CRA Convention Farcical Chaos – Newbie’s Report




And we wonder why we have trouble moving issues forward through the government . . .


I wouldn’t want to disappoint the good Sgt., so here’s my take/rant on the joke that was the CRA convention (you’ll love this Vern):

For the record, I supported Karen and her slate going into the convention, and any question I had of whether I was supporting the right side was dispelled within minutes of Saturday morning if you care to read my tome below.

I got in line to get my delegate badge on Saturday morning. When I gave my unit name, my name was highlighted in scarlett red. The gentleman at the table told me I had been flagged and I could not get a coveted delegate badge at that time. When I asked him why I had been flagged, he did not know. When I asked him how I could find out, he told me to find George Park. However, since Mr. G. Park was currently inside the conference room, that was rather difficult. You see, the agenda I was given when I registered (I had previously paid my $200+ registration fee) said that Saturday morning’s session was a “General Session.”

When I tried to enter the General Session, one of the two large men stationed at each of the two entry ways to the conference room, informed me that I was not able to enter because I did not have a badge (either delegate or Board member). When I told him that I was trying to enter the General Session as advertised, I was refused access.

After another hour or so of waiting in the lobby of the hotel (many shenanigans went on from both sides during the entire conference, too many to address here), I finally got to address Mr. G. Park, still outside the conference room because I was barred from the General Session, to his credit (one of the few times I will ever give him such), he gave me actual information. He told me that I was flagged for some reason, that the flagged delegates were being called into the conference room and told the reason they were flagged. They would then be given a chance to explain or defend their delegate status, at which point the current delegates would be allowed to vote on whether to seat the flagged delegate or not. I asked Mr. G. Park why I couldn’t enter the General Session and he told me it was a closed session. I must’ve missed the secret agenda his side handed out changing the General Session to a closed session, but I digress.

A quick note on Saturday’s General Session. I talked to know less than 5-10 CRA members at the convention who told me that they had never had a closed session to seat the delegates before. As I understand, they had an area reserved for delegates and placed other viewers in a separate area to prevent non-delegates from illegally voting. This will be important later.

Back to my fine Saturday. The morning came and went, and still I sat. Lunch passed. The afternoon came and went. Finally, some 10 hours after I started waiting, I was given that magic pass to enter the hallowed hall. I was paraded up to the front, the charges were read against me, and me and my group pled our case to the jury. The vote was cast and we were given grace and seated. Huzzah!

Since I was now one of the “Inner Circle” I was given a beautiful blue delegate badge (that’s going on my mantle) and actually allowed to stay in the room. Imagine that! Not only that, but I was allowed to vote on the handful of remaining challenged delegates. What do you know!

As I actually saw it, the process went like this – delegate(s) marched up, charges read, case pleaded, vote taken. Just like me. The votes I saw were quickly counted, half of the room by Mike Munzing, and half by the good Sgt. Hmmmmm, the Sgt.’s running for a CRA office and he’s counting to see whether the delegates should be seated – no conflict of interest there. Oh yeah, and his brother was running for offfice too, while running the Kangaroo Court deciding on only some of the delegates fates. Yeah, totally on the up and up.

I forgot to mention, 300+ delegates were submitted by the various units. The Credentials Committee, which was led by Mr. G. Park, included several people running for office. Again, no conflict here, right? On Friday night, I was told the Credentials Committee abandoned the conference room and barricaded itself in one of the hotel rooms to go over the submitted delegate list. By the time the next morning dawned, the CC had flagged over 1/3 of the delegates (an unprecedented number I was told by more than one person who had been to many past CRA conventions). Only those delegates blessed by the CC were initially allowed to get badges and enter the sacred conference room.

And since the farce lasted all day, the breakout sessions (one of the reasons I was attending the convention) were cancelled. So the only substantive sessions of the weekend fell victim to the joke happening behind closed doors.

That was my fun Saturday. 10 hours in a hotel lobby, criminal line up, bed time.

Sunday was more subdued. I think everyone was tired from the implosion of the CRA that had happened the day before. Armed with my magic badge, I confidently strode into the conference room. Sadly, the doors were now opened to all and I was relegated to commoner status like everyone else.

Sunday’s session began at 10:00 am because someone screwed up and put that on the agenda rather than 9:30 am like it should have been. So the session really started at approximately 10:20 am since Mr. G. Park, Celeste Grieg and her crew were apparently too tired from their hijinx the days before.

Since everything at this convention took forever, why not take an hour to approve the rules, several of which were now moot. Kudos to Mike Spence for proposing an amendment that required a refund for all convention attendees who were not given a delegate badge and were denied access to Saturday’s charade. Shockingly, it was overwhelmingly approved. Apparently, a vote was held early Saturday to open the General Session, I mean secret closed session, to all convention attendees, but it was defeated [Note to the geniuses who voted to keep the session closed on Saturday, but then voted to refund the money of those shut out, and there had to have been more than a few, if you had simply opened the Saturday session as advertised, you still would’ve had a lot of ticked off members, but you would’ve saved the CRA thousands of dollars in refunds – rationalize that for me, please.]

And a special shout out to Craig Alexander, attorney at law. He went to the mike to “reluctantly” oppose the refund motion. His stated reason was that there was a class action threatened against the CRA. That puzzled me, because if you refund the members their money, you pretty much eliminate their standing for suing you for keeping them out of the top secret closed session. But that’s just me.

Sadly, I had relied on the representation by the CRA that the Sunday session would end at noon, and I had to get to my rental car location, so I was unable to stay around for the “vote” that occurred.

Now my random thoughts:

I understand that both sides use the so-called paper units to their benefit. But that’s operating within the bylaws. Eliminating delegates for any reason other than failure to pay dues, failure to be a CRA member (registered Republican), failure to timely submit the delegate list, or failure to timely transfer to another CRA unit, is not in the bylaws. I actually spoke to one delegate who told me that both sides abused the system, but since Karen’s side gamed the system better, it was ok for Ms. Grieg’s side to effectively chuck the bylaws out the window to rig the election.

I am all for fixing the elections and endorsements problems with the CRA. Ignoring the bylaws and effectively rigging an election is not the way to do it. I would be in favor of geographic restrictions on delegates. And I would love to get rid of paper units who exist solely to get people elected and endorsed. But you cannot selectively apply the bylaws to exclude delegates from your opponents to win an election. My evidence for that – I was told by a delegate that their unit failed to comply with the bylaws on selecting delegates, but that it did not matter because the head of the unit was voting for Ms. Grieg and her slate. Yeah that’s the moral high ground.

I also find it ironic that there is some question as to whether the Park brothers’ own unit (Placer County) is a paper unit or not. I heard from at least 3-4 delegates from that area that Placer never had meetings, or they combined the CRA meeting with the Central Committee meeting (yeah, that’s proper). Yet despite these problems, they never had to account for their unit’s legitimate status. Hmmm, I wonder if it had anything to do with the Park brothers running the show? Nah.

Did Karen’s side engage in some shenanigans of their own? I’m sure they did. I wasn’t a fan of trying to rip the door off its hinges and barge into the top secret General Session, barrelling through two or three gentlemen in the process. I also wasn’t a fan of screaming into the room every time the door was opened, or chanting loudly from outside the conference room, because we were guests in a hotel, but emotions were running high. I have also read on the other side’s blogs that Karen’s folks allegedly sent hateful emails and made threatening calls to Ms. Grieg’s house. If that’s true, they should be kicked out of CRA immediately. But so should the good Sgt. (why he wasn’t kicked out when Chuck Devore revealed that he tried to sell an endoresement is beyond me – yes I believe Chuck’s word over the good Sgt.’s), and all of Ms. Grieg’s side who made the CRA a literal joke over this weekend. I understand that Ms. Grieg is a woman of God, but she didn’t do anything this weekend to convince me of that.

In sum, assuming any of you have even bothered to read my whole missive, this was my first, and likely last, CRA convention. The good Sgt.’s side made several references to us not being unions, etc. I would ask those folks this question – who locked out its own paying members from a General Session? I would love to hear the answer to that one.

So what do we do? Well, in my opinion, we should’ve had an election the way the CRA has always had an election, let the chips fall where they may, and then make real changes to prevent anyone from doing this ever again. What we shouldn’t have done was lock paying members out of the process, selectively enforce bylaws that have nothing to do with seating delegates, and try to steal an election.

It’s the first time I’ve ever been ashamed to be a member of any group. And I know I was not alone in feeling that this weekend.

About Geoff Willis