Thursday, February 13, 2020

Crucial Questions of Power



Crucial questions of executive power will confront the Central Committee at the upcoming convention. Will the suspensions by the Executive Committee of prominent activists stand? Will the Committee curb Executive overreach, or enlarge the Executive powers by eliminating all Judicial review of their actions?

The answers to these questions will define the relationship between Committee members and the Executive Committee, and the character of our Party, for years to come. Will the Libertarian Party of California be a place where diverse libertarian activists come together in peace and cooperation to network and build their activism? Or will it be a party rife with nasty factional struggles for the levers of power, in which refusing to obey the Executive Committee will get you smeared and suspended? 


I can’t ignore what’s going on, and call myself a libertarian. I must condemn the abuse of executive power witnessed with my own eyes and ears.


My burning desire is for a party where members honor their non-aggression pledges. Where people can be different and still fit in. Where the Executive Committee serves the members, instead of exercising power over them. That’s why I’m speaking out. Speaking truth to power is never easy, and is almost always dangerous. But silence in the face of defamation and destruction of good people will only guarantee more of the same. 


The recent suspensions have roots in multi-year smear campaigns, tolerated and promoted by officers of the Party. And not only against one, but against any who defend or associate with chosen victims. The lies have been growing for over a decade.


I’ve seen it here in LA County first hand. One or two conspiracy theorists and perennial haters whispered outrageous lies against the County’s most prominent activists. They played to members' prejudices and love of gossip, drama, and the power of excluding others. On several occasions, the false whispers motivated witch hunts by power-tripping officers and representatives. The entire history is too long to relate here; a few incidents are described in my earlier posts.


Abuse by wearers of fine hats in the Party is a pattern that stretches for years, and not just against one activist or by one set of officers. Many have left the Party over the years, wounded by official attacks. Presently, we are facing unprecedented suspensions and threatened suspensions against members, without a semblance of due process. Mr. Jupiter is a stark case in point, not the entire story.


The Executive Committee, with very little notice shortly before our convention, suspended three of the state’s most prominent and active field activists. They won't even explain why. "Trust us," they say.


You'd better think twice. The Executive Committee has an obvious corrupt motive: to silence their most articulate critics, and divide their friends. It is a reasonable explanation. Their most recent victim had criticized the leadership harshly over the platform deletion debacle last convention, for example. He would likely oppose their plans to expand the power of the Executive Committee by rewriting the Bylaws. He posed a threat to their plans, so they set him up with defamatory justifications, and removed him. He didn’t deserve it, not even close.


Granting liberty awards to all those suspended would have been more fitting, not that they sought it. If any were guilty of serious misconduct, the Executive Committee should have issued a censure explaining the specific basis for discipline. Suspending members for secret reasons is unnecessary and toxic to principles of libertarian governance. Executive power exists to serve the membership. If the members don’t have the right to know the specific basis for discipline, neither does the Executive Committee have any right to impose it. The same principle informs our opposition to victimless crimes and special immunities for police. The police exist to protect us, not to subjugate us. 


Some who seek fine hats can’t resist tearing down independent activists. It’s a fact of human nature: people who seek authority desire power over others. In our Party, officers have attacked at least ten members in the past couple of years. For a small party like ours, the number is astonishing. Officers defamed these activists with unspeakable slurs and baseless accusations. The victims responded by complaining in private emails and affiliate business meetings, avoiding discussions in social media, except to counter false statements made by others. They kept busy as field activists, conducting missions in support of libertarian causes and campaigns, including helping Jeff Hewitt win his seat as Riverside County Supervisor. They avoided responding in kind to the attacks against them. Instead of reflecting the vicious ad hominum accusations against them, they limited their defense to pointing out improper conduct, arguing based on facts and libertarian principles. 


Mr Jupiter often stood up to defend those under attack and point out reasonable alternatives for conflict resolution. But those in power ignored his suggestions, and counted his defense of others as transgressions. As Southern Vice-Chair, I witnessed the consistent peacemaking tone of his complaints, his actions to resolve controversies by civil discussion in business meetings, or by friendly informal discussions, and the closed-minded arrogance with which officers brushed aside his well-intentioned commentary with vicious ad hominum attacks that do not bear repeating.


Should we allow members who seek no power over others, and dedicate their lives to the cause of liberty, to be defamed and expelled by militant officers? 


The problem is especially bad in Los Angeles County. The Chair of the LA County Affiliate has been intent on silencing all her critics. She was elected as Chair back in June 2018 on a promise to heal divisions in the County affiliate. The divisions had pretty much healed by the time she was elected, and for a few months, meetings were cordial. She and the Vice Chair began dating openly and recruited their friends to serve on the County Executive Committee. She began signaling her intent to relocate the monthly business meetings and “heal divisions” by suppressing dissent. At that time, she was also Secretary of the LPC.


In September of 2018, while I was Southern Vice Chair, the LPC Chair and Northern Vice-Chair against my advice orchestrated a secret disciplinary proceeding against former officers of the San Bernardino County affiliate. No misconduct was proven, and the Executive Committee ended up passing a toothless resolution without the compulsory discipline the instigators had sought. Afterwards, I and others criticized the process for non-compliance with Robert’s Rules and LPC Bylaws. Some officers didn’t appreciate the criticism, but there were no more secret trials while I was Southern Vice Chair. In contrast, the new Southern Area Coordinator (along with eleven other members of the Ex-Com) failed to oppose the recent suspensions; both proceedings were secret and in both cases the defendants objected to the summary process used.


Shortly after the secret trial, Mr. Jupiter, while properly recognized during a regional business meeting, questioned the County Chair who was also Regional Chair about the secret trial. Afterwards, I saw that the County Vice Chair posted a video in the affiliate’s Facebook group about supposed disruption of the meeting. I watched that video. It showed Mr. Jupiter sitting quietly in a chair, while the Vice Chair stood shouting vulgarities and threats. This same Vice Chair, now an at-large representative on the state Executive Committee, has repeatedly smeared Mr. Jupiter and boasted of his determination to silence him. The criminals are blaming the victims for their crimes. It's corrupt police behavior we too often see in the larger society around us, and does not belong in our Party.


After the regional meeting in September 2018, the LA Chair threatened Mr. Jupiter with police force if he dared to show up at any business meeting. Since that time I have not seen him at any Los Angeles County LP business meeting, including the annual meeting where officers are elected. 

After their latest suspension vote, the LA Chair, Vice Chair, and their friends on the Executive Committee celebrated. They posted a group photo as the “Fine Hat Caucus” of the LP.  


It was no joke. Other Executive Committee members, writing on social media, were quite explicit. One considered the suspension no different than a corporation firing an at-will employee, you can read the entire thread yourself here. These same authoritarians barred the defendant from presenting any witnesses, while permitting the accusing witnesses they preferred. The Executive Committee belongs to the Fine Hat Caucus now, glorying in their power to rule over members.


Even when under ban from the County Chair, Mr. Jupiter continued to volunteer and donate to many libertarian campaigns and outreach activities, and urged his friends to do the same. He is a true believer, moderate in his lifestyle, sincere in his respect for the non-aggression pledge, and generous to a fault; an exemplary member in practically every way. If the Executive Committee can suspend him on a whim, they can and will suspend anyone they please. Who is next?


Unjust suspension from a minor party, although not without its injuries, is not the greatest punishment in the world. It’s the damage to the Party, to the innocents desiring liberty, that matters most. We can either enforce a culture of liberty, or allow those we elect to office to run amok building up control structures echoing those of the Republicans and Democrats. How about insisting that officers abide by their non-aggression pledges and our collective purpose of minimal top-down governance?


Ultimately, we as members are responsible for what the Executive Committee does, and we are the only force that can prevent them from going astray. Convention is when we take back the power. 


See you there!

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Ex Com Bullies Gotta Go

The Executive Committee of the Libertarian Party of Californian has been busy suspending memberships lately. It would be a badge of honor to be suspended by them, judging by who they have suspended so far. It will be a badge of shame for the LPC if the membership allows the Ex Com  to get away with it.

A few months ago, the Ex Com suspended two great activists from Northern California. Let's call them the Lambs (not their real names). The Lambs are a husband-wife team raising a young daughter. I worked with Mr. Lamb on the Johnson-Weld campaign, he as Northern California activist coordinator and I as Statewide coordinator. We would meet with the national campaign manager weekly by teleconference and Mr. Lamb would give his report. He and Mrs. Lamb organized and worked very hard on many events and activities. The campaign itself was the most impactful Libertarian presidential campaign ever, by a large margin. The Lambs continued their volunteer activism after the 2016 campaign. They were a big part of organizing the 2017 California Libertarian convention. Mr. Lamb ran for state chair in 2019. The Lambs have been very active in their County organization throughout. I don't know the Lambs personally, but every political party needs more people like them! The last thing the Ex Com should be doing is holding trial over them and suspending their memberships.

The Lambs appealed the suspension, arguing that the procedure the Ex Com used to suspend their memberships violated due process under Robert's Rules of Order. The LPC Judicial Committee should have ruled in their favor on this point. Instead, it ruled, essentially, that the Ex Com can suspend anyone they wish without meaningful procedural limits, as long as they say it is "for cause." Or at least, the Ex Com is interpreting the ruling so, as evidenced by its latest crime spree.

The Lambs did not choose to argue the merits of the putative "cause." Nor would most people in their position. Who wants to have nasty, false accusations about their conduct argued in public? It came out afterwards in a public discussion forum that the misconduct was nothing more serious than using access to private member information to contact a donor once, a well-intentioned slight that could have been handled with a private reprimand. Although we'll never know for sure.

Not long after expelling the Lambs, the Ex Com went after another member, a local activist here in Southern California I'll call Mr. Bulldog. Mr. Bulldog is a professional signature gatherer, and has run signature gathering teams. He has been publicly critical of elected officers and former officers of the Los Angeles County affiliate for their role in depriving the membership of public, in-person meetings, using threats of police force to squash dissent, fabricating lies about meeting places, defaming members who questioned their conduct, and other abuses of office. My guess is these same people are responsible for trying to eject him. To avoid the LPC Ex Com's Star Chamber, Mr. Bulldog resigned his membership. I hope he rejoins at a more opportune time.

Then they went after another prominent activist here in So Cal, who I'll call Mr. Jupiter. Earlier today, the Ex Com voted 12-0-2 to suspend his membership. They did this in Visalia, after giving Mr. Jupiter who lives in the LA Basin less than a day's notice of their intent to suspend him.

Mr. Jupiter is a friend of mine. He only became so after I joined the party and got to know him. I value his friendship as a person of rare honesty, trust him as someone who keeps the non-aggression pledge, and respect him as an activist for ethical and responsible human liberty. He has impressed me on many fronts. Like Churchill, he has persevered in the face of adversity and has not been afraid to voice unpopular opinions when he thought it important to an ethical cause. I know of no other activist in Southern California who has worked as effectively and generously in the cause of freedom for so long, or done more to recruit and encourage other activists. All this he has done in the face of more than ten years of attacks and abuse by officers of the party, harassment that has damaged his friendships, family, and business relations. All he has ever asked for from the party is for the abuse to stop.

Faced with the kind of abuse Mr. Jupiter endured, most would have left the party and forgotten about Libertarian activism long ago. Surely, that is what his detractors desire. After eight years in the party, I've seen plenty of others abandon the party for less.  Mr. Jupiter hangs in there year after year, taking frequent abuse, while still generously volunteering his time and talents to candidates and causes across the country.  Much more could be said about the long and extraordinary pattern of abuse by officers of the party against Mr. Jupiter. The suspension is just the latest example.

We will never know the alleged cause for the Ex Com's suspension, which it did it in secret session. I have reason to believe the cause is even more trivial than used to expel the Lambs. One of the former Los Angeles affiliate officers who has been relentlessly attacking Mr. Jupiter was complaining on LPC-discuss (an LPC Google Group) that Mr. Jupiter had refused to give him brochures a long time ago, and he had no reason to make such a complaint except as set-up for a suspension motion. The accusation is ridiculous, because Mr. Jupiter has never held power over brochures or other party property. But even if it were true, it would be no basis for suspending his membership.

The membership will never know what really went on with the suspension of the Lambs and Mr. Jupiter. No recordings were made, and the Ex Com is proving itself untrustworthy. If the Ex Com has to go into secret session to suspend a member, it should not be entertaining the motion at all.

Maybe the naysayers are right. Maybe the highest purpose of the Libertarian Party is to keep deluded sociopaths busy arguing about bylaws and attacking one another over petty slights. I believe a party organized around the Non-Aggression Principle can do better, but only if intelligent people of good will show up and elect reasonable leadership. It's not really that hard. Ex Com bullies gotta go.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

My Last Southern Vice-Chair Report

The LPC abolished the office of Southern Vice Chair, and I decided to not run again for any LPC office. Five years is enough, and I have other projects to work on. I wrote out these remarks, but didn't read them at convention. I ended up speaking from the heart, and things came out a little differently. I didn't make the motion I was contemplating, for example. The convention was video-taped, the relevant video is posted here.

My written remarks bear on certain controversies I've been involved with. If you have been involved and feel offended by anything, please reach out to me in person. I have been careful not to name names. Here is what I wrote:

***
Five years ago members elected me Southern Vice Chair in Visalia. To those who supported me and gave me opportunities for activism: thank you. I’ve earned the satisfaction of achieving my purpose in the company of friends, despite opposition. My purpose was to support activists instead of attacking them. I have done my best to fulfil that purpose fairly.

Visalia 2014 was a small convention. I was there to help rebuild the Party, not to run for any office. But a group of activists asked me to run for SVC. I am one of the least political persons I know, had no aspirations to hold office. Didn’t want to get roped into something I couldn’t do.  Knowing that officers serve their constituents, I asked them what they wanted from me. They said “just don’t F…k with the activists. Don‘t attack people for doing activism, don‘t try to take over control of activists.” I wondered “Do officers of the LP really do that? Such a strange way for a libertarian leader to behave!” So I promised “Yes.” I got the job without opposition.

It was the beginning of a new experience for me. Shortly after I took office, I learned of a whisper campaign against the people who had asked me to run. So-and-so is dangerous. The group is power hungry. Criminal. Up to no good. And so on. None of it made any sense so far as I could see. So I investigated. Inquired. Learned the facts.

There was nothing criminal or unseemly going on. The victims of the whisper campaign cooperated on bedrock libertarian principles. Respect others. Stand up for what you believe. Take responsibility. Work hard to accomplish your goals. Far from stirring up trouble, they were absorbing attacks without retaliating, to set an example. They wanted a diverse and strong Party that worked for liberty. I found nothing that justified the whispering about them. I wished others would emulate them, so we could build a stronger Party.

We had good leadership in LA County back then. I’ve been a region rep since 2012, later a treasurer. A year or two before I started, the County leadership changed membership requirements to bring in new members. Many activists lived in LA County, but affiliated with San Bernardino. The leadership encouraged the members to change our bylaws, to welcome any Central Committee member who lived in the County, regardless of affiliation. The membership did in fact change the bylaws as the leaders suggested. I heard no one complain about the welcoming approach. It was a smart rule that got more people involved with our local affiliate. 

The whispering went away. For two years, we built the Party. Our activists were rebuilding relationships, learning new skills, making new friends, building trust, and growing the Party. The 2015 state convention was about twice as big as Visalia. We elected a new state Chair that year, Ted Brown. We kept growing. Controversies were few and contained. Together, we built up momentum, had a much larger convention in 2016 at the LAX Hilton, and sent a full and lively delegation to Orlando to nominate a presidential candidate.

Johnson/Weld weren’t my first picks. But they brought a lot of resources to our affiliates. They brought tools, access and networks to local activists across the nation. Our activists in Southern California were some of the most influential and active in the campaign. I had the unexpected privilege of acting as State Campaign Director for the final months of the campaign. Robert Imhoff, Boomer Shannon and Matthew Barnes led the fieldwork, bringing their passion and fire. We were all doing as much as we could to get as many volunteers involved as possible. I’m so proud of the work we did, and how hard our volunteers worked with little support from the campaign which focused on other states. The building of local organizations was a big win of that campaign! A lot of new candidates and members came out for other races in 2016. You can read more details in my 2017 report.

What energy! A group of volunteer activists had elevated their game and reached new levels of experience and capability. I was - and am - proud of the small role I had played in the campaign and the peace that was breaking out in the Party. If you remember the 2017 Convention in Palo Alto, it was the least contentious in years. New people and new abilities were coming into the Party. Trust between members was improving. After the members re-elected me SVC in 2017, I was looking forward to more years of growth heading into 2020.

But someone had reignited a whisper campaign against activists in Southern California. A small minority of members who had stood on the sidelines during the 2016 campaign accused the activists who had worked hard of being motivated by lust for power. Of making a power grab by making friends and doing activism! As if the role of libertarian activists is to do nothing but complain, make enemies and lose elections! Perhaps the antagonism reflected old personal grudges, envies, and familiar dysfunctions. Perhaps we have been experiencing sabotage by our “dirty tricks” political opponents. Maybe some of both. I don’t know if time will tell.

I do know that suddenly the climate changed. In June 2017, LA County held its annual convention. All the officers were getting along fine and the members re-elected them all.  But one member at convention, motivated by the slanderous whispers going around, wanted to bring those activists down. He brought a state Judicial Committee action to undo the elections of three activists he didn’t like. Regional caucuses had elected these three to represent their regions at the County level. You might remember a group of activists wearing Jeff Hewitt T-shirts at our last convention in 2018. Win! The plaintiff thought those activists were lawbreakers for concocted reasons. They were the most dedicated, active members we had in Southern California.

The plaintiff had no just reason to undo those three regional elections. So he fueled the controversy by ludicrous and unfair conspiracy theories to justify attacks. I begged him to stop and warned him no good would come from suit. He went ahead anyway.  He did tangible harm to members’ reputations, relationships, and business endeavors in the name of “law and order.” Instead of tamping out the flames, the then-Chair of LA County fanned the flames, supported by some other officers and representatives who believed the lies. Encouraged by the state Judicial Committee, that Chair appointed himself to represent the accused, without their consent and while advocating for their removal and the abnegation of County Bylaws. The State JC held a trial with the prosecution representing both sides. It was a mockery of due process.

The LA County Ex-Com repudiated the State JC opinion in May 2018, over the resistance of the Chair and officers who had supported him. After that, the victims were ready to move on and put the past behind. But eleven months of strife had already damaged the County’s social cohesion and broke the trust that had been growing. Members were taking sides. Everybody had their favorite villain. The controversy had disrupted local activism and Party building for almost a year. I was cautiously optimistic that with new leadership, the County could heal.

The LA County Convention came along in June 2018. A new member ran for Chair, promising to end division. For a few months, the County seemed to be on the road to recovery, and business meetings returned to normal. Then a controversy in San Bernardino spilled over into LA, through the state Ex-Com. The San Bernardino members had elected new officers at the beginning of 2018; none of the outgoing officers ran for re-election. It seemed a peaceful convention, but tension between members and certain of the new officers (not all) erupted quickly. To make a long story short, in September 2018, responding to a request from the new officers, the LPC Chair and Northern Vice Chair, against my advice, held a mini-trial in executive session to consider accusations by some new officers against the outgoing officers. The Ex-Com wasted a lot of time and reached no concrete findings. The new officers went away upset and the secret trial inflamed old wounds in San Bernardino, breaking trust. It was a lose-lose scenario. Fortunately, San Bernardino has recovered and elected new officers since then.

The controversy spilled over in to LA, where an outspoken member—bearing that freshly injured wound—complained to the County Chair who was also state secretary and Chair of the region that the member most regularly attended. The officer claimed the member had threatened her and banned him from meetings, without credible evidence or due process. She threatened to call the police if he shows up, and confirmed her threat when I asked. But I looked and saw no credible evidence of any threat by the accused. Zero. Nada. Since then, the Chair and officers who supported her doubled down on the accusations and threats. With no corroborating evidence. 

Evidence? Who needs that when you can make up a story to tell? Officers made up a story about being "kicked out of" the County’s regular meeting place, while instigating the disruptions they claimed to oppose. Using their own disruptions as an excuse, they moved all the County’s monthly business meetings to an online forum controlled by a mute button, ignoring Robert’s Rules of Order. They repeated their threats and accusations. Some members applauded this misconduct by officers; I’m not sure why. Others consented to misconduct by silence, apathy and inaction. Too few stood up to oppose the destruction of meetings, the defamation of hard working activists or banning of members without due process. It continues still.

LA County can and will resolve these issues on its own. I’m not calling for intervention here. But we have lessons to learn here. Our human natures will always create friction and misunderstandings. How do we get past the natural competitiveness to accomplish the purpose of our Party? The answer is simpler than you might think. And it doesn’t involve any kum-by-yah or miracles.

All it takes is turning your focus of activism outward, outside of the party. You don’t like that guy? Don’t think person over there is libertarian enough? Save it for private conversation. Turn your public fire outwards. You’ll amaze your friends with what you can accomplish.

I could give tons of examples, but do not have the time. I must focus on something close, the Hewitt campaign. More than any other race last year, that victory makes the point of moving on by winning together. It was like Heaven smiled on the whole campaign. Things would break our way every time. The more momentum we got the harder everybody worked. The teamwork came together like magic, pushing the campaign forward. What a heartbreaking election night, and what a thrilling comeback victory! Big stories in the LA Times and OC Register, the whole deal. Win! A new Libertarian County Supervisor of Riverside County, Jeff Hewitt. Win! Brighter days of wiser governance and a new confidence ahead. Win.

Many people were generous with their money and time to make our victory happen. More than I can thank or mention in this short report. But I can’t finish without closing the circle. I am so proud of the activists who asked me to run for SVC back in Visalia five years ago and helped me win re-election twice since then. They overcame adversity and attacks by focusing on winning where it matters. While being victimized by false accusations and threats of violence, deserted by many they had aided before, they turned away from the tactics of division and political destruction to focus on their best opportunities. Their focus and intensity helped propel the Hewitt team to a great win. By following their example, we will earn more successes in the years ahead, and heroic tales for new activists and allies.

So let’s do some homework.

Madam Chair, as is my privilege as an officer, I move:

Whereas we all have pledged to not initiate aggression for any social or political purpose; and

The purpose of our Party depends on keeping first this pledge with one another as an example and proof of our principles;

Be it resolved that no person acting in the name of the Libertarian Party of California shall ban or threaten with police force or other violence any member from attending any business or social meeting of the Party except for justified executive sessions, or deprive members of a venue for meeting in person; and any member who after neutral due process is convicted of the conduct at issue shall be subject to expulsion for cause by the Executive Committee, as provided in Bylaw 5, Sections 5 and 6.

Monday, November 5, 2018

My Report Q4 2018


My Report Q4 2018. I bear sole responsibility for its contents.

It is early November, and already I am writing a report. Events compel me. One of Jeff' Hewitt's donors hosted a party for volunteers last night. The energy there opened my heart. Talented, energetic, passionate young people filled the house. Fireside stories had us all laughing and proud of what we had accomplished together. The Hewitt campaign brought organizing to a level beyond anything I have experienced before in campaign activism. To a level that has the moneyed establishment afraid and lashing out. Just being at that one gathering validated all my investment in Jeff's campaign, and then some. I can't keep quiet about it. This is what positive political change looks like.

One of our own, a passionate libertarian and former LP officer is on the cusp of winning one of the most powerful elected offices in Riverside County. That County is bigger than a lot of countries. The Supervisors control a multi-billion dollar annual budget. Jeff is in a classic David-versus-Goliath fight, a grassroots campaign against a big money candidate supported by developers and public employee unions. But his campaign has real traction, and many pundits are thinking Jeff has a decent chance to win a close race. I'm so proud of that whole crew. Every vote counts. To help out or just get your name on the list of supporters, sign up at www.votehewitt.com.

Another close race of a similar type is the race for Mayor of Oxnard. Aaron and Alicia are shaking up the Oxnard establishment. Again. But now, the people might win for a change. Sign up at www.starrforoxnard.com

The Starr and Hewitt campaigns are both grassroots campaigns against establishment money-backed politicians, for offices powerful enough to attract serious money. These two will stick around. Whether they win this cycle or next, they have already raised effective challenges to Big Money. Once they prove Big Money can be beat, watch out! We'll see more successful challenges following similar campaign strategies. Cracks in the Big Money dam are springing leaks.

Many other campaigns are going on. Hewitt and Starr are the only two I know running close races for prominent offices in Southern California. Other races are more "Phase One" type campaigns, raising public awareness but far behind in the polls. These campaigns can still succeed by bringing new members, making their campaigns as appealing as possible to the widest diversity of potential libertarian voters while exposing the electorate to libertarian principles of non-aggression in governance.

Whatever type of campaign you are running or supporting, it's great that activists are putting aside their differences and focusing on campaigns. When the campaigning is over we need to get back to the job of repairing our networks.

In any endeavor we will face frustrations and setbacks. Work is work, and the biggest obstacle we face is ourselves. One of our senior members for whom I have much respect made a remark in an online forum. Something to the effect that the LP has its own legislature, which is the executive committee, its own administration, which are the officers, and its own judicial system, which is the judicial committee. I hope that's not an unfair characterization; if you think me wrong please point out my error in the comments. Perhaps I misunderstood her meaning.

For whatever reason the remark stuck with me--as an object lesson, helping me realize that our members aren't here to subject themselves to another layer of government. Our members are here to network and do activism for liberty under a state-sanctioned banner with access to the ballot box. It's the only essential purpose of having a Libertarian Party in the first place. Fulfilling that purpose is our highest duty as officers. 

We can't fulfill our purpose with respecting different viewpoints. Sometimes that requires pointing out differences, with respect and humility. We have to understand and respect one another to work together. 

Another discussion on the Ex Com message board stuck in my head. I made a remark about officers not being more important than other activists. Others disagreed with passion. Perhaps I misunderstood the intent, but the notion (intended or not) that non-officers need to shut up and obey officers triggered me. Not only because I favor individual responsibility over authority. Also because in a democratic institution run by Robert's Rules, the notion is exactly backwards. Members do not serve the officers. Officers serve the members.

Our officers' job is simple. Keep house so we don't lose our political party status under the California Election Code. Hold a great convention every year that attracts new members and builds networking connections. Avoid power plays and actions that divide the membership. Don't use our offices as personal fiefdoms. Remain neutral in the performance of the office and help make the LPC a safe and rewarding place for everyone who advocates for liberty. Leave our activists alone to run their own activism and campaigns.

Sometime we lose sight of our purpose, and get distracted by conflicts between members. The worst thing we can do is get involved as officers, trying to determine winners and losers in personal contests for dominance and validation. We abuse our offices when we use them that way, and undermine the purpose of the Party. We will not succeed by emulating the top-down strategies of the parties in power.

Ignoring our own mistakes is a losing strategy. Apologizing is important and effective, and so is cleaning up the messes we make. Let's clean up one of those messes now.

At LPC's last Ex-Com meeting, we passed judgment on actions of former officers of an affiliate--activists who were out working on campaigns. They weren't there, we hadn't invited them to our meeting nor had they asked for our input. We can pretend we never made a ruling, or minimize the outcome by calling it "just a recommendation." Either would be a mistake. Our recommendations enable fair solutions, or they are a waste of time, a liability for the Party, an invitation to future conflict, an injury to our dedicated activists, and a frustration of our purpose. Our motion did not enable any solutions.

So let's retract our last motion on the San Bernardino controversy. Acknowledge that the process and result were wrong. Nullify our own edict. Apologize to the membership.

What do you think?





Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Emergency Report

To the hypocrites who have been accusing me of bias in the performance of my duties as Southern Vice Chair:

I take your accusations seriously, and will work to sharpen my bias in favor of the Southern California membership as a whole. Officers owe the membership an even hand in the performance of their duties. To my knowledge, I have taken no official actions against any member, and have been careful to avoid speaking ill of anyone, limiting my protests to what I believe are violations of bylaws, Robert's Rules, or the non-aggression principal by Party officers in their official duties, always focusing on the conduct without ad hominum attacks. I have not held or consented to any secret trials, moved meetings for the express purpose of excluding members and muting dissent, written new bylaws without the consent of membership, sought to ban, censure or exclude any person by edict or vote, spread falsehoods about activists, interfered with relationships between members, brought any action to a judicial committee, sought to overturn the will of any affiliate as expressed in their bylaws or votes, inserted myself into the internal affairs of affiliates of which I am not a member, or impaled anyone with my pointy hat. All you my accusers have done at least one of these things, some in very recent days.

You will not cow me by your hypocritical attacks into withdrawing my support and affection for good activists and exemplary Libertarians. I will not divert our activism by bringing motions to the Judicial Committee. The members shall decide what is to be done with me or my motions at our public meetings and assemblies conducted in accordance with our bylaws, insofar as Party business is concerned. I pledge my undying loyalty to those who would obey the non-aggression principal and Golden Rule in pursuit of greater liberty and justice for all, and my eternal scorn for hypocrisy, including my own should I be so blind, so help me God or Cosmos.

To all:

Nobody is perfect. Please give me your critical feedback in good faith and not without self-examination. My door is always open to members for private consultation regarding Southern California Party business, if you will only ask. Be well.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

SVC Report Q2 2018

California Libertarian Party
Southern Vice Chair Report
June 9, 2018

Events: Los Angeles Libertarian Party Annual Convention held Saturday June 2nd 2018 at Taix French Restaurant in Los Angeles. Officers were elected as follows:
Angela McArdle, Chair,
Kevin Shaw, Vice-Chair
David Bowers, Secretary
Manny Robledo, Treasurer

Southern California Libertarian Conference, Saturday June 23, 2018, 12pm-4pm program, 4pm-shutdown after party. Geezers, 12120 Telegraph Rd, Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670. Confirmed speakers include Aaron Starr, Alicia Matson, and Boomer Shannon. And more!

Election results in So. Cal. or Statewide from So. Cal.: Oxnard Recall Election May 1, 2018 Starr, Aaron, City of Oxnard Mayor shook up the City of Oxnard with his crusade of civic reform, winning a resounding 47%. He battles on. 

California Primary June 5th 2018 [Work in Progress] 
Brown, Autumn (write in) 69th CA Assembly, On To November!
Ferreira, Tim, CA Lt. Governor 1.5%, 9th of 11.
Gibbins, Ben, 52nd Assembly, 2.6%, 4th of 4. Jonathan Director, Tehachapi Cummings Water DIstrict, [unknown] Hancock, Joshua, CA 49th Assembly Herd, Mark Matthew, CA 26th Senate, 3rd of 3. (Baron Bruno as NPP took 2nd!) Hewitt, Jeff, Riverside County Supervisor Dist. 5, 24.9%, 2nd of 5, On To November! Lewis, Michael, 53rd CA Assembly, 7.8%, 3rd of 4. Lightfoot, Gail, CA Secretary of State, 2.4%, 5th of 8. Mahoney, Michael, Orange County Supervisor Dist. 3, 12.3%, 3rd of 3.
McArdle, Angela 34th Congressional (U.S.), 8.5%, 3rd of 3. Reid, Derrick Michael, US Senate, 0.9%, 17th of 34. Reiser, Brandon, 48th Congressional (U.S.), 0.5%, 14th of 16. Robson, Honor, 70th CA Assembly, 17.4%, 2nd of 4, On To November!
Stare, Chris (write in) 51st CA Assembly, On To November! Tomolak, Josh, San Diego City Council [unknown] Wildstar, Nikolas, CA Governor 0.2%, 18th of 27.

Several write in candidates were on the ballot. I lack information about their races at this time.

Overall a relatively high level of energy was out there, and four candidates broke through to November! Thanks to all the candidates and their supporters who put themselves out there as an option for liberty. 2020 is shaping up to be a busy year. Get out there and do some good!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Vice Chair Report Q1 2018

California Libertarian Party Southern Vice Chair Report Q1 2018

Events: San Diego Libertarian Party Annual Convention held Saturday January 27th at the Green Dragon Tavern in Carlsbad. A new slate of officers was elected listed at www.sdlp.org . Executive Chair, Brad Richardson, chair@sdlp.org Vice-Chair, Carlos Morales, vicechair@sdlp.org Treasurer, Unfilled, treasurer@sdlp.org Secretary, John Brandmair, secretary@sdlp.org Membership Chair, Alan Ritter, members@sdlp.org Publicity Chair, Joseph DePaul, pr@sdlp.org Campaigns Chair, Paul King, campaigns@sdlp.org Spokesperson, Don Deangelo, spokesperson@sdlp.org San Bernardino County Libertarian Party Annual Convention held Saturday February 10th in Upland. https://sbclp.org/ . Chair: Tony Tyler Vice Chair: Brian Ryman Treasurer: David Holman Secretary: Ben Gibbins At-Large: Dr. Matthew Pautz California Libertarian Party Annual Convention scheduled for April 27-29 2018, Long Beach Marriot 4700 Airport Plaza Dr Long Beach, CA 90815, https://ca.lp.org/convention/ .
Los Angeles County Libertarian Party Annual Convention scheduled for June 2, 2018, at Taix Restaurant, 1911 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026, time TBA.
Southern California Libertarian Conference, Saturday June 23, 2018, 12pm-4pm program, 4pm-?? after party. Geezers, 12120 Telegraph Rd, Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670
Candidates Running in So. Cal. or Statewide from So. Cal.: Oxnard Recall Election May 1, 2018 Starr, Aaron, City of Oxnard Mayor https://www.starrforoxnard.com/ California Primary June 5th 2018 Ferreira, Tim, CA Lt. Governor https://crm.tim2018.com/ Gibbins, Ben, 52nd Assembly, http://www.bengibbins.com/ Hall, Jonathan Director, Tehachapi Cummings Water DIstrict, http://votersedge.org/ca/en/ballot/election/area/42/contests/contest/14372/candidate/134264?election_authority_id=15 Hancock, Joshua, CA 49th Assembly www.votejoshuahancock49th.us Herd, Mark Matthew, CA 2th Senate https://sites.google.com/site/herdforcd5/ Hewitt, Jeff, Riverside County Supervisor http://www.votehewitt.com/ Lewis, Michael, 53rd CA Assembly https://www.facebook.com/lewisforassembly/ Lightfoot, Gail, CA Secretary of State Mahoney, Michael, Orange County Supervisor ElectMahony.com/ McArdle, Angela 34th Congressional (U.S.) http://angelamcardleforcongress.com/ Reid, Derrick Michael, US Senate www.derrickmreid.com/ Reiser, Brandon, 48th Congressional (U.S.) https://www.brandonreiser.com/ Robson, Honor, 70th CA Assembly https://www.honorrobson.com/ Shaw, Kevin, 38th CA Assembly https://www.facebook.com/KevinShaw4Liberty/ Tomolak, Josh, San Diego City Council www.tomolak4sd.com/ Wildstar, Nikolas, CA Governor http://governorwildstar.com/ This may be the most Libertarian candidates running in a primary in or from Southern California since Top Two. If I have missed anyone or anything let me know and I’ll update the list. For updates or information about candidates in or from Northern California, check out https://ca.lp.org/2018-whos-running/ . To see a video of me delivering this Report, it’s near the beginning at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoGK8mADDAs . Issues: The aftermath of Dovner v. LPLAC is still causing real trouble in LA County. We’ve had officers cooperating to create a zero-sum game where none existed before, to quash activism in the County. Members have expressed serious grievances that have gone unresolved, and alleged actionable torts. Officers have escalated the conflict instead of defusing it. LPLAC will resolve the issue internally. It is fortunate that the victims are dedicated libertarians who are committed to resolution using libertarian principles. They are not likely to sue the Party, but do not expect them to bury the wrongs done to them. I hope that they will continue to expose the wrongs until those responsible take action to make amends. It's so much better than walking away hurt or embittered.
Officers of the Party should be peacemakers, not factional warriors. Our party will only grow by accepting diversity. We can’t build lasting consensus by quashing dissent. When members can’t work out disputes among themselves, the option most consistent with non-aggression is to agree on a process for resolving their differences. Where all are free and equal, only a neutral process acceptable to both parties can resolve questions of fault and set remedies for wrongs. If not the bad feelings continue and past mistakes can’t be fixed. So if you’re a party member and are aware of a grievance against you, reach out and discuss the issue privately with the member who has the grievance. If the other member is offering to meet you, accept the offer! So much the more if you are an officer. Otherwise you are declaring war. The other side can only conclude you have no interest in peace.
Affiliate Support: The LPC has budgeted support for the Southern California LP Office, to be supervised by the S. VIce Chair. Please contact me (jonathan@jaech.net) if you need materials, equipment or other support for LP activism in the region. The budget is large enough to make a difference for grass-roots activism.