When last we left our adventurers—the plucky little King County Precinct Committee Officers—making their way through the political minefield on the shores of Lake Washington, their retiring Chair had begun the biannual organization meeting as if she had already been re-elected Empress, controlling the microphone and dictating agenda for her own benefit.
Allies of her kingdom, had also come to the fair, political performers and attorneys galore. McKenna and Tebelius, and Richard Derham all with swords drawn, taking up time, advancing the cause, pressing the deadline intentionally built-in by the short-shrift meeting room rental.
The elected one had dutifully praised the GOP Establishment from the podium while
the ancient one had sold the meeting rules and
the unelectable one attempted to cover Sotelo’s tracks by preventing a film record of the conduct of the proceedings.
As we take up the narrative, the Main Event had arrived: the election of the County Chair, and following carefully choreographed interruptions, finally, at great length, Kirby Wilbur got back to the orders of the day. It immediately followed Tebelius’s failed attempt to stop the video taping.
Nominated first, Lori Sotelo, despite having earlier taken the body’s time to give a long campaign speech without time limit… gave another. It was a folksy tale of a “southern girl” encountering her “first liberal” in Washington “I learned it wasn’t just commies who wanted to take my stuff, but the liberal democrat next door. And that’s when I became a republican conservative.” [Someday Sotelo’s quest for “stuff” may become a major motion picture.] She lauded her “successes.” She concluded by saying it was not just a vote for Lori Sotelo, but a vote for “optimistic leadership.” (She certainly had an optimistic view of her past as Chair) and “sound vision.” (She certainly shares the social vision of Sound Politics (dot com).) What she didn’t tell the crowd was that they, themselves, were about to become “her stuff,” the wholly-owned property of the Sotelo Administration.
In his speech David Gage said that in his travels around the county he learned “we need to listen to you [PCOs] and trust you more.” He gave Lori thanks but then said “however” and went on to address that she gave tons of dollars to sitting candidates and little to nothing to others. “Why won’t we stand on our principles?” is what he heard from people. He said his goals would be to challenge every race & create watch groups for each entity (ie, SoundTransit, Metro, and others)
Ruth Gibbs: “I offer a more positive game plan.” “We have appeased, not competed.” She used loads of football metaphors about moving the ball in the right direction. She said she is the only candidate who has been a district chairman, that she supported PCOs electing their own district chairmen [Which Washington Law requires, in direct conflict with the proposed KCGOP Bylaws.] She promised she wouldn’t “wave yes and no signs at you to tell you how to vote at a convention” and wouldn’t tell anyone “we can’t run your candidates because we have a more moderate one to run.”
The speeches completed, the County voted and the agenda continued as the tellers counted.
Jim Klingan nominated Sotelo favorite Matthew Lundh for Male Vice Chairman. (There was only one nominee.) Klingan made no speech, characterizing it as a “horrible waste of time.” Obviously, the Sotelo administration has very low regard for discussion.
Lorraine “Lori” Blacklock was nominated, also speechless and unopposed, for female Vice Chair.
Then Ross Marzolf came out with final vote tallies for the Chairman race:
Sotelo = 238
Gage = 93
Gibbs = 24
Total = 355; Thirteen officers had either not voted or had spoiled ballots.
Executive Board Nominations
7th Congressional District:
Art Coday nominated Sotelo loyalist Phil Bevis (unopposed)
Steve Beren nominated Susan Stahlfeld
Sarina Forbes nominated Tamra Smilanich
8th Congressional District:
Adam Faber nominated Sotelo loyalist Anthony Welcher (unopposed)
Art Coday nominated Darlene Hamilton (unopposed, the acclamation louder than for Welcher)
Sue Copeland nominated Tolli Lowell-Forker
Art Coday nominated Sotelo loyalist Lisa Thwing.
Contested Executive Board Position Speeches:
Susan Stahlfeld’s speech said she had been a “lifelong conservative” since she was 4 yrs old when she went doorbelling with her dad for Goldwater. She made no explanation of how a 4-year-old develops a political philosophy. She said when she first met her husband, he was “part of” the Reagan administration. “We had a fantastic election nation-wide [this year] with lots of conservative Republicans elected.”
Tamra Smilanich cited her efforts in the 10th amendment movement during her speech.
Run, Lisa, Run!
Lisa Thwing’s speech was a highlight. Lisa had spent a large portion of the meeting literally walking with a fast pace and long strides, up and down the side aisles of the meeting room for no known purpose. She found herself, at the time her speech was announced, about a quarter mile from her notes and was able to demonstrate her stride, going to the back of the auditorium, across the back from one side aisle to the other and then down the entire length of the hall, from back to front as everyone watched and waited for her to reach the podium. All this was added to her time. In her speech she said she was running on volunteering. “I’m the one who’s at these meetings always running…” she said, and noted that she was also running for state committee woman [an actual statutory position]. “I don’t have a learning curve. In ’04 I was there when Dino needed me. I was there for him.” Being “there for Dino” is, it would seem, that which one must “learn” to be eligible for a Party office. One can only guess the next office for which Mr. Rossi will be the prohibitive choice.
Art Coday’s nominating speech for Lisa Thwing mentioned her “service, service, service.” He called her “a grassroots person.” He made mention of neither her grassroots work (as Sotelo’s appointed 32nd Dist. Chair) with Libertarian Party State Legislative candidate, Margaret Wiggins, nor her “service, service, service” to re-elect left-wing Democrat State Legislator Marilyn Chase for the same office. Perhaps he didn’t know of these things, or perhaps he thought it was unimportant.
- Then, ALSO despite the constant meme that we “don’t have extra time” (for things like discussing the bylaws under which the Party will operate for the next two years) the body was treated to a speech by King County Councilman (and committed pro-abort) Reagan Dunn. He said “in 2012, the  wave” will hit here. He touted the “Dunn Leadership Institute,” and said it focuses on the Constitution and founding documents [but the curriculum is secret]. He said that 10 of its 38 graduates (so far) had been elected to something.
- Then, ALSO despite the constant meme that we “don’t have extra time” (for things like discussing the bylaws under which the Party will operate for the next two years) the body was treated to a speech by King County Councilwoman, Kathy Lambert. She talked about going to a Democrat [King County Council] caucus and that despite the talk of working together, they didn’t want her there. She also talked about the council’s labor policy not having been revised in 30 yrs.
- Kirby Wilbur also took some of the body’s time to tell everyone that next year is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ronald Reagan. He said we should think about Reagan and Abe Lincoln and how important they were to this country. I’m already thinking.
- Then, ALSO despite the constant meme that we “don’t have extra time” (for things like discussing the bylaws under which the Party will operate for the next two years) the body was treated to a speech by Conrad Lee, deputy mayor of Bellevue. He spoke of Sound Transit and the dangers of Federal Authority overtaking local government. He predicted that the Feds will soon dictate housing density, etc., and local government will become obsolete. Lee actually sounded conservative!
The long-awaited but short-lived bylaws saga
- John White moved the adoption of bylaws.
- Frank Bown acquired the floor to make a motion, but results of the vote for Executive Board positions were ready so Frank was asked to wait.
- Frank had substantive suggested changes to propose for the bylaws. He recognized the body should discuss them carefully and realized that the rules format was not friendly to any consideration of change. But following the interruption, Frank’s motion to take them section-by-section was defeated.
- Mr. Derham, taking the mic as if the previous administrations bylaws committee had authority, said the Derham/Sotelo bylaws “are similar to the last few cycles” with five changes he then highlighted. (This was argument in favor of the motion on the floor.)
- Diane Tebelius suggested an amendment to allow the hiring of a paid executive. She seemed unaware that the authority was already in the proposal. [In fact, there is almost no conceivable authority that wasn't in the proposal] But, advised of the facts, Tebelius withdrew her suggestion.
- Scott Shock moved amendment language providing for the actual election of Legislative District Chairs instead of the appointment/ratification scheme in the Derham/Sotelo proposal.
- Phil Bevis obtained the floor to speak to Scott’s motion, but, instead, asked Mr. Derham to assess its effect if passed. This was, in fact, parliamentary cheating. Mr. Derham had already spoken to the motion (with the inappropriate advantage of not having had to acquire the floor to do so) (or the short time limits specified in his meeting rules) and, should he have desired to speak again, should have been made to wait in line to acquire the floor. And should he have requested the floor in those circumstances, he should not have been allowed to speak a second time to the motion at all while any other person awaited an opportunity to speak. Any actual Chair presiding according to Robert’s Rules of Order would have intervened and ruled Bevis out of order. But the meeting did not have such a chair.
- And while Kirby stood, not only flat-footed, but in reverence for the old parliamentary fox (Derham), the imaginary parliamentarian on the dais (Young) made absolutely no attempt to signal the violation. But it is (and I am being completely sincere about this) entirely possible he had no clue it was a violation, the important thing about rules of order (to such men) being to maintain “order” on behalf of whoever “rules.” There is ample reason to believe that the general public thinks the same thing, despite the fact that the purpose of Robert’s is to do exactly the opposite, to take the power out of the hands of despotic agenda hogs and give it back to the body.
- The idea of Bevis’s trick was to present the appearance of objective analysis by an “expert,” but to accomplish that under Robert’s Rules, Mr. Bevis had to make a motion to hear a report and that motion had, itself, to be debated and voted upon. None of that took place and the result was, like Sotelo’s 20-minute campaign speech advantage, the existing Establishment was given virtually unlimited time to make their case without an equivalent opportunity being extended to the opposition. Mr. Derham’s speech made no mention of the fact (which he and Mr. White have previously and erroneously denied) that the necessity to elect, NOT appoint and ratify, is REQUIRED by State Law. But, you know, there are different philosophical views of “Law” and some do not accord it the position of slavish devotion the founders asserted in our founding documents, to wit, that those in authority are, themselves, bound by it, but, by contrast, simply regard it as one of many tools at the optional disposal of authorities, on behalf of whom Advocates, by clever contrivance, wield power (and, of course, the means whereby the legal class are, themselves, financially enriched).
- A woman we have not identified rose, here, illegally interrupting the illegal discussion under the false guise of a point of order. (this level of complexity of convolutions is not possible in ordinary society)
- Kirby Wilbur, acting under Wilbur’s rules of order, allowed it.
- Contradicting Shock, she asserted, angrily, that it is NOT true that all the 38 other Washington counties elect district chairmen (as they are legally required to do) because, she said, Skagit doesn’t. Her claim was a subtle and calculated deception. Skagit County, as it happens, includes within its borders no single whole legislative district , but parts of three, unlike King County, that entirely contains 13. The Skagit County GOP’s “district leaders” are, in fact, not State Legislative District leaders at all and they don’t break the State Law that the Derham/Sotelo scheme violates.
In Dick Derham’s illegal speech in favor of the illegal rule he said that in 1978 [under a previous law] the Party had debate on this and formed a committee in 1979 to study the issue. He said some thought it a more effective way to organize by the County Chair dictating District Leaders “so people can work together” [such leaders presumably siding with the County Chair against the District in any conflict] but others saw value in PCOs electing their own leadership [presumably so they could side with the District against the County Chair in any conflict]. So they changed it to appointment with ratification. Mr. Derham says this was “a balanced system.” He said “infighting” turns private internal matters into public political issues [suggesting, by implication, that “infighting” was the result of a County Chair not having complete control].
What Mr. Derham did NOT point out is that “ratification” in the Derham/Sotelo bylaws have only an appearance of balance because, once ratified, those bylaws give Sotelo the exclusive right to dismiss the District Chairs at will if they disagree with her.
No one was available to correct the lie about Skagit. No one was available to point out the Derham/Sotelo appointee-dismissal trick. No one rose to point out that Dick’s speech was out of order from the beginning.
- Nevertheless the vote was close enough that Mr Wilbur announced the “chair is in doubt,” and called for a standing vote.
- The Shock Amendment failed.
- Frank Bown moved to amend Article 17 with a measure he has spent quite some time crafting attempting to give grassroots Republicans more input into the Platform. As you will recall, there is a significant sentiment in King County at Conventions that we should simply approve the Platform Committee’s work (or whatever Committee’s work is being considered) so we can adjourn and go home and watch the game.
- Frank’s opposition seemed predominantly motivated to defeat his measure so that we could simply approve the Bylaws Committee’s work so we could adjourn and go home and watch the game.
- Patti Mann successfully “called the question,” effectively closing debate on Bown’s amendment.
- Wilbur once again called for a standing vote, having been in doubt on the amendment, itself, then ruled it failed. The Platform process will remain closed.
- Kurt Anderson moved adoption of the bylaws in their entirety. This motion actually moved the previous question to adopt, effectively ending all bylaws discussion.
- The motion carried.
And what followed was extraordinary, a masterpiece of understatement.
It was phrased as a motion to adjourn. But it was an unannounced (perhaps unwitting) invitation to misdirection and misadventure.
The motion to adjourn was in effect a motion to “drink the Kool-Aid.” And the owner/operators of the King County Republican Party did just that.
“Drinking the Kool-Aid” is not a metaphor chosen lightly, but to understand the meaning you need to understand a several things. First, that on November 18, 1978, more than 900 residents of Jonestown, Guyana, (a Utopian Commune comprised mostly of transplanted San Francisco socialists under the direct control of Democrat/Communist/Atheist/religious charlatan, Jim Jones) died as the result ingesting grape drink they knew had been laced with lethal quantities of cyanide. Some, including children, were effectively murdered (and other murders were associated with the event), but most were voluntarily committing “revolutionary suicide,” based on having been “mesmerized” by Jones and the psychological mindset he and his accomplices had spun for their own purposes. That single event has led to the popular term “Drinking the Kool-Aid.” It means willfully adopting ideas and an agenda that lead to your own destruction.
On August 17th of this year, seven hundred and fifty nine PCOs were elected as officers to the Committee of highest authority in the King County Republican Party. By law, those Precinct Committee officers collectively held all the power in the county party. The power to hire or fire the Chairman and all other officers, to dictate policy, control the money and make all the political decisions by parliamentary process, to decide who their candidates would be… how their Convention would be run and delegates chosen… how the Platform would be constructed and what part it would play in directing their goals.
That power is, literally, the political life of the office to which they were elected.
A week ago, Saturday, on December 11, 2010, the 368 of those Precinct Committee Officers who went to the Organization meeting, by adjourning their meeting with the Derham/Sotelo bylaws in place, ended their political lives as Precinct Officers, as surely as the cultists at Jonestown ended their lives by drinking the poison. They had all the power and now have no power at all. Lori Sotelo has all of it. They will never again wield that power. Barring the death or resignation of an elected officer they will never meet again. They won’t decide anything.
Since 2002, when the Sotelo faction took over the Party, the Central Committee has only met to hold officer elections, as required by law. The Sotelo/Young/Herbold elite has made all the political decisions centrally, internally, autocratically, literally ignoring, and sometimes contradicting, the Central Committee. While Most Counties hold periodic Central Committee (PCO) meetings (some monthly) and conduct substantive business. King County, in eight years, has not had ONE such meeting. THEY DO NOT WANT THE PCOs MAKING DECISIONS and they train their supporters to work to stop discussion, to squelch political action, to suppress speech. They never even rent the room long enough to facilitate honest debate.
When they started out, they did much of this in violation of the rules, but, with Richard Derham’s help, have gradually, carefully, and subtly inserted the power to supplant the Precinct Committee Officer’s power, into their bylaws.
Here is what the 2010 bylaws did:
- Article 14
- Creates a County “Executive Committee” defined as Sotelo, the NINE party officers elected by the PCOs and 17 Legislative District Leaders;
- Gives the Executive Committee “ALL THE POWERS OF THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE” (except replacing elected officers or changing the Bylaws themselves).
- Article 11
- Gives Sotelo the authority to appoint the 17 District Leaders (subject to ratification)
- Article 5, section 2
- Gives Sotelo the authority to remove from office any person she appoints AND anyone THEY appoint. (This includes the 17 Legislative District Leaders, all the Convention Committee Chairs and all the Committee members.)
- Article 5, section 3
- Gives Sotelo complete control of allocation and apportionment of :
- and agencies that use any KCGOP funds.
- Article 7 section 5
- Gives the Executive Committee the right to fill vacancies created on the State Executive Board.
DO THE MATH
Lori Sotelo now is in total control of the King County Republican Party. The “Executive Committee” is empowered to act for [read: “instead of”] the PCOs. One hundred percent of its elected members were elected by being on the Sotelo “slate.” Even if all those turned against her, Sotelo, by rule, totally controls 18 more of its 27 members (2/3) by appointment and the power of removal. She controls the party’s money and the Credentials Committee, the Rules Committee, the Platform Committee and has the right to fire each Chair and every member of all those committees. Through them, in 2012, she will control the Caucuses and King County Convention, roughly 40% of the voting strength from Washington state to the National Convention.
But look on the bright side. We’ll be able to go home early and watch the game. Maybe President Obama will be on at halftime.