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Saturday, April 25, 2009

LPCA Convention Day 1

Saturday's breakfast talk was by Chris Agrella, running for Congress in the May 19 special election in district 32. His theme was resistance to the incumbent political structure. He pointed out that the original American revolutionaries could resist the government with arms on a relatively level playing field, but that now we must resist with election campaigns.

Chair Kevin Takenaga reported on the activities of the previous year: the candidate rally on the Sacramento capitol steps, an event for columnist Steven Greenhut re-registering as Libertarian, and half a dozen other fundraisers and house parties (featuring e.g. Wayne Root and Ed Clark). He celebrated all our elected Libertarians, including John Inks's election to the Mountain View city council and Tom Tryon's 7th term as a county supervisor. Takenaga described all the moving parts of the LPCA operation that recently got Chris Agrella onto Fox-LA TV after going through LPCA "candidate finishing school".

Northern Vice Chair Rich Newell reported that a couple of NorCal counties have new young Chairs, Sandy Keating and Kate Moore. Newell said there have now been ten issues of the eFlyer electronic newsletter, and that the distribution list is up to 10,000. Southern Vice Chair Zander Collier reported on convention location scouting and his initiative to find LP prospects by mining demographic data.

Treasurer Don Cowles reported that 2008's deficit was cut to $5000 from $27K in 2007, by reducing expenses from $105K to $88K. The 2008 convention was self-financing (at $15K), so the remaining major 2008 expenses were staff compensation ($32K), office overhead ($10K), and newsletter costs ($17K). (The newsletter costs break down to $6K for printing, $5K for postage, and $6K for editing and layout.) Secretary Beau Cain reported that our membership is roughly the same as two years ago (about 1200) and that we have 86K registered Libertarians. Cain now enjoys automated generation of county rosters and will be extracting a list of all standing resolutions from archived Executive Committee minutes.

Keynote speaker Ed Coleman is an Indianapolis city councilman who recently switched to the LP, making him the elected Libertarian with the most constituents in the country. He recounted the inappropriate pressures that local Republican party officials put on him. He said that his unwillingness to sell favors hasn't necessarily hurt his fundraising, and has even brought him promises of future campaign contributions. Coleman said he sees the purpose of government as just to protect people from aggression and to ensure access to water, electricity, and streets. He said he wanted the government out of his church, his bedroom, and his wallet.

74 delegates have been credentialed so far at the convention. They rejected a Bylaws Committee proposal to restrict convention delegates to those who were LPCA members for the previous 90 days; the current Bylaws give credit for any 90-day period in the past. The committee's other proposal, to make ExCom email votes be roll-call votes, was approved.

Rob Power, Chair of the Outright Libertarians and LP San Francisco, proposed a resolution to undo the ExCom's endorsement of the Domestic Partnership Initiative. DPI would repeal the Prop 8 ban on gay marriage, and replace the word 'marriage' with 'domestic partnership' throughout California law. The resolution attacked DPI as "particularly misleading in Libertarian terms", calling it a "social engineering scheme that undermines progress on equal rights". The resolution failed 18-25, and the convention overwhelmingly approved a subsequent resolution reaffirming the LPCA's position that Prop 8 should be repealed.

The Platform Committee proposed adding to the Arts and Society plank 24 new lines, written largely by Starchild, contrasting art and "bureaucracy". The delegates rejected the change, keeping the current 9-line plank (which says quite profoundly "Taxation of an artist to support another artist is a form of censorship."). The delegates approved deletion of the clause "where governments exist" in the Judicial plank about trial by jury.

Treasurer Cowles and Secretary Cain announced that they would not be running for re-election, as Cowles is moving to Nevada to escape California's taxes, and Cain will be focusing on his paid staff duties in LPCA HQ. The officer elections were postponed to Sunday, as delegates wanted to find out more about who might be running for party office. ExCom members who won't be running for re-election include Ted Brown (retiring after decades of service), Cam McConnell (moving to Tennessee), and Brian Holtz (too busy with family, career, elected office, and PlatCom). Rob Power resigned his seat last month, and one other ExCom member is rumored not to be running for re-election, but on the convention floor there were no buttons or literature for any seekers of party office.

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