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Archive for July 2012

1984 v 1994

with 3 comments

This article is intended to offer advice from the perspective of those who have been here before.  It’s likely some people will ignore it; who will, in all probability, mock, dispute and debate it.  While the hope is they, too, might learn something from the voice of experience, the real target is those who are open to learning from others.  Only you know which describes you.

The Republican Party is old and tired.  It needs – desperately – new blood, new energy and the renewed enthusiasm only available from young and energetic people.   This isn’t a debate point; it’s something people inside the Party recognize.   However, there are a couple of different ways to bring in new ideas and new talent; by hostile takeover or by cooperative transition.  Both have been tried in Oregon, and the tale of that experience can help guide what’s happening now.

In 1984 and 1986, there was a hostile takeover of the Oregon Republican Party by social conservatives.  Primarily driven by a commitment to a pro-life, “family values” agenda, they saw the Republican Party as the most likely vehicle for getting their values articulated and legislated.  They also saw the leadership and membership at the time as moderate, holding to some fiscally conservative values but unconcerned, even hostile about social issues.  Riding the wave of conservatism in Reagan’s second term, they ran for PCP, took over leadership at the county and state level, and generally went about upsetting the GOP apple cart.

Those in power previously resisted the effort and, for the next six years or so, the two factions fought each other at every turn.  First one and then the other had the upper hand and so much energy was spent in that battle there was little left for cooperative ventures to beat Democrats.  As a result, after the conservative flourish of Reagan the country sank into a morass of progressive programs and thought, sponsored by both major political parties.  Donors abandoned support, legislators and, eventually, candidates ignored the party and, by 1992, the conservative wing of the partywas largely beaten back.

Then, in 1994 and 1996, the social conservatives staged a comeback attempt.  This time, however, rather than fighting with the moderates, they found ways to work with the current members and leadership on common goals and campaigns, proving themselves reliable and reasonable.  There were sparks and controversies, of course, but rather than handling them with open hostility, the conservatives made a point of learning the rules as used and interpreted from within the party structure, being open in their dealings with other points of view and leaving room for those who disagreed with them within the party.

There were, as you might imagine, those within the social conservatives who favored a more confrontational, “hostile takeover” approach.  A critical juncture was reached with the decision to back southern Oregon Christian radio owner/operator Perry Atkinson over more aggressive tax activist Don McIntire.  Although Perry lost the race that year (after three tied ballots), he went on to be elected as Vice Chair that year and Chair the following cycle.  With that, the pattern was set and, by 2000, everyone in the ORP was falling all over themselves trying to prove they were conservative.

This parable of past history lays the backdrop for the advice mentioned earlier.  Right now, there are those in the Paul camp who are advocating for a hostile takeover of the Republican Party.   There’s some evidence this group is a minority within the movement but, like most such minorities, make the most noise.  The advise to the Liberty movement is to, rather than following those who want to destroy the ORP and RNC with the plan to rebuild it from scratch, you work instead to find ways to cooperate with and learn from those already in leadership.  You’re going to find a lot of people within the GOP generally sympathetic to your cause, if not necessarily with all your tactics, who will mentor and gladly turn over the reins of leadership within a few years.

By the way, there’s an easy way to tell who’s planning a hostile takeover and who’s open to a cooperative transition.  A key factor in preparing to do battle, whether ideological or physical, is to dehumanize your opponent; to turn them from a flesh-and-blood person into an enemy to be wounded or crushed.  This becomes evident in their writing and speaking; those who mock, demean, belittle or openly insult intend to do battle while those who maintain an open and respectful tone towards those they disagree with are open to finding allies.  There will be disagreements, even anger, between the rival points of view but it’s the way the debate is conducted that reveals the underlying motives.

Yes, the Republican Party is old and tired.  It needs new blood, new energy and the renewed enthusiasm only available from young and energetic people.   It’s up to the new folks whether you’ll spend the next several years fighting other Republicans or advancing the cause of Liberty.

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Written by Jeffrey S. Smith

22 July 2012 at 1:49 pm

Posted in Musings

Links in the chain – Part 2

with 4 comments

In Part 1 of this linked blog post, we looked at the hierarchy of applicable rules and how they will be used by the Republican National Convention’s Committee on Credentials to determine which Delegates and Alternates to seat from Oregon.  A case was made for the links in the chain underlying the Oregon Republican Party’s (ORP) actions and claim to being the official delegation.  That’s pretty well laid out there so it won’t be repeated here.  The point of this blog is to examine the claims of an alternate Delegation as they’ve been presented in email, social media, online blogs and news magazines.

There’s little, if any, dispute that the election of At-Large Delegates, Congressional District (CD) Delegates, Electors and CD Officers were done according to the applicable rules.  No matter which side of the dispute you’re on, those votes are accepted without question, even if they weren’t the ones you might have preferred.  Since all seem to be in agreement here, we’ll move on to the point of divergence.

That is, of course, the adjournment of the District Convention at 5:00pm June 23.

The principle claim is that Allen Alley, Chairman of the ORP, doesn’t have the authority to set an arbitrary time for Adjournment.  The claim is it was done in response to Ron Paul supporters having won a majority of the Delegate positions and a last-ditch attempt to protect the apparent nominee, Mitt Romney.  A plethora of conspiracy theories, rumors and the like surround this claim, and some or all of them may be true.

Remember, however, that the point of this is to gain credentials at the Republican National Convention different than that presented by the ORP.  Just claiming something is invalid doesn’t automatically mean it is; you’re going to have to prove it to the Committee on Credentials.  So, the question comes down to what facts support this fundamental claim.

Most of the rules-based rationale for claiming the adjournment was illegal seems to derive from Congressional District Rules (CR) 1.1, which reads:

The only business of the Conventions shall be the selection/election of Oregon delegates to the Republican National Convention and the election of officers of the Congressional Districts and the nomination Presidential Electors. No issues or other matters shall be formally considered.

The argument goes that, since the District Convention didn’t complete the process, any effort to close the meeting before the business is accomplished is therefore invalid.  This, of course, declares that the Convention Rules aren’t silent on the issue of when the meeting adjourns and, as a result, Robert’s doesn’t apply.

Following this assertion, then, is the conclusion that elections held in the various Districts after the Adjournment were, therefore, valid and in full force.  Only these people, therefore, are legitimately “duly elected” the proper Alternates for Oregon to send to Tampa.

The next link, then, is to review the election process of the Districts after the Adjournment.

  • CD1 adjourned having completed the Delegate, Officer and Elector elections.  No further elections were held, and no reports were sent to the other Districts concerning which people had been elected in the CD Delegate election, as required by CR 7.1.1 through 7.1.4.
  • CD2 voted to extend the meeting and conducted elections.  However, it neither received results from nor released results to the other Districts.
  • CD3 failed to pass a motion to extend and stopped conducting elections.  No reports were sent to the other Districts concerning which people had been elected in the CD Delegate election.
  • CD4 was adjourned by the presiding officer and then re-convened by the 2008-2012 Vice Chair.  It should be noted that, according to CR 9.4, the newly-elected officers assumed office upon adjournment so there’s some question as to whether he could preside over the extended meeting.  Elections were held, but it neither received results from nor released results to the other Districts.
  • CD5 was adjourned and the people left the building as the venue needed to be cleared by 5:00pm.  In the parking lot, the 2008-2012 Vice Chair conducted elections, but it neither received results from nor released results to the other Districts.  The Vice Chair was also replaced during elections and, as a result, was no longer a CD officer at the time she was conducting the elections.  There is also some question as to how ballot security (required by RNC Rules and ORP Bylaws) was maintained in a parking lot and whether a quorum (per Robert’s Rules of Order, 50% + 1 of those credentialed) was still present and, therefore, whether business could be conducted.

The lack of communication between the Districts during balloting after the Adjournment is problematic.  As mentioned, the Convention Rules clearly require that those elected on an earlier ballot be removed from subsequent ballots.  But, because the link between them was broken at about 5:00pm, none of those Districts which extended their local meeting received the results of the CD Delegate elections, much less those of the At-Large Alternate elections.

Spelling out the links in this chain, it comes down to this:

  • The election of At-Large Delegates and Alternates occurred in compliance with all applicable Rules and Bylaws.  Again, everyone seems to agree on this.
  • Under CR 1.1, the Adjournment was invalid.
  • Alternate elections in three of the five Districts are the only valid ones (there doesn’t seem to be any position on who’s legitimately elected as Alternates in the other two).  There are issues with the presiding officers in two of these three and no cross-communication between the voting Districts as required by CR7.1.

At the risk of being dismissed as an “Establishment hack”, this writer has to say the chain seems weak at best, and badly broken at the point of the elections themselves.  It’s also possible this doesn’t really reflect the argument being presented by those claiming the PCP – well, at least 40-45% of them – were “disenfranchised” by Team Romney and/or ORP Chair Allen Alley.  If so, they’re welcome to respond.

Until then, though, this looks to have a poor chance of being accepted by the Republican National Convention Committee on Credentials.  Maybe these folks need to work on a stronger presentation.   And that, at the bottom line, is the point of the discussion.

Written by Jeffrey S. Smith

19 July 2012 at 5:27 am

Links in the chain – Part 1

with 9 comments

The Oregon Republican Party (ORP) is governed by a set of rules.  These deal with most aspects of how the party is organized, run and how it conducts business.  No surprise there; any organization has or will develop rules so everyone knows the right way to do things.

As is the case with civil and criminal law, ignorance of the rules is no excuse.  Just as you’re not going to get very far arguing with a cop that you didn’t know it was illegal to do something, not knowing the organization’s rules isn’t going to gain you much credibility with that organization.  And just like telling a cop you don’t think he has the authority to enforce the speed limit, telling the organization or its leadership it can’t enforce a rule isn’t going to get you very far.

One of the areas governed by these rules is the process of selecting Delegates to the Republican National Convention.   The Republican National Committee (RNC) and, specifically, the Committee on Credentials at the National Convention has final say on whether the rules in place have been followed and whether a delegation from any given state will be given credentials and allowed to participate.  You can think of the process as a short chain with specific links; if one or more of the links are missing or broken, the result is likely to be your delegation is not seated.

There’s a specific hierarchy to these rules; those higher trump those lower, but they are intended to work as a cohesive whole.  If a higher rule is silent on an issue, you go to the next lower level and see if it’s covered there.  If not, you keep going through increasingly finer sieves until you get to the last, which should catch everything that remains.

In the case of the National Convention, the hierarchy is pretty straight-forward.  Going from top to bottom:

  1. Republican National Committee Rules (RNC Rules)
  2. Oregon Republican Party Bylaws (ORP Bylaws)
  3. Oregon Republican Party Standing Rules (SR)
  4. Oregon Republican Party District Convention Rules (CR)
  5. Oregon Republican Party traditions and precedents
  6. Robert’s Rules of Order (Robert’s)

RNC Rules establish that the various states can field a delegation and gives limits on the number of Delegates and Alternates from each, which is why Oregon has 25 of each going to the 2012 National Convention.  In addition to these, there are three so-called “super-delegates”; the RNC members from Oregon, which are the state Party Chair, the National Committeeman and National Committeewoman.  They are silent, however, on the process to be used to select those Delegates and Alternates, so most of the applicable rules are found in the lower levels of the hierarchy.  Bear in mind that being seated, then, requires that the ORP follow its own Rules and Bylaws, so it’s there we’ll focus our attention.

ORP Bylaws Article XIV set the general parameters of the District Convention, particularly that the State Chairman convenes it at a time and place he designates (Section A).  The general outlines of the process are defined by the Convention Rules, adopted by the ORP State Central Committee before the Convention is held.

It should be pointed out that, from the language use and description of the process, that the District Convention is a single meeting taking place in multiple locations at the same time.  English doesn’t have a word or sentence structure that says “one in many places” so you’ll find both singular and plural uses of the word “convention” in both the Bylaws and the Convention Rules.  Generally speaking, it tends to be singular (Convention) when talking about the meeting as a whole and plural (conventions) when talking about the individual meetings taking place in each Congressional District.

Under the Convention Rules, a single agenda binds the individual conventions, worked out in advance by the Congressional District (CD) Chairs, the ORP Chairman and the party staff.  This, year, it was decided in advance that we needed to adjourn by 5:00pm.  There were two key reasons for this:

  1. Two of the District meetings had to be out of their venue by 5:00pm, and at least one other had a deadline of 6:00pm.
  2. Reports of delay tactics used in other states to manipulate the process there made us think they could happen here and a published deadline should limit any such effort by making it pointless.

Under Robert’s Rules of Order, a published adjournment time fixes that time under “Orders of the Day”.  Once that time is reached, the meeting is over.  Only a properly presented and adopted “Motion to Extend” can extend the meeting; everything else is literally “out of order” and, by definition, invalid.  Since the District Convention communicates election results between the Districts (CR 7.1), any District meeting adjourned without extension would prevent the other Districts from continuing.

There’s a precedent for this.  In 2008, CD1 had to be completely out of their venue no later than 5:00pm, so the agenda for the entire state was set to adjourn by 4:00pm.  CD1 successfully met the deadline, in part by making use of a precedent set by CD3 in 2004, and the other Districts adjourned shortly thereafter.  There was no Motion to Extend as the Convention was able to complete all business within the time constraints.

In 2012, only one District – CD2 – clearly followed the proper procedure for extending the meeting.  CD1 adjourned without a Motion to Extend, CD3 voted on the Motion but failed to get the 2/3 majority needed to extend.  CD4 apparently had a vote to extend take place about 4:00pm but Adjournment nullifies any motion made before it and there’s no evidence a properly moved and adopted Motion to Extend was made afterwards.  There’s also no evidence CD5 took the steps specified by Robert’s after the Adjournment.

As a result, the positions of At-Large Alternate and CD Alternate were not voted on by the entire Convention statewide, and even the vote in CD2 didn’t have the results from the other CD to correct their ballots.  These positions were therefore vacant, and needed to be filled by other means.

In 2004, disputes within Oregon’s National Convention Delegation caused the creation the next year of SR11, detailing some specifics of the conduct and construction of the delegation.  This was also an opportunity to codify some long-standing traditions regarding appointment of replacement Alternates when someone wasn’t able to attend for one reason or another.  With the Alternate positions vacant, it became the obligation of the ORP Executive Committee (per SR 11.3) to appoint those replacements.

There’s a precedent for this as well.  In 2008, CD4 didn’t field enough Delegate and Alternate candidates to fill all the positions available, so the Executive Committee met to appoint people to fill those vacancies.  In that case, there were only a few people interested in filling the one or two vacancies, so no vote was taken but, with so many positions vacant, they used a ballot process, very similar to that used during the District Convention, to elect those Alternates this year.  So, whether you want to call them “duly-appointed” or “duly-elected”, the Alternates were all selected according to published procedure.

RNC Rules establish that each state’s Delegation select a Chair plus two people (one man and one woman) for each of the four Committees of the National Convention.  They require that these positions be filled by Delegates only, but both they and the ORP Bylaws are silent on how to do so.  Prior to 2005, there was no fixed rule on whether Oregon’s Alternates could vote on these positions and, in fact, it changed from one election to the next.

In 1996, for example, multiple ballots failed to elect a Delegation Chair and the impasse probably would have continued if an Alternate moved (and the body approved) that the Alternates not vote.  Up to that point, they had.  In 2004, the Alternates didn’t vote, which was one of the internal disputes that year. The Central Committee adopted SR11 the next year, which specifies that both Alternates and Delegates vote on all matters before the Delegation and it’s been fixed at that ever since.

So, then, here’s the chain…

  • The election of At-Large Delegates and Alternates occurred in compliance with all applicable Rules and Bylaws.  Everyone seems to agree on this.
  • Under the provisions of Robert’s “Orders of the Day”, the Convention was adjourned.  There was a published agenda specifying 5:00pm as the approximate time of adjournment and all Districts did, in fact, adjourn at approximately 5:00pm.
  • Under CR 7.3, no further elections were possible, so the At-Large Alternate and CD Alternate positions were left vacant.
  • Under SR 11.3, the ORP Executive Committee appointed qualified candidates to the At-Large and CD Alternate positions.
  • Under SR 11, Oregon’s Delegation to the Republican National Convention elected its Chairman as well as its male and female representatives on the four Committees.

As you probably know, there are those who dispute every link in the chain starting with the Adjournment, and they’ll be allowed to present their case to the Committee on Credentials at the National Convention this August in Tampa, FL.  However, the above shows an unbroken chain of compliance with the applicable rules, and those who dispute it will have to submit an alternate and stronger chain in order to be credentialed.

Coming next, Links in the chain – Part 2, will take a look at that chain.

Written by Jeffrey S. Smith

17 July 2012 at 10:48 am

Disenfranchised?

with 9 comments

Since the adjournment of the 2012 Oregon Republican District Convention June 23rd we’ve heard a lot about how the Precinct Committee People (PCP) were “disenfranchised”.  They had a right, or so the story goes, to vote on Alternate Delegates to the Republican National Convention.  By ending the Convention at 5:00pm, even though the published agenda made it clear that was the scheduled deadline, and not casting ballots for At-Large and Congressional District (CD) Alternates, they were denied their chance to vote on those positions.

To add insult to injury, the Alternates were chosen by the ORP Executive Committee, who didn’t vote for the people the PCP had intended to vote for.  Instead, this group of so-called “elite” used their power to vote for their “friends”, ignoring the “clear will of the PCP”. To hear them tell it, it’s disgraceful and an obvious abuse of power.

But there’s more to the story.  To understand the full picture, we need to step back a bit and follow the tale starting not with the District Convention, but with the Primary election in May.  At that time, a majority of the Republicans voting chose Mitt Romney (204,176) as their preference for President.  Coming in a distant second was Ron Paul (36,810), followed by Rick Santorum (27,042) with Newt Gingrich trailing (15,451).  Based on criteria that had been set up before, this resulted in Romney earning 18 Delegates to the National Convention from Oregon, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum with 3 each and just 1 for Gingrich.

This is where the plot thickens.  Supporters of Dr. Paul decided to ignore the clear will of the Republicans in Oregon and, instead, ran a number of people loyal to him as candidates for Delegate and Alternate pledged to Romney, Santorum and Gingrich.  Since they had a committed minority of those attending the District Convention, this elite cadre could – and did – elect their friends in place of Delegate candidates actually committed to the other Presidential contenders.

Rather than a delegation that reflected the will of the Republican voters of Oregon, the scheme was to substitute a Delegation that reflected the goals and values of a minority of the PCP.  Based on voting results from each of the Districts, the Paul supporters comprised 40-45% of those in attendance but, because they voted in near lock-step, they gained a result far out of proportion not only to their numbers but out of keeping with what the voters had indicated.   Instead of the Delegate spread as determined by the Primary vote result, Ron Paul had 16 Delegates from Oregon with the other 9 scattered among the other three Presidential candidates.

The full scope of the plan was thwarted when the Convention ran out of time.  There are conspiracy theories about the ORP and/or Team Romney running out the clock, but the main culprit was simple human error and the logistics challenge of holding a single meeting in five locations simultaneously.  One District had the bulb on their projector burn out and then took an extended lunch break, putting it nearly three hours behind the agenda for the day.  Another changed the order of elections so that the CD Delegate elections came late in the day.  As a result, the intrinsically interlinked meetings were all stalled waiting for results before they could move on.  In any event, the Convention was adjourned before the Alternate elections could take place.

The ORP has a rule to deal with a situation like this, and has had since 2005.  Standing Rule 11 provides for the state Executive Committee to appoint Alternates to any position left vacant.  Usually, that occurs when someone who was elected isn’t able to go but, in the past, has also included situations when not enough Alternates are elected to fill all available positions.  Thus, the Executive Committee was called together to select those Alternates, and did so by election on June 30.

Since they understood the purpose of the Convention is to elect a Delegation that matches, more or less, the vote of Republicans in the state and as a way to honor those who had worked for the various candidates, the Executive Committee invited representatives from each campaign to send a representative to provide the names of people they’d like to see included as Alternates.  The Newt Gingrich campaign didn’t send anyone, and a long-time ORP activist was elected to that slot.  The Ron Paul representative spent the first four minutes of his time talking about himself and, after being reminded why he was asked to be there, spent the last talking about Dr. Paul.   Since he provided no recommendations, three people known to be Paul supporters were elected as those Alternates.

The person who directed the Santorum effort in Oregon presented recommendations and tales of what they’d done for the campaign.  He and two of the other two he suggested were elected.  The Romney representative provided a list of those who’d been involved in their campaign not only in 2012 but, in many cases, in 2008 as well.  This included 2 of the 3 people selected in CD2 after that meeting voted for an Extension in compliance with Robert’s Rules of Order after the Adjournment.  They, too, were elected.

So, it kind of comes down to who disenfranchised whom, and who deserves representation.  You see, PCP are elected to be representatives of the registered Republicans in their precinct.  They can, of course, vote any way they want but, like those elected to the Legislature, are expected to reflect their constituency.   By substituting their own will for that of the people they are called upon to represent, did these PCP act like the worst and most corrupt of politicians?

And did the Executive Committee, by using the will of the people as their guide, really disenfranchise a minority of PCP or more accurately restore balance, to a point, to the Oregon Delegation?  If the PCP were right in voting their own will over a majority of the people, why is the Executive Committee wrong in doing the same thing in voting theirs over that of a minority  the PCP?

Written by Jeffrey S. Smith

15 July 2012 at 4:54 pm

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