We started the week on Tuesday – attending the temporary rules committee meetings. Following the party rules and Texas election law is important and we were there to carefully observe the discussions and proceedings, testify and present amendments that would bring the party into compliance with the Texas Election Code (the subject of the lawsuit filed against the party in 2008) and strengthen the accountability the party has over candidates and elected public servants by requiring a pledge for ballot access. Both were rejected.
We spent a little time in the platform committee and also heard a challenge (Bruce Bollock, Brazoria County) in the credentials committee on Thursday. The challenge was over the refusal of a request for access to public record. The same challenge was filed in 2008, but was rejected on a technicality. It was rejected this time as well, but a minority report was filed. Many of those who voted against the challenge felt the punishment was too harsh – the only consequence allowed for breaking party rules is to have credentials removed and not be seated as a delegate. So it didn’t lose on the merit of the case, but for the required consequences.
The highlight of the week was the launch of former gubernatorial candidate, Debra Medina’s “We Texans” grassroots organization. The party denied her vendor space so she held a banquet Friday night and invited FOX news’ Judge Andrew Napolitano as the keynote speaker. The audible moans of dismay and surprise from the guests when he told us things you won’t hear in the mainstream news (yes, even FOX) was very encouraging.
The party chair race was a three way race. Many were unhappy with the current (and past) leadership, lack of progress, accountability and transparency. Anybody but the incumbent (Cathie Adams) was commonly heard.
Steve Munisteri won the nomination on the second ballot of the nominations committee. Each Senate district caucus nominated a candidate and sent a representative to the committee. The third candidate running, Tom Mechler, came out in support of Steve. Some wanted to nominate Cathie from the convention floor and although former parliamentarian Robert Johnson did not support her, he called for the chair to allow it according to the rules. Steve Munisteri won by almost 2 to 1. It was a clear mandate from the delegates present. Cathie never came out to address us or give a concession speech, which we thought was very odd. The convention ran very late for the speech filled, two day agenda didn’t leave much time for the actual convention business. Some people wanted to hurry up and leave while others cried from the microphone “this is what we came here for!”
Overall, much progress was made. The 2010 convention was run more fairly than the 2008 was. The (rules and credentials) committee chairs at least allowed testimony and discussion, the delegates were permitted some voice on the floor, parliamentary procedure was not followed exactly, but it was much improved (they didn’t cut the microphones or railroad us as much as in 2008). I think they realized they’d have mutiny on their hands if they didn’t straighten up somewhat.
One immediate change was noted. The SREC (representatives from each senate district make up the board of the state party) meeting held before the convention was held in a tiny room, barely space for the committee, and very limited space for observers. Our request to move to a larger room was denied. There were more people outside trying to get in than there were inside! I gave up my seat for the soon to become new state party chair. One very disgusted older man with a cane called the fire marshal! During the meeting motions were made to bring the convention agenda into compliance with the TEC and to open the books and see the expenditures of the party chair. Both were rejected.
The meeting held by the new chair upon adjournment of the convention was held in a much more adequate space. One third of the SREC was newly elected, mainly due to term limitations.
All in all, those who desire to see the party held to its stated principles and want transparency and accountability were not disappointed. We are hopeful that with further involvement and hard work we can turn this party (and our government at all levels) around. The political parties are the seedbeds for our public servants. We must clean them up and demand integrity and accountability, to do that we must become involved, as distasteful as that can be. For we know that “Evil triumphs when good men do nothing.”