The meeting of the LCRC this past Tuesday should have been a very uplifting affair. It was the 1st real meeting we’d had since the crushing victory of Bob McDonnell, Bill Bolling, and Ken Cuccinelli at the statewide level and of the awesome performance of our candidates for the House of Delegates. Loudoun County was at the epicenter of that earthquake: every GOP candidate for a district that so much as touches Loudoun won their election that night. It was a complete turnback of the 2008 elections made possible by the hard work of the LCRC and the leadership of our Chairman Glen Caroline.
And the meeting was, in fact, going in that positive direction at first. Several people who really stepped up during the 2009 elections were recognized for their efforts, as they should be. While the awards and accolades were theirs, the sense of accomplishment belongs to us all. At the start of the meeting it felt that way, too. With the awards ceremony out of the way, however, it was time to get down to the business of the meeting and that business consisted of 2 primary issues: 1) the approval of the party canvass in March where we’ll re-form the LCRC and elect our new chairman and 2) the approval of some changes to our bylaws that we’ve been trying to get to for quite literally a year. The 1st item went OK, with just a little bump in the process. The 2nd, however, is where the meeting went sideways.
As I was in the process of writing this post I realized that I was going to have to recount the events that took place. Fortunately, I’ve been made aware of a write-up posted by Greg Stone wherein Chairman Glen Caroline lays out for the record the sequence of events. If you’re interested in what actually happened, I suggest you go have a read at the above link. I was there and I can attest to the fact that what Glen is reporting is accurate. Feel free to ask me something specific, if you like, in the comments.
What falls to us now is to determine what it all means to us and what actions we need to take now. Right up front, let me say that the people responsible for Tuesday night’s fiasco were a relatively small contingent (about 20-30 people as identified by their voting positions) who are clearly far more concerned with parliamentary process than with political progress. Faced with 10 pages of bylaws amendments, the vast majority of which were technical minutiae designed to align the wording of the LCRC bylaws with those of the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) – a requirement, not a suggestion, I might add – they engineered a situation where everyone was required to spend 1½ hours going through those changes article-by-article. Not once did they offer a serious explanation as to why they considered the proposed language deficient. They spoke much but said little, frankly, and the author of this little sideshow, Mark Sell, said nothing at all.
Mark Sell is well known in the local GOP and for good reason. He’s been tireless in his efforts to support GOP candidates and he’s been very active in the committee for several years. His efforts in this past election were both crucial and effective and the GOP has much to thank him for. None of which excuses his actions at the meeting. And his lame attempt at an “explanation” when he was called to the podium to express why he feels he’s the guy we should be electing to the Chairmanship at the party canvass in March, that he only “wanted to give people the opportunity to ask questions,” is ridiculous. Every member and proxy holder at a meeting of the LCRC is equally permitted to stand and speak and that means everyone can ask questions. If there were members out there who had questions about this measure, they needed to grow themselves a spine and speak up. If it’s even true that there were more members than just the 2-3 who continually argued parliamentary process, that is. Mark’s concern for questions about the changes casually ignores the reality of this measure’s history. From the post by Greg and Glen:
As I noted earlier, not only was Mark Sell part of the sub-committee that reviewed and approved the revisions to our bylaws, but exactly two weeks earlier at our LCRC Executive Committee meeting at the Rust Library in Leesburg, I mentioned to the ExCom [ed.: Executive Committee] and to Mark that we would be voting to review the bylaws and asked him directly, as a member of the subcommittee responsible for the revisions, if he himself had or knew of any potential concerns with the proposed revisions to the bylaws. He answered he had not. Similarly, at multiple times during the previous year when I was hopeful the LCRC would have the opportunity to vote on the revisions to the bylaws, I asked Mark in person at our mutual place of employment that, if he had concerns, knew of concerns, or wanted to discuss these or similar matters, to simply let me know, so we could chat and address them in advance. He did not take me up on my offer.
Emphasis mine. Mark Sell had multiple occasions over the course of a year to bring up concerns and questions before the measure was even entered as a motion. He was one of 4 members who literally wrote this thing and he could have questioned or changed any part of it at will without recourse to arcane rules of order or obscure parliamentary tricks. He deliberately did not do so, waiting until the motion was actually made and on the record to pull this stunt. As Glen said in his interview with Greg, I wonder if it was his and his handlers’ intentions all along to merely put a roadblock into the meeting for the sake of roadblocking, and thereby causing people to leave the meeting prematurely. I’m suspicious that that is precisely what they were after.
That business is behind us but it’s instructive for the business ahead. I’ve mentioned it here before but it’s important to this story to take note of the fact that Mark Sell is running for the office of Chairman of the LCRC. Even with Mark’s accomplishments that I mentioned at the top of this article in mind, it is clear he’s not ready to lead us. Take note:
- Given the chance to focus on the real issues he had with the bylaws amendments – being offered twice the chance to withdraw his motion to vote on things line-by-line, something both Bruce Tulloch and Mark’s colleague on the bylaws committee, Charlie King, urged him to do – he declined. It was clearly more important to Mark to drag things out and get bound up in the process than to get the business completed.
- That wholly unbelievable “explanation” he gave at the beginning of his attempt to give a campaign speech asking us to elect him as Chairman shows a real flaw in leadership. If there were really people out there who wanted to ask questions, a true leader would have given them the gentle nudge they needed to stand up and speak, not taken it over for them and done it in their place. Unless, of course, he’s taking orders from someone else, which is another characteristic I don’t want in a Chairman.
- The entire incident shows a real lack of focus that he’d want to put such time (in the regular meeting of the committee as a whole) into what amounted to technical trivialities rather than keep us tuned to the big picture.
If anything positive came out of this whole debacle it is that it demonstrated very clearly the choice we members of the LCRC have before us. We can have a “leader” more interested in parliamentary minutiae or one interested in leading us to even greater victories in November. We cannot afford to allow people to kill off our momentum with self-aggrandizing stunts designed to do nothing more than cut down the membership so as to magnify their own power and importance. Candace Strother used her moment or two at the podium to articulate her vision for a Loudoun connected with our neighboring Republican organizations, motivated to support the election of our candidates
here at home with an eye toward supporting the nation our forebears established. I’ve already said Candace Strother is the candidate for Loudoun’s Chair who has the skills, experience, and vision we need at this very critical time in our nation, our commonwealth, and our county. This situation shows just how badly we need a chairman like that. Remember this in March and we’ll be better off.