June 24, 2007
One of the elementary norms of politics is that disagreements among members of a political party should be kept out of the public eye whenever possible. Unfortunately, that does not seem to have occurred to the less-temperate bloggers in this area who tried and failed to unseat incumbent state senator Emmett Hanger. "SWAC Girl" accuses me of trying to "split the party," which is extremely ironic in light of the nasty "guerrilla" campaign she and others waged on behalf of Scott Sayre, and the unexplained ice-cold hostility she has shown toward several Staunton GOP members (including me) since last fall. She plays hard-ball politics as a vengeful "blood sport," almost reminding one of the Clintons (!), whereas I would just as soon try to get along with everybody. Which approach do you think is more likely to heal the wounds in the Party of Lincoln?
Not only did "SWAC Girl" improperly leak a private communication intended only for party members, she wrote that I am "posing [emphasis added] as secretary of the committee," apparently on the grounds that guests had to be excused from the meeting when I was elected in March. (This was done for the sake of order; indeed, a fist fight almost broke out after the meeting formally adjourned and guests were allowed to return to listen to Delegate Chris Saxman.) The election results were accepted by all members at that time, however, and no Staunton Republicans have challenged my election since then. What's more, "SWAC Girl" attended both of the committee meetings since I was elected without questioning my position. There are proper ways of handling disputed elections, and creating a public scandal is not one of them. MEMO TO "SWAC Girl": Your young protege Alex was no more elected secretary of the committee than he is a lawyer. If you and Dr. Michael had only refrained from trying to take over our Staunton GOP meeting in March, there would have been no reason for us to hold an executive session. Butt out, OK?
"Spank That Donkey" likewise seems to think I am trying to "split the party," offering a bizarre interpretation of my motivations. From what I can tell, he seems to be threatening to take his "ideologically Center-Right group [!!??] over to Arin Sime, the Libertarian Candidate." MEMO TO SPANKY: The party is already split, and it has been for almost a year now! How are we supposed to get back together again if we are prevented from meeting as a group and hashing things out? Just read the next-to-last sentence again:
Please be aware that our primary objective is to get our party back to the way it used to be, with friendly, open meetings held on a regular monthly basis, reconciling the factions and working toward our common goals.
What in the world is so wrong about that? Beyond the SWAC area, meanwhile, in the far reaches of Appalachia, Carl Kilo weighed in on this. MEMO TO CARL: You might want to get first-hand accounts from both sides of the story before commenting.
For the record, I sent the meeting call out last Thursday, after conferring with my colleagues on the Staunton Republican Committee about the need to repair the party's negative image stemming from the Hanger-Sayre primary race. Some time after 10:00 PM on Friday I got a call from Dr. Kurt Michael, chairman of the Augusta GOP, asking me if I would stand by the letter which explained the reasons for the meeting. I replied affirmatively, and asked him if he had any problem with the letter. He said, no, he did not. Just to make sure, I asked him again, saying that if he did have a problem with the letter, that this would be a good time to say so. He clearly stated once again that he did not have a problem with the letter, and the conversation ended.
At or about that same time Friday evening, however, Kurt was conferring about this matter with Congressman Bob Goodlatte (!), "SWAC Girl," and the Staunton GOP chair and vice-chair Anne Taetszch and Bruce Grover. That meeting was the prelude to this weekend's disgusting blog attacks against me. Now why couldn't Kurt just be honest and tell me what his objections were so we could work things out? Is leaking party secrets and defaming other party officers the way a responsible party leader deals with disputes? I don't think so.
As for the issues under dispute, there was no "purge" of members, as SWAC Girl claims. The RPV state party plan (ARTICLE VII, Section D) clearly states that
A member of an Official Committee other than an ex-officio member automatically loses his committee position if he is absent three (3) consecutive meetings without representation by a person holding a proxy...
There is a nearly identical provision in the Staunton GOP Unit bylaws. Please note the word automatically; there was no discretion on my part whatsoever. (Unfortunately, there was lax observance of the Staunton GOP bylaws in the past, but because of various disputes, we agreed at the February meeting to get serious about the rules.) In fact, most of those whose membership has lapsed had not attended a single committee meeting since March 2006.
Also, the bylaws specify when the meeting calls must be sent, not when it must be received, as SWAC Girl claimed. This provision was included in the resolution:
Such call shall include a written agenda and be mailed not less than a week before the meeting.
Clearly, we have met all the requirements for holding a meeting, so notwithstanding the declaration of our obstructionist Chair, it will be 100% legitimate. In this regard, it should be noted that when we called the meeting in April, to give Emmett Hanger the same opportunity to address the committee that Scott Sayre had had in February, Ms. Taetszch did everything she could to try to stop the meeting from taking place. She simply refused to acknowledge the provision in the bylaws by which the committee members themselves can call meetings. It's all part of a pattern. As it says in the letter we wrote, her
repeated cancelation of meetings (or the abrupt adjournment thereof) have prevented our Committee from functioning as a group, and we are presently at an impasse.
How long can this insanity go on? Let us meet, for crying out loud! As for "SWAC Girl," many of us have become increasingly annoyed by the self-serving and extremely partial way she abuses her office in the party. During the Hanger-Sayre campaign, the e-mail newsletters she sends out became steadily divorced from reality, filled with blatant falsehoods and distortions. It is sadly typical of the people in that faction of the party whose partisan zeal is so strong that it colors everything they see and hear.