Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Butler County GOP Update: Meeting Information

The Central and Executive Committees of the Butler County Republican Party are meeting tomorrow night. According to the note dispatched to members, there are two items on the agenda: forms and a recommendation. Real barn burner, eh? Well, it just might be...

The forms are about making sure that Central Committee members are ready to go for re-election time. No big deal...

The fireworks might be the recommendation because that is about Chairman Tom Ellis's seat on the Board of Elections. The letter was pretty non-specific about what or who was being recommended to the Secretary of State. I guess new members are just supposed to figure this stuff out on their own. Anyway...I mentioned fireworks, so I guess I had better elaborate on that point.

Chris Wunnenberg has thrown his hat in to the ring. This may shock some folks who have been following my coverage of all things Butler County GOP, but I actually think Chris might be a good fit for this position. Chris has the determination to get things done at the Board of Elections and he has the right set of values for service in that arena. Which is not to say that the Chairman doesn't...

I have long been of the opinion that part of the reason why the Butler County Republican Party is in such disarray is that we are suffering -- badly -- from a leadership vacuum. We need principled leadership coming from somewhere in the party and I have begun to wonder if maybe all these "side" jobs aren't part of the problem. We need a Chairman who is focused on the job at hand that also possesses a specific skillset that includes managing all the personalities and characters that make up the Butler County Republican Party. I still have confidence in Chairman Ellis, but I am concerned that insufficient attention is being given to running the party at this critical time.

Basically, my position is this: we are heading in to an election season in which is is vital that we have the right people at the right place at the right time doing the right things. I ask that folks take a moment to reflect on what they think about these things and vote accordingly rather than just voting for your "friends" because that's what usually happens and has been a key part of why this party is in the shape it currently possesses.

SIDEBAR: I also question the timing of this meeting. According to ORC, the party leadership is required to send out written notification of a called meeting at least two weeks prior to the meeting date. So, the letters went out the week of Christmas. Again, the letter really shed very little light on the actual intent and purpose of the meeting. I have also been informed that ORC also states that if there are to be other candidates for the position, said candidate has to inform party leadership at least five days before the meeting which would have been the day after New Years. Why do I question the timing? A cryptic letter was sent the week of Christmas about a meeting which is to decide the fate of whether or not Chairman Ellis continues with the Board of Elections and there is no information included about what candidate(s) are running or what is actually being decided. It all just seems too convenient. It comes off looking very "back room deal" to me.

And here is the bit that really makes me question the timing of this... We didn't have to have this recommendation in to the Secretary of State until the middle of February. I'm sure that there was some consultation with the folks at Tori's Station, but I am finding it awfully hard to believe that this meeting HAD to take place on the day that was chosen. Was it chosen for a reason? And if so, what is it?
UPDATE: I have been informed that the reason the meeting was scheduled for tomorrow night was because Chairman Ellis is going to be out of town for 2 weeks and Jenny Brunner wants the names by the 20th of this month...(FAR in advance of the required deadline, glad to see we're accomodating the Democratic Sec State).

UPDATE 2: Allow me to head off some other criticism... I was trying to be nice when I said I had still had confidence in Tom's ability to be Executive Chairman, but there are some things to consider on that front as well. If you still have confidence in Tom Ellis to lead this party after allowing Sheriff Spotlight to attack a guest (even if he DID have it coming -- that sort of thing is just not how civilized people behave in public) at Lincoln Day and to make $30K off the party in the sale of headquarters, I can't imagine what it will take to make you believe it's time for a change. That said, I think the Executive Chairman's job is to raise funds for the party and Tom seems to have the skillset to accomplish that task.

I am less thrilled with the "leadership" on display from the Central Chair, but that is really a whole different subject for another time (soon?).

UPDATE 3: I am sure that my esteemed blogging colleague, Don Carpenter, didn't mean to suggest that I am an outsider, but I am taking pot shots because we need leadership not more of the same from the same old same old people with their back room deals and intimidation tactics. I, for one, have had more than enough of that...

As for the content of Don's post, the important thing I want to address is this:
To put it in perspective, the chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Party makes around 125k a year. Although we are smaller, if you based it on percentages, we would be paying at least 65k to 75k a year. While I am not advocating that, I am merely pointing out that we receive good value from Chairman Ellis based on his effort and the amount of time devoted to the party. I am of the opinion that his so called opponent (who just got his butt handed to him for State Central Committeeman) would not give us as much time, effort and quite frankly, leadership skill.
Let's not confuse things... We are talking about a seat on the Board of Elections. I don't know how much time Tom spends on those activities, but let's not pretend that those duties are part of his committment to the party as Executive Chairman. It is two distinct and seperate positions. I reject the notion that the Chairman is entitled to a seat on the Board of Elections merely because he is Chairman or that said position on the BOE could or should be viewed as compensation for his service as Chairman.

While we're on the subject, wasn't it Judy Shelton who forced the Butler County Republican Party to change its by-laws when she refused to step down after she was defeated in an election for Chair? As I understand it, the current by-laws still reflect this change and if we are to take them seriously we ought not dismiss a candidate merely because he lost some other race. I criticize Chairman Ellis on some issues and I have provided some evidence for my concerns. I challenge everyone to make sure that you evaluate these candidates on their own merits and choose whomever you think is the right person. Again, voting for our "friends" merely for the sake of voting for our "friends" is precisely why and how we got in to this mess in the first place. We need to start voting with our heads, not our hearts. Values and principles need to start counting for something more than just platitudes we pretend to adhere. It is time we start taking action.

I don't advocate change for the sake of making change. I think we've all seen how that turned out for us on the national stage. All I am asking is that folks take a serious look and make a decision based on something other than, "Well, he's the Chairman and we gotta pay him somehow." That ain't going to get it done. And we should be ashamed of ourselves for accepting this sort of nonsense.