Tuesday, April 3, 2012

HCRP 4/2 Meeting Recap

Last night's Harris County Republican Party Executive Committee meeting was... interesting.  As I wrote on HTPS this week, there were rumors of several resolutions being offered, and those were the talk of the meeting.  There's no way to know what motivated people, but attendance was the highest I can recall, both among precinct chairs, candidates, and visitors.

One highlight of unity before getting into the conflict: the Local Government Committee's report contained a resolution opposing the Houston Feeding Ordinance, which passed the committee unanimously, and which was adopted by the executive committee with their report.  So HCRP's MEMBERSHIP is on record as opposing the attempt to control efforts to feed the homeless in Houston.  The Local Government committee deserves props for making this issue part of their report, and the membership should be pleased to know that the resolution will be brought before Houston City Council today.  A lot of the time resolutions passed in these meetings don't appear to matter much, but this one does; it carries official weight of the party in opposing a bad ordinance.  That's all to the good.  Kudos, people; well done.

And what of the other resolutions?  


Randy Kubosh offered the resolution to ask for a monthly financial accounting, which was ruled out of order, since it would involve a bylaws change.  Changes to the bylaws require some notice ahead of the meeting, and thus this resolution truly was out of order.  Bylaws changes are proposed through the Rules Committee, which operates with a natural (and understandable) reluctance to propose a lot of changes to the bylaws.  That said, a member who wanted to increase reporting, or make changes to the accountability requirements would have to navigate Rules committee meetings, hope that the committee approved the changes, wait for the Rules committee to notify the membership of a proposed change with proper notice, and then wait for the meeting at which there was enough of a quorum in order to vote on a change to the bylaws.  

It's a little maddening, sure.  A lot depends on the members of the Rules committee, and whether they judge the change to be acceptable.  But making bylaws difficult to amend is purposeful - it ensures deliberation before changing rules or procedures that are already in place

  • so members have proper notice of structural changes to their organization
  • so that everyone knows ahead of time what is being proposed
  • so membership has time to digest the effect of the proposed change

Still, proposing some financial accountability on the floor of the Executive Committee meeting is one way to begin building support, but the members calling for this kind of accountability next need to begin drafting changes to bylaws and circulating them among the membership.  If the Rules committee sees a very large and passionate portion of the membership supporting this move, they will have a difficult time ignoring it.  Petitions from the precinct chairs, anyone?


In response to the news that the party would be charging candidates to speak at the upcoming April 21st convention, Ed Hubbard and other activists in the county challenged "the way we've always done things" and called for the leadership to request donations from those in attendance instead.  Ed went so far as to start a pledge drive to prove that the grassroots would indeed step up to the challenge and pay for the event.  A resolution to that effect was offered last night as well.  Most opponents felt that charging candidates from between $500 and $5,000 to speak was certainly a practice that should be stopped.

The short story is that, though there was no way to mandate that the party charge individuals an admission fee, the final amended resolution threw the issue back to the Advisory Committee (made up of the county's Senate District chairs) and scrapped the candidate fees.  Though Chairman Woodfill complained about it to the Chronicle, Hubbard's thinking here is sound:

  • since the candidate-funding model began, there has been an influx of new precinct chairs
  • those new chairs and activists are still learning how the party operates 
  • many have been brought to the party through tea party and grassroots efforts
  • many have ties to low-budget, grassroots candidates who would be at a disadvantage using the candidate-funding model

All that is important, because the arguments last night from those who wanted to keep the model were along these lines:

  • we've done it for a long time now, what's new?
  • this is a political stunt
  • candidates ASKED for this back in the '90s
  • candidates benefit most, why not have them pay?
  • tea parties charge candidates, why not the party?

You already know what I think of "We've always done it" thinking.  And as for a political stunt?  Is there any time that this resolution could be offered when leadership or its cronies would NOT say that?  Any hint of criticism of the leadership seems to bring out the same sad cast of characters, blustering and arguing that "the critics never do anything to help" and similar arguments.  As one who has seen over the past several years how very MANY of these critics of the party leadership have given their time and effort to work with and for the party, I'm disgusted with those old lines.  

If candidates indeed asked for this model back in the '90s, it would seem even then that forces in the party were hoping to keep low-budget (read: not backed by big money) candidates from reaching that audience.  No need to have an opportunity to critically assess EACH candidate, just the ones who can afford it.  Sure candidates, benefit, but so do the attendees, and shutting some out for not having a fat checkbook effectively favors candidates in an election, and should stop.

And the tea party charge?  Tea parties have charged for tables and booths, just as any other exhibitors would do.  What they have not been known to do is charge candidates to become part of a speaker roster.  If anything, tea party has given candidates more exposure, for less money, than any political party so ill-funded has been able to do.

This resolution was debated furiously; at one time opponents of the resolution attempted to table it into irrelevance, which the body refused to do.  It finally passed, and we will know soon what model will take its place.


Before the resolution to rebuke Gary Polland for his support of Mayor Parker in his Texas Conservative Review could be offered, a hasty motion to adjourn (well after normal meeting adjournment times, to be fair) was made, seconded, and passed.  It's no wonder EC members were weary after the prior measures, and were ready to go home.  It seems that resolution will have to be brought up in a future meeting; however timing was important on this item.  Polland's endorsements will be going out during this primary season, and the EC lost an opportunity to let him, and primary voters who receive his newsletter, know that he has lost credibility in Harris County.  

We'll see what happens at convention, in the primary, and at the next EC meeting.  Change is slow, people, but sometimes it does come.


  1. Thanks for the update, Felicia! I'm looking forward to seeing some change now that more are paying attention. Hopefully, HCRP will take notice and follow along ... or move out of the way. :)

  2. We made significant headway last night. The only thing that can be any better is to elect either Ed Hubbard or Paul Simpson as the new HCRP chair.

  3. The old farts in the HCRP are running scared.

    "We've always done it this way."

    Yeah? How's that working out for you? You're broke. I'm sorry the party leadership is no different than any other elected official. You've been there 20 years? Well that's about 10 years too long. Move along and let the next generation have the party.

    Dealing with Republicans is maddening. I'm going to go join the Democrats. At least there I just have to show a few baubles, beads, and shiny things and I'll have a whole cadre of Liberal zombies walking lockstep with me and not realizing I'm using them to spread Conservatism.

    I know it sounds like a difficult undertaking but it's got to be easier than changing the mindset of the old fart Republicans.

  4. Thanks for the update.

  5. Thanks Felicia! excellent read

  6. Felicia, let me first say thank you to those like yourself who played an instrumental role in what went down last night striking down the "Speaker's Tax." Watching those in our leadership opine as to why it's a necessity and listening to their misguided notion that we, as grass roots candidates, are more than happy to pay such outrageous prices to speak was laughable at best. This was probably not the best night to attend my "first" CM. However, I came away with a little bit more knowledge that the Establishment in the Republican Party doesn't end at the Austin city limits. It runs clear down to the bayous of Houston and throughout the great state of Texas. This is a problem we shall remedy in time. Thank you again for all you do, and keep up the good work.

  7. It would be nice if motions to adjourn and quorum calls were always out of line until the business of the meeting was completed. Issues need to be discussed and decided. How do we feel when one party abandons a legislative body to prevent their consideration of important business? Our committment as elected Precinct Chairs is to do the business of the party. We should be willing to stay and discuss as long as needed. Is a long night 4-5 times a year that much to ask? If so, let someone else become Precinct Chair. (Sorry I could not make this meeting. I _really_ wanted to be there.)

  8. I'm a member of the Local Government Committee and am so pleased that this small sample of our work served as a tool to highlight our unity within the HCRP. I must however, give credit where credit is due. Joe Ablaza performed the research, composed this resolution, and subsesquently followed through to ensure it was included in the agenda for the Houston City Council meeting today. Many thanks to Joe for this and all of his tireless efforts to keep us appraised of the business of the Houston City Council. On another note Felicia, this is very well written. I respect that your criticisms are fair and about the facts. I appreciate how although you may feel passionately about a subject, you are able to keep your emotions from adversely affecting your choice of words. This is why your opinions carry such weight. This makes for an undeniably effective leader. Thank you so much for all you do! Keep at it!

  9. Thanks for the kind remarks Marilyn, but this would not have been possible without outstanding citizens like yourself and others who compose the Local Government Committee. Remember each of us had a vote and after discussion we did the right thing as a body. Let's keep at it and make those who elected us proud! Speaking of serving, Felicia, great recap! Discourse is good no matter what the conversation in my opinion. The conversation last night was healthy. As someone who is ready to take our message forward I am a little discouraged with the non transparency. I was also surprised at some of the rhetoric last night that suggested people just sat on their duff and did nothing and all of a sudden are indignant because of the fees put on speakers at the convention. To that individual I would say; we were not sitting on our duffs, we were trusting that you could do this reasonably. People are not happy now and as a decision maker it is time to explain what and why you made that decision, not put people down. I look forward to further discussion on these matters.

  10. Good news. Change comes slowly, but progress is being made. I am sure there are those who feel they are living " Murphy's Law". You know what I mean. They have worked for the party, rubbed elbows, polished brass, and think their times is due, only to find the serfs are changing the rules. It's a positive sign to see change to be inclusive, and a request for more accountability with money.

  11. Felicia ~ Very well written. Thank you for doing what you do to keep all of us informed. Sorry I missed the meeting due to a conflict.

  12. I am so impressed with what you are doing in Harris County. I am so ready for a little shakeup in the Repub Party. Someone on your FB page mentioned it's like hitting your head against a wall and that is a perfect representation. My head is bloody. I could use some forward movement in Fort Bend. Maybe y 'all can head down south and put the fear of God in some folks down this way??? Keep up the VERY GOOD work!