five years of experience on the job;  Mr. Clendenin and Mr. Weiland can each take their share of credit for this dubious statistic.  Clendenin and Weiland can also lay claim to the two faces they each happily wore, first as union members they now brag about, and then as management minions imposing cruel and malicious discipline on their former colleagues.

The Florida Democratic Party is in desperate need of leadership.  Clendenin's true and complete record---and his transformation from working class Union member to management stooge---do not reflect credit upon his leadership abilities or his qualifications for the position of Chairman of the FDP.

John S. Carr


[Last modified: Friday, January 18, 2013 5:09pm]


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