Archive for August, 2014

Last month, I brought to your attention that LD 49 State Representative Jim Moeller spent a sizeable portion of his CVTV speech talking about Republican PCOs and how terrible these representatives from every precinct in Clark County are, and how he was unable to ‘reach across the aisle’ as much as in former days because of the unbearable influence of these average citizens on their Republican representatives. It seems that this has become the new talking point of the left, as evidenced by recent posts from both the Columbian and left-leaning anti-Madore facebook group C3G2 .

The Columbian’s post, entitled “Herrera Beutler, charter spurned by Republican PCOs” appears to be an attempt to attack PCOs for not rushing to endorse Jaime Herrera Beutler in her bid to retain her congressional seat at the recent Republican Central Committee meeting. While there is certainly a strong backlash against Herrera Beutler for her votes to expand government control on a wide number of issues, the fact that one PCO was trying to bring up an issue that wasn’t even on the agenda for the meeting and was never mentioned there seems somewhat less than newsworthy. We all understand that the Columbian likes nothing better than to stir up dissention among Republicans, but even by their standards, this seems to be grasping at straws. NEWSFLASH! LOCAL REPUBLICAN PRECINCT COMMITTEE OFFICERS DIDN’T SAY ANYTHING ABOUT ONE OF THE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES!” It just doesn’t feel like a real story somehow.

Meanwhile, this facebook group, Clark County Citizens for Good Governance, whose existence I only recently became aware of, and whose population bears a striking resemblance to the peanut gallery in the Columbian’s comment section, appears to be taking issue with your humble servant’s description of the aforementioned PCO meeting. While most of the comments resemble the standard fare that we have become accustomed to from people who know nothing about our actual ideology or background, I must admit to chuckling as I watched some of the manifestations of cognitive dissonance surrounding the application of the phrase ‘rent-seeking’ to their own beloved light rail project. Why does rent-seeking not apply to those on the left who are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to lobby local officials for a public works project that many of them have and will personally financially benefit from, but that doesn’t do the average Joe Lunchbucket who drives across the river to work a bit of good, even though he is the lucky demographic that gets to pay for it? Because Koch brothers, that’s why. Check your privilege and pay up, Joe.

In general, I take the increased notoriety of local Republican PCOs as an encouraging sign that we are having an effect locally. If they were happy with us and not screaming like stuck pigs, I would wonder if our attempts to curb the growth in size and scope of government and corruption were actually doing any good. It appears that folks who were never accustomed to resistance in their plans to plunder the public coffers are now recognizing an organized hindrance to their efforts. Keep at it, PCOs.

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Post-Meeting Recap and Notes

Posted: August 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

A few observations from last night’s meeting of the Clark County Republican PCOs:

1. Kenny Smith is an amazing chairman. The tone he set with his refusal to ignore factional issues, his praise of individual PCOs making an effort (while also prodding us all to expand our activity), and his self-deprecating humor before any voting got underway really allowed this meeting to sail through some very difficult business with astonishingly little vitriol and contention. Make no mistake; this doesn’t happen by accident. There has been a decided change in the way these meetings are run since he took over the helm, and the environment Kenny has created at these meetings has dissipated a lot of the mistrust that was manifested in the early days of the new leadership.

2. Efforts by individual PCOs are on the rise. Encouraged by the grass roots-orientation of this new board, PCOs are writing resolutions, leading campaigns, communicating with the body and getting opportunities to express concerns like never before. Last night I saw a mild-mannered PCO that never ran for office before get up and champion an anti-Charter resolution in the face of serious opposition from old-guard Republicans, including a very influential public official, and the resolution passed overwhelmingly, causing that public official and much of his entourage to beat a hasty retreat to the nearest exit. I saw a friend of mine who nobody outside of the Liberty camp ever heard of before last year get up and give an impassioned speech against an anti-gun bill (I-594) that earned his resolution enthusiastic passage from the crowd. I even saw Katja Delavar introduce a resolution against Common Core that passed UNANIMOUSLY among a super-quorum of PCOs from every faction. When I think back to the lofty goals that we had when we formed the PCO Liberty Alliance two years ago concerning empowering PCOs, I cannot but think that they have been in some way successful, and I hope there is much more to come.

3. The argument that pro-Charter people are making that somehow this charter is prescribed by the Republican party platform is quickly unraveling. The truth is coming out that because the State Republican party cancelled the 2014 convention, the most recent platform dates back to March of 2012. That platform was ‘passed’ by a small group of Establishment leaders after the convention ran on so long that it was ended before the delegates could reconvene to consider any platform. In all probability, it was copied and pasted from the 2010 platform. To argue that this old provision in the platform for Home Rule in general is somehow a vote in favor of this particular charter that was formed by a phalanx of pro-light rail, anti-Madore rent-seekers is really grasping at straws. Last night’s vote made it very clear how the party views this charter, and the community can be very confident that the local Republican party strongly opposes handing the county government over to a dictator, benevolent or otherwise.

Also of note was that the Central Committee finally had its first vote on Core Principles, and can now proudly claim to be in favor of the Sanctity of Life and limited government, among other things. Hopefully, candidates will feel encouraged to manifest those principles as well, knowing that they are among the prevailing values among the vast majority of the party.

There appears to be more than the usual amount of interest in tonight’s meeting of the Clark County Republican Central Committee. Among several resolutions that will be before the PCOs is a vote on whether to reject as a body the proposed county charter that will be on the ballot in November. This resolution from Republican PCOs has drawn the attention of the pro-light rail, anti-David Madore facebook group C3G2 as well as County Auditor Greg Kimsey, a strong proponent of the charter who is also rumored to be very interested in the ‘county manager’ position that the charter would create. The county manager position would be unelected, and according to the interpretation of many who have studied the charter, would wield most of the executive power in the county, in much the same way that a school district superintendent rules the roost on most school boards.

This evening, Kimsey sent a last-minute email to select PCOs urging them to table the anti-charter resolution. I was not among the original recipients, so many thanks to LD 18 PCO Kevin VanGelder for bringing this to light. The email reads in part:

Good evening,

If you attend tomorrow night’s PCO meeting you will be asked to vote on a resolution in opposition to the Clark County Home Rule Charter that will appear on this year’s general election ballot…It is my hope that before we make a decision to oppose the Charter that we have an opportunity to also hear from those who support the Charter.

I ask you to support “tabling” the anti-charter resolution until after a “Pro Charter” committee and a “Con-Charter” committee have been formed and those committees have presented their findings at a subsequent PCO meeting. A vote in opposition or in support of the charter should be taken after both sides of this important issue are presented.

Regards,

Greg

The facts and context surrounding this resolution are as follows: A group of a few PCOs who are not on the executive board authored and distributed the resolution back in July. All PCOs in the county received an email notifying them about the resolution on July 29th, almost a month ago. Rumors have been swirling for a few weeks that Kimsey was attempting to author his own resolution to combat this grass roots effort. It is now the day of the meeting, and he has yet to produce this counter-resolution. From this email, one can safely deduce that he either never got around to writing it, or he knows it will never pass, so he didn’t bother. His next option then, is to try to make sure the anti-Charter effort doesn’t pass. He is clearly afraid of an up-or-down vote, so he is resorting to an old Establishment trick. In attempting to ‘table’ the resolution, he will accomplish two things: 1. A ‘motion to table’ is not debatable, so no discussion will be allowed before a vote, which means that the argument in his email about ‘referring it to committee’ will never have to be specified, and 2. if the meeting ends with no vote, it is likely that it will not be revisited before the election, since meetings of the Central Committee are quarterly, and there is none scheduled before November. So in effect, ‘tabling’ means never having to see it again unless a special meeting is called, which is very unlikely during an election season just to pass one resolution. The opinion of the PCOs will remain unexpressed and irrelevant. That is Kimsey’s clear objective.

If Kimsey actually wanted to have committees and discuss the merits of the charter, why did he not do so in the over three weeks before the scheduled meeting? Because he doesn’t actually want a vote by the PCOs. He will have every opportunity to speak against the resolution during the debating period before the vote, but it is the vote itself that he is trying to avoid.

This is a great example of why leadership in the CCRP had to change. The grass roots puts forth a great effort to be heard, and the Establishment uses parliamentary procedures to shut them down without discussion or an up-or-down vote. If Kimsey and his friends were still in charge of the party, this would have succeeded as a matter of course, and the authors of the resolution would have been left dazed and wondering what just happened, much like so many of us were after the Kimsey-chaired convention in 2012 was called to a close without having finished voting and without electing the delegates. This is what the Establishment does again and again when they don’t have the votes.

Whether or not he succeeds tonight will be dependent on how alert the leadership and those favoring the resolution are. Hopefully the will of the body will prevail over the political aspirations of one man. If you are a PCO, please attend tonight, and please vote to allow this resolution to be voted on.

In the wake of last week’s primary election, a couple of articles came out in local papers covering the PCO races (seen here and here ). In both articles, the headlines trumpeted that the ‘moderate’ or ‘mainstream’ Republicans had been victorious over their grass roots counterparts. A sampling:

Moderate Republicans win primary round at precinct level

Grass-roots control of local GOP to continue?

The battle for the future of the Clark County Republican Party has been waged in neighborhoods across the county in the past couple of months. In this round of the ongoing war, the establishment Republicans declared victory. ” – Lauren Dake, The Columbian

and this:

“Mainstream” Republicans hold on to most PCO seats

Mainstream” Republicans largely beat back more conservative contenders in this week’s election of the Cowlitz County precinct committee officers (PCOs), according to unofficial primary results. Just seven of the 25 competitive candidates backed by PCO Liberty Alliance won a spot on the grassroots steering committee of the local GOP.” -Brooks Johnson,The Daily News

After reading these articles, one might easily come to the conclusion that the efforts by such operatives as Mary Graham, Apollo Fuhriman, and Team Herrera-Beutler to recruit PCOs and return the party safely to the Establishment fold had been successful. One might expect that in December, Ed Lynch and other rent-seeking Chamber-of-Commerce members would emerge and start donating money to a more light-rail-friendly CCRP leadership again, one that Jim Moeller would happily ‘reach across the aisle’ to work with, and this business of writing resolutions warning Republicans to stick to the party platform of small government and less spending would finally be just a bad memory for the Moderate contingent. It would be forgivable if anyone were to draw this conclusion from Lauren Dake’s piece. It would also be dead wrong.

Since there are only two or three readers of this blog, and since I know you can all keep a secret, I can tell you that despite Ms. Dake’s confident assertion that “the establishment Republicans declared victory”, the moderates did not win the primary. The ‘bulk of Republican contested PCO seats’ were not won by the Establishment, and their only victory is that they get to continue to participate in a welcoming party that calls more than one meeting a year, and doesn’t pick favorites in primaries, or use party funds in excess of $5000 to pay for mailers in favor of some PCO candidates over others. So in that way, I guess maybe the moderates won after all?

In reality, the Clark County primary elected about 190 Republican Precinct Committee Officers. The vast majority of these, over 140, were uncontested and therefore ‘deemed elected’ without appearing on the ballot. So while the 42 races were interesting to mark in terms of results, they were really less than 25% of the actual PCO election, and though they came out fairly close to even for both sides (there are always a few unknown candidates in the middle who are not attached to a particular group), the other 75% was NOT CLOSE to even. The real story, the one that should have been printed, is that this movement toward a more PCO-centered party has some serious legs and doesn’t look to be in danger at all. In fact, it may soon be spreading to a neighboring county.

Cowlitz County Party Leaders Getting Nervous?

In Cowlitz County, a new chapter of the PCO Liberty Alliance has sprung up to challenge the moderates who have a choke-hold over the county Republican party. The situation is so bad there, I have been told that a conservative Republican, David Steenson, was effectively shown the door by the party, despite the lack of a Republican in the race, so he ran instead as a Libertarian. The party chairman has also reportedly refused to allow PCOs to elect legislative district chairs in the 19th and 20th Districts, despite the fact that it is required by RCW 29A.80.061 .

Upon seeing the PCOLA campaign being manifested there, party leaders took out an ad in the local paper, complete with a listed slate of PCO candidates that they wanted people to vote for. The same paper then boasted in their post-primary report that ‘just five of the 29 candidates endorsed lost their elections’. While this may be good advertising for their newspaper, it didn’t give a very accurate picture of the situation in the Cowlitz County Republican Party. Once again, the uncontested races were a majority of the total races, and PCOLA’s populist, grass roots appeal allowed them to out-recruit their Establishment competition. The totals are closer than in Clark County though, and they set up a very interesting Organization meeting in December. Expect the old guard running the meeting to give themselves every advantage going into the vote. This is a story we plan to follow and hopefully get a report on, so stay tuned.

As I was reading these articles from separate counties with nearly identical headlines (just a strange coincidence, I’m sure), I was reminded of our local political sage who blogged about the results of the PCO Liberty Alliance campaign two years ago:

Looks like reality and an abysmal, laughably inept performance…has set in as the massive waste of time, effort and money resulted in no real change in the GOP landscape and, well, we’re back to business as usual

The only time it really matters is Re-Org… and there will be a mass turn out then that will dwarf the Paulbots… and any effort to change the bylaws will be met the same way…. since there has to be several weeks notice given to any such effort (no surprises allowed). For these guys, they’ve managed to confuse motion with action. They are distinctly different… as they will come to find out.

Well, our somewhat antagonistic (but loveable) blogger friend was half-right anyway; there was record-setting turnout. Fortunately for PCOs and friends of grass roots candidates everywhere though, we were able to change the bylaws and the leadership that December to reflect a more populist approach to local Republican politics, giving far more control of the party to the only folks actually elected by voters, the PCOs. In fact, the vote on the new bylaws was 160 to 3, so I guess ‘half-right’ might be too generous. The only thing that victories by former party leaders in PCO races netted them was a front-row seat as the turning of the guard unfolded (regrettably, that blogger was not there to witness it, and had to read about it from some ‘moronically named site’).

And that is why you come to this blog (both of you), because journalists and sour ex-State Party Executive Directors don’t always get it right.