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Monday, April 23, 2007

LPCA Convention Day 3

During the Sunday afternoon business session, the registered delegate count hovered around 99 (compared to its peak of about 105), and we almost had to lock people in to maintain our quorum of 49. This put us in the interesting situation that any two or three delegates could block changes to the Platform, which requires 2/3 of those voting but 50%+1 of the registered delegates. Nevertheless, we gamely pushed forward with consideration of the Platform Committee's report.

Item 1 called for repeal of the Real ID act, and passed. Item 2 successfully fixed the apparent contradiction between opposing all strict liability and supporting it for on-the-job injuries, by changing the latter language. Item 3 was to oppose any wall or fence on California's border with Mexico, and failed. Item 4 was a proposal by Starchild to oppose incarceration upon arrest when there is no immediate physical threat from the accused. The delegates were sympathetic to the principle, but were not willing to write on the floor the language that the proposal should have already had concerning questions of bail, crimes of violence, etc. Item 5 was to oppose holding reporters in contempt for not revealing their sources. I was willing to support this only with an exception for the Sixth Amendment right of the accused to have subpoena power, saying "if a reporting is hiding the name of the witness who can save me from the death penalty, I want that reporter to sing". A few other delegates had even firmer objections, and so this item failed too. Item 6 corrected "is comprised of" to "comprises". Item 7's call for proportional representation and multi-member districts was overwhelmingly rejected. Enough delegates opposed item 8's language about deployment of US armed forces beyond America's cause it to fail too.

There were no resolutions offered for consideration, and the penultimate item of business was the announcement that a contract had been signed to host the 2008 convention on a cruise the weekend of April 18 from Los Angeles to Ensenada. Informed that we were $188 short of raising $5000 in donations this weekend, Aaron inspired the delegates to cough up tens and twenties, and had easily reached the $5K mark by the time he persuaded Kevin Takenaga to empty his wallet for the cause. Retiring Chair Aaron Starr then handed the gavel over to incoming Chair Kevin Takenaga, in front of a dozen cameras and the loud applause of delegates grateful for Aaron's six years of service.

The new Executive Committee met after the convention adjourned. In public comments, Jonathan Zwickel discussed his complaint to the Judicial Committee concerning the current dues structure, and Aaron Starr responded that he was still willing to defend the ExCom in that case on the grounds of its clear dues-setting power under Bylaw 5.1.C. He also said he will be continuing to work on the conversion from MYOB to DonorPerfect and QuickBooks, and on compiling the mailing addresses of all elected officials in the state. Executive Director Angela Keaton reported a 2% return rate on a recent renewal mailing, and that work proceeds on integrating DonorPerfect with the web site's order-taking feature.

ExCom voted to offer Tom Cipos a three-month trial as editor of California Freedom. Cipos is Vice Chair of the LA County LP and a contributor to the Libertarian Perspective. Keaton will be supervising Cipos, in lieu of having a Communications chair. The ExCom also voted to get a price quote for switching CF from color to black and white. The ExCom then thoroughly discussed Zander Collier's proposal that it should obtain business cards for each member. I asked Keaton how many times she's used her business cards, and she answered that they've been very useful in making it seem that the LP is not merely a hobby. Chuck Moulton sensibly suggested that each member absorb the cost by arranging to get his own cards, but Kevin said that the cards should be consistent so that we look like a team. It's not clear to me who is going to be comparing the cards of ExCom members, except perhaps the prospective donors that Cowles said should be wooed by ExCom pairs. (As I said before being elected, I'm primarily going to be fund-raising from myself and my wife, and business cards won't help my case very much there.)

Bruce Dovner and the two ExCom alternates Chuck Moulton and Jesse Thomas were nominated to fill the three ExCom vacancies created by the promotion of Newell and Cowles to officers and the resignation of M Carling to allow his service on the Judicial Committee. The three were elected without objection, as they were the top three vote-getters among ExCom candidates who finished "out of the money" (as Dovner put it). ExCom will fill the two alternate seats at a future meeting.

Incoming Treasurer Don Cowles reported that our fixed administrative expenses (rent and salary) are about $3500/month and that ExCom members will need to help him fundraise. He urged everyone to contribute via the LPCA Coffee Club.

Starchild arrived and made his by-now-traditional attempt to move a chair up to the Committee table from gallery seats along the wall. Moulton, Brown and I wanted to explore an alternative to ordering him back to the wall, but as he Starchildishly inched his seat back in response to the order, the episode devolved into farce, and Kevin got back to business once Starchild was sufficiently far from the table.

Ted Brown and the balance of the five officers were nominated to join the Chair on the Operating Committee. The secret ballot was Newell 12, Cain 11, Cowles 10, and Collier and Brown tied at 7. Travel plans called Brown and Dovner away before the subsequent runoff was won 6-4 by Collier.

Cory Nott was chosen as the California rep to the national credentials committee, with Cam McConnell made the alternate after Moulton suggested the need for one. McConnell will also be the initial coordinator for the 2008 LPCA convention. Dan Minkoff will be taking over the reins of the Libertarian Perspective from Newell to clear Rich's plate for his Northern Vice-Chair work.

Moulton requested the first of two or three time extensions to discuss the 2008 convention cruise contract. It has a fixed $2500 cancellation penalty, and each ExCom member was given a chance to express his opposition to floating conventions. Moulton's objection centered on the need for a passport, but Dovner suggested that the rule might be relaxed before the cruise. McConnell complained that the 2006 cruise didn't have many speakers and didn't allow communal LPCA dining, but suggested this may be different next time. Brown defended a convention cruise only to the extent it was better than no convention at all. I said that I enjoyed the 2006 cruise, heard more guest speakers there (1) than I heard at the two 2007 lunches (0 - guest speaker Rod Long canceled), and favored any venue that (like a boat) could lock delegates in and prevent a repeat of today's embarrassing quorum problem. (McConnell himself had earlier requested an apology for the absence from the Platform debate of the incoming Chair, Southern Vice Chair, Treasurer, and Secretary, prompting Takenaga to apologize to Starr.) I also pointed out that this weekend's landlocked convention had barely any more delegates than the cruise convention. Rich then claimed that $5000 was spent to promote the cruise compared to nothing for this weekend, but in the March 2007 P&L statement for 2006 I only see $2355 in convention expenses and $3506 in convention revenue.

The ExCom passed resolutions thanking the convention committee and the outgoing officers, and set the next ExCom meeting for Saturday June 9 in San Diego.

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