Saturday, December 4, 2010
Today I attended the meeting of the State Central Committee. The committee was considering a constitutional amendment from Clair Ellis that would essentially give the State Central Committee veto power over the vote of 2/3 of the delegates at convention on constitutional amendments. It seemed astounding to me that the party elite (and make no mistake, the state central committee is made up mostly of consummate party-insiders) would be so bold as to put their stamp on yet another attempt to grab power from the state delegates.
Arguments for the amendment focused around the notion that delegates are more transitory than SCC members (the SCC being composed mostly of long-time party insiders, this is certainly true), and that conventions, as demonstrated by the most recent nominating convention, and the conservative resurgence, can be more "emotional". The clear implication was that delegates are too uninformed and/or disinterested to make and wise and proper decisions.
Opponents of the measure (Lisa Shepherd, Lowell Nelson and Arnold Gaunt) spoke well to the fact that we should trust in the duly elected delegates to make a responsible decision in these matters. They argued that the SCC should not presume to know better than a 2/3 super-majority of the delegates. It was telling that the SCC voted down Lisa Shepherd's request for a roll-call vote. Apparently, most of the SCC did not want to go on record with their vote against the delegates.
In Lowell's speech, he challenged proponents of the measure to cite examples of when the delegates had acted irresponsibly in passing an amendment without the SCC's support. One proponent cited, as such an example, the fact that the delegates passed an amendment making Robert's Rules part of the official rules of the party. The SCC did not support that amendment. It is interesting that, Robert's, the definitive work on parliamentary procedure for organizations just like ours--refined over more than a hundred years with the purpose of ensuring efficiency and fairness--would be rejected by the SCC, but overwhelmingly supported by the delegates. And THAT is the example given by the party ruling-class as to why the SCC should effectively have veto power over the delegates.
Where does this leave us? I believe that just as Congress (and the White House) were desperately in need of a "house-cleaning", the same could be said of our insider-laden Utah Republican Party structure.
All state delegates need to plan to attend the June 11th Organizing Convention, and not only vote down this power-grab amendment (it only needs a simple majority to pass, now that it has 2/3 SCC approval), but also to replace the party leadership with a new batch of leaders that are focused on promoting the principles of the party platform, rather than the preservation of power among the party insiders.
Chair, Legislative District 58
Utah County GOP
The following is the full text of the amendment passed earlier today by the SCC (underlined phrase is the proposed addition to the constitution):
PASSED STATE CENTRAL COMMITTEE 50-25 12/04/10
Proposed Constitution and Bylaws Amendment
Constitution Article X.
B. Amendments. The Constitution may be amended by a 2/3 vote of the members at a State Central Committee meeting if subsequently ratified by a majority vote of the Delegates present at the State Convention. The Constitution may also be amended by 2/3 vote of Delegates present at the State Convention if subsequently ratified by a majority vote of the State Central Committee.
Rationale - Changes to the foundational Party Constitution should not be made in haste, or on their first reading, or without the opportunity for considerable deliberation, debate and perfecting amendments. Constitutional changes made by the SCC are already subject to further review and ratification by a state convention. This amendment provides that same check and deliberation by the SCC for changes adopted by a state convention, which are always done on first reading and with limited opportunity for debate and amendment. This amendment will ensure that all changes have the benefit of unified action and approval by the state convention and the SCC.
Submitted by Clair Ellis, 155 Silver Fox Circle, Providence UT 84332, 435-753-5553.
C&B Committee action: Amendment forwarded to SCC with unanimous positive recommendation.
Rationale - The C&B Committee recognized the benefit of a system with checks and balances.