Well, George Donnelly made an attempt to find out.
He posted his results here.
But I’ll respectfully disagree with his findings, in part because of what happened to Angela Keaton in September, but also because of what happened to three other highly-respected Libertarians back before the 2008 LP National Convention. A report has come out that at the spring LNC meeting, in Executive Session (ES), Aaron Starr, Shane Cory, and M Carling were bashing BetteRose Ryan, Tony Ryan, and Michelle Poague because of Shotgun Willie’s co-sponsoring of the Convention in Denver.
Now, to be clear on the disclosure, I will quote myself from the past:
“I’ve known BetteRose Ryan for years. Ditto her husband, Tony, and her sister, Michelle Poague. I consider them my friends. They are great people, first class all around. BetteRose and Tony have both served the LP with distinction in both LPCO (BetteRose as state chair and predecessor to my state chair, John Berntson, Tony on the LPCO Board with me), and as LNC representatives (BetteRose as at-large, and Tony currently in a region). Michelle has also served on the LPCO Board in 2003-4. I was busy being a dad at that time as my son was born 4 days after the 2003 LPCO convention, which I helped organize, following the BetteRose “Cookbook” for conventions. I stepped down from the LPCO Board at that point for exactly that reason–parenting called.
“Shotgun Willie’s is the premiere club in Denver metro, in the unincorporated Glendale district. A lot of the girls there are LPCO activists, including Michelle. They co-sponsored the LPUS Convention. To Coloradoans, we know them as the “Glendale Ballet”, and they have been mainstays in the LPCO, especially at election night parties, for years.
“If the Starr Chamber is pissed over the Glendale Ballet at the LPUS Convention, then perhaps they ought to untwist their prude panties and go to a show. I’ve known that outfit for years; it’s high class, and they are regulars on the LPCO circuit–hell, an institution, even!–and not just for sex appeal either–some of them are bona fide party activists! That and BetteRose Ryan, Tony, and Michelle are all well-known as class acts bar none, which seems to be lost on the Starr Chamber, since they seem to lack it. The Glendale Ballet is what the LP is all about–free enterprise, free expression, and free minds and bodies.”
It should be noted that the “Cookbook” was used to make Denver as successful as it was.
This case illustrates a clear abuse of the Executive Session by the previous LNC.
But while that points out problems, the bigger question remains as to what the scope of the Executive Sessions should be. I’m not referring to what is written in the revered and until-recently mysterious LNC Policy Manual (of which I do have a current copy, thanks to Rachel Hawkbridge). I’m referring to general principles. I would posit that the answer to my own question is “Yes.”
In my own experience in both political and business management circles, the types of meetings that are Executive Sessions by any name tend to revolve around exactly two types of situations: personnel decisions and legal issues. 90% of all Party activities are neither of those; therefore Executive Session shouldn’t apply to them. That includes using Executive Session to bash longtime and well-respected Party members.
“So, Seebeck,” someone will undoubtedly snarkily ask, “How would you make it better?” I’m glad you asked.
In the case of the limited public meeting times the LNC has at present (different discussion), the use of ES should be even LESS than what it is. I’ll be the first to admit that a goal of no ES at the public meetings is not logical nor feasible. But, the ideals of minimal and proper use is not, and in fact should be the goal. Most ES issues can and should be resolved ahead of the public meetings. Doing so is not difficult, whether it be by a simple private email list, teleconference, videoconference, or something web-based such as Yahoo Messenger or NetMeeting. The LNC meetings are for the public membership as much as it is for anyone, and that focus should be respected.
As for the proper use, it should be noted that the bovine biosolids (I’m trying to be polite here!) that happened at the September LNC meeting were a direct result of improper use of the ES, both in the ES that Angela Twittered about and the subsequent ES where the attempt was made to expel her without giving her the chance to defend herself. LNC members are elected by the delegates, and they are not hired staff. As such, there is no personnel matter there that falls under ES purview, Policy Manual be damned. If the delegates decide to remove a LNC member, they can do so, and it is relatively easy for the LNC to ask the delegates to do so–all it takes is a delegate list and a mass mailing/emailing with a deadline attached. LNC Regional Representatives can already be recalled by their respective state affiliates. The LNC needs to remember that there is a huge difference between elected members and hired staff. HR can’t fire the Board of Directors; only the stockholders can. We, the delegates, are those stockholders.
Also, every person has the legal right to disclose any part of an ES that pertains directly to that person. It’s called an implicit waiver of confidentiality, and every person has that right in all cases.
So the solution for the LNC is rather simple to implement, once people get past the mental blocks of paranoid secrecy: Get most of the ES work done prior to the public meeting, and keep the scope limited to what it is supposed to be about and nothing more. They might even find the public meetings themselves are more productive uses of their time.
It’s that mental block thing that appears to be the problem.
On a related side note, I’m not certain if the BTP policy of no ES is the right answer, but I applaud them for trying it. Whether they succeed or not remains to be seen.
So, LP Bylaws Committee, here is your mission, should you choose to accept it: Propose a Bylaws change for St. Louis 2010 that makes elected LNC members removable from office only upon a 2/3 LNC vote on a resolution of the LNC to ask the delegates from the last convention to remove the member by a 2/3 delegate vote. The resolution should require a deadline to vote, and the ability to vote in a secure manner.
If the LNC plays that right, it can also serve as a model for secure voting to use elsewhere, like in regular elections, perhaps. That could be a nice political feather for the LP should they wisely choose to go that route.
In the meantime, LNC Chair Bill “Where’s My Gavel?” Redpath better rein in the improper use of, and entrance into, Executive Session. We The Delegates will be watching, especially next month.
One Final Note: All LP members are strongly encouraged to attend the next LNC meeting Dec 6-7 in San Diego. I know that quite a few are coming out for it. I will be there myself.