Thursday, April 26, 2012

Old SD Convention Movie: I Put You On The Nominations List - that other guy dropped you!

Lists, lists, lists....

All this chatter on the State GOP Convention Delegate lists, with SD/County Convention nominations committee members boasting power to put you on a "list" (a list which is never publicly released, and later claimed doesn't even exist), followed by accusations against others that "THEY took you off the list", is the same bad old movie I saw 10 years ago in Travis County. Same old, same old.  Like many, I believed the characters in that movie the first time I saw it, but I think the rational among us now understand how that movie-game power play is done.

The all powerful nomination committee member can say, "I have the power to make you a Delegate, and you're on my 'list'".  Since there is no definitive list, nor any kind of rational scoring or ranking of delegates after interviews, but only personal note-taking lists among the chair and different committee members, the committee member can repeat this false promise as many times as he wants - many dozens or even hundreds, if that many people can be reached.  These persons who received these nomination promises don't realize there is no definitive "list", that no "list" will be printed or actually committed to until the Convention sees (or only hears) a list, or that each member may have a LIMITED number of appointments to that final presented list, etc.  (I myself was a State Delegate Nominations Committee member in SD-14 in 2008).  You are encouraged to simply believe, on faith, that the powerful nominations committee member is actually committed to, and actually has the power to, make you a State Delegate.

In 2002, the first year I was eligible to be a Delegate from Travis County (after having been State Delegate from Harris County in '96, '98, '00), I went through the Nominations Committee interview process and was told repeatedly by several committee members I was "on the list"; I kept asking specific questions about this list, about how delegates could be prioritized if there were more people than available positions, and kept asking for copies of any preliminary list that I had been added to.  There were no rational answers to these questions, and no list was ever produced.  In fact, the first "list" anyone saw was a list presented on paper at the Saturday Convention, minutes before the vote was to be called.  With the exception of having NO PAPER LIST, Saturday's ending in the garage looked remarkable similar to the 2002 one -- same old bad movie.  Of course, I was NOT on the that actual "list" in 2002, in spite of being a Precinct Chair, active in electoral campaigns, a large donor to GOP candidates, a newly elected Utility District President, a veteran of 3 prior State Conventions, and so on.

So - as for this 2012 movie sequel, when the "list" is finally "presented" to Delegates (say, at 10:30 PM, read through a weak bullhorn in a parking garage), *surprise!*  people are "dropped" from the presented list, and let the recriminations begin!  These recriminations are useful for creating artificial division and building up power of some characters, at the expense of others.  Again, the power guy is free to make all kinds of unsubstantiated claims about the mythical "list", and falsely (or truely?) claim that other guy is to blame for you being "dropped" from "the list".  The process is designed such that the truth is difficult, if not impossible, to be known, and there is disincentive for the power players involved to actually seek out the truth.

To review, if you were promised a position on the "list", and you were not on the "final" Delegate list (days after the SD-14 Convention voted on the "list" - we still didn't know exactly what's on the "list"), then you were dropped from the "list" by someone who should be the target of your divisive, emotional anger or frustration.

However, if you ask for proof of that "list" which showed you were in fact on a list, or proof that you weren't on another list or proof of who was responsible for your removal, then the "list" doesn't exist, can't be found or printed out or released, etc.  

In this 2012 bad movie sequel, the Precinct Caucus Rule, passed overwhelmingly against the sophistry of the incumbent controlling leadership, has been blamed for people being "dropped from the list", but when asked for proof of any list which they were dropped from, nothing is offered.  Another excuse is the Nominations Committee had no plan for dealing with Precinct Caucus nominations, as they had to do in '06, '08, '10.  This could well be true, but it's inexcusable since the Committee (and practical everyone else paying attention) knew there would be a credible effort to restore the Precinct Caucus Rule; if you assume responsibility for a task, you should prepare for reasonable alternate scenarios, such as, the way it was done the last 3 Conventions.  Yet another excuse is that the 2012 Precinct Caucus Rule is defective because it "disenfrancises" small precincts, or doesn't allow small precincts to Caucus.  Two notes on that - first, it should be argued that small Democrat precincts with very small Republican vote are not "enfrachised" in the first place to demand delegate representation, and second, the people making this criticism are the same ones who REJECTED a Rule amendment in 2008 which would have granted ability of small precincts to combine their vote and nominate a delegate.  We're incredulous at hearing criticism for omitting a Rule they stand in firm opposition to.  How can the critics who want ALL precinct caucusing eliminated claim the rule is defective because MORE precinct caucusing isn't done?  If that was a true concern, we would have very gladly amended the rule for MORE precinct caucusing, but since opponents already rejected the rule 4 years ago, we would be open to "rule change" accusations, and valid arguments that the convention rejected it in 2008, if we had included it.  Another excuse to eliminate Precinct Caucusing was that it was "too complicated" because Travis was split in 4 SDs, and further split by 5 CDs.  However, Harris County was split into 7 SDs, split further in 9 CDs, yet they didn't attempt to eliminate Precinct Caucusing with the excuse of complexity.

SO FINALLY, please understand this is the same old political power manipulation that has been going on for a decade and more, and it's why I wrote a message to Mr. Crocker REJECTING his request for me to send my "list" (yes, yet another "list") -- a request he made by phone call on a Sunday afternoon (the day before the Nominations Committee was to start interviews) See open letter blog.  Still another "list" is said to have been generated in the parking garage in the late evening on Apr. 21st -- I did not lead or promote any such last minute "whitelist" in the parking garage, for the obvious reasons I've described here.  Nor did I personally attempt to work a last minute outcome by demanding another "list" be approved as a condition for passage of the Committee list as read; these are tactics the opposition uses, and tactics I detest.

Now a question for all of you - why not destroy this ridiculous bad old movie by giving ALL nomination power to the Precinct Delegations?  We would be done in under 30 minutes, as you saw last Saturday; in fact, Precinct Caucuses have always had a time limit in Travis County of 30 minutes or less, and they have complied.  Why not move all the nominating power to the Precinct Delegations -- and put an end to the miserable sequels of the same bad movie, and end the divisive power plays of the current nominations process?  Is the preservation of control in the hands of the old establishment power brokers really worth all this ridiculous contention and arbitrary division?  Let's say NO!

Don Zimmerman
SREC SD-14 Committeeman


Donna said...

Precinct caucusing works well if done during a Precinct Convention at the neighborhood level. That way, residents of an area can select who will represent their neighborhood. They are not encumbered by transportation or access issues.
Waiting until the day of a mass convention with no delegates was thrust on us by order of the courts. This year was unique and, hopefully, will never occur again.
The Rules Committee decided electing delegates at large was less confusing and gave more opportunity for diversity throughout the county.
Those of us who live in neighborhoods overrun with Democrats, work hard for every vote. You clearly know areas of our city are not Democrat because we are lazy and therefore don't deserve to go to the State Convention.
The tantrums and rudeness displayed on Saturday were not done by those of us who consistently work to bring inclusiveness and unity into Travis County. The loss of respect and decorum was nauseating. It certainly did not encourage me to join your point of view or support your candidate choices.
Of course I was disappointed to not be "on the list." I've demonstrated since 1980, a commitment to building strength and unity in Travis County. I've actively recruited and trained "new" participants in the process. I am at every Precinct Chair meeting, putting out signs, serving as an election judge, registering people to vote and using my networks to support our candidates. However, my Precinct was too small to caucus and was not able to be represented "on the list."
Why did I want to go to the State Convention? Because I work there to build our Party. I help folks understand the process. I want to go to make a difference in the future of our children. I don't want to go to show how clever or how powerful I am. Why are you going?

katie nalle said...

We absolutely should give as much power to the precincts as possible, but under a rule which - unlike the one deceptively voted from the floor by people who did not understand its content - would not disenfranchise all the small precincts in the county while giving most of the delegates to one geographical region with large Republican concentrations where the author of the amendment and his friend happen to live.

As for the list issue, of course there are lists. Many of them. Everyone on the committee had a list. And there were interim lists, and there was a list which would have become the report of the temporary committee. But all of that became irrelevant when the resolution changed how things were being done and then it was just all about the scramble to get deserving people back onto the final list under difficult circumstances.

Some blame certainly falls on the nominations committee for not being better prepared to deal with the chaos, but the introduction of an new rule which tied their hands in many areas and was blatantly unfair is where the real blame lies. And most unfortunately it may have discredited precinct caucusing for the future, when a well done precinct caucusing rule deserves a fair hearing.

summernot said...

To get a feel for how unfair and imbalanced (to borrow from a certain news agency) the amended rule was, all one must do is look at how the alternate delegates are sequenced for the state convention. All the delegates from the heaviest Republican precinct must be seated before the next, second heaviest Republican precinct can be seated. And so it goes, until you reach Alternate #80 or 90 or so, and get to the smaller precincts with fewer Republicans in them. And if you were included as an At-Large alternate? You're #100 or greater and have a craptastic chance of actually being seated at any point during the convention.

How is this in any way representative?

And why, when Perry got roughly the same number of votes in my pct as last election (and probably the other pcts, too), did we get only one delegate allocated instead of the two delegates we got last time? At least my pct got to caucus, and my deserving pct chair got a seat.

And why were alternate delegate allocations tied 1:1 to delegates? We've been able to spread out seats (and representation to the state convention) more evenly in the past by giving some of the smaller pcts an alternate slot at least, even if they didn't get a delegate slot.

Sorry, Don. I question your skills as an engineer, your algorithm and your judgement. The amended rule was flawed. You were able to get it passed, because it favored the pcts with the highest voting strength at the SD convention.

I'm afraid I will not be choosing you in the future when your name appears on any ballot before me. Of course, is is less likely that I will be able to vote for you or anyone else at least in the near future, so perhaps that point is moot...

Sasha said...

I appreciate the experience based insight you have provided and I believe my appreciation is shared by many.
Our country is in such a grave state at this point that it has inspired many Americans to join ranks with and involve themselves in their local, state, and national Republican parties. It is a shame that so many who are standing members within these parties are not welcoming the newcomers with open arms but are instead attempting to shut them out of the processes because they are believed to be somehow different than us. We are all here attempting to participate based on our love of, and belief in, our country. Though we have different opinions about which candidates are right for the positions at hand, we share many of the same core beliefs with one another. I think it was extremely important to allow precinct caucusing for the choosing of delegates at the SD convention and am glad that Mr. Zimmerman had success in implementing this change. I can not fathom the notion that it would somehow be a more fair way to go about the choosing of delegates, had we allowed one small group of individuals to hand pick and fill hundreds of these delegate slots.
I myself was told midway through the day of the SD convention that I was already on the list. Guess what? When the final list was read out loud in that garage, I was not on it. Now I know there was not ever a list thanks to the explanation provided by Mr Zimmerman. I will not be discouraged from continuing to participate just because I did not make it on "the list" of delegates and alternates to the state convention. This is not about me alone but is about the future of our country and the generations we are leaving our country to.
Might I suggest that in lieu of criticism and personal attacks, each individual or group that believes they can come up with a better way should work diligently to put a plan together and see it realized at their next opportunity. Do not sit and curse someone else's work when you, yourself, have offered no alternatives.

AnneBeck said...

Ah, yes; the lists.
I know I have been hearing from folk all across this country, that lists were made and more of them did not make it onto these "lists", than did. Of course, the folk I am hearing from are supporters of Ron Paul and (oft-time new) supporters of liberty. Who makes it to the list are mainstays of the party. It's people who don't feel the desire to make noise and they have spent years warming the bench. It's players who never really need to make it into the game, as long as they continue to do what they're told by the usual front-line.

I am in a bit of a funny position, however; my dad and my sister were on Republican slates and voted into various offices, from the Repuublican side. And, I am over fifty. So, I could make a list, and I am receiving emails from the TCRP, as well as the TRP, saying I am "up top". I AM the person they keep in mind as volunteer. I am one they want to have as Term Election Judge, and even as Precinct Chair (posibly; they may need to know more of my politics- though who I know is a lot less important, it seems..., than WHAT I am- over 50) Thusfar, they do not know who I know or whom I do not know, who I side with or not. Perhaps I need to keep it this way and only speak up when a (small) change can be affected by me (and others)?

I am not sure what it really takes to make it to the lists, but from my vantage point, it seems to mainly be the attitude of going-along to get-along, while not saying much to make any waves, working with and in what the party has "always" (I say since about Reagan) done. I could be wrong and would love to BE wrong. The only way I would know, for sure, would be to make it to the list.