Archive for December, 2012

Sign Thief Story Concluded

Posted: December 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

The story on KATU began with anchors Steve Dunn and Debora Knapp chuckling to each other in a condescending tone as Knapp commented to the field reporter, “It didn’t quite work, did it Joe?”  It has become a saying at my house when something works particularly well, beyond what was expected.

John Ellis-Reisdorf, the sign-stealing cyclist whose bright yellow outfit and deft snatch-and-dump technique have been seen repeatedly on sites like YouTube, the Columbian, and the Victoria Taft Website among others, has apparently lost his case before the Clark County District Court. According to earlier reports, he had initially pleaded ‘not guilty’, contending that he was merely removing signs that were not supposed to be placed on public ground as a service to the neighborhood. No word on how he reconciled this with the fact that he took the signs around the corner and dumped them in a pile under a tree in someone’s yard.

According to the Columbian report:

John Ellis-Reisdorf was accepted into a diversion program Nov. 1 in Clark County District Court to pay for his crime. He has already completed his eight hours of community service in the court’s diversion program, which dismisses charges in exchange for community service and staying out of trouble for a year, said Vancouver’s City Prosecutor Kevin McClure. He also was charged $485 to pay for the cost of processing his case in court, McClure said. As long as he stays crime-free until November 2013, the misdemeanor charges of removing or defacing a political advertisement will be dismissed.

This story has been interesting on several fronts. First, the fact that such a widespread problem as sign theft had been met with passivity and resignation before PCOLA’s intervention. When we first reported PCOLA signs being stolen in a certain area of East Vancouver, we were told by several political sages not to get excited, that it was a fact of life in a campaign. Having spent many hours at my kitchen table with several others putting these signs together, I found that answer very unsatisfactory. Perhaps it meant more to me because it was my own time and money rather than a contribution from a faceless donor.

Secondly, the fact that this fellow was caught seems to have been applauded on many sides of the aisle. People who were actively working against us in the PCO races were not only joyfully reporting to us afterward that less signs were missing, but also asking us to set up more ‘stings’ on their behalf. Even Democrats and the Columbian itself seemed to be aiding us in getting this story out and making an example of this violator of everyone’s First Amendment rights. Just for a moment, it was easier to imagine what everyone working together to fix a universal problem might be like. I couldn’t help thinking, if only we could channel this into addressing budget deficits, insane taxation, infringement on civil liberties, or ending gratuitous wars – things that should not be a function of partisanship, but of a sensibility that ought to be common to us all. This utopian reverie lasting only for a second before somebody began blaring Rush Limbaugh on their radio, and I returned to reality. Phew!

Finally, I was amazed at how a story that to me was so cut-and-dried could be spun in so many ways. One local blogger did his best to erode at everyone’s excitement and dismiss the whole episode as a waste of time, while another accused us of staging the whole operation in order to gain media attention. As already mentioned, KATU spun it as an inter-party squabble and said that the whole operation was a failure, implying that our actions of posting signs and catching the thief on video were actually more illegal than the guy who stole the signs. Only the Columbian did a credible job reporting the story without inserting a foreign narrative.

Props to Stevie Mathieu of the Columbian for following up on this story.

Dear PCOs,

As part of our commitment to transparency and a well-informed body of PCOs, we incorporated into the new bylaws a requirement that the minutes of our regular board meetings be distributed to every PCO without requiring they specifically request them. We are pleased to provide you with the first distribution of the Board’s minutes attached to this email for your review.

This is just the first of many steps we will be taking to make the Board more transparent and accountable to the Central Committee (the PCOs), and encourage you to stay involved in leading our party.

Respectfully yours,

 

Lynda Wilson

Chairman

Clark County Republican Party

Apparently, the Clark County Republican Party is under new management.

Today, newly-elected CCRP Secretary Vicki Caldwell Kraft, on behalf of Party Chairman Lynda Wilson, sent every PCO in Clark County the minutes of the recent Executive Board meeting, a thing unheard of in recent memory. From them, we learn that Anna Miller (Office Manager), Christian Berrigan (Operations Executive), Dick Sohn (Audio/Visual Executive) and Michael Delavar (Parliamentarian) were all appointed to the board.

According to the recently-passed CCRP bylaws, all board members must be approved by a majority of the Central Committee (the PCO body) before being allowed to vote in board meetings. I am told that Michael Delavar will not seek a vote on the board, as he believes that the Parliamentarian should only serve in an advisory capacity.

Let that sink in for a moment.

The CCRP is releasing minutes of their meetings to every PCO in the County.

The only Paul supporter among the four appointments will break precedent by not seeking a vote on the board in order to preserve the integrity of his role as advisor.

For those among the Establishment who have spent months casting the PCO Liberty Alliance campaign as a ‘veiled Ron Paul takeover’, this news must give them pause. These new leaders are less concerned about their own power and influence and more concerned about running an effective party that can win elections and fairly represent the will of the people whom they are serving.

The Lincoln Day Dinner has also been put off until April 27th, according to the minutes. This is a very significant decision on two fronts. First, the leadership clearly wanted time to put things in order before trying anything as important as this major event on the CCRP calendar. The minutes detail the formation of leadership teams for registration, auction, and promotion, all soliciting volunteers. The novelty of carefully planning events so that participants can feel like the party actually cares about them will take some getting used to.

Secondly, if rumors that the outgoing administration left the bank accounts almost empty are true, this decision would seem to necessitate an alternative source of funding in order to pay for CCRP operation costs in the interim. It will be interesting to see what this group, whose creativity and organization have already been repeatedly manifested, have up their sleeves. I am reminded of an email that the leaders of PCOLA received last summer by a firmly-entrenched member of the CCRP Establishment (who has since abandoned the party completely) which stated, among other things:

“if you and your Ron Paul “zealots” take over the party…the party will be irrelevant in the next cycle. You’ll elect your state committee members and be able to make fools of yourselves over the next two years, but when that’s over you’ll be gone–just like Spokane. You’ll raise $15,000 and be ignored by any serious Republican leaders other than perhaps minimal courtesies.”

I do not believe that most Republicans in Clark County feel this way.  The majority of the party can see that the new leaders are a group of talented and energetic conservatives who have been moved to action by a pattern of abuse and incompetence that affected not only certain groups, but the viability of the party as a whole. Still, with any grass roots movement that leads to changes in election results, there will be questions about the ability to raise funds. Simply getting people elected is not the end of the matter by a long shot, as our blue-blooded friend was quick to point out. It will be necessary for the PCOs to participate financially if they truly want to ‘Be The Party’. This is where the rubber meets the road, and where ‘critical idealists’ become ‘active leaders’. To any Liberty-minded folks reading this, consider this your Bugle Call. It is time to get involved.

More on the Organization Meeting

Posted: December 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

What follows is a brief account of the meeting for those who were not able to attend:

The meeting on Thursday evening began with Stephanie McClintock as the temporary chair. After saying goodbye to everyone and handing out plaques to running-mate and interim Treasurer Dan Barnes and the other members of the Executive Board, she yielded to the permanent chair, Ryan Hart. Hart, the former head of the Romney campaign in Clark County, was nominated and seconded in that role by PCO Liberty Alliance members in a show of harmony and goodwill. Ryan then reciprocated the goodwill by nominating Michael Delavar, a former leader in the Ron Paul campaign, for parliamentarian. The warm fuzzies continued as the proposed CCRP bylaws, which were drafted by members of the PCO Liberty Alliance, passed with little resistance. The bylaws, among other things, provide for a stronger Central Committee and a weaker Party Chair by requiring everyone to face a vote of the PCOs before being able to vote on the Executive Board. The Chair can no longer stack the board with people who will vote a certain way, a tactic that Brandon Vick appears to have used when trying to remove the sanctions of Marc Boldt. This change is the first step in fulfilling a campaign promise by PCOLA that power would be restored to the grass roots.

The only real hiccup of the night occurred when the entry for 18th LD Chair on the ballots still had Mary Graham’s name listed as a candidate, despite the fact that she had been declared ineligible for the ballot by virtue of her nomination by Stephanie McClintock, who lives in a different district. The illegal nomination was reported well before the ballots were printed, but still Mary’s name managed to mysteriously make it onto the ballot. The PCOs from the 18th LD were instructed to strike Mary’s name from the ballot, but she decided at the last minute to run as a write-in candidate, and she was also allowed to speak on her own behalf just like the other candidates (I won a bet in relation to these events). In the end, it made little difference as Kenny Smith ran away with the election to a position that, in my opinion, he already filled to a large degree with his PCO organization efforts for the last six months.

The speeches given by each candidate were very indicative of which group they were representing. If the candidate was from the grassroots group, they talked about organizing, volunteering efforts, open communication with PCOs, and updating the party’s use of data and technology. If they hailed from the Establishment slate, they talked about how much they deserved to be in office based on years spent helping in the party, money they had raised, and how many candidates and local elected and/or party officials endorsed them. The one exception was Treasurer candidate Bryan Johnson, who made the pitch that he was not with the Establishment, despite being on their slate. He was also very convincing in relaying his experience and ability to work with others well.

The results were as follows:

Chair/ Vice-Chair:

Dan Barnes/ Stephanie McClintock 59

Lynda Wilson/ Steve Nelson 102

State Committeman:

Justin Riley 68

James Randall 93

State Committeewoman:

Carolyn Crain 52

Laney Maxwell 109

Treasurer:

Bryan Johnson 85

Lisa Ross 76

Secretary:

Diane Wilkinson 51

Vicki Caldwell Kraft 108

LD 49 Chair:

Marla Riley: 24

Kathy Metzger 28

LD 18 Chair:

Dan Coursey 12

Mary Graham 10

Kenny Smith 27

LD 17 Chair

(I do not have the vote total, but the LD 17 Chair race finished with Eric Heredia ahead of Greg Noelck by two.)

The very strong showings for the Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, and both State Committee positions provide a clear message of support from the PCOs across the county for the new leadership, and a rejection of business as usual. At one point during the passage of the bylaws, Mary Graham stated that “We don’t need new bylaws; the old ones have served us just fine for years.” Her statement was met with stone silence, and the bylaws quickly passed with no further audible dissent.

The PCOs showed up in record numbers to vote, and they gave the Lynda Wilson-led team a decisive victory.  The theme of the night among the winners seemed to be humility, lack of ego, and a positive outlook on the future of the party. One cannot help but look forward to the positive changes to both culture and organization within the CCRP.

Organization Meeting Results

Posted: December 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

I am happy to report a nearly clean sweep for the Tea Party/Liberty movement at last night’s CCRP Organization meeting. Lynda Wilson will be the new Chair with Steve Nelson as her Vice-Chair. James Randall and Laney Maxwell prevailed by wide margins in their races for state committee man and woman and will be representing Clark County and the Liberty movement on the WSRP committee. Kenny Smith, Kathy Metzger, and Eric Heredia all won their bids for LD Chairs. A new addition to the group, Vicki Caldwell Kraft, wowed everyone with her obvious competence and energy and sailed through the election to Secretary. It was the culmination of many months of organizing and hard work. Some of that work was in conjunction with campaigns, and some was in building a strong network that will serve the party for years to come. Much of the latter work will not be recognized as ‘legitimate’ by the old Establishment, but perhaps they view it differently after last night’s vote.

Whether anyone wants to admit it or not, the Republican party is fractured and in need of healing. Everyone needs to feel like they have a voice, and a way to be involved and make a difference without being shut down by their own party, as many of us have been over the past years. The battle for the soul of the party must transition into an outreach to all corners. The new board inherits a dying model, and an empty bank account. The grass roots team that sought these positions knew the obstacles set before them and still felt up to the challenge.

Congratulations, PCO Liberty Alliance. You are now on the clock.

Congratulations to the Establishment and their ability to provide an 11th-hour counter to the Lynda Wilson-led team running for CCRP Executive Board positions. Apparently, in addition to Dan Barnes and interim Chair Stephanie McClintock, they were able to enlist Carolyn Crain, Justin Riley, and Marla Riley, among others, in order to construct a reform-resistant slate of candidates.

I received the official list of candidates only this evening at the 5p.m. nominating deadline, in Stephanie’s own hand, and was struck by how many signs it bore of being cobbled together at the last minute. As one goes down the list, it is apparent that our Establishment friends had very little time to gather nominators, or very few people willing to nominate. The names Mary Graham, Paul Harris, Dan Barnes, and Stephanie McClintock all appear twice as nominators, and each of their three LD Chair candidates have only one nominator each. The rules state that a second nominator for LD Chairs is optional, but each of the grass roots candidates opted for two. In sending out the list to the PCOs this evening however, Stephanie masked the appearance of broader grass roots support by omitting one each from 17th LD candidate Eric Heredia (Lynda Wilson), 49th LD candidate Kathy Metzger (Mark Engleman) and 18th LD candidate Kenny Smith (John Anderson). Eric Heredia’s nominator is Lynda Wilson, and he was seconded by 17th LD Chair Kelly Stoner, but Stephanie chose only to list Stoner in the email.

While these omissions clearly did a disservice to the LD Chair candidates in question, there was an even more costly mistake made at the expense of one of Stephanie’s own. In deciding to be the sole nominator for Mary Graham, Stephanie has cost Mary a spot on the ballot for 18th LD Chair. Stephanie, who hails from the 17th LD, has no standing to nominate Graham, per RCW and the rules for the Organization meeting which state, “Legislative District Director and Legislative District Chair nominations need not be seconded but must be made by a Member from the District.” Stephanie neglected to follow her own rules, despite having to revise and email them to every PCO in Clark County on four different occasions. As a result, Mary’s nomination is invalid and cannot be included on the ballot.

Stephanie is reportedly a good volunteer, and in fairness, she was handed the interim Chair position in the absence of a more competent and experienced candidate after Brandon Vick jumped ship to run for 18th LD Representative. This latest in a series of miscues, however, should seriously call into question her ability to engage the position for which she is currently running. This, and she probably just got crossed off of Mary Graham’s Christmas list.

The CCRP will be having their biennial Organization meeting this week, at which time the new Executive Board will be chosen.  In most years, this process basically involves everyone on the board standing up and moving down one chair and preparing to get two years older deciding which moderate candidates they deem most ‘electable’ this time. This year, as a result of a poorly run caucus, an abysmal county convention, and a long list of establishment favorites (Mitt Romney, Rob McKenna, Reagan Dunn, Bill Finkbeiner, Marc Boldt, and Julie Olson, etc.) getting bludgeoned last month, a number of new faces are popping up among the candidates for elected board positions, and a number of the old guard are sitting this round out, their energy and arguments having been mostly spent, along with most of the party funds. Reportedly, the interim Executive Board spent a very large sum on the recent elections and has very little left over for next year’s operations. Whether or not this was a ‘scorched earth’ strategy designed to put the new administration in a tight spot is uncertain – it may be that they were just really, really dedicated to getting over the 40% hump in the 49th LD elections and thought that exhausting all of their resources there might help.

P.S. It didn’t.

In addition to a nearly-empty bank account, the new chair will inherit some serious grass-roots anger, given the move by the Romney campaign to control the delegate process during presidential elections, as well as the recent purge  of Tea Party and Liberty sympathizers from the House Budget and Banking committees by John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, and the rest of the Republican Establishment. The gap between the Republican party and the people they purport to represent grows ever wider, and whoever assumes the role of CCRP chair will have a difficult task in overcoming that divide. At least one seat in the 17th LD may be at stake as 235 Don Benton voters failed to rally behind the establishment pick, Julie Olson, and over 2500 refused to support her in the primary, a show of weakness that cost her the first position on the general election ballot and encouraged Democrats to spend in that race, to the tune of over $153,000. Hopefully, the new chair will foster a party culture and a 17th LD representative candidate that appeals more to those marginal voters and gets them back on board.