Falling on hard times

For the last month (and some time beyond) there has been a war of words between supporters of the former Chair of the Maryland Young Republicans, Brian Griffiths, and backers of the current Chair Kory Boone. It’s a situation which brings back thoughts of the Ws being missing on the computer keyboards when George W. Bush came into office in 2001 – in fact, Boone’s reaction is reminiscent of Bush’s as he is being rather silent about the whole thing.

On the other hand Griffiths continues to speak out, admonishing the new leadership by saying on his Red Maryland website that “(i)t’s a shame that they are wasting their time in office with minutiae and nonsense instead of being the ‘competent’ slate that they promised everybody they would be. Maybe it’s time to drop the vendettas, stop focusing on national YR politics, and see the big picture.”

Let me preface this by saying I was once in a smaller pair of shoes in my life – for a year (2000) I was president of the Toledo Metro Area Young Republican Club. And I’ll cheerfully admit that it was a learning experience for me and they probably would have done better if someone else had stepped up to the plate. But I was asked, so I accepted – maybe if my life at the time had been more settled it would have gone better.

One thing I learned, though – and the same thing is holding true in Maryland – is that Young Republican clubs tend to be cyclical. A crop of interested people start the club and they become the core group which runs it for a half-dozen years. But then that group ages out, moves away, or actually succeeds in winning elective office and suddenly no one is there to take over. About 6 to 8 years ago we had a Lower Shore YR chapter but it eventually became inactive. As it stood, dwindling interest meant the time was right for new leadership, and Maryland will get it.

But the change isn’t coming easily, and Griffiths doesn’t seem to be embracing it. Despite his promise that “I intend to make this (recent MDYR convention) my last Maryland YR event,” he’s since spoken out about proposed bylaw changes and fretted about losing the opportunity for Annapolis to host the 2017 national YR convention, an event which Griffiths admitted he was skeptical about in the beginning.

Meanwhile, questions have arisen about the financial state Boone inherited when he took over the leadership of the MDYRs. In a recent audit made available online, MDYR treasurer Eric Beasley essentially threw up his hands:

Given the lack of information (about the recent financial past), the MDYR Treasurer cannot establish a historical trend and create realistic goals for the organization to prosper in 2016 and 2018.

These issues highlighted above can be directly linked to a lack of efficient record keeping and management within the organization. Due to the severity of the issues, The MDYR Treasurer will be requesting all bank statements which are not available online and sending the entirety of financial information to a 3rd party auditor for review. The auditor will not be an active official within the Republican Party or any Republican-affiliated organization, elected or appointed. The individual will also have extensive experience with maintaining financial information.

Even if you chalk this up to sloppy record-keeping, the fact that the group is down to one chartered local group and a dearth of members (a paid membership which allegedly excluded Griffiths) is enough to make one believe that, first of all, the group really can’t be damaged anymore by the actions of its current leadership – if that were indeed the goal, which I doubt – and secondly, at least someone gave enough of a damn to want to steer the group in a new direction. Perhaps their fundraiser was a failure, as Griffiths charges, but they at least tried to have an event and spread the word that the YRs are active in the state.

When he came to our Central Committee meeting last month, Kory noted his goals for his tenure were to “establish local chapters (and) get local people elected.” First of all, the fact that he came to our local meeting to introduce himself was an improvement over the previous chair, who only seemed to show for events where he could somehow promote the Red Maryland brand, and secondly, Boone expressed goals that seem rather attainable with some field work and promotion.

The last crop of Lower Shore Young Republicans had among them a current staffer for Congressman Andy Harris (who also serves as president of the Wicomico County Republican Club), a former WCRC president who is now a County Councilman, and another who attempted to secure a Delegate seat in a difficult district but put up a good race. With Salisbury University being the logical feeder group of College Republicans (their incoming President went to WiHi here), there’s no reason a YR group can’t make it here if the state leadership shows some support – and it will eventually accrue dividends for the local GOP.

Brian Griffiths had his time in the sun, so it’s time for him to let someone else lead.

Oh, and by the way, those who harp on reaching out to the minority community may wish to know Kory is a member of same, from the desolate frontier (at least in GOP terms) of Prince George’s County. It’s not important as to how he does the job, but to those for whom perception is reality that’s a bonus.

So I look forward to seeing what Kory Boone can do.

WCRC meeting – July 2012

There is rarely a dull moment when Delegate Mike McDermott is around, and tonight’s Wicomico County Republican Club meeting was no different.

Once we got through the Lord’s Prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, my usual reading of the minutes, and the treasurer’s report, we also received a nice note from WCRC scholarship winner Jonathan Hurst that we shared with the membership.

But the folks were there to hear Mike McDermott speak, and that he did. After noting that he wanted to hear our concerns, he made sure to thank those who ran for office – I’m “thankful for the roads you paved,” said Mike. Both Wicomico and Worcester counties have been successful in advancing GOP candidates, with two exceptions: Delegate Norm Conway and Senator Jim Mathias. In 2010, “we had opportunity that was there,” said McDermott. And while we came up a little short, “we have a great foundation,” McDermott said.

Still, Mike contended that we needed to do a little better at “painting the picture,” reminding people that the GOP is “about people being allowed to be all they can be.” On the other hand, Democrats in Annapolis were overly restrictive and created “punitive” policies: case in point, restrictions which added up to $25,000 to the cost of building a home in certain areas of the state. It echoed a theme he brought up at the end of the regular General Assembly session. “Don’t you make a mistake,” said Mike, “that (regulating development) is their goal.”

Michael also spoke briefly on the possible upcoming Special Session for expanding gambling, predicting they’ll be “back up in Annapolis in the next two weeks.” But he did assess that Democrats are “standing in the way of their own voters” with their entrenched positions on many issues. Yet Republicans had “core values (which) need to be untouchable” in order to represent the best interests of their constituents, McDermott concluded.

In the absence of Dave Parker, Ann Suthowski gave an abbreviated Central Committee report. She spoke about our upcoming August meeting and having a presence at the upcoming Wicomico Farm and Home Show.

Shawn Jester also gave a short Lower Shore Young Republican report, saying the group had gone dormant over the last few months but the state YRs had promised them assistance over the next few months to kickstart the group once again.

Bonnie Luna was multitasking this evening, handling reports for the Andy Harris and Mitt Romney campaigns as well as updating us on the new party headquarters, which I’ll get to momentarily. She first thanked the WCRC and the Central Committee for all their support and praised McDermott for his “exciting and encouraging message.”

The 2012 headquarters will be at 800 South Salisbury Boulevard, which is a former Blockbuster video store. It will have a “soft opening” on August 1st, with the grand opening set for Saturday, August 18. Another event likely to be held at headquarters will be a Romney watch party on August 30, once he accepts the GOP nomination.

Jackie Wellfonder chimed in for Dan Bongino’s campaign, saying she has campaign materials but looking for 4×8 sign location.

Woody Willing spoke about getting the 9,000 or so unaffiliated voters to our side, but more formally revealed that election judge training will happen “soon.”

Representing Election Integrity Maryland, Cathy Keim mentioned the total number of registration challenges levied by the group passed the 9,000 mark because voter rolls aren’t being kept up to date. These challenges are only from Baltimore, Montgomery, and Prince George’s counties. She also mentioned that the EIM poll watcher training will soon be available in webinar format on July 31-August 1 and August 14-15. But even after that training, Keim cautioned that poll watchers need authorization from a candidate or Central Committee to operate.

I gave a very quick assessment of the Tawes Crab and Clam Bake (much shorter than this) and pointed out there was a signup sheet for the Farm and Home Show – we will have a presence there.

One other announcement: tickets are also on sale for the club’s Crab Feast.

County Council member Gail Bartkovich then took the floor, updating us on progress from both the county’s Redistricting Committee and Charter Review Committee, both of which are proposing “drastic changes.” One interesting Charter provision is term limits for the County Executive, something which we were told was in the original proposal which created the position a decade ago but excised by the then-Democrat controlled County Council.

The plan is for public hearings to be scheduled, with the final decision made in mid-August. I will have more on the subject as the time draws closer.

WCRC meeting – August 2011

Last night’s was an interesting and informative Wicomico County Republican Club meeting to be sure, as County Council president Gail Bartkovich filled us in on some of the ins and outs of county government as it stands now.

As always we began with the Lord’s Prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, and my reading of the previous month’s minutes, with a treasurer’s report added for good measure. But Bartkovich began with some good red meat, announcing the elected school board resolution will be discussed once again – she also detailed how she came to be aware of the changes Delegate Conway proposed in a last-second meeting before the hearing. They were also getting input from the local NAACP regarding both the school board issue and redistricting in a future face-to-face meeting.

The key point of Gail’s discussion, though, settled on the creation of a Charter Review Committee. Required by charter on a decennial basis, Bartkovich announced that 25 county residents (some who had served on the previous committee a decade ago) were volunteering their time and talents – of that group, about 15 to 17 would be selected and the County Council would appoint the committee’s chair, with the committee then deciding on a vice-chair. The selection process would occur next month, with the first meeting (open to the public, by the way) to be held sometime in October and most likely at Council chambers. The series of public meeting would lead to recommendations, which would be voted on by County Council. They would vote whether to present the question to the public at the 2014 General Election. Continue reading “WCRC meeting – August 2011”