Monday, April 23, 2012

What happened at the 2012 SD-14 Convention, and why?

First, let me congratulate everyone who showed up at the Convention on Saturday, and helped us win an improbable battle to restore the SD-14 Precinct Caucus Rule.  I want to assure you all that a very competent and productive team contributed to this remarkable outcome, and many of us worked very hard on it.  We faced the most skilled, experienced, well liked, and arguably, powerful team of Bill Crocker and Kirk Overbey, who are recognized as the most trusted experts in GOP political Convention Rules and questions and procedures in Texas, and beyond.  We must admit that you do NOT win such a contest without help from the Hand of Providence, and we acknowledge that.  We also acknowledge the courage and integrity of Dr. Ron Paul, who has endured decades of attacks from unscrupulous power brokers - Dr. Paul's example inspired enough people to make the difference in winning this important battle, but in fact we must recognize that many non-Ron Paul supporters also supported our victory.

Second, I want it publicly acknowledged that the reason I was kept off the Rules Committee by the leadership was so that I would NOT have the opportunity to present a "minority report" rationale for keeping Precinct Caucusing, from a position of credibility as a Rules Committee member, speaking from the podium as my opposition did.  This is important, because I did not have proper time or recognition to present the argument which could well have earned a 2/3rds vote in favor on the FIRST vote, saving us valuable time, and avoiding so much divisiveness and confrontation which spilled into the night.  Leadership pounded away with an argument of "complexity" and "uncertainty" of the 2010 data, and the new configuration of 4 Senate Districts and 5 Congressional District.  In fact, Harris County had 7 SDs, and 9 CDs, and made no such excuses for "complexity"; they held Precinct Caucuses on Saturday, as they have for nearly 20 years.  I had many other such rational arguments in favor of keeping our Caucuses that I had no opportunity to make.

Third, the strong arming to stop our side from distributing copies of our proposed Precinct Caucusing was unseemly, but completely ineffective.  We asserted our Constitutional right to distribute pertinent political information at a political convention; however, the misguided efforts to suppress our right to be heard really deserves an apology.  There was some irony in the fact that our opposition refused to release their Temporary Rules, even when asked to do so many days in advance; at the same time, our opposition attempted to suppress our right to distribute our rule.  Such unethical attempts to keep delegates uninformed should be firmly opposed in future conventions.

Fourth, we should not appreciate the Robert's Rules manipulation which attempted to impose a 2/3rds vote on initial Rule adoption which the people intuitive knew should have been simple majority.  The sophistry of that 2/3rds argument hurt the credibility of the incumbent TCRP leadership, in my opinion, and I'm very grateful that over 55% of the voting strength -- far greater than the percentage of just "Ron Paul" people, contributed to that vote which restored our voting rights for Precinct Caucusing.

Fifth, it appears that incumbent SD-14 temporary leadership was so confident of regaining exclusive power to nominate all Delegates that they had no plan for quickly merging the at-large list with the Precinct Caucus list.  Consequently, while the Precinct Caucuses finished in under 30 minutes, the Nominations Committee was still not finished when they read their list at about 10:30 PM in the garage, after 5 hours or so.  We were obligated to pass the Delegate list so we could see the Delegate list (namely, which slots had not been filled at all); but after passing the list we still couldn't get the list, and the nominations committee refused requests for the list to be posted, and refused to reveal how many OPEN SLOTS remained on their "bullhorn list" read aloud in the garage (there were something like 70 - 80 open slots, apparently).  The Nominations Committee had exclusive power over the at-large list (with all those open slots), and consequently they kept home many individuals - even currently active Precinct Chairs, who certainly deserved to at least be Alternates.  This must not happen again, and we must continue to work for more transparent and more competent technical solutions for the Nominations process.

I want to thank all the 2010 SD-14 Delegates who voted for me to serve as your SREC Committeeman for the past two years, and I ask for your vote again at the June Convention.  Let us press on to restore the Constitution, enforce the Texas GOP platform, and advance local control of our political process with integrity and transparency, instead of bullying and secrecy.

Don Zimmerman
SREC SD-14 Committeeman


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the update!
I did so want to be a delegate for Ron Paul, but have had transportation problems for a while. I will, however, be a judge *or assistant precinct-judge, on the 29th of May, so will ensure no funny business goes on in my area.
Wish I could have gotten to the different meetings, but just wasn't possible. Hopefully, all will be fixed, tonight, and will be at UT on Thursday.
When you have the list, will you post it? Again, thank you for all of the updates.

Don Zimmerman said...

Ann, I was told the list will be made available finally Tuesday evening - according to RPT Rule it must be sent to RPT by 4/25/12, and I can certainly obtain it then.

Membership said...

Regarding the intuition of the majority:

"The majority, oppressing an individual, is guilty of a crime; abuses its strength, and, by acting on the law of the strongest, breaks up the foundations of society." Thomas Jefferson

"Measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority." James Madison talking about factions in Federalist #10

"So far the maxim is certainly true, and is founded in good sense, that as it is always in the power of the majority, by their numbers, to stop any improper measures proposed on the part of their opponents, the only weapons by which the minority can defend themselves against similar attempts from those in power, are the forms and rules of proceeding which have been adopted as they were found necessary from time to time, and are become the law of the House; by a strict adherence to which, the weaker party can only be protected from those irregularities and abuses which these forms were intended to check, and which the wantonness of power is but too often apt to suggest to large and successful majorities." Thomas Jefferson, paraphrasing John Hatsell in Section 1 of Jefferson's Manual, The Importance of Adhering to Rules.

Don Zimmerman said...

What's the ONE THING worse than tyranny of the majority? Tyranny of the minority. Especially, two very powerful and well respected persons miscommunicating complex rules so they can gain power over several hundred (over 60%) of a deliberative body.

Membership said...

Well, there we have it. Mr. Zimmerman knows better than Mr. Jefferson or Mr. Madison. Such ambition knows no checks and balances.

The explanation given at the convention for requiring a two-thirds vote to adopt the caucusing rule was quoted from the first two chapters of Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised. Complex? If so, then the basic principles of deliberative assemblies are beyond the reach of ordinary people. To this I say Pshaw!!!

The real miscommunication came in the form of a page-long caucusing rule, in small print with strikes and inserts. This left the Nominating Committee in decipher mode for much of the evening.

Liberalism poses that more regulation can engineer more fairness. Why does it take an entire page of rulemaking to make the simple delegate selection process more fair? Maybe the real problem is that the rules are not complex enough (sarcasm intended).

Like a fish story, the votes are growing in size the further from the convention we get. Both roll call votes were carried by 55%, but now they exceed 60%. Miscommunication abounds.

Don Zimmerman said...

Yes, we have it -- Mr. Overbey and Mr. Crocker are the founding fathers of the Travis County Republican power establishment, and if you challenge their power or "interpretation" of rules, you are challenging Jefferson and Madison! What hubris.

Here is RPT Rule 31: "...All delegates and alternates may be elected at-large, or some or all may be allocated to precincts, at the discretion of the Convention." Mr. Overbey claims that Jefferson and Madison support HIS interpretation of the rule, which simply put is, "Mr. Crocker and Mr. Overbey say ALL state delegates SHALL be elected at-large; if anyone wishes to challenge these two people, they must get 2/3rds of the voting strength of the Convention". Mr. Overbey, you really owe the Convention an apology for the sophistry you displayed on Apr 21st. We needed a simple majority vote, AND YOU KNOW IT!

And thank you for your correction on the vote totals: The Precinct Caucus Rule passed with 55.1% of the vote, while the Overbey-Crocker rule "interpretation" was defeated with 55.8% of the vote, to be more precise. My 60% recollection was incorrect and I'm correcting that now with you help. Thanks again.

Joe said...

Mr. Overby,

First, let me say that I have great respect for you as an individual and as a parliamentarian.

Regarding the Precinct Caucus Amendment, I disagree with you that it needed a 2/3 majority vote. I believe that RPT Rule No. 31 states that "…All delegates and alternates may be elected at-large, or some or all may be allocated to precincts, at the discretion of the Convention." The Precinct Caucus Amendment was written in a way that was consistent with this RPT Rule. Some of the delegates and alternates were allocated to the precincts. The remaining delegates and alternates were allocated to be elected at-large. Given that the RPT Rules are higher than Robert's Rules, there is no need for a 2/3 majority.

Furthermore, the gentleman that made the motion to Appeal the Decision of the Chair was actually strongly against the Precinct Caucus Amendment. If you look at the Roll Call Votes, he voted against it. Even though he disagreed with the Amendment, he believed in making sure the process was fair. He so strongly disagreed with the 2/3 requirement that he Appealed the Decision of the Chair.

Also, you comment about "The real miscommunication came in the form of a page-long caucusing rule, in small print with strikes and inserts." Five copies of the amendment were given to the chair that did not have "strikes and inserts". Why didn't the chair give these copies to the Nominating Committee? If the committee had questions/issues understanding the amendment, did they ask the authors of the amendment for help?

It seems odd to me that the nominating committee left 45% of alternate slots blank. I believe that this would have been a very good mechanism for them to ensure every precinct was represented. Of the 164 precincts in Travis County in SD 14, 31 had no one at the convention. Of the 133 precincts that did have people at the convention, it looks like 105 had either delegates/alternates selected from them. This left 28 Precincts who had representation at the Convention that did not have delegates or alternates selected from them. By my calculations, we could have added 22 more precincts represented at the State Convention. So why didn't the Nominating Committee fill some of the blank slots with people from these precincts?

CD Max Del/Alt Selected Left Precinct not selected
CD 10 154 100 54 8
CD 17 64 56 8 0
CD 21 64 43 21 6
CD 25 122 96 26 8
CD 35 10 10 0 6

Mr. Overby, I look forward to working with you in 2 years to come up with a Precinct Caucus Rule that will allow everyone the opportunity to select delegates and alternates.


AnneBeck said...

Regarding Precinct Delegation:
I thought this is how folk would be chosen, as it makes complete sense, but considering how (messed-up) inane our own Texas, "beaty pageant" is set to be; with Travis County voting after the delegates are chosen, which seems to have been taken into consideration in order to not place "undue stress" upon the leaders and officials of TCRP and/or RPT? It seems to me, the possibility of Precinct delegations would have been just as easy and would have included many more willing and interested parties than this vote, prior, which causes all voters in Texas to feel disenfranchised or feel as is the vote on 29 May, at least the vote for presidential nominee, is a complete and utter SHAM.
I would like to say, to TCRP and TRP officials: good luck getting more then 25 percent to even show-uo to vote, considering that our delegates have already been chosen. I honestly do not comprehend how delegates, for any or all candidates could have been chosen, letigitmately, for the national elections, when no vote (from the public) has transpired. How do we know if ANY choses as delegates will actually work from the mindset of taking into account the popular or public vote? Is that not what delegates are supposed to do- make their votes by taking into account the vote(s) of the people?

And, as it is, the party does not see why folk don't show up, don't take time out of their day, don't even bother to leave the houses on election day! Perhaps our party officials should truly consider this the next time we encounter redistricting (and oh, it will happen again, for sure). I understand that hotels must be booked, in DFW, and this was used as the excuse for not waiting to hold these delegate caucuses or conventions, but; come on. I believe, anyone interested in making a difference WOULD work to get themselves to Ft Worth, "on the fly", so am asking the Republican Party of Texas to have a bit more faith in the resilience of the folk who DO want to make this difference and have their voice(s) heard.
Thank you.
And, Don; thanks again for your post. The hubris (to quote another poster) of our party heads knows no bounds and is astounding! How I wish I could have been able to work in the delegate process, yet will not have such a chance. I will have to be content to continue working throughout this country, explaining to others how they need to work their own conventions and what they need to look for (and whom they need to call-out from the floor, appropriately...)
Until recently, I did not even attempt to work locally. My niche-job, which I sort of created this year, has consisted of finding strong liberty supporters (online!) and convincing them to get out to their area convention/ caucuses, to BE delegates. I actually believed I would not stand a chance as becoming a delegate, and I am sorry I took that stance when it came to Texas-GOP politics.
Now, I am planning on getting much more involved in Travis County, as I am running for precinct chair of #238 *Murchison Middle School, and will be volunteering as a precinct judge (though i was elbowed out of my OWN precinct by one of the "usuals", after I had been seated) and I am happy to work in a different slot, at a different precinct, to ensure our own vote is accurate and nobody with proper registration is turned away! I don't know how much that vote will mean, at least in the National election, but it's something. And, I do hope many more liberty-minded folk will ALSO volunteer for these small (thankless?) tasks. We are needed, everywhere, and TCRP, as well as TRP, are begging people to sign on. If you have a few hours a month you can and are willing to donate to the cause, please do consider this!

AnneBeck said...

*AND please do excuse my typos--doing this, also, on the fly! thanks again.

Membership said...

If anyone is interested in the decision process for determining the vote required to adopt a rule, please read my SD14 Convention Rules Opinion, which can be found on my website:

Joe said...

Interesting analysis. Out of curiousity, if the Appealing of the Chair would not have gone through, then the amendment Rule 4 would not have passed. At that point, would we have considered the Rules Report closed?

If so, what would the Nominating Committee have done? Would they have free reign over their report (basically all the delegates/alternates would have been selected "at large")?

If they would have had free reign, what was the purpose of the original Rule 4?

Should the Rules Committee have not put any rule regarding the delegate/alternate selection process?


Joe said...

Mr. Overbey,

Given your reasoning and analysis, is it correct that you are against the proposed Rule 14 at the State Convention?

"Rule No. 14
With the exception of those rules mandated by the Constitution or Statutes of the State of Texas, or the General rules of the Republican Party of Texas, a Supplemental Rule governing a General Session may be amended or suspended by majority vote of the convention."