Moulton: Open Letter To LNC Regarding Floor Fees

Chuck Moulton, the new chairman of the Libertarian Party of Virginia, today released an Open Letter to the National Committee regarding floor fees.

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Libertarian National Committee,

I strongly object to a mandatory floor fee for delegates and urge the full LNC to overturn the convention oversight committee’s imposition of such a fee.

A floor fee is not explicitly authorized by the bylaws and is implicitly prohibited by lack of authorization.  I will dedicate my full efforts to fighting any attempt by the LNC to circumvent the bylaws, including a judicial committee challenge and/or a credentials fight on the floor of the convention if necessary — even though I hate wasting valuable time on matters such as this.

I say this not as a so-called “povertarian” (in fact I purchased a gold package for both the 2012 and 2010 conventions) or as a contrarian, but rather as a longtime libertarian activist, current Virginia state chair, former LNC vice-chair, current bylaws committee member, professional registered parliamentarian, and an attorney.  Voting rights in an organization are fundamental; I vigorously oppose depriving people of their right to vote on party business.

I’ll address the arguments in several broad sections, drawing on my past writings successfully opposing the mandatory floor fee in 2007 and 2010 and on points I’ve seen from others with whom I agree.

BYLAWS

I find the interpretation authorizing a mandatory floor fee a stretch of the letter of the bylaws and a clear violation of their spirit.  A more appropriate way to transition to a mandatory floor fee system would be to introduce a bylaws change unambiguously authorizing or requiring a floor fee or a registration fee for each delegate covering the cost of renting the room, etc., rather than departing from 40 years of LP history in which there was no mandatory floor fee.

According to the LP bylaws the affiliate parties have the exclusive privilege of selecting delegates and the autonomy of the affiliate parties (including the selection of its delegates) shall not be abridged by the LNC except as provided by the bylaws.  Delegates are accredited members of the state or national party who have registered at the convention.  I see no language that empowers the LNC to require a fee for that registration.  Doing so would abridge the autonomy of the affiliates in delegate selection and I seek clear unambiguous language when that is done.

The right to vote is rendered meaningless if the LNC is allowed to set some arbitrary fee or other barrier to floor access.  Under the logic of those who assert a floor fee is authorized, what prevents the LNC from setting the floor fee at $10,000?

Relevant Bylaws: http://www.lp.org/files/bylaws-2010-1207.pdf

ARTICLE 6: AFFILIATE PARTIES

3. There shall be no more than one state-level affiliate party in any one state. Each state level affiliate party shall, in accordance with its own Bylaws and these Bylaws, determine who shall be its delegates to all Regular Conventions. …

5. The autonomy of the affiliate and sub-affiliate parties shall not be abridged by the National Committee or any other committee of the Party, except as provided by these Bylaws.

ARTICLE 11: CONVENTIONS

3. Delegates:

a. Delegates shall be required to be members of either the Party or an affiliate party. At all Regular Conventions delegates shall be those so accredited who have registered at the Convention. At all Non-Regular Conventions, any person who wishes to attend may do so.

b. Any federal or state law to the contrary notwithstanding, delegates to a Regular Convention shall be selected by a method adopted by each affiliate party; provided however, that only members of the Party as defined in these Bylaws, or members of the affiliate party as defined in the constitution or bylaws of such affiliate party, shall be eligible to vote for the selection of delegates to a Regular Convention.

ROBERT’S RULES

Although the logic in favor of a mandatory floor fee in 2007 and 2010 centered around language in the convention rules about being “present on the floor” that has since been removed (“In order to vote on a given matter, a delegate must be present on the floor at the time the vote is taken.” was in convention rule 2 until 2010), some parliamentarians reaching for a justification to disenfranchise members have settled on language in RONR about registration procedures.

RONR (10th ed.), p. 593, l. 13, 18-21:

Registration — which normally includes these steps:

c) Recording of the member as officially registered, upon his paying the registration fee (which is sometimes sent in advance) and signing the list of registrations; and

Just because registration “normally includes” paying a fee doesn’t mean a fee is thereby authorized.

Normal procedure is often a function of what the majority of organizations have in their bylaws and do by custom.  There are many things that are normally done which are contradicted by bylaws in general and the LP bylaws specifically.  The bylaws take precedence.  For example, the national association of parliamentarians charges a fee to attend their convention.  That fee, and the right to charge it, is defined in their bylaws.

I don’t believe our bylaws explicitly allow a fee or explicitly forbid it; however, the bylaws do implicitly forbid a fee by listing qualifications and not listing payment of fee as one of those qualifications.

This is clearly a gray area because it is not made explicit.  In interpreting, the implicit arguments have to be weighed against one another.  In this case I would look at principles of interpretation and custom.

Custom is straightforward. We have never charged a mandatory registration fee or a floor fee for business sessions in the Libertarian Party’s 40 year history.  This leads me to the conclusion that for the purposes of our organization, registration does not “normally include” a fee.

A principle of interpretation is on point.  “If the bylaws authorize certain things specifically, other things of the same class are thereby prohibited.” RONR (10th ed.), p. 571, l. 24-25.  In this case the bylaws list qualifications for being a delegate. Imposing other qualifications that are not listed in the bylaws is therefore prohibited.  Robert’s is even more specific on the subject of fees: “Members cannot be assessed any additional payment aside from their dues unless it is provided for in the bylaws.” RONR (10th ed.), p. 555, l. 2-4.

POLL TAX

A floor fee could be perceived as a poll tax (i.e., a tax required to vote for a candidate running for public office).  Poll taxes have a long and sordid history in our country.  I do not think it reflects well on the Libertarian Party to depart from our somewhat egalitarian system to a monetocracy that purposely or accidentally excludes LP members from participating in decision making based on income level by attaching a fee to the right to vote.  Even the PERCEPTION of imposing a poll tax from above (as distinguished from the reality) could be very negative for the LP’s image.

The Democrats and Republicans do not require a floor fee.  They get by without such a fee because they actually know how to raise external cash, which is completely legal for a convention host committee under BCRA.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poll_tax

Tax on Voting

A poll tax, on the sense of a discriminatory tax which was a pre-condition of the exercise of the right to vote, emerged in some US states between the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries. After the right to vote was extended to all races by the enactment of the 15th Amendment, many Southern states enacted poll tax laws which often included a grandfather clause that allowed any adult male whose father or grandfather had voted in a specific year prior to the abolition of slavery to vote without paying the tax. These laws achieved the desired effect of disenfranchising African and Native Americans, as well as poor whites who immigrated after the year specified.

The United States government did not levy any poll taxes that blocked access to voting rights. Partly this is because the national government earned its revenues from income tax and excise taxes rather than from capitation, which required apportionment among the states.[2] Also, this is because the national government didn’t conduct elections for its offices, instead delegating conduct of elections to the states.

The 24th Amendment, ratified in 1964, outlawed the use of this tax (or any other tax) as a pre-condition in voting in Federal elections. The 1966 Supreme Court case Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections extended this explicit enactment as a matter of judicial interpretation of a more general provision, ruling that the imposition of a poll tax in state elections violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. This is one of several rulings that rely on the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment rather than the more direct provision of the 15th.

SUBSIDIZING

There is confusion about the direction of subsidization.  Here language is important, as some libertarians talk about people “paying their fair share” or quote the Milton Friedman gem “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”.  But what is “fair”?  And is giving elected delegates a say in party business really a “free lunch”?

The fact is conventions could be put on much cheaper at less fancy venues.  Some of us (myself included) like nicer hotels.  Those delegates who would prefer to be frugal with their money (perhaps so they have more money left to run as LP candidates and support libertarian causes) should not have to subsidize our preference for fancy hotels.

More importantly, those that claim delegates who pay no registration fee are being subsidized miss that those delegates are providing a valuable service to the rest of the LP members who do not attend the convention by doing party business (electing LNC members, picking our presidential ticket, passing resolutions, and amending our party documents).  Since those of us who do attend the convention have to lay out $500 to $1,500 to get to it, it is convention attendees — free or not — who are subsidizing $25 members who do not attend.  I see the convention as a core function of the party.  In my opinion a portion of dues ought to subsidize the business session portion of the convention.

The smaller our fee, the more people will attend the convention (basic supply and demand).  We should be using our convention to energize activists, candidates, and party leaders.  I know I’ve left all the national conventions I’ve attended very energized.  Subsidizing some of the convention cost is a small price to pay for increased libertarian activism extended to a greater number of people.

Here are several reasonable alternatives for funding the business session without a mandatory floor fee:

  1. Classifying conventions as a core expenditure and using a portion of membership fees
  2. Getting major donors or corporations to sponsor with large contributions
  3. Covering the convention hall with other delegate packages (i.e., the “subsidizing” slur)
  4. Covering the convention hall with hotel room commitments and meal commitments

COST

I’ve heard arguments that this convention will lose money without a floor fee.  Well, tough.  There’s a saying:

Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.

The LNC signed a bad contract.  Signing a bad contract doesn’t entitle the LNC to then circumvent the bylaws to bail itself out.

It wouldn’t even work anyway.  The floor fee may look like good accounting, but it’s terrible economics.  The accounting only looks good because it assumes changes in price do not affect behavior.  I’ve got news for you: changes in price do affect behavior.  Raising the cost of attendance will lead to less attendance.  The LNC and convention organizing committee should be doing everything it can to encourage more attendance — especially since they need to fill a room block in order to avoid hotel charges for not meeting the room commitment.  If a delegate pays no floor fee but gets a room in the hotel, that may save the LNC penalty money in the long run.

Delegates who do not pay a floor fee may also decide a luncheon speaker looks particularly interesting and buy a meal event last minute.  Or they may be so energized by the convention that they petition as a volunteer for our presidential ticket, saving the LNC money that would have been spent on ballot access for paid petitioners.  Or they may be motivated to run for office as a Libertarian.  Turning away delegates with a mandatory business session fee could be shortsighted with respect to future LP growth.

For the reasons above, I strongly oppose imposition of a mandatory floor fee for delegates.

We survived 40 years without a floor fee and I suspect we can weather one more convention while we wait for the delegates to take action on a bylaws change making their preferences explicit.

Chuck Moulton
Chair, Libertarian Party of Virginia

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The above Moulton letter was sent to the members of the Libertarian National Committee on Fri, 02 Mar 2012 21:13:31 -0500; and the recipient list included:

Mark Hinkle <chair@lp.org>

Mark Rutherford <vicechair@lp.org>

Alicia Mattson <secretary@lp.org>

William Redpath <treasurer@lp.org>

Randy Eshelman <Randy.Eshelman@lp.org>

Kevin Knedler <Kevin.Knedler@lp.org>

Wayne Allyn Root <Wayne.Root@lp.org>

Mary Ruwart <Mary.Ruwart@lp.org>

Rebecca Sink-Burris <Rebecca.Sink-Burris@lp.org>

Doug Craig <Doug.Craig@lp.org>

Stewart Flood <Stewart.Flood@lp.org>

Daniel Wiener <Daniel.Wiener@lp.org>

Scott Lieberman <Scott.Lieberman@lp.org>

Guy McLendon <Guy.McLendon@lp.org>

Brad Ploeger <Brad.Ploeger@lp.org>

Vicki Kirkland <Vicki.Kirkland@lp.org>

David Blau <David.Blau@lp.org>

Andy Wolf <Andrew.Wolf@lp.org>

Sam Goldstein <Sam.Goldstein@lp.org>

Norman Olsen <Norman.Olsen@lp.org>

Brett Pojunis <Brett.Pojunis@lp.org>

James Lark <James.Lark@lp.org>

Marakay Rogers <Marakay.Rogers@lp.org>

Daniel Karlan <Daniel.Karlan@lp.org>

Audrey Capozzi <Audrey.Capozzi@LP.org>

– end –

 

208 thoughts on “Moulton: Open Letter To LNC Regarding Floor Fees

  1. Andy

    “The fact is conventions could be put on much cheaper at less fancy venues.”

    I’ve long thought that more people would attend these conventions if it weren’t so freakin’ expensive.

    It’s not just about whether a person can afford to attend a convention either, it is also whether they think that dropping $1,500-$2,000 plus to attend a convention is a good use of their money. A person may have enough money to where they can afford to go, but they’d prefer to spend the money on other things, perhaps even on other forms of Libertarian activism which they believe to be a more productive use of their money than giving a bunch of it to some fancy hotel so they can sit around and listen to people preach to the choir and engage in a big circle jerk.

  2. Brian Holtz

    I oppose a mandatory floor fee. I also oppose misconstruing our rules. Chuck takes RONR v10 p.555 out of context, as I explained back in 2010:

    RONR 555.2-4 is in the middle of a discussion of what should be said by the Bylaw article that defines membership. It’s only about the requirements for membership, and lines 2-4 are just saying that no fees beyond dues can be required for membership. This has nothing to do with whether a registration fee can be charged to the tiny subset of members who are delegates to a convention. Instead, it would forbid the LP from, say, requiring all members to also buy an LP News subscription, over and above their dues.

    What prevents the LNC from setting the floor fee at $10,000? The same thing that prevents the LNC from siting the convention at the North Pole. If every possible bad choice of the LNC were against our rules, we wouldn’t need to elect its members.

    Just because some hypothetical registration requirements would be a clear attempt to abridge affiliate autonomy, it does not follow that any registration requirement must necessarily abridge affiliate autonomy. What’s needed here is a rational-basis test. Is requiring $94 for facilities expenses really so irrational that it can only be construed as an attempt to abridge affiliate autonomy? What if registration required giving your signature, or dipping your finger in ink, or removing religious headgear for a floor photo credential? What registration procedure could not be claimed to “abridge affiliate autonomy” so long as a single contrarian delegate objected to it?

    delegates are providing a valuable service to the rest of the LP members who do not attend the convention by doing party business (electing LNC members, picking our presidential ticket, passing resolutions, and amending our party documents). Since those of us who do attend the convention have to lay out $500 to $1,500 to get to it, it is convention attendees — free or not — who are subsidizing $25 members who do not attend.

    Then shouldn’t the dues of the latter be used to defray at least some of the travel costs of the former? How should the LP make a judgment about such matters? Perhaps through an elected committee. We could call it a “national” one. :-)

  3. Nicholas Sarwark

    Just because some hypothetical registration requirements would be a clear attempt to abridge affiliate autonomy, it does not follow that any registration requirement must necessarily abridge affiliate autonomy. What’s needed here is a rational-basis test. Is requiring $94 for facilities expenses really so irrational that it can only be construed as an attempt to abridge affiliate autonomy? What if registration required giving your signature, or dipping your finger in ink, or removing religious headgear for a floor photo credential? What registration procedure could not be claimed to “abridge affiliate autonomy” so long as a single contrarian delegate objected to it?

    The lawyers will get why the line about the rational basis test is hilarious.

    Rational basis is a standard of review that allows very nearly any governmental infringement on freedom, as long as some “rational basis” can be imagined for why it might be a good idea. There’s no balancing of the loss of liberty against the governmental interest. In short, rational basis is a blank check.

    The last thing we need in the LP is an internal rational basis test.

  4. Dr. Tom Stevens

    Re: 7

    I missed the “circle jerk” at the last 4 conventions. Please be sure to let us know what suite it is taking place in this time. I know of a number of local libertarians who would like to show off at such an event.

    Is there a prize for the victor?

  5. Dr. Tom Stevens

    Re: 11

    Only wait – I thought of the prize!

    It has to be “Biggest Dick!”

  6. Robert Capozzi

    9 ns: The lawyers will get why the line about the rational basis test is hilarious.

    me: JDs are indeed an amusing bunch. The “reasonable man” standard is another placeholder pillar in the theory of jurisprudence.

    My understanding is the Russian law lacks these placeholders. It’s codified, or it’s not. That too seems an extreme way to structure an institution.

    If the floor fee was $1, would there be squawking? Would CM write this open letter?

    There might, but this matter might not be such a big deal. This tells me that there is no replacement for placeholders when one employs discernment, which is most of our waking lives.

  7. Robert Capozzi

    cm: Since those of us who do attend the convention have to lay out $500 to $1,500 to get to it, it is convention attendees — free or not — who are subsidizing $25 members who do not attend.

    me: This is the KEY. It’s excellent, big-picture thinking. If NO ONE attends the convention, there is no party. Those who do go are providing, in essence, a service to those who don’t.

    Whether the floor fee can be reversed…dunno. Whether it’s something to get outraged about, not so much. Arguing about the technicalities without the big picture, however, will likely solve nothing.

  8. Brian Holtz

    Nick, it’s true that nanny staters in the lawyering profession have made a mockery of concepts like “rational basis” and “interstate commerce”. That doesn’t mean that Libertarians can’t use those phrases to invoke their proper non-distorted meanings.

    Regardless of what the U.S. government and its courts have done, it would be silly to suggest that a $10,000 floor fee is the same as a $94 floor fee for purposes of considering whether the LNC has a rational basis for setting the fee. There is no convention expense that can rationally be claimed to result in a per-delegate cost of $10,000.

  9. Marc Montoni

    I think the point Nick was making is essentially that the pro-fee people are making the same argument the government does — “whatever isn’t specifically mentioned in the rules (US Constitution, our Bylaws) isn’t prohibited”.

    If one subscribes to that opinion, there is no limit to where that goes. If it’s OK to charge a penny for floor access, why not a dollar? Why not ten, hundred, thousand, then thousand?

    If the limit is only the “good sense” of the national committee, then what happens when the LNC is dominated by $1,000 pay-to-play LNCC members? Oh, I forgot, it already is.

    At least the LNCC was originally set up that way with the full consent of all of its founding and subsequent members.

    The LNC has not demonstrated a lock on collective good sense in almost a decade. It has failed to stem the decline in membership at a time when the ACLU was showing the way on how to grow an organization; it shut off the Unified Membership Program at the same time the Democrats were adopting a near-copy called the “50-state strategy” which is largely responsible for strengthening state affiliates for the win in 2008; it has made itself too busy pursuing minority members to bother addressing declining fundraising and candidate recruitment…

    One can look at the Minutes for recorded votes of LNC members and see which members are more interested in “their faction, all the time”, than are interested in setting goals and figuring out how to obtain the resources needed to implement them.

    As I’ve said before, I might be persuaded to vote in favor of a delegate-set floor fee, although I’d really much rather have 1) **much** higher dues, with an in-kind provision; and 2) corporate sponsorship.

    But in any case, only the members assembled in convention have the right to assess themselves such a fee.

    The proper place to make a floor fee MANDATORY is AT THE CONVENTION, and only by the delegates themselves.

    The LNC needs to squash this thing and get it over with. One good new prospecting program between now and May 2 could recruit 50 to 250 new members. Why not raise some money for it and get to work, and forget about floor fees for the moment?

    Oh, and just because we don’t have a building yet doesn’t mean people won’t be interested in donating to a building fund so that we have money ready when our lease runs out. I could easily see the Party heading into the Convention and announcing it had just raised another quarter-million for the building fund.

    But it’s more important to make some long-time donors angry with a floor fee, I guess.

  10. Marc Montoni

    I think in keeping with the element names for the packages, we should change the names of the last two packages, and make it:

    Gold/Silver/Bronze/Lead/Coal

    … so those of us who attempt to go to the convention and perform the duties we were elected to do as delegates can say what Charlie Brown always says when he goes trick-or-treating: “I got a rock”.

    The TANSTAAFL package of course would be the “Lead” package — and it should be printed in large letters on the name tags — so that the entire convention will know that those of us who purchase a “Lead” package are looked upon as “boat anchors” who only drag the Party down.

    Maybe that will satisfy the snobbatarian impulse.

  11. Wes Wagner

    MM@19

    Excellent idea …. especially since the $94 members are the people who actually lead the party, rather than the people on the LNC who think they can.

  12. Robert Capozzi

    WW, so, if you win the race for Chair, you’ll not be a leader of the LP? If so, please share your theory of leadership…

  13. Thomas L. Knapp

    I don’t think that the intent of the floor fee is to “abridge affiliate autonomy.”

    I think the primary intent of the floor fee is to cover expenses related to putting on the convention (there is a small group with a secondary motive of keeping “the right sort of people” in charge; they’re identifiable by their sneering use of the term “povertarian”).

    The intent of the floor fee, however, isn’t the important thing. The important thing is whether or not it is permissible.

    Neither the bylaws nor RONR provide for a floor fee.

    The bylaws list delegate qualifications, and do not include payment of any fee among those qualifications.

    RONR alludes to a “registration fee” as customary, but doesn’t elaborate at all; the matter is quite clearly left to the body using RONR to incorporate (or not incorporate) into its own rules.

    In addition to rules matters, there’s the matter of custom and precedent: Over the course of 20 national conventions, the LP has never charged a floor fee, and each time one has been proposed, it has been vociferously opposed and ultimately withdrawn.

    Those who support a floor fee have a simple path to follow to get one:

    Convince the delegates at a national convention to approve a bylaws change providing for a floor fee at subsequent conventions.

    I suspect that a properly written bylaws amendment providing for a registration fee — one that includes things like, for example, an amendable limit on the fee so that there’s no “what if they make it $10,000″ slippery slope argument — would, if argued well for, have a good chance of passing.

    A better idea, however, would be to start internally treating the convention as what it is — a biennial business meeting required by the bylaws and budgeted for as operating overhead — rather than as a costly extravaganza with an iffy bottom line.

    That doesn’t mean there can’t be extravaganza stuff, but those who are just there to attend the business meeting shouldn’t be expected to subsidize it. The business meeting and the circus surrounding the business meeting should be treated as two entirely separate things.

  14. George Phillies

    In 2010, the New Path Slate proposed the correct response to the LNC responsibility to run NatCon every two years, namely the LNC should set aside a fixed fraction of membership dues for the purpose, and live within its means on identifying convention sites.

  15. Brian Holtz

    there is no limit to where that goes

    Sure there is: the limit is what is considered rational/reasonable by the National Committee, and upon appeal, by the Judicial Committee and/or the body of the convention (once convened).

    RONR alludes to a “registration fee” as customary, but doesn’t elaborate at all; the matter is quite clearly left to the body using RONR to incorporate (or not incorporate) into its own rules.

    1) There is no mere “allusion” to a registration fee. It explicitly says that “registration normally includes [four] steps”, the third of which is “recording of the members as officially registered, upon his paying the registration fee and signing the list of registrations”.

    2) “Quite clearly”? This isn’t like the discussion on p555 of the membership article of the society’s bylaws, where RONR is suggesting what a society might decide to include in its bylaws. Rather, this is in the middle of a detailed 4-page discussion of the responsibilities and operations of the Credentials Committee, and there is no hint whatsoever in these pages that these procedures are inoperable or forbidden if they aren’t incorporated into the society’s bylaws.

    When Chuck takes RONR v10 p555 out of context, and Tom says a RONR passage “clearly” does something that it obviously does not, then my advice to readers is to get a copy of RONR and check the facts for themselves.

  16. Wes Wagner

    RC@21

    It is not the position of the chair to lead the organization. It is the position of the chair take direction from the members of the organization, provide some advice and guidance where appropriate with a very cautious tone as to no hijack the conversation, and protect the rights of the minority to be heard but balance that with the need that work can still be accomplished effectively.

    The chair position is not a leadership position in a bottom-up member-owned organization, it is a position of responsibility.

  17. Nicholas Sarwark

    Nick, it’s true that nanny staters in the lawyering profession have made a mockery of concepts like “rational basis” and “interstate commerce”. That doesn’t mean that Libertarians can’t use those phrases to invoke their proper non-distorted meanings.

    Rational basis is a term of art from constitutional law. It’s use within the law is its primary meaning.

    Saying you can use it to invoke its “proper non-distorted” meaning is like suggesting that you can have a conversation about “states rights” without invoking racism.

    What rational basis review is is a rubber stamp where everything is permissible as long as a nominally non-absurd justification can be made for it after the fact. It’s the standard you use when you don’t ever want a reviewing court to overturn anything.

    That’s the context people need to decide whether, as you suggest, “What’s needed here is a rational-basis test.”

    As to your most recent argument:

    1) There is no mere “allusion” to a registration fee. It explicitly says that “registration normally includes [four] steps”, the third of which is “recording of the members as officially registered, upon his paying the registration fee and signing the list of registrations”.

    While registration normally includes paying a registration fee in Robert’s Rules, registration has not normally included paying such a fee through the entire history of the Libertarian Party. The proponents of the fee are suggesting that they can redefine “normal” to the generic case outlined in Robert’s and ignore 40 years of the specific case of Libertarian Party practice.

  18. Brian Holtz

    When I said we need a “rational-basis test”, I meant we need to test/check/determine whether there is basis/foundation/pretext that is rational/reasonable/justifiable. If that doesn’t dispose of the $94-vs-$10,000 argument, I’d be interested in hearing why not. Laughing at how government courts use the phrase “rational basis” doesn’t constitute a rebuttal.

    I never claimed that a mandatory floor fee has been normal practice for NatCons. Are you suggesting that if no previous NatCon had required delegates to “sign the list of registrations”, and that were made a requirement in 2012, that would be a Bylaws violation?

    I’m unfamiliar with any principle of interpretation that says that if a practice is called “normal” in Robert’s then its first use is a Bylaws violation if that first use is after N years of non-use. The closest I know of is the advice in RONR v10 p.17 that rules trump custom whenever they conflict, no matter how old the custom. However, it also says that if rules do not conflict with custom, then custom “should be adhered to unless the assembly, by a majority vote, agrees to do otherwise”. This is about a custom that is “treated practically as if it were prescribed by a rule of order”. So the strongest case for a floor fee being a rules violation would be to assert that the non-existence of a registration fee is a de facto rule of order. Given the casual discussion of registration fees in Robert’s, that seems like a stretch. Robert’s says that a rule of order is about “parliamentary procedure” and “related to the order transaction of business in meetings and to the duties of officers in that connection”. Reasonable people can disagree about whether a $94 facilities-cost-sharing registration fee is about “parliamentary procedure” and therefore should be “treated practically as if it were prescribed by a rule of order”.

  19. Brian Holtz

    There’s a clear statement in Robert’s that “paying the registration fee and signing the list of registrations” is “normal”. Were it not for this statement in Robert’s, there would be no case to make that the rules allow a registration fee.

  20. Nicholas Sarwark

    The rule is that, if you’re going to reverse a long-standing custom, you need a clear (and subsequent) statement from the legislature to do so.

    A default rule in Robert’s that’s never been used is not sufficient to override the long-standing custom.

    There are other rules of construction that apply, but I think Chuck has done a more detailed analysis of them and I’ll defer to him.

  21. Brian Holtz

    The clear statement rule seems to be about how to decide whether a subsequent statement from a legislature has reversed a traditional understanding. I don’t see how it privileges a custom to the point that deviation from the custom constitutes a violation of the legislation already in place as the custom arose.

    Chuck’s discussion of RONR p.555 suggests that he hasn’t recently read the 2010 opinion from Henry Roberts at http://www.independentpoliticalreport.com/2010/02/roberts-author-gives-opinion-on-lp-convention-registration-fees/. HMRIII doesn’t directly address the notion of custom, but he presumably is aware the national association of parliamentarians requires a registration fee in its bylaws. Requiring a registration fee is different from allowing one.

    I don’t think I agree with HMRIII on the implications of the convention not having authority to overrule a registration fee except through a bylaws change. If the goal of the body is just to seat delegates who haven’t paid the fee, it can do that simply by amending the credentials report, and that doesn’t require a bylaws change. In the unlikely event that the registration fee isn’t rescinded before the convention, then opponents of the registration fee should be sure to be present when the convention comes to order and the first credentials report is considered.

  22. LP Observer

    Mr. Moulton’s letter includes the following cite:

    RONR (10th ed.), p. 555, l. 2-4.

    From the minutes of the January 10, 2012 LNC meeting:
    “Secretary Mattson noted that we have a new parliamentary authority since our last session, as the 11 edition of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR) has been released, and our bylaws require the adoption of the current edition. The new 11 edition includes a summary of what has changed since the previous version.”

    Practitioners of parliamentary procedural gaming should examine how the new rules may apply to the convention.

  23. Brian Holtz

    RONR v11 is searchable online at Amazon.com. The discussion of the registration fee among the normal steps of registration is identical to v10, only now it’s on p. 612 instead of p. 593.

  24. Eric Sundwall

    “There is no convention expense that can rationally be claimed to result in a per-delegate cost of $10,000.”

    Suppose the convention set it sights on a massive inf0mercial that could potentially influence millions of voters who would than consider actually voting for the LP?

    If we had 10,000 attendees who believed this possible and were willing to spend the 10K each to make it happen. While highly improbable, it is rationally possible.

    Probably better to dangle 5% of the general and 90 million smackers in lieu of . . .

  25. Erik Viker

    Wth the exception of the “poll tax” allegation, which holds no water because a political party does not equal a government, I appreciate Chuck’s well-presented position. I’m still going to cough up the $94 if the LNC does not reduce the cost of the TANSTAAFL package.

  26. Thomas L. Knapp

    BH@26,

    First you say:

    ” There is no mere ‘allusion’ to a registration fee.”

    Then you confirm that yes, all there is is a mere allusion to a registration fee:

    “It explicitly says that “registration normally includes [four] steps’, the third of which is ‘recording of the members as officially registered, upon his paying the registration fee and signing the list of registrations’.”

    It’s not a rule.

    It’s not permission to create a rule from whole cloth with no bylaws provision for that rule.

    It’s just an allusion to an assumed norm (standard or model or pattern regarded as typical) …

    … which, as it happens does not apply to the LP.

    The typical pattern of the LP — as established in 20 of 20 conventions over the course of four decades — is that there’s no registration fee for delegates qua delegates (as opposed to package purchase fees for things delegates might do BESIDES being delegates).

    Perhaps the authors of RONR meant to include a standard/default rule pertaining to registration fees in there somewhere and forgot.

    Or perhaps the authors of RONR meant to imply a standard default rule pertaining to registration fees in there somewhere and are just piss-poor writers.

    But under any reasonable reading, no, the mere allusion to “the registration fee” in RONR does not trump a) a lack of authorization for such a fee in the bylaws and b) 40 years of custom and precedent establishing that no such fee is “normal.”

    And it never will, no matter how many times Alicia Mattson stamps her foot and claims it does, or how many checks Bill Redpath writes to Henry Roberts to so opine.

  27. Brian Holtz

    allusion n. an indirect reference

    Robert’s flat-out names “paying the registration fee” as step 3(a) of the 4 steps that are “normal” in registration.

    “Signing the list of registrations” is step 3(b). Still waiting for an answer to my question above: if no previous NatCon had required delegates to “sign the list of registrations”, and that were made a requirement in 2012, would that be a Bylaws violation?

    Eric, $10,000 as a “convention expense” for an “infomercial” would only be “rational” if the infomercial was even better than these:

  28. paulie

    $10,000 as a “convention expense” for an “infomercial” would only be “rational” if the infomercial was even better than…

    The expense would be for putting them on the air, not necessarily for producing them.

  29. Mark Hilgenberg

    Viral and web based is the way to go now a days. I have been trying to give these away for years, all they need is to be re-voiced. We have several like this.

  30. Thomas L. Knapp

    BH@40,

    “allusion n. an indirect reference”

    Exactly.

    A direct reference would look something like “paying the registration fee (see section 3.4, paragraph b for rules on registration fees.”

    “… normally includes these steps …. upon his paying the registration fee (which is sometimes sent in advance) …” is an indirect reference — an allusion — to something assumed to be covered in detail elsewhere in the rules.

    But in the LP’s case, that assumption is untrue.

  31. Brian Holtz

    The LP bylaws mention delegate registration but don’t define it. RRONR gives four pages of suggestions for how the Credentials Committee may choose to conduct registration. It’s untenable to assert that a society may not follow any of those suggestions (e.g. “signing the list of registrations”) except those incorporated into the society’s bylaws.

  32. matt cholko

    I agree with virtually all of Chuck’s points here, and I oppose the floor fee on principle. I have some advice for proponents of this crap though:

    After this gets shot down, start with a $20 floor fee in 2014. We will still complain about it on IPR, but the opposition won’t spread much beyond us IPR types. That fee will be much more likely to stand up. Then, the precedent for a floor fee will have been set, and every two years it can be raised a bit with the “it’s not even covering the actual costs” argument.

    I’m not sure why I’m giving advice on how to implement something that I oppose. I guess it just bothers me to see people doing something in such a stupid way when there is an (I think) easy way to make it happen.

  33. Watching from afar...

    Seems to me this shit-for-brains argument was emphatically destroyed back in 2010 in Austin, when the idiots-in-charge, who bi-annually propose this cash filter to bail out the LNC’s perpetually-poor convention management (as a flyer, distrubuted at that meeting, pointed out rather clearly), got their collective anal cranials handed to them. Yet the membership in St. Louie got all screwy, and despite tossing out Aaron “I gotta hog the microphone on the floor and talk about everything” Starr on his buck-toothed receding-hairline ass, elected more of these losers into office. And here it goes again. Else why else would someone in California release Holtz from his cave to spout his usual nonsense, let alone fruitlessly argue with two lawyers in Moulton and Sawark–two gentlemen whom Holtz is not fit to carry their jockstraps let alone get anywhere near their level of intelligence.

    Reviewing old comments from two years ago, I can’t help but chuckle at the recycled and long-debunked arguments by these morons. Then I came across this one:

    http://www.independentpoliticalreport.com/2010/02/roberts-author-gives-opinion-on-lp-convention-registration-fees/#comment-164183

    and my chuckles and eye-rolling went to outright laughter, as its sarcasm nails it on the head as to how pathetic it all is.

    People ask about the LP all the time, and I simply direct them here to read, and that’s enough for them to say what a lot of people feel: Losertarians, indeed!

    When the LP starts to actual politick instead of engage in the same meaningless arguments every two years, accomplishing Jack Schitt along the way, then maybe Nolan will not have died in vain.

    While the LP argues floor fees and disenfranchising people, there’s a nation going down the toilet that needs rescuing. Put away the damn fiddles, you pathetic Neros, and pick up the fucking fire hoses, drown the assholes causing this mess, and put out the damn fires!

  34. Thomas L. Knapp

    BH@44,

    “The LP bylaws mention delegate registration but don’t define it.”

    And RONR alludes to a registration fee, but hangs that allusion on an assumption of custom and precedent (“normally”) which does not apply in the LP’s case.

    RONR is a parliamentary authority which is applicable where it is consistent with the bylaws, not an operations manual which supersedes the bylaws whenever it alludes with no detail to something that someone wants.

  35. Brian Holtz

    Nobody is claiming that RONR’s description of the registration process “supersedes the bylaws”, because the bylaws mention registration but don’t in any way describe it — except to say it is an extra delegate attribute beyond accreditation.

    One cannot read the four pages of RONR about the Credentials Committee and then credibly deny it is indeed an operations manual. The section begins by saying “The specific duties of the Credentials Committee are listed below.” Even if no mention of these duties is incorporated into the society’s bylaws, failure of the Credentials Committee to perform any one of the 8 duties would clearly be a violation of the rules. These duties are clearly not intended to be ignored just because they aren’t actually copied and pasted into the society’s bylaws. In fact, it says that the performance of duty 7 (continuation of registrations until the convention ends) can only be customized (by closing registrations earlier) if a bylaw or convention rule explicitly specifies an earlier time.

  36. Robert Capozzi

    27 ww: It is not the position of the chair to lead the organization. It is the position of the chair take direction from the members of the organization, provide some advice and guidance where appropriate with a very cautious tone as to no hijack the conversation, and protect the rights of the minority to be heard but balance that with the need that work can still be accomplished effectively. The chair position is not a leadership position in a bottom-up member-owned organization, it is a position of responsibility.

    me: I’d call that description on of “leadership,” which involves responsibility. Where things get fuzzy is the notion of “taking direction” from the membership. Since the membership is not one-minded, I can’t imagine how that might work.

    For ex., how to run the website, ballot access strategy, promoting the party, recruiting…all of these things involve a wide range of options and a wide range of opinions in the LP. It strikes me as impossible to herd all these cats into an action plan. That would leave the national party as largely a caretaker with virtually no function.

    Perhaps you can expand on your vision of an LP-chaired, responsible but not lead by, Chair Wagner….

  37. Chuck Moulton

    What Sarwark, Knapp, and I have been alluding to with the phrase “Registration — which normally includes these steps” [emphasis added] is a canon of statutory construction called the rule against surplusage (alternatively, the presumption against statutory surplusage or the superfluous language canon).

    Here is one expression of that principle from the CRS’s Statutory Interpretation: General Principles and Recent Trends (page 12):

    A basic principle of statutory interpretation is that courts should “give effect, if possible, to every clause and word of a statute, avoiding, if it may be, any construction which implies that the legislature was ignorant of the meaning of the language it employed.” The modern variant is that statutes should be construed “so as to avoid rendering superfluous” any statutory language.

    In this case the phrase “Registration — which normally includes these steps” is interpreted by Sarwark, Knapp, and I so it doesn’t mean the exact same thing as “Registration — which normally includes these steps“.

    Robert and Balch routinely do not employ generally accepted principles of statutory construction to bylaws and to RONR (which are common sense and logical ways of resolving ambiguities) when they write professional opinions for the Libertarian National Committee. This is the main reason I have found their opinions unpersuasive.

  38. Chuck Moulton

    I’ve received emails from several LNC members and convention oversight committee members filled with angry phrases like “free riders“, “subsidize those unwilling to pay“, “pay their share“, and “welfare and forced subsidies“. This language is pejorative and carries assumptions about responsibility for convention cost that I reject, as I elaborated in my letter above.

    The delegates are attending the convention for the benefit of the organization and the membership, not for their own benefit. This is the key point that those who throw around diminutive, loaded phrases seem to be missing.

    In my opinion the best analogy to drive the point home is a wedding.

    Weddings can be very expensive (depending on the venue). When I attend a friend’s wedding, not only does he pay for the facility, flowers, and photography; but also for alcohol, catering, and cake consumed by the wedding guests. Cost per person has a wide range ($20/person at the low end, $500/person at the high end).

    I have never been sent a bill for my “share” of the wedding costs. Why is that? I must pay to get there, pay for accommodations, pay for electronic gadgets, pay for pet sitting, pay for clothes, and so forth. Why then is it wrong to expect me to pay “my share” of the basic overhead to run the wedding?

    The simple answer is even though I am attending the wedding, the wedding is not for my benefit. The wedding is for the benefit of the bride and the groom; thus the bride and the groom bear the cost of the wedding.

    Similarly, it is a mistake to assume that just because delegates attend a convention, the delegates should necessarily be responsible for a “fair share” of convention costs.

    Could a wedding be arranged at which cost is distributed among the guests? Yes. Could a convention be arranged at which cost is distributed among the delegates? Yes.

    But it is insulting to jump to the conclusion that those who believe delegates should not be assessed for the cost of facilities for the business session are somehow irresponsible or unlibertarian. If floor fee advocates would stop talking down to those who have a different perspective on who ought to bear the cost, then we can start to have an adult conversation about the best way to budget for conventions.

  39. Bill Wood

    Once upon a time I thought when you joined the Libertarian Party your benefits included the right to vote for the Party leadership. That seems to have been thrown out the window. We should be making it easier for the dues paying Members to be able to vote for the leaders and national candidates not add more “hoops” to jump through.

    I still like the idea of regional convention sites with the main convention be telecast to them so members can reduce the cost and travel time of attending the business meetings.

  40. Paulie

    @ “Watching from afar”

    Else why else would someone in California release Holtz from his cave to spout his usual nonsense, let alone fruitlessly argue with two lawyers in Moulton and Sawark–two gentlemen whom Holtz is not fit to carry their jockstraps let alone get anywhere near their level of intelligence.

    I happen to agree with Moulton and Sarwark here, but Holtz is arguing his side of the case well. While I disagree with Brian on any number of fine points of ideology and strategy, he always makes an intelligent argument for his positions and generally keeps it classy, unlike some. And by some I don’t mean Moulton or Sarwark, who do the same plus have the added benefit of being correct more frequently :-)

    Since resorting to ad hominem insults is often an indicator that your side is losing an argument, I’d like to dissociate myself from this type of bitter personal attack, which all too many people (especially on my side of) the LP/movement revel in. I understand the frustration that this sort of sentiment comes out of all too well, which is why I have to work harder than many people not to give in to it, and implore others to do the same.

    While the LP argues floor fees and disenfranchising people, there’s a nation going down the toilet that needs rescuing.

    I agree, and the circular firing squads are certainly not helping.

  41. Paulie

    But it is insulting to jump to the conclusion that those who believe delegates should not be assessed for the cost of facilities for the business session are somehow irresponsible or unlibertarian. If floor fee advocates would stop talking down to those who have a different perspective on who ought to bear the cost, then we can start to have an adult conversation about the best way to budget for conventions.

    Exactly.

    Speaking of which, I discussed this on the phone with an LNC member, and he said that the thing Marc brings up about corporations sponsoring conventions could not apply to us because we also have conventions in non-presidential years.

    Does anyone know more about what that’s about?

  42. Paulie

    In the previous thread about this Marc wrote

    Beyond proper budgeting, raise dues, as I’ve suggested in the past. I would prefer dues at realistic levels — like $1,000 of either time or money. I reject the idea that anyone should be allowed to pay the equivalent of dinner for three at McDonalds in order to have a say in the running of the LP. You should have to collect a thousand signatures, or work an LP information table for a week, or donate at least $1000 in cash, in order to be allowed a seat at the table. $25 does NOT make one a stakeholder. $1,000 of labor or money, on the other hand, does.

    I generally agree that $25 in 2012 dollars is well below whatever year it became $25, so dues should be raised.

    Perhaps make them monthly rather than yearly – $5 or $10 is not much per month, yet quite a bit more per year than $25, which is barely above $2 per month.

    I also like the idea of in-kind payment of dues.

    However, I don’t think that the $25 members really get much of a say anyway. What do they get? A crappy church picnic type newsletter that comes out infrequently, an occasional email alert which they can also get for free, invitations to meetings (in most parts of the country, only annual state conventions and biannual national conventions, as most local monthly meetings have been discontinued), and lots and lots of requests for more money (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

    Unfortunately there’s not an even nearly equivalent effort to harness those members’ time, labor and talents as there is to harvest additional money from them.

    For most of them, they do not live close enough to most state conventions to attend without incurring substantial costs, and many state conventions already charge floor fees.

    The ability to attend national conventions without incurring substantial costs in time, money and opportunity cost is even more rare.

    Thus, for all realistic purposes the reality is already a lot more like what Marc proposes.

    If we take away the $25 (or $50 or $100 or so) membership option and make the minimum something like $1,000, I think very few members who are not already contributing at that level would start doing so. More likely, they would simply stop being wallet card level members and in many cases lose a degree of identification with the party.

  43. Robert Capozzi

    FWIW, corporations DO sponsor conventions via the Exhibitions, it seems. Whether a major corporation was going to just write a check and take the risk of being closely associated with the LP in, I’d like to hear the case why this is a plausible prospect. It’s not to say it’s impossible, but it does seem far fetched. What am I missing?

  44. ATBAFT

    As I’ve suggested before, every dues paying LP member should get a ballot to vote for the officers. Either a direct vote or a vote for someone in their state LP to be their proxy to vote at the convention.

  45. Michael H. Wilson

    @ 52 Chuck Moulton writes The delegates are attending the convention for the benefit of the organization and the membership, not for their own benefit.

    Obviously some on the committee don’t seem to realize that the LP is not the only game in town. I can take my money an my time and go elsewhere. It has been happening to this party for some years. In 1999 the membership was over 33,000. Today it is roughly 13,000.

    The local Ron Paul people are asking me to help them and a friend in the Democratic party who is trying to grow a democratic version of a free market group is asking me to join him and there are other places to put my time and money. I sure as hell don’t need the LP.

  46. George Phillies

    Moulton @52 writes: “I’ve received emails from several LNC members and convention oversight committee members filled with angry phrases like “free riders“, “subsidize those unwilling to pay“, “pay their share“, and “welfare and forced subsidies“. This language is pejorative and carries assumptions about responsibility for convention cost that I reject, as I elaborated in my letter above.”

    You might do well, instead of responding to Holtz, to circulate the letters — the transom at phillies@4liberty.net is always open — or publish them here, together with a clear reponse.

    For starters, you will silence the trolls who will be claiming you took the quotes out of context.

  47. Michael H. Wilson

    re Paulie @ 56 $5 a month for students and those with limited funds and $10 a month for the rest of us.

    Paying dues monthly makes more sense to me than one lump sum each year.

    I gave up being a monthly contributor when I had some big medical expenses and have not started again because the LNC is so damn dysfunctional. And that ain’t no opinion. Its a damn fact.

  48. Watching from afar...

    @54: I’m sorry, you have reached an number that is no longer in service of the LP. Please check the number and go fuck yourself. Holtz’s supreme idiocy is well-documented on these pages and he adds to it every time he opens his yap to add to anthropogenic climate change. If you don’t like calling a spade a spade, then GTFO of the garden, and in you case, get a job.

    Mr. Moulton’s analogy comparing the LP Convention to a wedding is more appropriate than he realizes:

    1. Both are usually overblown affairs that are better kept simple.
    2. Both can eventually lead to divorce–spouses from each other, and people from the LP. In fact, the longer it can go, divorce it can get.
    3. You’ll always see ridiculous costumes at both somewhere. Ridiculous people, too.
    4. They are better appreciated from afar, where they can be laughed at and skewered for free, both time and money.

  49. Brian Holtz

    I agree with Paulie that ad hominem is a useful indicator that one’s arguments are stronger — even more useful than when one’s arguments are unrebutted.

    Chuck, your @51 is a slam-dunk argument against the position that registration fees are mandated by RONR.

    Nobody is arguing that position.

    I remain distressed that in your open letter you plucked that sentence from p.555 out of context and gave it freight it has no hope of carrying (as I explained @8). The Chuck Moulton I know wouldn’t do that.

    I’m not running for re-election to Judicial Committee. I no longer know of anybody else in the LP whose interpretation of our rules is not characterized by reasoning backwards from a desired result — either for/against a given side, or to avoid making a judgment about whether rules were violated.

  50. Wes Wagner

    RC @50

    Most LP organizations have tended to suffer from people saying “the party should do X….”

    My answer to them is always, ok, who do you have you can draw upon for support, what is your plan to get it done, and what do you need from me/org to remove roadblocks or provide resources?

    Provided that nothing being proposed is against the core definitions of the organization or infringes on the rights of others, that is generally how distributed governance in a voluntary organization should work.

    Libertarians, culturally, are not predisposed to accept centralized authoritative control. Also, regrettably, most party members for one reason or another, are not really available to be full-time activists or be extremely active in accomplishing goals (or unwilling for now).

    As a result there is a balancing act to be played — the majority defines the boundaries of what is acceptable to them, and the active meritocratic minority tends to set the agenda of where we operate within those boundaries because they are the ones willing to work/provide resources.

    For the decade+ I have observed state affiliates and the national party, I have seen some people who are predisposed to try to hijack the whole of the organization to push their agenda, not fully recognizing that by the time they gain complete control they will have an unmotivated membership that won’t do anything they ask them to. That formula has arguably brought us from 30k+ members to 13k+ members. Brought to its natural conclusion I do not anticipate success.

  51. Chuck Moulton

    Brian Holtz wrote (@63):

    Chuck, your @51 is a slam-dunk argument against the position that registration fees are mandated by RONR.

    Nobody is arguing that position.

    I don’t see how the argument would refute a required fee, but not an authorized fee.

    RONR essentially says many organizations charge registration fees. That don’t mean any organization is thereby authorized to charge a registration fee.

    Brian Holtz wrote (@63):

    I remain distressed that in your open letter you plucked that sentence from p.555 out of context and gave it freight it has no hope of carrying (as I explained @8). The Chuck Moulton I know wouldn’t do that.

    I agree it is a much weaker argument than some others. So yes, it was a mistake to include that in my letter.

    The question is whether voting as a delegate is a member benefit listed in the bylaws. Because not all members can be delegates (they must be selected as a delegate by a state affiliate), a good case can be made that voting as a delegate is not a member benefit.

    However, it will become a very good argument if Aaron Starr’s Open Conventions bylaws proposal passes because then all members can be national convention delegates.

  52. Thomas L. Knapp

    BH@49,

    “One cannot read the four pages of RONR about the Credentials Committee and then credibly deny it is indeed an operations manual.”

    That it may internally bear characteristics of an operations manual is irrelevant. Per LP bylaws, it is a parliamentary authority, not an operations manual.

    Furthermore, the bylaws are specific: The RULES in RONR are operant where consistent with the bylaws. A passing, un-elaborated allusion to a “registration fee” being “normal” is not a “rule,” it’s a passing, un-elaborated allusion to something that the LP’s bylaws don’t happen to elaborate.

    If you want said elaboration, either get the LP convention delegates to pass it as a bylaws amendment, or RONR to incorporate it in their next edition. Until you do one of those things, no amount of imagining is going to make it magically appear in one of those two places.

  53. Brian Holtz

    If RONR said “registration includes paying the registration fee”, one could argue that a fee is required.

    If instead RONR merely said “registration normally includes paying the registration fee”, one could argue that a fee is not required but merely authorized.

    That’s a valid way to hold that “normally” is not superfluous.

    RONR essentially says many organizations charge registration fees.

    It also says that many organizations normally include “signing the list of registrations” as part of registering. Does that mean a Credentials Committee may not require a signature unless the bylaws explicitly authorize it? (Tom apparently doesn’t want to answer this question. Maybe you can take a shot.)

    See again the second paragraph of @49.

    Tom, those four pages of RONR begin by saying “The specific duties of the Credentials Committee are listed below.” If you don’t like this list of duties for the LP convention Credentials Committee, get the LP convention delegates to adopt a different parliamentary authority.

  54. Peanut Gallery

    “I’ve received emails from several LNC members and convention oversight committee members filled with angry phrases like “free riders“, “subsidize those unwilling to pay“, “pay their share“, and “welfare and forced subsidies“.

    I’ve heard that some of the increased costs for this convention is to provide uniformed security. Apparently one LNC member felt “threatened” at the St Louis convention and is demanding security.

    Does anyone know if this new “poll tax” is to cover “our fair share” of this LNC members demands?

  55. Paulie

    WFA

    and in you case (sic), get a job.

    I got one, thanks. Making about $50-100 an hour without having to work very hard at present.

    So, not only do you rely on ad hominem, but you’re also wrong on the facts.

    My previous post did not have anything to do with whether you are in service to the LP. You may wish to read it again if you didn’t get that.

  56. Paulie

    I’m also doing a bunch of volunteer work, including my hobby of posting here and a lot of volunteer petitioning among other things.

    But yeah, I do paid petitioning too, and some of my clients pay pretty well.

    I also hire other petitioners, so it’s a business, not just a job.

    I’ve had plenty of other jobs and businesses and had four years of my life when I made over a million a year. Unfortunately that was a long time ago and I spent it all.

    I’ve been everything from a drug addicted homeless bum to a successful career criminal to a minimum wage employee to a legitimate business owner employing around 70 furniture movers at one time.

    Given that most of the kids I grew up with are dead or doing long stretches in prison I think I’m doing relatively well all considered.

    Thanks for assuming, though.

  57. Thomas L. Knapp

    BH@67,

    —–
    If RONR said “registration includes paying the registration fee”, one could argue that a fee is required.

    If instead RONR merely said “registration normally includes paying the registration fee”, one could argue that a fee is not required but merely authorized.

    That’s a valid way to hold that “normally” is not superfluous.
    —–

    If by “valid” you mean “at least odd, and quite possibly mendacious,” you’re absolutely right.

    A proper/valid elaboration of the use of “normally” would be something like: “Registration normally includes paying the registration fee which most organizations provide for in their bylaws.”

  58. Brian Holtz

    Tom, does a requirement for “signing the list of registrations” also have to be in the bylaws for a Credentials Committee to require it? These two registration sub-steps are mentioned in precisely the same way in RONR. If one is forbidden without bylaws reiteration, then so is the other. But it’s absurd to say a signing requirement is forbidden.

    QED

  59. Marc Montoni

    FWIW, corporations DO sponsor conventions via the Exhibitions, it seems. Whether a major corporation was going to just write a check and take the risk of being closely associated with the LP in, I’d like to hear the case why this is a plausible prospect. It’s not to say it’s impossible, but it does seem far fetched. What am I missing?

    Can you please stop putting words in my mouth? YOU said “major”, I didn’t.

    All I suggested were just “corporations”. If I suggested a typical size for the corporations we approach, a hint would be here in this post on the subject.

    In other words, whatever size corporations are listed in the LP’s database. That’s where we start. The point is we need to try raising funds from that source; we never have before.

    It’s really as simple as that.

    Stop adding qualifications that I didn’t mention; it’s a dishonest way to make a point.

  60. Thomas L. Knapp

    BH@73,

    “Tom, does a requirement for ‘signing the list of registrations’ also have to be in the bylaws for a Credentials Committee to require it? These two registration sub-steps are mentioned in precisely the same way in RONR. If one is forbidden without bylaws reiteration, then so is the other. But it’s absurd to say a signing requirement is forbidden.”

    Nice non sequitur there. See the mentions above concerning custom and precedent.

    In 20 conventions over 40 years, the LP has never charged a registration fee.

    In 20 conventions over 40 years, I strongly suspect that the LP has required a registration signature 20 times.

    It’s also worth looking at the use of the word “normally” in RONR. It appears 70 times, and the usage is dangerously sloppy. Sometimes it might mean the actual definition of “normally,” where a “norm” is “a rule or authoritative standard, but other times — including this one, unless you’re asserting that there is a rule or authoritative standard in RONR requiring organizations to charge registration fees — it clearly means “usually.”

  61. Robert Capozzi

    74 mm, I retract “major,” as it wasn’t my main point, anyway. Whether corporations of any size would do sponsorships beyond exhibiting seems far fetched to me, especially for a third party. It’s not obvious to me that there are enough people at LP conventions to make it a worthwhile advertising venue.

    It’s not impossible, though, and I fully admit I might be missing something, but I’m not one to advocate for wild-goose chases. I am open to experimentation if the experiment seems potentially fruitful….

  62. Brian Holtz

    Tom @75, there’s no “non sequitur” here — there’s just you not defending your earlier argument that RONR’s registration steps have to be reiterated in the bylaws for the steps to be allowed even at the first convention.

    Re: “normally”: I haven’t seen anybody contend that it doesn’t mean “usually” in RONR v10 p.593. Nothing in my arguments have depended on reading it as “authoritatively”, and it hadn’t even occurred to me that somebody might pretend to read it that way.

    Re: “custom”, I repeat: the strongest argument to be made here would be built on the RONR citation I offered @29 (that Chuck, you, et al. overlooked). To make that argument work, you have to claim that paying the registration fee and signing the registration list are about “parliamentary procedure” and therefore customs about them should be “treated practically as if it were prescribed by a rule of order”. Reasonable people can disagree on this, but I would incline to the view that if the first convention’s Credentials Committee had the authority to do registration a certain way, then that authority does not fade by X% for each consecutive convention it is unused. My view is rather that the Credentials Committee’s duties and authority are the same so long as the description of them in our rules is the same.

  63. Thomas L. Knapp

    BH,

    If you can’t tell the difference between “please sign the register so that we can keep our paperwork straight, as has always been done” on one hand, and “fork over money because over time we’ve become too irresponsible to budget for our known obligations,” I doubt there’s anything to be gained by continuing to go back and forth with you.

  64. Brian Holtz

    I see a difference, and I agree that this isn’t a great way to budget for the obligation of putting on conventions. I just don’t agree that if the first convention’s Credentials Committee had the authority to do registration a certain way, then that authority fades a little for each consecutive convention it is unused.

  65. George Phillies

    Let us contrast the current management with teh New Path slate in 2010. The New Path Slate said specifically:

    “What should the LNC uniquely be doing?

    1) Run the biennial National Convention. That’s the only specific task the LNC is given in its Bylaws. Every two years, it must run the National Convention. The members voted to require the LNC to run the Convention. Running the National Convention is not a Mission Critical Activity, it is a matter of duty. With the convention comes nominating the candidates for President and Vice President, a further task mandated in the By-laws. A competent LNC will set aside adequate income from member dues to cover the core convention activity the members assigned: the business meeting.

    If you’d elected us, you would not have had this problem.

  66. Todd Andrew Barnett

    I agree with those who oppose this “floor fee,” which is actually a poll tax. The Convention Oversight Committee made a ridiculous mistake, and it even violates the spirit of the LP’s national bylaws.

    Repeal this tax NOW!!!!

  67. D. Frank Robinson

    I oppose the floor fee and support it’s defeat.
    Floor fee equals poison pill. If the leaders intend to purge the LP, then why not vote to dissolve the LP if you want to liquidate it? Then people can just reconstitute other libertarian parties with rules and new leaders that suit them. It’s not that hard to do. I helped David Nolan do it 1971-72 and others can do it today.

  68. Robert Capozzi

    86 dfr: Floor fee equals poison pill. If the leaders intend to purge the LP….

    me: The floor fee sounds like a bad idea to me, too, but how is it a “poison pill” or a “purge”? It may add some direct costs to conventioneers, but it seems overstated to characterize it as you do.

    Make the case if you want to convince us….

  69. Wes Wagner

    RC @87

    I think there are some blanks needing filled in, to be sure. I also think other people see this all as deliberate rather than a consequence of natural systems.

    The reality of the situation to me appears to be that varying groups of people exhibiting sociopathic behavior have been fighting for control of the LP for some time. One group believes that it is in their political interest to levy this fee.

    Sociopaths create chaos,… it is in their nature. They thrive on it and it drives away other people who are not like them. They are not actually normally comfortable around “normal” people… so this is just a natural instinct.

    Part of the games that get played at the national level have nothing to do with a deep conspiratorial motive… the motives are actually much simpler than that.

    Create poll tax. Piss off people we don’t like. Those people will go away. Now we win.

    But the question of “win what” never actually gets formulated in the mind of the people doing it because they lack empathy and typically longer-term planning.

    Their victims often allow them to continue their course of conduct because they don’t really want to believe that people are bad, or that there isn’t “some good in them,” and other forms of platitudes, and have been culled into not reciprocating force by an organizational culture that encourages a pathological level of pacifism.

    So in short, the floor fee is being pushed by a small group of individuals, likely operating at a strategic move depth of 1, refer to the people they perceive as their enemies in derrogatory terms, and their motivation is to piss them off and make them leave.

    DFR is publicly stating, “I am going to play right into your trap,” which only serves to encourage them.

    If this sounds at all familiar, it is because it is. We are losing the same battle internally in the LP that this organization was supposed to win externally.

  70. Mark Hilgenberg

    Libertarians against charging libertarians a fee to vote

    Like the page, send it to the LNC reps you know.

    LibertariansAgainstChargingLibertariansAFeeToVote

  71. Sane LP Member

    @ 68
    It was more than just one person that was threatened or felt threatened in St. Louis. Then again, New members are not used to the antics that go on display at a Libertarian Convention. But, there is no place for violence, when we have a LP pledge.

  72. George Phillies

    This is the first I recall having heard of claims of threats — except against people doing interviews–of violence against delegates.

    @89 The page seems to go blank after a few seconds.

  73. Robert Capozzi

    88 ww: We are losing the same battle internally in the LP that this organization was supposed to win externally.

    ME: I truly have NO idea what you mean by this. It’s so vague as to be meaningless to me. Near as I can tell, the organization is intended to advance liberty and minimize coercion. I see nothing in this internal squabble that is coercive or detrimental to the cause of liberty.

    In truth, I found your group’s flaming middle finger missive to be sociopathic, yet I also believe that you and your colleagues have many right-minded moments, too. I’m not clever enough to imagine how your right minds have not moved to clean up that childish stunt; apparently you are able to continue to rationalize that sort of thing.

    Then again I can’t think of a case where virtuous means and ends are not aligned….

  74. Wes Wagner

    RC @93

    We keep re-electing the same people who are playing games instead of representing our interests inside the party. Therefore, until we learn how to escape that behavior internally, we are ill suited to convince the voters in the external system (the public elections for partisan office in the USA) to do the same.

    RE: Middle finger — it worked. Enemies were enraged to the point where they overextended themselves and did themselves harm. Their egos could not handle it. Very effective. Would not have worked against better people.

  75. Thomas L. Knapp

    BH@79,

    “I see a difference, and I agree that this isn’t a great way to budget for the obligation of putting on conventions. I just don’t agree that if the first convention’s Credentials Committee had the authority to do registration a certain way, then that authority fades a little for each consecutive convention it is unused.”

    Well, that goes back to what RONR means by “normally.”

    If it means “per a norm (rule or authoritative standard)” then there’s a (weak) case that the minor allusion to a registration fee implies meta-authority for such a fee unless the organization’s bylaws specifically prohibit one.

    If it means “usually” — which, to my great surprise, you seem to agree it does — then that minor allusion is clearly an aside based on an assumption, and is subsidiary in authority to a) the organization’s actual bylaws and b) the organization’s actual custom and precedent.

    To re-hash and elaborate that custom and precedent:

    1) Over the course of 20 conventions and 40 years, the LP has, so far as I know, always required a delegate signature and never required payment of a registration fee.

    2) In 2000, I registered for the convention at the last minute, and wasn’t even offere a package or talked to about a fee.

    3) In 2002, the invitation I received to the convention included language somewhat like the following: “Our bylaws do not provide for a required registration fee, but we’ve put together a minimal package that helps cover convention costs and we encourage all delegates to buy it.” The only “premium” I recall coming with that minimal package, which I did buy, was a C-SPAN tote bag with some literature from movement organizations in it.

    It seems pretty clear to me that a minor allusion in RONR to what its authors assume is “usual” does not create a magic new authority in an organization for which that “usual” thing is not only usual, but completely unknown, and long understood not be permitted, in the absence of some material enabling bylaws change.

  76. Brian Holtz

    @88 people exhibiting sociopathic behavior [...] Sociopaths [...] it is in their nature [...] They are not actually normally comfortable around “normal” people [...] pathological

    +

    refer to the people they perceive as their enemies in derrogatory terms

    =

    irony

  77. Brian Holtz

    Tom, you’re mixing up your arguments again.

    Would a registration step of “paying the registration fee” be allowed at the first convention under the bylaws and parliamentary rules in question, yes or no?

    If no, then precedent/custom is irrelevant, and you’re backed into the corner of saying that none of the four pages suggesting processes for the eight Credentials Committee duties may be put into effect without reiterating them in the bylaws.

    If yes, then I repeat @77: if the first convention’s Credentials Committee had the authority to do registration a certain way, then that authority does not fade by X% for each consecutive convention it is unused. My view is rather that the Credentials Committee’s duties and authority are the same so long as the description of them in our rules is the same.

    I’m not sympathetic to Nick’s use-it-or-lose-it argument that the elected leaders of our organization need to regularly exercise their powers in order to keep them. (Moral hazard, anyone?) That’s an odd position to take for a JudCom member, when the JudCom had no nothing to do for the couple decades before this term.

    I instead subscribe to the notion that our membership can know what our rules are just by reading them, without knowing details about the last 20 conventions that aren’t even published in the minutes of those meetings. Heck, the minutes of our conventions before 1993 aren’t even available online at all, so good luck to members who wish to know what’s precedented and what’s not…

  78. Robert Capozzi

    94 ww: We keep re-electing the same people who are playing games instead of representing our interests inside the party.

    me: In your mind, this may be an unassailable assertion on the order of “We hold these truths to be self evident,” and yet in MY mind it’s quite assailable. First, there is a fair amount of turnover on the LNC. Second, you may be correct that the motive of many/most LNCers is game playing, but I – unlike perhaps you – cannot read minds. I do agree that there IS a fair amount of game playing in fact, but I can’t diagnose why that is.

    ww: RE: Middle finger — it worked. Enemies were enraged to the point where they overextended themselves and did themselves harm. Their egos could not handle it. Very effective. Would not have worked against better people.

    me: Hats off to you…that’s novel, I admit. I might suggest that the better test of whether the middle finger “worked” or not is whether or not you are elected Chair of the LNC. The membership will consider whether they want a Chair who engages in such — can’t think of a better term — infantile antics. That you attribute that masterstroke of communication to be the reason the LNC dropped the LPO coup matter is an interesting interpretation, to say the least.

  79. JT

    Capozzi: “I might suggest that the better test of whether the middle finger “worked” or not is whether or not you are elected Chair of the LNC. The membership will consider whether they want a Chair who engages in such — can’t think of a better term — infantile antics. That you attribute that masterstroke of communication to be the reason the LNC dropped the LPO coup matter is an interesting interpretation, to say the least.”

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  80. Kevin Knedler

    Middle finger?

    Leadership Qualities?
    Respect?
    Trust?
    Professionalism?

    On the thoughts and minds of the Ohio delegation. Especially points # 2 thru 5. Guaranteed. We expect more.

  81. Robert Capozzi

    82 gp: If you’d elected us (New Path), you would not have had this problem.

    me: Perhaps. Of course, the New Path’s nominee WAS elected Treasurer, a position that I would think would have some significant input on a financial matter. No reflection on New Path per se, but he didn’t serve out his term.

    We of course can’t know what you would have done had you been elected Chair. Parallel universes are fun to think about, but are pure conjecture.

    I seem to recall that New Path Vice Chair candidate Marbry had some second thoughts after your FEC filing (NarcGate) became widely known. (See her comments here: http://www.independentpoliticalreport.com/2010/05/brad-ploeger-quits-new-path-slate-endorses-nota-for-chair-after-reading-barbers-letter-about-phillies/*) My quick research didn’t reveal whether she stayed on New Path or not.

    * Marbry: “I would never go to law enforcement over something as silly as not being allowed to know the details of an executive session to which I was not privy. Neither would I take the question to the rest of the membership because those who were in the executive session couldn’t talk about it anyway, and those who were not would know no more about it than I. So neither offered option is valid.”

  82. Thomas L. Knapp

    BH@98,

    Did you buy a new Vespa Non Sequitur Scooter, and are you running it repeatedly around the block to break the engine in or something?

    I have no opinion on whether or not a registration fee would have been allowable in 1972, but no, it does not follow from the fact that no custom and precedent existed to guide the LP’s first convention in 1972, that custom and precedent are irrelevant to the LP’s 20th convention in 2012.

  83. Thomas L. Knapp

    BH@98,

    “I instead subscribe to the notion that our membership can know what our rules are just by reading them”

    So do I. It’s just that I don’t interpret a minor allusion to something nowhere else elaborated as “usual” as constituting a “rule.”

  84. Brian Holtz

    Call it whatever term from the Knapptionary you want, but it remains the piece of text from the four pages of Credentials Committee duties and processes in our parliamentary authority that makes a registration fee clearly permissible the first time a convention is held under the combination of our bylaws and RONR.

    The precedent problem is actually worse than I described above. For an LP member to know whether the Sarwark/Knapp use-it-or-lose-it principle has kicked in, they have to know not only things about past conventions that aren’t in the minutes, but they also have to know what the text of our bylaws and parliamentary authority were during each convention. The use-it-or-lose-it clock only started ticking when the bylaws and RONR aligned around “registration” being mentioned as an extra step beyond accreditation. That text wasn’t in our original bylaws, but it was in there by 1989.

    So it turns out that you don’t have 20 conventions of precedent backing you up. You don’t even know how much precedent you have backing you up.

    And yet you insist that this lost information trumps the text of our bylaws and parliamentary authority.

  85. Nicholas Sarwark

    @Brian: I read the word “normally” in the context of what is normal in a given organization. If you think that’s “reasoning backwards from a desired result,” you’re entitled to your opinion.

    As to your point about not having the minutes from some prior conventions, do you have any knowledge of a floor fee being charged at any prior National convention? People I know and trust who have been around since the founding tell me that there’s never been a floor fee charged.

  86. Thomas L. Knapp

    BH@107,

    “clearly permissible”

    In your imagination, perhaps.

    In the real world, a minor allusion to something as “normal,” defined by you as “usual,” but nowhere else elaborated in either the parliamentary authority or the bylaws is not a rule making that thing “clearly permissible” on the part of a biennial subcommittee operating under said authorities.

    “The use-it-or-lose-it clock only started ticking when the bylaws and RONR aligned ”

    Um, no. Custom and precedent don’t disappear in a matter-antimatter collision when bylaws or parliamentary authority change. They might be explicitly MODIFIED by that change, but they don’t magically flicker out of existence.

  87. Thomas L. Knapp

    Further BH@107,

    “And yet you insist that this lost information trumps the text of our bylaws and parliamentary authority.”

    I insist no such thing. I simply insist that a minor allusion in that authority, to something elsewhere unelaborated in either that authority or those bylaws, as normal/usual, does not magically, miraculously or supernaturally create either a rule or special conditions under which a rule can be created.

    The delegates make the rules by amending the bylaws. If you want that new rule, ask them to pass it. Trying to wish it into existence doesn’t work.

  88. Nicholas Sarwark

    FYI, the Libertarian Party of Maryland passed the following resolution on March 3, 2012 at convention:

    Whereas the Libertarian Party bylaws do not authorize a floor fee for delegates,
    whereas in forty years of LP conventions no attempt to impose a floor fee on delegates has ever been sustained, and
    whereas the imposition of any floor fee constitutes an unjustified interference in the right of the affiliate parties to select their own delegates to the national convention,

    therefore the Maryland LP hereby rebukes the convention oversight committee’s attempt to impose such a fee as a condition of delegates performing their function at the business meeting, urges the LNC to reverse the proposed floor fee, and instructs our delegates to oppose, and if
    necessary make motions from the floor to invalidate, any such fee as it may be used to prevent any delegate from access to the business of the convention.

  89. NewFederalist

    Is Maryland willing to NOT put the conventions presidential ticket on the MD ballot? Now THAT would get the central planners er… I mean LNC’s attention!

  90. Brian Holtz

    Nick, examples that seem to be “reasoning backwards” to me are invoking RONR p.555 about dues out of context, or invoking the Clear Statement Rule (about how subsequent legislation may overrule tradition) when the legislation in question here preceded the tradition. Also, I don’t see how the invocation of government “rational basis” mendacity rebuts the claim that rational libertarians can tell the difference between $94 facility-cost-sharing fees and $10,000 party-hijacking fees.

    I don’t know of a registration fee ever being charged in a prior convention. I don’t know when between 1972 and 1989 the registration-as-distinct-from-accreditation language was added to the bylaws, but a registration fee would arguably not have been allowed before the bylaws made that distinction. My point remains that we shouldn’t need “people I know and trust who have been around since the founding” in order to know what is authorized by the text of our rules. That’s why, when I ran for JudCom, I held up a copy of the bylaws and told the delegates: “If you want these rules enforced, then consider voting for me. Otherwise, either change the rules or vote for somebody else.”

    Tom, RONR uses four pages to describe the eight duties of the Credentials Committee and the procedures for carrying out those duties. Nothing in your “allusion” argument means that any part of those four pages needs to be reiterated or embellished anywhere else in RONR or the bylaws for it to be permissible for CredCom to follow those procedures. There is even a statement in those four pages that a particular procedure (when to stop accepting registrations) has to be overridden in the bylaws for the default not to be in force. Further, “signing the list of registrations” is treated precisely the same as “paying the registration fee”. If one is an “allusion” that needs bylaws reiteration to have been enforced the first time, then so is the other. This peculiar “allusion” argument can’t be rescued by custom/precedent — hence your dodge that you “have no opinion on whether or not a registration fee would have been allowable” at the first convention under the relevant combination of bylaws/RONR.

    As I’ve said above, reasonable people can disagree about whether a custom of no registration fee should be “treated practically as if it were prescribed by a rule of order” — no charge for donating this RONR cite to your side of the debate. But the rest of the arguments above — RONR p.555 about dues, “other things of the same class are prohibited”, the Clear Statement Rule, CredCom processes have to be reiterated in bylaws — just don’t hold water when one does the relevant homework.

    However, I don’t doubt that these arguments sound very persuasive to libertarians who reason that a registration fee is such a bad idea that it must be against our rules, somehow.

  91. Sane LP member

    So the floor fee gets removed. WHO is going to pay for the fixed costs? Does the LP simply raise the pricing even further on the Bronze, Silver, and Gold packages.
    There are costs to put on that business meeting, no matter if it is free or people pay. Who will pay for that?
    And is it fair to dump the extra costs of a business meeting on those already paying a high price for a higher-level package. Frankly, is that even fair to them?

  92. George Phillies -- LNC Inaction

    @116. You are right. That would be silly.

    Running the National Convention is the sole assigned duty of the National Committee. The convention receives the representatives of the members. The members should reasonably pay for the business events out of dues, where it should amount to a dollar or two per member per year.

  93. Darryl W. Perry

    Maybe a change in the bylaws to explicitly prohibit a floor fee is in order, otherwise there will be the argument that “well, Robert’s Rules of Order say a fee is ‘normal’ even though we’ve never charged one, so we can do it anyways.”

    Wait, how about the reference to Robert’s Rules be removed? Then party members can use common sense, instead of spending days debating the meaning of the word “normally”.

  94. Nicholas Sarwark

    @120: At least two members of the 2010 Bylaws Committee recommended proposals that would give the delegates the option to either (a) explicitly authorize a floor fee or (b) explicitly prohibit a floor fee.

    I don’t think it’s a good idea to have one, but I have no problem with the delegates authorizing a floor fee in the bylaws.

  95. Darryl W. Perry

    I’m curious if anyone would sue the LNC if the bylaws were amended to explicitly allow a delegate floor fee.

    It would be interesting to see what the courts had to say.

    note: I’m not advocating a lawsuit against the LNC; just saying it would be interesting if it happened

  96. Michael H. Wilson

    I think if the LNC focused on growing the organization this might be less of a problem.

    See when ya go from 33,000 to 13,000 members and want to get into the same size facility for your convention there tends to be a problem since you have a far smaller group that might attend.

    But who wooda thunk?

  97. Wes Wagner

    MHW @124

    Yup, and they are concocting more schemes this very minute to piss off more people so that the membership is even lower!

  98. Starchild

    I see two things that need to happen here:

    (1) Find out whether people running for Libertarian National Committee support charging delegates a floor fee, and if they do, don’t vote for them!

    (2) Get a ban on floor fees written into the Libertarian Party’s bylaws.

    If you don’t want the LP to become a “pay to play” party, come to the Las Vegas convention May 2-6 and be a delegate.

    As the top-down crowd who hypocritically want us to subsidize their preference for holding conventions in expensive hotels are fond of saying, there’s no such thing as a free lunch — if we want the Libertarian Party to be a grassroots, bottom-up, libertarian party, we have to fight for it.

  99. John Wayne Smith

    Florida statute 103.095(2) reads, “Each elector registered to vote in the minor political party in which he or she has so designated has a fundamental right to fully and meaningfully participate in the business and affairs of the minor political party without any monetary encumbrance.”

    A mandatory floor fee would, without question, be considered a monetary encumbrance for participation in the business of the minor political party for Florida delegates. The penalty for violation of Florida Statute 103.095 is termination of state-recognized political party status.

    I suggest that the people who voted for this Cruise Ship in the middle of the desert be made to pay any short fall the party suffers.
    If this fee is up held and Florida looses its ballot status it would require at least 150,000 signatures to get our candidate on the ballot in Florida.

  100. Brian Holtz

    While the Florida statute apparently outlaws both dues for LPFL membership and registration fees for LPFL conventions, it doesn’t seem to affect the LPUS.

    @120 replacing RONR with “common sense”: accusations of, and opportunities for, rule-breaking in the LP derive from ambiguities in our set of rules. Throwing away our rules of parliamentary procedure would only increase the amount of those accusations and opportunities. A simple rule of “common sense” obviously wouldn’t persuade $94 advocates that the word “registered” in our bylaws cannot include a registration fee.

    The way to minimize rule controversies in the LP is for Libertarians to walk their libertarian talk and show by example their respect for the voluntary agreements that they enter into — even when the texts of those agreements don’t always guarantee/allow the results we want.

  101. paulie

    There are costs to put on that business meeting, no matter if it is free or people pay. Who will pay for that?

    Who will pay for it if fewer people are there?

    There is nothing that compels anyone to attend.

    Most of the people who were planning to attend as free delegates are just not going to go at all now. At least from comments I have seen on various email lists and web sites.

    The fixed costs remain the same, and maybe the room commitment will be tougher to meet.

    Is that what you consider a win?

  102. Michael H. Wilson

    re paulie @ 130. I have read a couple of comments on Facebook from people who were going to attend but are now having doubt. One was planning to run for office and now has to decide if he spends the money for the floor fee or for his campaign.

  103. John Wayne Smith

    I would like to remind everyone that there is no such thing as a National Political Party.
    Such an animal does not exist. There are many political associations Like the Republican Party and the Democrat Party and the Libertarian Party but they are operated under state laws.
    Like it or not this decision will decertify a number of local and state parties. Look what they did in Oklahoma 10 years ago.

  104. ralph

    Saw Hinkle’s latest. Love the guy, but not here.

    Hinkle confuses the convention activities with the business meeting. The meeting is free and can be held in a public park. It is an excuse or occasion to create convention activities that raise money for LNC. LNC is trying to run the business meeting, instead of the reverse. Think maximum ease of entry folks, minumum reason to leave.

    I should say I just laughed when I read this. I’ve probably set up more conventions than anyone else in the party, including a national one. They all made a profit, and charged no business fees. If you lack the business acumen to do that, maybe you shouldn”t be an officer in the party of entrepreneurs and should, instead, join the party of fee-charging takeover-artist monopolists–the GOP!!

  105. Thomas L. Knapp

    BH@129,

    “The way to minimize rule controversies in the LP is for Libertarians to walk their libertarian talk and show by example their respect for the voluntary agreements that they enter into — even when the texts of those agreements don’t always guarantee/allow the results we want.”

    Agreed.

    Of course, that includes not trying to manufacture new powers by treating minor allusory descriptive language as prescriptive language which creates new authorities found nowhere in bylaws, custom or precedent.

  106. Jose C

    I’ve received emails from several LNC members and convention oversight committee members filled with angry phrases like “free riders“, “subsidize those unwilling to pay“, “pay their share“, and “welfare and forced subsidies“. This language is pejorative and carries assumptions about responsibility for convention cost that I reject, as I elaborated in my letter above.

    Chuck can you please give us the list of those who E-Mailed you with the angry phrases you listed? And can you list those that argued for the floor fee and were professional about it? And can you list those that responded saying they were against the floor fee.

    This information will help us decided who we should support when we vote who we want to sit in the National Committee.

    Thanks!

  107. Brian Holtz

    Tom @137: You mean, powers like requiring delegates to sign the list of registrations?

    This is where I cut and paste the 2nd half of paragraph 3 @115 above, and then you respond “allusion!”, and then I point out that you still haven’t answered my question about the initial convention under this ruleset.

  108. Jose C

    @ 127

    (2) Get a ban on floor fees written into the Libertarian Party’s bylaws.

    I agree with Starchild. If we do not do this and we get rid of the floor fee this year we will be back again arguing this in two years, four years, and so on. We need a bylaws proposal that will eliminate the floor fee for the forciable future. If in the future delegates want a floor fee they would have to change the bylaws to impose a floor fee.

  109. Jose C

    Also, in California we selected to be delegates to the national convention a full slate (138 delegates and two alternates). This is the first time this has happened. Since Nevada is California’s next door neighbor we have a chance to have a large turnout at this convention. Those selected, especially those new to the party or those not previously active in the Party who have decided to become active, when researching attending the convention might get sticker shock. This might convince them not to attend the convention. We cannot mess this up. The more active and involved members are the better it is for the Party. Is it better for us if say 50 members decide not to attend the convention because they consider attending to expensive?

  110. Jill Pyeatt

    Seriously, for a couple: Hotel $110 x 3 nights= $330 (doesn’t include taxes); convention fee $295 x 2= $590. That’s $920 and it doesn’t include transportation, food, other costs to a family such as a baby-sitter or pet lodging.

    I appreciate the $94 option, but is this really the option most people bothering to travel would buy?

    This is very expensive for many families.

  111. Jose C.

    @ 142 This is the Jose from Los Angeles LP. I am currently the Vice-Chair of Los Angeles County. The fight never stops so I stay involved.

    If you are going to the national convention see you there.

  112. Jose C.

    @ 141 George: The reason there are so many delegates selected is:

    There is a lot of excitement for the candidacy of Gary Johnson. In California at least the Libertarian base is very excited over the candidacy of Gary Johnson.

    Las Vegas is near California. (Six hours by car. One hour by plane. About 10 hours by train.) That Las Vegas is so close to the major metropolitan areas in California is a factor why so many want to attend the convention.

    The last four years we have had many new activists become involved in the Party. Though the California Party has lost a lot of members those that have joined the Party and have become active are excited to attend their first Presidential nominating convention.

    The last few state Party conventions (this is my opinion) have not been good. This years convention was very good. The convention was held in Ventura by the beach. The hotel had a view overlooking the ocean. The speakers were well received. The way the Presidential caucus was run was very exciting. The Presidential candidates when giving their speeches were very professional. The balloting (think the Iowa caucus) was very fun. There were no major controversies. The only complaints I heard was that the business sessions started late (Libertarian standard time) and there was some grumbling about the $120 floor fee though most attendees did not seem to mind the floor fee. Other than that everyone I spoke to had a great time. Some said this is the best convention they have attended. I would agree this is one of the best conventions I have attended.

    Those are reasons why 138 delegates and two alternates have been selected.

  113. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    I’ve read that the California delegation filled its 138 spots for the national convention.

    But there were only some 70+ delegates at the California state convention, no?

    So I’m wondering, who are all these new names? Who/which faction nominated them? And how many are Las Vegas natives?

    Here’s a conspriacy theory:

    1. Hold the LP national convention in Las Vegas, where Root likely has many supporters.

    2. Fill up the California LP delegation with those Las Vegas Rooties (since the Nevada delegation is so small).

    Just a theory…

  114. Michael H. Wilson

    Jose @ 145 there was some grumbling about the $120 floor fee though most attendees did not seem to mind the floor fee.

    WOW!

    So what percent of the membership attended?

  115. Wise Observer

    RTAA @ 146: I believe you described the situation quite accurately. This is exactly what the concern was about the convention being in Las Vegas.

  116. Wise Observer

    Jose C @ 145: I attended the convention, and it was a good one, but there was a significant problem with a female speaker. She was billed as the Chair of the LP CA’s Women’s Caucus, but none of the ladies knew anything about her. Apparently, she’s an actress who was simply playing a part for the photographers (she is quite lovely). I know a few women were angry about that.

  117. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    She was billed as the Chair of the LP CA’s Women’s Caucus, but none of the ladies knew anything about her.

    So how does one become Chair of this Women’s Caucus? For that matter, how was this Caucus formed?

    Is there a due process, with notice, nominations and elections? Or did Takenaga merely announce the existence of this Caucus and its Chair?

    It seems … rather Soviet … to have a Women’s Caucus purporting to represent women who are, apparently, not even aware of this Caucus’s existence.

  118. paulie

    and there was some grumbling about the $120 floor fee though most attendees did not seem to mind the floor fee.

    It seems to be a major issue at the national level, and I seem to remember it being a big issue in CA the one time I was a voting delegate at the state convention there (2005, I believe – it was at LAX). If it’s not an issue there anymore, why not?

    The next CA convention after that I attended was in San Diego (2008? I think) and I was shocked at how much the attendance had shrunk in just (three?) years.

    Was it because of the floor fee? Or something else?

  119. Brian Holtz

    @146 Two of the extra delegates are my wife and me. I skipped the LPCA convention because it was so far from any airport and there was nothing at stake there.

    @150 She’s chair of the Women’s Caucus like you’re chair of the Root Haters Caucus. I guess an angrytarian reaction to a young attractive woman showing up in the LP is better than another reaction one could imagine…

  120. wolfefan

    I don’t know about a Women’s Caucus, but they’ve got beer tasters and skiers and poker players! I can’t access the entire list of groups. It may be there someplace, but for some reason my browser won’t let me get off of page 1 of the list.

    http://ca.lp.org/groups/

  121. Jill Pyeatt

    BH @ 152: You’re good at research. What can you find about events, etc, or a roster of members of the Women’s Caucus? I looked just now and came up short. The “Freedom Friends” thing that’s she’s founder of appears to be a Facebook page, and a single page on the web that’s all about her.

    Wow. Weird. Just wondering.

  122. Jill Pyeatt

    BH @ 152: To be fair, though, I also can’t find anything about the Root Haters Caucus. I kind of think negative comments about Root are way down here on IPR. Most of us got over him.

  123. Paulie

    Jill,

    I don’t see anything that keeps you, or anyone else, from starting a different Womens’ Caucus if you think she is not promoting it or not promoting it enough, not asking people to join, or whatever. have you tried to contact her and find out how it works, whether she is accepting members, holding elections, etc?

  124. Robert Capozzi

    155 jp: I also can’t find anything about the Root Haters Caucus.

    me: I agree. Root — who I admire in many ways but who’s approach is not my cup of tea — seems to not be getting nearly the amount of flak he was, say, 6 months ago. LPO and GJ have spared Root from the daily dose of venom we all became accustomed to here on IPR. Maybe he needs to stir the pot some, as controversy seems good for his career!

  125. Jill Pyeatt

    JP @ 156: Actually, starting one was the plan at the convention. Several of us ladies decided that’s how we’d handle it. Really, lots of people were talking about this Michelle Lieberman. Everyone was baffled at to where she came from.

  126. Paulie

    Jill,

    So as I said — either just start one (you can call it the Female Caucus, Ladies Caucus, Womyns Caucus or whatever you want if there is an issue over the name) or ask her what it takes to join hers and when the next officer elections will be, or if she plans to have any.

    Just because she has started a group that apparently has few or no members, why would your pre-existing plans for activity be cancelled, if you were planning to do something?

  127. Paulie

    RC @157

    I don’t think that’s what it is.

    It’s just that after a while some people get tired of saying the same thing to the same audience over and over.

    Root critics have just grown increasingly bored, not because of anything Johnson, LPO or anyone else did, but because the novelty has increasingly worn off.

    At least that is my best guess.

  128. Jill Pyeatt

    Paulie @159: What previous plans? I really don’t know what you’re talking about. Several ladies asked each other Sunday afternoon if anyone had heard of her. We all kind of laughed about it, and decided that we should have a women’s caucus. That’s the extent of it, as far as I know, until this conversation this morning here.

    Where have I said anything different?

  129. Robert Capozzi

    160 p, you may be correct. I can’t read the Root-a-phobic mind any more than anyone else’s!

    It seems that Root is writing fewer columns of late, or they’re not being posted, or something.

    What if Root opined on the developments surrounding Iran and Israel. I’d think that anything Root might say there would bring out the wrath of the Root-a-phobes.

  130. Paulie

    What previous plans? — Jill @161

    “Actually, starting one was the plan at the convention.” — Jill @158

    If I misunderstood that, strike “pre-existing” from my previous comment.

    BTW any thoughts on @151?

  131. Paulie

    It seems that Root is writing fewer columns of late, or they’re not being posted, or something.

    Some of them are not being posted now, because I’m on break from posting articles and Bruce is mad at IPR or something. However, even the ones that do get posted seem to get (at least on average) not as many comments as they once did. With some exceptions.

  132. Jill Pyeatt

    Well, as far as 151, I’m in a “pick your battles” mode. Since I made the choice not to be on the CA Ex Com in 2011, I don’t really think it’s my place to complain about the floor fee. I think any involvement I have with the LP from now on will be at a local level.

    However, trying to pay for the National Convention so soon after the CA convention hurts a bit, but, of course, we always have the option to not go.

  133. Nicholas Sarwark

    Some of them are not being posted now, because I’m on break from posting articles and Bruce is mad at IPR or something. However, even the ones that do get posted seem to get (at least on average) not as many comments as they once did. With some exceptions.

    Part of that is because Root recycles his articles, adding a few topical sentences to a prior article and resubmitting it to the media.

  134. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    So how does one become Chair of this Women’s Caucus? For that matter, how was this Caucus formed? Is there a due process, with notice, nominations and elections? Or did Takenaga merely announce the existence of this Caucus and its Chair?

    That’s a legitimate question.

    Holtz: She’s chair of the Women’s Caucus like you’re chair of the Root Haters Caucus.

    That’s not even an attempt at an answer.

  135. Jill Pyeatt

    I, for one, haven’t tried to contact her, nor will I. She gave us no contact info, refused to answer questions, and left without speaking to anyone. The CA women activists are easy enough to find, and I stay busy enough here in LA County. I can’t speak for anyone else, though.

  136. Brian Holtz

    @154 I couldn’t find any info on this caucus.

    @167 That’s not even an attempt at an answer.

    You asked about the process for creating caucuses. I said there is none. I don’t fault Kevin for encouraging up-and-coming Libertarian spokesmen with some stage time — especially compared to the stage time given to some of our POTUS contenders.

  137. B4Liberty

    @ Jill my two cents regarding the original women’s caucus.

    In Feb. 2007 Emily Salvette along with a few others started a women’s caucus. There is/was an e-mail list. The women met I believe for the first time at the Orlando, FL LSLA meeting in 2007, then again at the Las Vegas LSLA meeting in 2008, and at the Denver Convention. I don’t know of other meetings. Rachel Hawkridge was the last chair or ‘leader’ that I am aware of.

    My old computer does still contain all of the e-mails. Jill FYI – you commented a few times in May of 2010. I see no e-mails from Michelle Lieberman within the women’s caucus. So, as far as I can tell, a women’s caucus is already in place and simply needs to be re-activated through Rachel.

  138. Jill Pyeatt

    B4L @ 171: I remember that email list, but it died out because it had a real spam problem and for some reason some of the women were hostile. I considered this is what Ms. Liberman meant, but she specifically calls it the California Women’s Caucus. That’s what I had never heard of, nor found any info on in the Internet. I also thought maybe she was from northern CA or San Diego, but according to what’s on the Internet, she lives in Los Angeles, which is where I live. She also has, or had, an address in Las Vegas.

    I’m kind of over this. If she’s indeed starting a women’s caucus, that’s great! If not, we need one, so hopefully a couple of my friends here in LA County can get something off the ground.

    Has Rachel Hawkridge started hangiing out with Libertarians again? I hope so.

  139. B4Liberty

    I didn’t know Rachel had quit hanging with L’s. Is that even possible? ;-) I do hope she will be at the convention.

    Shouldn’t be too hard to regenerate the Women’s Caucus with a lunch, tea, or cocktail party during the convention in May.

    I’m not able to advance plan right now but maybe you and/or others will. I’ll certainly plan to attend or help spread the word for an impromptu gathering.

  140. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    I don’t fault Kevin for encouraging up-and-coming Libertarian spokesmen with some stage time

    Neither did I.

    You asked about the process for creating caucuses. I said there is none.

    There I do fault Kevin. If you announce a caucus that represents Group X, there should be some due process that involves Group X members in the formation and running of that caucus.

    Without any grassroots vote or input, Ms. Lieberman is just one activist rather than a spokesperson for Group X. Maybe a great activist, but still just an activist.

    It’s likely not her fault, but she seems to be a result of the top-down-control mentality that’s infected the LNC and some state parties over this past decade.

    It might have been better if some outreach had been done to CA LP women before a caucus leader was chosen. They may well have selected Ms. Lieberman, in which case she would have been a true spokesperson.

    But this is just one example of the widespread top-down-control mentality in today’s LP.

  141. paulie

    B4L if I am not mistaken you are talking about a national organization and Ms Liberman’s was identified as a California equivalent.

  142. Jill Pyeatt

    I mean, I get it. I really do. Libertarians need to present a certain image if they want to grow. The woman was truly gorgeous. I heard what she said (and, more importantly, what she didn’t say.) I’ll will be happy to work alongside her if she does start some activism.

  143. LPOregon Files Response

    @177 The notion that the local male Libertarian leadership, instead of reaching out to the women who are active in the party, recruited by one means or another a photogenic and by your description — I was not there — not business-professional-dressed young woman, tends to say something about why there are so few women active in our party.

  144. Brian Holtz

    Whence all these sexist assumptions that Ms. Lieberman was “chosen” or “recruited” by males? When Wayne Root decided to become a libertarian media presence, did anyone assume he was “chosen” or “recruited”?

    Reason magazine aptly describes recent times as The Libertarian Moment. A lot more people besides Root, Barr, Johnson, and Lieberman are going to be joining us. Get used to it.

  145. Jill Pyeatt

    BH @ 180: Interesting that you brought up Wayne Root again. Shall we call that the “Holtz Principal”,
    where sooner or later every conversation goes back to WAR?

  146. Brian Holtz

    Huh? I talk way more about platform and bylaws and economics than I do about Root, so your proposed principle makes about as much sense as your spelling of it.

    The Root/Lieberman analogy is nevertheless apt, and people’s inconsistent reactions to them could be considered prima facie sexist.

  147. Steven R Linnabary

    From FB:

    Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 8:00am until Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 2:00pm
    Libertarian National Convention at the Red Rock Resort, 11011 West Charleston Boulevard , Las Vegas, NV 89135
    If they don’t get rid of the fee at LNC meeting this weekend, we have to start organizing a boycott so that they will find it hard to get a quorum for hours at a time, which certainly will slow things up – including the continued gutting of the platform. A lot of last minute delegates will get there, refuse to pay, and it will happen anyway. With a little more effort those who are ticked about it can be convinced to spend more time site seeing.

    http://www.facebook.com/events/288174847922494/?notif_t=event_invite

    PEACE

  148. Gail K Lightfoot

    The first year there was a floor fee at the LP Con. there was such a back lash that the next year the LNC offered a pkg of ‘goodies’ for a fee. Those not paying the fee just got the Platform, Bylaws and Schedule without the binder or any other ‘ggodies’.
    Giving us a choice generally works better.
    In the Recovery movement, there are no mandated fees. They keep passing the hat until enough money is in the pot to pay for their venue – I am talking local, regional, state, national and international meetings of AA, NA, etc. They understand and use the concept of volunteerism very well.
    We could take lessons from them and even the Greens who embrace consensus.

  149. Gail K Lightfoot

    Forgot this part. If you ‘guess-ti-mate’ your attendence correctly, you won’t need to worry about having the cost of the mtg rooms covered by the rooms booked and the meals served even if some of us take the proverty route [no meals, some other hotel]. : )

  150. Gail K Lightfoot

    There are so many good arguements here, it is very difficult to understand why the LNC persists in admitting by having a floor fee that they and the convenion organizers are totally incompetent. : )
    Myu lunch is not free because you bought your lunch at a higher price to hear a speaker. I still have to buy or pack lunch for myself.
    If I can plan a convention that covers its costs, anyone can. i admit to being number challanged. Guessing how many members and guests will attend a convention is not that difficult.
    Try to avoid ‘Piss Poor Planning’ and see if you get better rsults.
    It is fun reading this all. Fight On!

  151. Pingback: Member of the The Libertarian Party Starts a Petition for Voiding a Decision of the National Committee Regarding Convention Floor Fees | Independent Political Report

  152. George Phillies

    In addition, it seems that there is a considerable lack of interest in taking rooms at the huge resort hotel.

    On the other side of this, I have been trying to get a large 2-bedroom suite, and getting responses has been challenging.

  153. paulie

    I’ll probably get a room at the Red Rock if I go, and if they don’t jack them up by the time I make up my mind. Since I haven’t decided I have not ordered one yet. I prefer to stay in the convention hotel.

  154. Nicholas Sarwark

    I got a room before a convention package. I know enough about Vegas geography to know there aren’t a ton of convenient options by the Red Rock and, like Paulie, I prefer to be in the convention hotel.

  155. Jill Pyeatt

    LG @ 109: LOL about the Women’s Caucus. I’m still looking for the one that was talked about at the CA convention (maybe it’s with the Easter Bunny).

  156. Robert Capozzi

    Zoophiliacs and Private Nukes Caucus, because liberty unleashes one’s Inner Animal

  157. George Phillies

    @180 I suppose it depends if the people who have been identified as paying for certain expenses in the publicity stunt in question are what they appear to be or have had covert gender alteration surgery. Your mileage may vary.

  158. Chuck Moulton

    I should have written up a formal brief for the JC. After reading the briefs of others tonight I put several hours into writing up a response though which I sent to the Judicial Committee, so at least I didn’t sit back and do nothing.

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