Last Executive Committee Meeting and My Objections Raised

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The LNC Executive Committee is a subset of the entire LNC comprising the officers and the following elected persons: Bill Redpath, Sam Goldstein, and Jim Lark. An EC meeting was held on September 21, 2017 regarding the final approval in filing a brief in the Husted v. APRI case involving purging of Ohio voter rolls. You can read more detail about this in my prior article on the first meeting here. Minutes will be available for this second meeting in a few days.

The full LNC did not get to see this brief before it was filed. Once we could review, I immediately noticed an issue in the introductory paragraph:

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My objections from the LNC list:

…the opening paragraphs describes the purpose and founding of the Libertarian Party—

… there is a blatant incorrect fact in the opening paragraphs. The Libertarian Party was not founded to promote the principles of liberty set forth in the Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution. Our bylaws address this specifically that we exist to promote the principles in our Statement of Principles which mentions neither document. Yes there is a lot of overlap, particularly with the Declaration of Independence, but there is disjunction- particularly in some views of the Constitution. I would say that representing us in that manner violates what our bylaws say about our purpose to wit:

==ARTICLE 2: PURPOSES
The Party is organized to implement and give voice to the principles embodied in the Statement of Principles by: functioning as a libertarian political entity separate and distinct from all other political parties or movements; moving public policy in a libertarian direction by building a political party that elects Libertarians to public office; chartering affiliate parties throughout the United States and promoting their growth and activities; nominating candidates for President and Vice-President of the United States, and supporting Party and affiliate party candidates for political office; and, entering into public information activities.==

And

==ARTICLE 3: STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES AND PLATFORM

The Statement of Principles affirms that philosophy upon which the Libertarian Party is founded, by which it shall be sustained, and through which liberty shall prevail. ==

I object strenuously that characterization.

So, how did this get filed to begin with? Precisely. That is the dispute within the LNC. The EC reviewed this and absolutely missed that in a rushed phone call in which only a few people even had the final draft. The larger LNC body did not get to review at any point. We have lawyers to get the law right but we are responsible to making sure the facts about the Party are right.

It is no secret I think we play fast and loose with the priority that the Statement of Principles is supposed to occupy.

I think even if the EC is the one that approves these things, there is no reason, under cover of executive reason confidentially, that the entire LNC should not have seen this document. The image of the Party is being represented – and how were – say – the interests of Region 1 protected when I could not even see it? Mistakes will happen – I think acknowledgement that it happened is a healthy procedural fix. I am a firm believer in “yep, that shouldn’t have happened.”

I am truly surprised that Sarwark let that through. And it concerns me because another “oops” got through on a document no one on the LNC was able to see last year – the Presidential contract with the eternal secrecy clause that was completely overlooked until I finally was able to see the document and I had to do a Motion to Rescind – something I absolutely did not want to do but I had to or be derelict in my responsibility to my Region. I understand that wordsmithing and decisions sometimes need a smaller group (i.e. the EC) but there is no reason the larger group could not at least give suggestions. It is the same problem with the secrecy on the Bylaws and Platform committees – where they feel it is their small group so having others observe will ruin the process. No it won’t. It will help us caught flaws – and the final decision makers will be more empowered.

Over-stepping in Re-branding?

Old Masthead
Old Masthead
As most of you know, the LP.org website has gone through a major re-design with a lot of hiccups. I personally like the new look very much. It is fresh and modern. However, the wisdom of rolling out an admittedly buggy website two weeks prior to election has been much in doubt. Multiple (at times tense) discussions have taken place on the LNC list regarding this issue. You can view these discussions here:

https://groups.google.com/d/msg/lncvotes/h814MLxEsTM/Vy6xUqF5BAAJ

https://groups.google.com/d/msg/lncvotes/Y0blOlFrkPM/3TZTzIFLCAAJ

https://groups.google.com/d/msg/lncvotes/tIHT3QJ5yUE/7wVSuQbzBwAJ

The issues included loss of candidate information in various affiliates, missing pictures for LNC members, old content not transferred over, and missing Bylaws-required records– the last item being a major concern for me. No matter how “trivial” some may find that, it is in fact not optional. It is required by our Bylaws, and I am not at all satisfied with the breezy way it has been handled. It may be several weeks (I suspect more) before our website is brought into compliance with our Bylaws.

But of more concern, particular in light of website relaunch committee person Ludlow’s comments that touch upon ideological presentation issues (i.e. messaging)- such as calling the presentation, including messaging, of our prior website as “autistic,” is the obvious purposeful decision to remove “Party of Principle” and “Minimum Government, Maximum Freedom” from the masthead. I submit that such a decision is an LNC-level decision and that the committee over-stepped its bounds in an agenda to ideologically re-brand the Party. I could be mistaken about reasoning, but in any event, this is an LNC-level decision, and I intend upon addressing it.

I have full respect for Ludlow’s formidable technical skills and full appreciation of the enormous amount of volunteer time he has donated to the Party and thank him utterly. But my responsibility is also to the public-facing ideological presentation and preservation of our unique Libertarian identity.

Party Slogan: Minimum Government, Maximum Freedom?

imagesBack in February of this year, several Region 1 member, myself included, had noted that there was inconsistent branding and messaging being sent out. Our website and other materials touted “Minimum Government, Maximum Freedom” and promotional emails and the LP News said “Shrinking Big Government, Advancing Liberty.” We felt pretty strongly that we need to be consistent, pick something that truly represents us, and stick with it. “Shrinking Big Government, Advancing Liberty” sounded very Republican-Tea Partyish to those of us bringing this to the attention of the Region 1 Representative at that time, Norm Olsen. Norm faithfully brought a Motion to the LNC to adopt “Minimum Government, Maximum Freedom” which failed as follows:

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I believe now, as I did then, that this is a bad decision. At least one other LNC member agrees, and upon the renewed request of another Region 1 member, we are planning on revisiting this in December if possible.

Update on my LPedia Efforts

lpedia-orgOne of the first things I focused on upon my election to the LNC was the state of LPedia.org. For those not familiar, in simple terms, this is an online wiki of Libertarian Party knowledge and history started some time ago and over time, became increasingly abandoned by the LP itself but lovingly maintained by a few key volunteers, such as James Gholston. There is a wealth of information at LPedia (such as every historical Platform) but it could be so much more. Many people have scattered documents from our history that should be made available to all of us that love this Party (for example, I have rare copies of the 1972 and 1978 Bylaws). I have bemoaned regularly about our lack of institutional knowledge, and the dusty abandoned shell of LPedia is a prime example of how we *could* have preserved treasures and did not. Thus this long journey began.

I spoke with James Gholston about what could be done, and basically, the LP needs to either actively allow direct access to update the wiki software and maintain the site (including once again allowing new user registrations) or let it go to someone who wishes to. The LSLA offered to take over this project. I met some resistance when I brought this suggestion up to the LNC in July leading to my comment that we were behaving like a man who no longer is attracted to his girlfriend until some other man shows interest in her. Here is my motion that was made and the vote afterwards:

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But there was a problem. The IT Committee had not yet been populated, but it seemed certain, it would be done soon. Ahh, if wishes were fishes we would all cast nets. The LNC appointments to the IT Committee were not made by Chair Sarwark (this is required by our Policy Manual) until 9/14/16. *Please note this is not a criticism of Chair Sarwark–we are in the middle of the busiest election season in LP history, it is what it is.*

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But now we are nearly another month out, and the rest of the Committee has not yet been populated nor has there been any advertising for the vacancies.

This has led to my latest email string, culminating in this:

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Any continued delays can cause irreparable loss. From what I understand from Gholston, any updates to underlying needed software could break LPedia from any functional use as it is limping along now, and perhaps lose the underlying data. Others are working to scrape the data from outside to preserve, but the easiest, most accurate, and just simply the best way, is for the LP to allow these volunteers access.

This shouldn’t be so complicated. At. All. (the LPedia thing)

Encouragingly, as I was writing this, I heard this:

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LNC Lack of Follow Through

2014-11-10-followup-thumbHere is a recent email I sent to the LNC Business Discussion list:

It seems to me that we have a lack of follow-through. I was looking for a past decision on our Party slogan made by Norm, and ran across this:

OUTREACH MATERIAL

Mr. Olsen moved that the LNC Chair is requested to direct staff to produce outreach materials for use by the national office and all Libertarian National Committee affiliates concerning the following topics: the economy (regulation, national debt, crony capitalism, Federal Reserve), civil & property rights (justice system, civil forfeiture, police violence), the War on Terror, gun rights.

Following debate, the vote on the main motion was as follows:

Voting “aye”: Feldman, Goldstein, Hagan, Johnson, Lark, Marsh, Mattson, McLendon, Olsen, Redpath, Sarwark, Vohra, Wiener

Voting “no”: Katz, Riemers Abstaining: Ludlow

_________________

Was this even done? It seems to have fallen into the institutional black hole like the discussion at the last formal meeting to reach out to Log Cabin Republicans, which does not appear to have ever been done. (And I asked on this list later about it, and didn’t get a response)

Shouldn’t things passed be on some kind of followup list? I expect if I go through past minutes I will find many such items.

You can follow the discussion on the google reflector list here: https://groups.google.com/d/msg/lncvotes/JlZThgC_K7A/43hYZbwnAQAJ

I am pretty disturbed by this actually. I do plan on going through past (probably the past two years) LNC minutes to see what else has fallen through the cracks. This motion above bothers me particularly since it was the Region 1 representative at the time, Norm Olsen, who got this passed, and it was ignored, which is ignoring Region 1. That is not acceptable. And last meeting, I (clumsily due to being new) had the LNC direct “its sense” to the Chair that we should be reaching out to the Log Cabin Republicans. This was requested by a Region 1 member. That request was also ignored, and my follow-up request on it was also ignored. You can view that follow-up here: https://groups.google.com/d/msg/lncvotes/pZ2tvGiwdtY/8wqnHyYwCQAJ

I likely have some fault here. I am learning and new and am getting better at being more efficient. But I am seeing these things from prior to my involvement and as a bit of pattern. I hope to be part of the solution. I am getting a sense of my mission statements for the next two years: Transparency and Follow-Through.