December 9, 2006 State Central Committee Meeting Report
By David Spackman
The State Central Committee met a week ago Saturday (9 Dec).
Joe Cannon resigned as chair to be the editor of the Deseret Morning News. It's hard for me to forget his repeated reference to party members that disagreed with him as "weird and perverse" in a meeting with county chairs and vice chairs. I hope he will promote fair and balanced reporting, or at least disclose their bias where it exists.
Candace Daly also resigned as Secretary due to her husband's employment change and other personal considerations.
Vacancies of party officers are to be filled by election of the SCC within 90 days of the vacancy. Enid Green intends to vacate the Vice Chair position and run for Chair to finish Joe Cannon's term. The next SCC meeting is 10 Feb and will elect a new Chair, Vice Chair, and Secretary to finish the terms, which go through this summer's organizing convention. Letters of intent to run to finish the terms of these vacant positions are due to the party offices on 23 Jan so they can be included in the meeting announcement can go out on the 25th.
The C&B committee reported back on the Party Neutrality issue I brought up 6 months ago. Here is the text that was presented to the SCC and passed without change, and essentially without debate:
Bylaw 7.2 new proposed subsections C, D, E
C. A state party officer, or National Committee member, or paid staff shall not use state party resources or their official title as such in any communication to the State Central Committee or to the state convention delegates that supports or opposes a platform amendment, a resolution, or an amendment to the Constitution or Bylaws unless the issue has been approved by the State Central Committee or unless the state party chair is correcting a misrepresentation of facts regarding an issue that has been communicated to the State Central Committee or state convention delegates either in writing or verbally.
D. Any party officer who has publicly expressed their personal support or opposition to any platform amendment, resolution, or amendment to the Constitution or Bylaws may not chair the portion of the State Central Committee meeting or state convention in which that measure is contested.
E. Failure to comply with the provisions in this section of the Bylaws may result in disciplinary action by the State Central Committee, provided that prior notice of the action is given. Discipline action may include: private or public reprimand, suspension, or expulsion from office (expulsion in accordance with the threshold provision in Article III.D.2 of the Constitution). The extreme penalty that may be imposed is expulsion from office.
A couple of minor changes were proposed and defeated, with I thought missed the main objectionable points. I was not aggressive enough to get a debate going before the question to end debate was called. My objections all concern paragraph C:
- It does nothing to prohibit unpaid staff or other volunteers, including the C&B and Central Committee members, from using Party resources to advocate an issue.
- Unless the issue has been approved by the State Central Committee exception it will suppress minority views from being heard. On any issue that the SCC has voted on, the party is exempt from being neutral, even if the SCC is split on the issue. This presumes that the SCC is always right, and can infallibly determine the mind and will of the delegates. Or putting it another way, this does the exact opposite of what my intention was with the resolution passed six months ago, instead of leveling the playing field, it further consolidates the control at the top. Since the SCC moves on everything (except maybe resolutions) before the convention, this proposed amendment allows them to use party resources to control the information flow and debate.
- The exception for the Chair to correct a misrepresentation is highly subjective. I'm sure this language came from Salt Lake County Chair James Evans. I had a long discussion with him about the original issue involving the mailing to the state delegates by Grassroots GOP Delegates on the elimination of the requirements to elect delegates in precincts, and it came down to a difference of opinion, not a factual misrepresentation in this mailing. And it was upon this difference of opinion that he convinced Joe Cannon to allow a mailing paid for by the party and on party stationary. The SCC has placed another tool in the Chair's bag to consolidate power and control debate.
There were some rumors that the Party was in bad shape financially. Enid disclosed a lot of budget data. Apparently, we regularly go $100,000 or more in debt in election years, upon promises or pledges from donors that haven't yet been received. It doesn't make me feel very comfortable.
Unity of what?
The theme of the meeting was celebrating our election successes and how we pulled together, and etc. This reached a crescendo during the budget discussion. Strange how no mention was made about Democrat Matheson's win, contributing to the Democrat takeover of the House of Representatives.
In church the next day, we had a lesson from the Wilford Woodruff manual about unity, which I've been thinking about ever since. It seems to me that developing unity in the singing habits of my Ward Choir is very important. However, being unified with anyone who takes on the Republican name for the sake of unity is dangerous and undermines our principle and moral authority. I like the idea of being unified on the principles, but that implies that we reject those that reject the principle.
Here's an example that I think illustrates a wrong-headed unity focus. Speaker Curtis barely won his election by something like 19 votes. A comment was made in the meeting that we sure are glad we went into debt to help him win. I'm not so sure I'm glad. From my limited experience with him, I've had the impression that he's a politician first and a conservative only when and if it supports his ambitions. I ran into a state senator who I judge to be better rooted in principle a few days after the election and mentioned the tight Curtis race. He was surprisingly frank and expressed his opinion that conservative causes would have been better served if he had lost! Maybe we're both wrong. Maybe I'm being unfairly cynical. But I've seen the unity argument too many times to suppress debate, or justify actions that shouldn't be justified.
Let's watch the C&B committee
Several items were referred to the C&B committee. The most dangerous is potential expansion of standing convention rules. Many of you remember the last convention where they used the rules to disallow debate and not recognize any delegates that wished to speak. Here's a few phases that concern me: limit credential challenges, Combine within one committee the gathering and pre-review of platform amendments and resolutions, improve the functioning, effectiveness, and harmony of the state conventions. Other good suggestions were referred as we like -- like leaving the floor microphone on at all times.
One good thing came of the C&B discussion. Enid directed the C&B to pre-announce their meetings to the SCC, and allow conference calls so that those not near SLC can participate. I was given one day notice by email of the meeting that determined the impartiality text discussed above. I didn't get it until after the meeting, and my request for the approved language was ignored. Hopefully this will improve their accountability.
Ridgway performs again
Our drama queen Mike Ridgway came to the meeting and was involved in a scene again. Remember that he was removed from the SCC a while back. He tried to vote on a motion, and was challenged. As Enid explained it, a couple of SCC members from SL County resigned shortly before the meeting. Mike claimed SL County rules would make him the successor to those who resigned. Enid told him he was the replacement only if the SL County chair said so. And we all knew that wasn't going to happen.
Mike's disruptive conduct seemed to annoy the SCC and made them impatient during the discussion of the Party impartiality amendment. Consequently, the amendment's major flaws were not exposed and debated, which may lead to even greater unfairness and bias within party operations. Ridgway's involvement in Party business seems to mostly help those he claims to oppose.
I had to leave before the two resolutions against the 4th UT congressional seat/Wash D.C. congressional seat compromise were discussed, if they were discussed at all. The point of the resolutions was to oppose Congress's willingness to ignore the Constitution to give D.C. a seat.
If I were to execute a standing rule, I'd require that all actionable business on the agenda precede promotional activities like elected official reports. Too often important things get stuck at the end of the agenda and get ignored.