It’s been nearly 2 months since the Virginia Republican 10th District Convention was held where incumbent Jim Rich was re-elected amid a very contentious convention. As I’ve stated elsewhere already, the vote wasn’t close. Rich garnered about 60% of the vote which is a larger margin than most decisions made these days. (Unless you count the shellacking the Republican candidates in Loudoun County have been taking in the last couple of elections.) My issue isn’t with supporting a candidate who loses in a fair election. It’s when the election, in this case within the convention, isn’t run fairly and in accordance with the stated Rules. As I stated in my previous posts the conduct of the convention left a lot to be desired. In fact, the conduct was so far outside the Rules virtually every decision of significance discussed there has to be considered tainted.
What brings all this back for me at this time is a letter I received in the mail from Mike McHugh, the campaign manager for Heidi Stirrup. Heidi is the candidate I supported and I believe – now more than ever – that she would be the better chairman for the 10th District. The majority of the delegates at the convention thought otherwise and that’s the way it goes in a democracy. I’ve got no issue with that. The letter speaks of the appeal process wherein Mike McHugh and Heidi are suggesting that the State Party rule the convention void and mandate a do-over. The arguments put forth in the enclosed document amount to basically the same things I’ve said about the convention, with a few added items. The appeal complaints from the letter are these (copied as shown in the letter):
- Chairman Jim Rich improperly prevented proper motions and points of order regarding the credentials of Democrats and others during the process of the Temporary Chair election.
- Chairman Jim Rich improperly allowed a contested vote for Temorary Chairman of the Convention to be conducted without regard for the weighted vote rule.
- Chairman Jim Rich improperly allowed an illegally elected Temporary Chairman to assume the Chair while calls for division and points of order were made by delegates.
- The illegally elected Temporary Chairman ignored proper motions and points of order by delegates; skipped proper procedure (e.g. conducted illegal votes on the Rules Committee and Nominations Committee reports before allowing the Convention to finalize credentials) and held other illegal votes thereby abusing the voting rights of delegates.
- The illegally elected Temporary Chairman prevented proper motions regarding the credentials of Democrats and others during the Credentials Committee report adoption and thereby destroyed the legality of the weighted vote at the Convention.
I was, as I mentioned, present at these events and I’ve already commented on most of them. The letter goes into each complaint in greater detail and, to be completely honest, there’s not a lot in the way of wiggle room for people who would dismiss these complaints. The fact of the matter is that everything alleged in these complaints did, in fact, occur and did so both in front of witnesses and on tape. That the events alleged in the complaints also violate the Rules of Order – which were the rules the Convention was to run upon – is something that cannot be denied by anyone with even a passing familiarity with those Rules. Some may feel there was justification in violating those Rules, yes, but that does not mean the violations didn’t occur. The Convention was run in a manner inconsistent with the explicitly accepted Rules of Order and that is a fact.
I’m unhappy about it. I believe the people running the convention seriously overstepped their authority under the stated Rules governing the convention and acted both illegally and unethically. There should be repercussions for their actions. But there’s such as a thing as fighting a battle that will lose you the war. (Think of the Confederate actions at Gettysburg or the German obsession with Stalingrad.) If this convention had been held last year or next year I’d consider the attempt to appeal it worth the effort and would support the notion of ruling the convention null and void. To do that now, however, means that we need to re-run the convention. The best scenario I can imagine for that action would bring us to running the convention in late July or August at the very earliest. The delegates would need to dedicate yet another Saturday to the effort and many of them will be taking vacation now. And let us not forget that Frank Wolf’s and George Allen’s elections in November won’t wait while this is going on. They need the efforts of the Party to be focused on their campaigns, not on fighting the same battle over again.
The fight does need to be fought, make no mistake on my stance regarding that issue. But you choose the ground you fight on and in this case, the most significant ground is time. The time for this fight has passed and there are more important opponents to square off against. As much as I dislike the conduct of those running the Convention in May, I cannot imagine an outcome of this appeal and a do-over of the Convention that would aid the Republican Party in general and our candidates specifically. In fact, I believe it would hurt them.
My unsolicited advice to Heidi Stirrup and Mike McHugh is to shelve this battle and bend their efforts to getting Frank Wolf and George Allen re-elected. When that effort is done and the November elections are in the history books, there will be time enough to stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood, disguise fair nature with hard-favored rage and lend to the eyes a terrible aspect.
Time enough, indeed.
I got a note on this from my local Board Supervisor but this morning’s WaPo is the first I’ve seen on it in print, so I’ll refer you here for the story. The brief is that the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors has voted to place a referendum on the November ballot asking the county’s voters to decide on whether the county should spend local funds for building roads here in the county.
Loudoun County voters will have a chance this fall to decide whether the county should start spending local tax dollars to design and build roads.
Supervisors voted Tuesday to hold a referendum Nov. 7 asking voters for permission to borrow $51.3 million for several projects across the county — a significant new direction that reflects supervisors’ growing frustration with what they view as the state’s inadequate commitment to roads. The bond package would be paid off using county revenue.
“Counting on state funds is my first preference,” said Supervisor Lori L. Waters (R-Broad Run), the proposal’s lead advocate on the board. “But there are improvements that are never going to get done unless we do things a little differently.”
The suggestion is to permit the County to issue bonds – the same mechanism they use to build schools – to raise funds for building roads. The money they’re talking about this time would go toward building an interchange between 2 fairly heavily-used roads near here (it needs it, to be sure) and toward the design of 6 other projects around the area.
Let me say, right off, that I approve of putting this kind of action in front of the voters. There will be no room to maneuver for those who would claim that the Board is enacting a bad policy by either approving or denying this move. The voters are going to be doing this one, so that’s where the responsibility will lie. The trick is going to be in educating the voters as to the real issue before them before election day. I say “the real issue” because this vote is not about whether an interchange or road expansion should be built, it’s about whether we start taking out loans locally to build them.
Since I’m writing about it, I’ll be happy to take a stab at an initial stance on the matter. As of this moment, I intend to vote the measure down. I am glad to hear that Supervisor Waters’ first preference is for state funds. That’s where the funding for road projects is supposed to come from and it’s part of what I pay state taxes for. I disagree with her, however, that such improvements will never get done without funding them ourselves. Moreover, I think it sets a dangerous precedent for a couple of reasons.
As I have already alluded, I don’t like the idea of paying state taxes for road improvements and then having to pony up local taxes to pay off loans taken out to pay for road improvements. If the issue is that we’re only getting 30 cents back on every dollar we send to Richmond, then that’s the problem that needs fixing, not adding more taxes. While we’re on the subject, I would need to see what mechanisms are being proposed that would keep someone from diverting the funds collected for these improvements to some other project. That’s the issue that convinced me to vote against the northern Virginia tax assessment for road improvements up here that came up a few years ago. (There was no such mechanism in place nor was there one being proposed.)
Going past that issue, what guarantee is there that Richmond won’t look at the funds raised in this manner and simply decide to cut what state funds we still get by that amount? (As in: “Well, Loudoun’s handling the building of that interchange, so they don’t need the $30 million in state funds. Let’s just send that down south!”) This referendum is being proposed because we’re already not getting our fair share of road funding as it stands. I don’t want to do anything that’s going to aggravate the problem.
Lastly, I’m afraid of what else we’ll get tired of waiting for the state to fund with the taxes they collect. This is the precedent I was afraid of. It’s a small concern, so long as they continue to put such things before the voters. But I don’t want to keep paying for things twice and I’m concerned that when I do it once, someone down the road, here, will start thinking I should do it again.
This debate is very, very new and we need to gather all the info, ask all the questions, and discuss it, publicly. I look foward to that debate. Care to put your 2 cents in? Leave a comment here and let’s get this party started.