2016 National Convention Minutes Approved

Libertarian2016conventionThe 2016 National Convention minutes are approved and can be viewed here. The delay was due to the fact that I had previously objected to the minutes when initially presented due to what I believed was inappropriate editorializing about Robert’s Rules of Order. The comments, which were originally in the text of the minutes, now appear as an appendix. I still objected as this is still considered part of the minutes, and I don’t believe any editorializing belongs in the minutes—as appendixes or otherwise. However, these minutes did pass the threshold required for a vote. It is not that I don’t find the appendixes useful; in fact, quite the opposite. I simply believe that they belong in an editorial comment in which perhaps all of the convention officials could offer helpful commentary.

New Page to Keep Up with Events Created

events-bannerWe’ve got our events function working on LP.org. Events are limited to national LP events, LNC meetings, LNC subcommittee meetings, and state conventions. That’s a quick summary of what’s allowed there. No local meetings or routine state party meetings.

https://www.lp.org/events/

To have an event listed, like a historical preservation committee meeting, or an affiliate support committee meeting, send the details to Bob Johnston .

Thanks,


Wes Benedict, Executive Director
Libertarian National Committee, Inc.
1444 Duke St., Alexandria, VA 22314
(202) 333-0008 ext. 232, wes.benedict@lp.org
facebook.com/libertarians @LPNational
Join the Libertarian Party at: http://lp.org/membership

Your Representative Hard at Work

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From Alicia on the LNC List:

We hit a milestone this week, as someone posted their 1000th email of this LNC term to the LNC-Business list. (cue balloons & confetti)

With 3554 emails sent by 28 senders so far this term, as of a few minutes ago, the top ten email posters are:

Harlos – 1015
Starchild – 295
Katz – 256
Mattson – 243
Moellman – 224
Demarest – 201
Hayes – 198
Goldstein – 188
Benedict – 136
Bilyeu – 132

The average person has sent 127 emails.

The bottom 20 posters have sent a combined 934 emails.

Failed Resolution on Cuban Prisoners and Request for So-Sponsors on Revised Resolution

Flag of Cuba

The Libertarian Party of Nevada led the way in issuing a resolution in support of two jailed Libertarian activists in Cuba and through Starchild had asked the LNC to issue a similar resolution (several states including Indiana, Oklahoma, and New Hampshire joined Nevada). That motion failed 9-7-1 for multiple reasons, none of which I believe were persuasive. In the interest of saying something – even if I believed it substantially weaker than necessary – after working with several other LNC members and the Nevada Board Member championing this cause, a revised resolution was put forth as follows:

The Libertarian National Committee expresses shock and concern for the detention of libertarian activists Ubaldo Herrera Hernandez and Manuel Velasquez by agents of the Castro regime in Cuba on February 2, whose unexplained detention raises suspicions that these political prisoners were targeted for their peaceful activism promoting limited government and free markets. The two men are believed to be political prisoners imprisoned in the infamous Melena II facility, known for appalling living and working conditions. We further ask for an inquiry and response from the Castro regime for information related to their detention, an accurate and complete register of charges, and and for assurances that they will receive fair and open trials on any legitimate charges. We further ask that the Cuban government for their immediate release should such information and assurances not be forthcoming. We encourage Libertarian Party members and supporters to contact their elected officials toward that end, and further ask that the International Alliance of Libertarian Parties join us in applying diplomatic pressure for the Castro regime to release information related to their detention and call upon the national and international media to join us in these efforts.

It is presently in limbo awaiting an additional co-sponsor. I urge you to read the original Nevada resolution and perhaps ask your state affiliate to consider its adoption.

The original vote was:

Voting “aye”: Demarest, Hagan, Harlos, Hewitt, Lark, Marsh, Sarwark, Starchild, Vohra

Voting “nay”: Bilyeu, Bittner, Goldstein, Hayes, Katz, Mattson, Redpath

Express abstention: McKnight

December 2016 End-of-Month Financial Report Released

annual-reportThe December End-of-Month Financial Reports are attached. The reserved was at $232,692. This is after paying the extra $100,000 toward the mortgage’s principle.

Support and revenue for the year was $2,624,990 versus a budget of $1,907,869, and the year had a surplus of $274,327. Total expenses were below budget, but some expenses ended over budget. In particular Administrative Costs, Member Communication (LP News), and Building Fundraising Expenses were more than 10% over their budgeted amounts.
Tim Hagan

You can view the report here.

January Membership Report Released

membshipreport-smallThe January Membership Report has been released, and a copy can be found here. I have started to compile a running chart of how our Region’s BSM numbers are growing.

Screen Shot 2017-02-05 at 6.31.17 PM

This report has some interesting charts as usual.

Active Donors are rising again:

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New Donors are back up:

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Lapsed donors are decreasing once again (good news!):

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But renewing donors back down:

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But since this gives us the whole of 2016 let’s take a bit of a look. Active donors are up around 75%. That’s incredible. Lapsed donor trends are only slightly up. New donors are averaged down but that is only because of a huge spike after convention — they are up. Renewing donors are the only figure that is down, and this from before convention, so we are not only losing (in average) those who were only excited about the campaign, but more established members. This is an area to watch out for.

Meeting Location Issues

64193119-disadvantage-word-cloud-conceptAn issue came up on the LNC list that I believe needs some discussion, particularly one point that has placed Region 1 (and we are 9 states) at a distinct disadvantage and advantaged the east coast regions and representatives. Region 7 Representative Demarest stated it well:

I have absolutely no concerns about Nick’s and Robert’s abilities to make a wise decision (or recommendation) on the meeting location. I also understand the need for a reasonably prompt location decision so we can get on with travel and lodging arrangements. However, in addition to Starchild’s legitimate transparency concerns on proposal specifics, this top-down approach makes a mockery of asking LNC members where they would like to hold meetings. It suggests that meeting location criteria are driven primarily by LNC staff preferences and travel costs paid from the LNC budget rather than LNC member preferences and self-funded travel expenses. Further, I strongly suspect that some LNC member location suggestions were expediently ignored because no 2020/22 convention cost and suitability information had been gathered for those locations.

I have bolded the part that I wish to bring out. Our last meeting was in Virginia, just a drive for some LNC members and alternates, and the next one will be nearly in Pennsylvania, and the same members get to save hundreds of dollars and also have their alternates (if regional) easily attend. This is patently not balanced to those of us farther away. These two decisions personally cost me over $500 and have made it very unlikely that the Region 1 alternate can attend, effectively silencing a voice that could be there to speak for us.

The absolute fact of the self-funded nature of LNC members MUST be taken into considered, not mere “average” costs which ALWAYS turns out to be higher for some and effectively privileges others. For this last trip, I literally can get to Alaska at the same cost.

If you would like to help me crowdfund LP-related expenses this year, please click here.

October End-of-Month Financial Report Released

annual-reportFrom the LNC List: The October End-of-Month Financial Reports are attached. The October End-of-Month Financial Reports are attached. The reserve dropped to $415,669, which is $370,377 above the reserve target of $45,292. October had some extra expenses: $20,000 contributed to the Mark Miller Campaign, $15,500 for the annual audit, and $6,400 Kentucky legal expenses.

Tim Hagan

You can view the report here.

Libertarian Party National Committee: Proposed Budget and Building Fund Pay-Down

au bureau_0020Today was an active discussion day for Libertarian Party financial issues to be dealt with at the upcoming LNC meeting December 10-11, 2017.

From Treasurer Tim Hagan:

The draft budget to be considered at next month’s meeting is attached. Some notes:

The Operating Budget worksheet, column F (highlighted in blue) is the budget to be considered. Its numbers are derived from the yellow-highlighted column in the Acct Detail worksheet. The footnotes at the bottom of the Acct Detail worksheet explain how we came up with the 2017 numbers.

Many of the numbers are based on the 2013 and 2015 numbers. We are predicting that membership will be 19,583 in January, dropping to 15,000 at the end of next year. This gives an average throughout the year of 17,292, which is 28% higher than the average of 2013 and 2015 membership. Some revenues and expenses are increased 28% to account for this increased membership.

Because of our accounting method, the value of the office shows up as a fixed asset with the mortgage as a long-term liability, and paying down the mortgage’s principal is a transfer from checking to the mortgage. Likewise, the bequest held in a trust is also an asset, which gets transferred to Cash in the books when we receive a check. Rows 46 and 47 on the Operating Budget worksheet show these transfers so the spreadsheet can show the surplus or deficit of the cash. For the cash flow, the draft budget has a net deficit of $154,900.

The following conversation also occurred (excerpts) on the building pay-down issue:

Sam Goldstein:

I intend to make a motion at our next meeting to spend a good portion of our 2016 surplus to make a payment on the principal on our office mortgage.

Not knowing our final numbers at this time lends some uncertainty to that number, but I would like to start the bidding at $150,000. That amount ought to leave us in a very favorable position as to our ongoing reserve for unforeseen expenses over the next few years.

Does anyone want to offer a lower/higher amount? If so, what is your reasoning.

Joshua:

Well, here’s one answer – imagine we, as an LNC, had absolutely no ideas. We just couldn’t think of a single thing we want to do beyond what we’re already doing. Then, obviously, we should pay as much as we can towards the mortgage, get down to bare subsistence, and hope that when it’s paid off, that LNC is more creative than we are.

On the other hand, we could believe that we have IDEAS, BIG IDEAS, LOTS OF IDEAS, and that it is vitally important that we act now, not those jerks who might be on the LNC in the future. In that case, we should pay what we shorted ourselves last year and leave it at that.

I don’t think either of the two answers above is correct, but the point is, where along that spectrum are we? Also, what pressing things are there that need to be done now? I’d suggest this: we just received record Presidential vote totals and saw a large spike in membership. It would be appropriate to take action to retain the new members, and attempt to get more commitment from those voters. Perhaps a survey of our new membership is in order so we have a better idea of why they joined and what they want.

After all, wasn’t enhanced cash flow one of the selling points that convinced a previous LNC to purchase a {noun deleted to avoid controversy}? Isn’t it also the case that, if we adhere strictly to the Wiener Rule, there will be no balloon payment due? Granted, of course, any delay in payments changes the calculation, so we’d need to pay somewhat more than we were short last year to continue that rule. Granted, too, that every additional payment will decrease overall money spent on interest.

In 2017, I’d like to see us do more to help candidates coordinate and build ground-games. I’m hoping to continue over the term to promote my proposals regarding appointments and “let national be national,” both of which take money. I’m sure others have ideas, which can either out-compete mine or be done simultaneously, that will also cost money.

Even so, I’d like to pay substantially more than what we owe ourselves towards the mortgage. I would also note, as I pointed out at the e-meeting, that this year’s enhanced revenue hasn’t been across the board. In fact, recurring gifts, last I checked, were below budget. I’d encourage optimism, and I absolutely will not say “well, we’ll never see a year like this again” but a lack of recurring gifts does raise the possibility of coming back down. If I believed we’d never see such success again, and that we were just returning to normal, I’d say throw as much of it as possible at paying down the dead pledge. If recurring gifts were up, I’d probably say the same thing. I think, though, that what we do now will determine if we will continue on an upward trajectory, or instead return to ‘normal,’ and that this might be worth some investment.

Before committing myself to a number, though, I’ll want to hear from the Treasurer. I might also favor making this decision after the budget is approved.

Me:

Though these numbers will have changed since October, at that time our principal was $430,598.33. It appears that we budgeted in 2015 $67,300 for Building Fund revenues to pay $60,000 towards the mortgage (as per the Policy Manual) and $7,300 for a house letter (I don’t know what that means), but only raised $22,435.63. Was that $22,435.63 paid? Or did it go into shorted reserves? Also have we already paid additional principle yet this year?

I believe Robert Kraus said we paid $27,500 extra towards principal in 2015 and $22,000 extra toward principal in 2016. If this is correct, we were short $32,500 in 2015 as per the Policy Manual, and I do not see a Policy Manual provision for even-numbered years to make additional principal payments.

Tim in October said he believe he would be comfortable with a figure of about $200,000, and that is the figure that comes to my mind as a total for the two years, at a minimum, so that would be right around Sam’s initial bid of $150,000 (more precisely it would be $150,500). That would be the minimum I would like to see.

I echo Joshua’s concern of other projects we may wish to do, but this was already decided to be a priority back when we got the mortgage, and I do not like the way it seems we make promises and then… are like, oh well…. such and such. That is what I see as happening so far with the website, and if we made this priority, let’s fulfill it first. We passed a Policy Manual provision to “pay off the office mortgage as quickly as possible” so let’s do it. And set a fiscal example. On a related note on “let national be national” that keeps getting used… to borrow a phrase that Joshua likes to use in other contexts, I don’t find it helpful as it is “content-less” 🙂 I don’t think anyone wants to have national be other than what it should be- it is what it should be that is precisely the issue. Slogans aren’t helpful in planning. I am of a view that the LNC is too hands off in some things, and that there are things that we must have as LNC level decisions and that is “national being national” and I have made some of those things clear in the website discussion in which I think we seriously abrogated some duty.

Joshua Katz:

A house letter is a fundraising letter. Robert can provide more details, but my understanding is that the $22,453 was paid. It was, however, less than the $60,000 we were supposed to pay.

You are correct, the Wiener Rule was mandated only for odd-numbered years. While I have not run the numbers myself, my understanding was that, if followed, that rule would eliminate the balloon payment and amortize the loan over its lifetime. The effect of the rule was to remove the enhanced cash flow in odd-numbered years, where it was believed it would be less helpful, but maintain that benefit in even-numbered years. In odd years, we would pay the same as we were paying in rent; in even years, we would pay less.

That was, to my understanding, the spirit. (I was, of course, not present when it was adopted, but I was present the first time it applied.) As I mentioned earlier, when we were preparing the 2015 budget, there was discussion about eliminating that rule, which I strongly opposed. In the end, we did not change or eliminate it, which in my opinion is a good thing. We did budget the money. Unfortunately, the way the rule operates does not guarantee that the money will be paid, and it was not. I would be open to strengthening the rule for the future, but keep in mind that standing rules having their application outside the meeting context cannot be suspended, so some care is needed not to lock ourselves in too tightly.

In any case, yes, it was decided that this would be prioritized, and I agree fully with prioritizing it. That’s why I began by saying that I considered paying back what we shorted last year (plus interest) to be the absolute minimum. I don’t see the adoption of that goal, though, as meaning that we won’t expand in other areas until it is paid off, just as it obviously doesn’t mean that we can’t have staff until it is paid off. If we followed the rule as stated there, and as it is intended, we’d achieve the goal of paying it off before the 10 year balloon payment. “As soon as possible” is unclear, particularly when phrased as a goal, but I don’t think it means we need to pay all the spare cash we’ve got – it certainly doesn’t preclude that, either. My suggestion, again, is that we regard paying our Wiener Rule commitments as inflexible – that’s the difference for 2015 and the full amount for 2017 – budget for other programs we regard as important now, and then pay the difference towards the dead pledge, rather than trying to determine how much more to pay above Wiener Rule commitments before determining what else we’ll do. Of course, though, when decided how much to budget to other programs, we should have in mind that everything we budget means we’ll be doing less to pay down the mortgage, so the threshold for adoption of a project should be not only that it’s worth the cost, but that it’s worth the cost plus interest over time, just as if we had to borrow the money to finance it.

To repeat a point I’ve made before, we’ve got to think more strategically when we budget, and reference budget lines when we spend money. I think it encourages the wrong sort of thinking, and confuses people, try to decide whether or not to spend X on Y out of “the universe” rather than spend X on Y out of the budget line for things like Y, which is Z.

Regarding “LNBN,” I’m not sure how much you’re hearing it tossed around. Since it’s my phrase, I guess I hope you’re hearing it tossed around a lot, but I’ve only seen it tossed around by me. In any case, yes, it’s a slogan and content-less without context. I just meant it to indicate the thrust of the things I want to see us do, which I see as “those things that require a national reach and organization.” The one I harp on the most is appointments, but I’d also include doing more outreach to the DC Press Corps, certain lobbying operations, and a few other things. I didn’t specify here, because I wasn’t arguing here for anything specific, just saying that I expect over the term to introduce motions which, if adopted, would cost various amounts of money, and that I think others will do so as well. It is not about board governance per say; that’s another pet issue of mine, but a separate one. I do think more care as regards governance can lead to clearer goals and better facilitate their achievement, as well as clarify what goal-setting means, but that’s an indirect connection.

Me:

Thank you for clarifying what a house letter is. I meant to inquire before. So it seems like my figures are roughly correct, so I will be looking for a minimum $150,000 paydown which is well within the range that Tim said before we could handle.

And I have expressed before that I think “oh we budget but don’t have to actually pay” is pretzel twisting by the LNC of expert level. I would favor strengthening the rule to stop that gaming. And I think “as soon as possible” being made into anything other than the most we can do is also unacceptable, but I suppose this will be the subject of debate. I think members thought this would be a lot more rigourously applied and would understandably feel, and I would if I step back and put my member hat on, that the LNC is not doing what they expected. Which is to get rid of this debt as soon as possible… I feel like I am Alice – The question is whether we can make words mean so many different things.

On LNBN, yes, I hear it from you. And I don’t think turning us into a Washington ladies and lads who lunch is the answer – but we have disagreed on that before (and on whether only things that “require” – another “flexible” word – a national reach and organization is all we should be doing), and that is a different subject.

Most critically, from Tim Hagan:

I will call your $150,000 and raise it to $207,500. I request we add 20 minutes to the December meeting agenda for a motion to make a payment on the principal on our office mortgage.

The mortgage’s loan rate is 4.85% with a balloon payment at ten years, which is in July 24, 2024. Robert was kind enough to furnish the attached load amortization spreadsheet. I ran five scenarios on it to get the amount of interest we will pay from December 2016 to when the balloon payment is due, and to get the amount of the balloon payment that will be due at that time.

Without any more prepayments (not paying an extra $60,000 on odd-numbered years):
Interest: $139,400.40
Balloon payment due 7/24/2024: $301,040.34

With the current policy of paying an extra $60,000 on odd-numbered years:
Interest: $84,900.77
Balloon payment due 7/24/2024: $6,540.71

Paying an additional $207,500 in the December payment, and not paying extra in future years:
Interest: $45,751.59
Balloon payment due 7/24/2024: $0.00

Paying an additional $150,00 in the December payment, and paying an extra $60,000 on odd-numbered years:
Interest: $32,805.22
Mortgage gets paid off July 2021.

Paying an additional $207,500 in the December payment, and paying an extra $60,000 on odd-numbered years:
Interest: $19,879.20
Mortgage gets paid off May 2020.

As you can see, paying $207,500 in December will eliminate having a balloon payment in 2024 and will save at least $39k in interest. If we keep the Weiner rule, it will save $65k in interest and have the mortgage paid off four years early. The targeted Reserve is the sum of all monthly occupancy, labor and governance expenses, which comes to $45,292. At the end of October, the reserve was at $415,669, so I am comfortable with paying $207,500, even if next year’s budget has a large deficit. We will have new reserve number before the meeting.

The trust from a bequest has $167,404. We have been taking the maximum allowable amount out each year for the general fund. A law passed December 2014 now allows national political committees to have a separate segregated building fund with its own contribution limit of three times the limit for the general fund. We have not done this before, because we needed the bequest for the general fund, but we can transfer up to $100,200 from the bequest to the building fund and use those funds toward making a payment on the mortgage principal.

My preference is to pay at least $207,500 toward the mortgage principal to save on interest payments and to ensure no balloon payment. If that passes, then I would favor reducing the policy to budget an extra $60k on odd years.

Me:

That sounds like the smart plan. Future Libertarians will thank us. I support your higher amount.

The whole discussion can be viewed here.