CRA Battles to Verge of Extinction—Update

Updated material follows. The “nuclear option” went live today here is an analysis.

The nuclear option reads as follows:

It is the policy of CRA that Convention Delegates and Alternates must reside in the geographical boundaries of their respective chartered Republican Assemblies.  In order to prevent massive voter fraud, this policy will be implemented immediately and communicated to unit presidents, Board members, and proposed Delegates and Alternates as soon as possible.  The CRA Board of Directors requests that the Convention Rules Committee and the Credentials Committee adopt fair and even-handed policies and rules to implement this Board policy.  In order for the Credentials Committee to identify and communicate with Delegates and Alternates who may reside outside the boundaries of their respective chartered Republican Assemblies, four new members are hereby appointed to that Committee to help implement that effort…

Oh, the vote is due 03-31-11

Per President Celeste Greig, please vote (YES, NO, ABSTAIN), no later than the end of Thursday, March 31, 2011, on the motion below concerning the upcoming CRA Convention.

Two sections of the CRA Bylaws have a direct bearing on this proposal. They read as follows:

Section 9.04. Special Meetings. The Board of Directors may, without meeting together, transact business by mail, by voting on questions submitted to them by or with the approval of the President. Fifteen days shall be allowed for the return of the votes by mail, facsimile, or electronic mail to the Corresponding Secretary. The voting shall be considered closed at the end of fifteen days, provided that the majority of the members of the Board shall have returned their votes by that time, or it shall be considered closed at any time prior thereto if and when all of the Directors have returned their votes. If, at the expiration of the fifteen-day period, a majority of the Board of Directors has not returned their votes, the measure being voted upon shall be deemed to have failed. The Secretary must preserve all ballots received until the next meeting of the Board of Directors, at which meeting the Board of Directors shall order the disposition of the ballots. In cases where a hearing is required by the Bylaws of the CRA, voting by mail shall not be permitted unless authorized by a two-thirds vote of all members of the Board of Directors.

Clearly a two day voting window is a violation of the State Bylaws.

Section 4.04. Membership Requirements. In order to be eligible to join CRA, a person must be an American citizen of good moral character who is registered to vote as a Republican in the State of California.

Thus anyone can join any Republican Assembly as long as they reside in the State of California and are a registered Republican. If you can live anywhere and be a member, it is only logical that you could be a delegate too.

My daughter is in college in Southern California and a member of our Sacramento County unit. If a convention was held in Orange County and due to the cost of travel, it was necessary for her to be a delegate I would have no problem with that. It would allow our unit to be better represented by someone that we know and at a cost savings to members of our unit. Sure the folks attending the meeting locally should be offered the delegate positions first but if we need her and it works with her schedule then why not call on her?

However, such a generous membership policy was not always the case. I have a copy of the 1991 CRA Bylaws because I was at the Spring Convention and had several resolutions adopted that my friend Donna and I wrote. As a result, I kept my newsletter from the event as a souvenir. If you can find a copy, look at the following section:

Section12.03. Qualifications for Membership. Members of each Chartered Republican Assembly shall be those American citizens of good moral character who are registered with the Republican Party, in the geographical area of that Chartered Republican Assembly, except that those registered in an area where there is no Chartered Republican Assembly may become members of a Republican Assembly in a nearby unit until a new Republican Assembly may be Chartered Republican Assembly and must continue to comply with those Bylaws, and must pay such annual dues as may be fixed.

Because of other adventures that I had in the CRA, I know that this was changed sometime after 1999, when the requirements to live within the boundaries of the chartered club were dropped and residence anywhere in the State was instead adopted.

When I get into the tall grass with issues like this, I often hearken back to the Tom Cruise movie The Firm. The challenge of his character was how to get out of the mess he was in without tarnishing himself and losing his ability to practice law. He decided that if he would follow the law that he would be on safe ground and he could find a legitimate way of punishing the bad guys. In short should you cheat or behave honorably?

I think supporters of both Celeste Greig and Karen England should follow the rules and may the best person win. The irony of all this is that a Bylaws amendment has been written to deal with the delegate issue and it is likely to pass at the upcoming convention. After this gathering it should be a mute point.

Celeste has had two years to decertify the charters of the “paper clubs” that she now fears. She also could have set some delegate guidelines at the January 2011 Board Meeting but she lacked the foresight to do that. If she and her team failed to move on these issues when they had the time to do so then that’s too bad. The die is cast and to try to change the rules after the delegate deadline is destructive to the organization and says that the actual character of Celeste and her public persona are greatly divergent. Trying to suspend the Constitution to save the Union only worked for Lincoln because he had a bigger army.

CRA Battles to Verge of Extinction

The knives have come out for the fight over the leadership of the California Republican Assembly. In a contest that harkens back to the old MTV Celebrity Death Match, it’s incumbent Celeste Greig vs Karen England.

Celeste Greig started this term as one of ten vice presidents in California. After the CRA president—Ken Mettler—resigned to run for state assembly, she was promoted to replace him. Greig has served most of the two year term. She has been active in the CRA periodically for more than three decades. She has had some exposure on a national stage as a representative of Republican and conservative causes. In the early days of the program, she was a guest several times on Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher. She is strongly rooted in her views and values.

Karen England has been the president of Capitol Resource Institute (CRI) for many years. I know her best as the person that runs the City on a Hill summer camp for high school kids. England is often the lone voice at the capitol dissenting the crazy anti-family legislation that spews forth from liberals in Sacramento. Karen has served many terms as a vice-president in CRA. Most recently she was the National Committeewoman charged with representing the CRA the at the convention of National Federation of Republican Assemblies (NFRA).

Unfortunately, both candidates have their downside. Neither is an ideal candidate for the leadership of a volunteer grassroots organization that has gone from a paid membership of over 100,000 to one that now is lucky if they have three thousand. Both have some shady folks in their corner that tarnish the reputation of those around them. Heretofore, my biggest complaint is that they don’t respond to email correspondence from CRA members unless there is a potential benefit to them personally.

The rhetoric has been escalating for several weeks but supporters of Celeste Greig are preparing their version of the nuclear option. What they are planning will insure a victory over England but this short-term victory will likely destroy the organization. The reality is that if they follow the rules they would probably win on a straight-up vote, get the reforms that they seek and still beat England. This shortcut will be as divisive as the take-over of Barbara Alby and company in the late 1980’s.

From a look at the bylaws, what is being proposed cannot be done; however, this may not stop Greig and her supporters from trying. While I have promised not to disclose the particulars of the proposed course of action, I strongly argued that the tactics about to be employed are the wrong way to deal with England and her people. Once again, the God fearing folk in the Republican Party are resorting to power politics and not letting Scripture guide their lives.

Reapportionment Rumors

Two rumors have been circulating lately about the process of drawing new lines for California districts for Congress, Senate and Assembly.

First, one consultant on the short list of possible vendors to help the citizen’s commission draw the new lines is directly affiliated with the guy that drew the lines last time Jerry Brown was governor.  This group claims to be non-partisan but they are just a front for Democrats.

Second, the new lines for Sacramento County will include two self contained congressional seats. By self-contained I mean that the districts will likely be wholly within the county. The western district will run from Natomas thru Sacramento to Elk Grove. This will be the new safe seat for Doris Matsui and the other district would be the more competitive home of Dan Lungren.

Let’s see if these two rumors come to pass.

AT&T Ranks last in 4G speeds

The news for AT&T continues to be bad. First, AT&T has the most dropped calls of any U.S. cellular provider and terrible customer satisfaction results from J.D. Powers. Two weeks ago, it was reported that AT&T’s 4G speeds are actually slower than their 3G speeds. And now, AT&T has received yet another honor. Today CNET is reporting that RootMetrics has conducted a survey of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.

In the results shown below, Verizon clearly beats all other carriers. This news comes the day after AT&T announced that they have agreed to buy T-Mobile. Ironically, most folks that I know using T-Mobile are refugees that fled from AT&T because of their high prices and lousy service.

AT&T has become to the cellular phone industry what America Online has become to Internet service providers. If the recent data on AT&T won’t persuade you to change carriers then you deserve to wallow in mediocre technology.

Here is a sample of the press AT&T has received recently.

J.D. Power says Verizon tops in call quality

How AT&T Totally Flubbed 4G
“…if you stand in the same place with a “4G” phone and a “3G” phone on the same network, the 3G phone will be faster.”,2817,2381915,00.asp

Study: Verizon fastest among 4G networks

CRP Convention

Thanks to Congressman Tom McClintock, the California Republican Party was delivered from the destructive course of action advocated by outgoing chair, Ron Nehring. In the eleventh hour, McClintock lent his name to the proposal by Mike Spence to move to a vote by mail caucus beginning in 2014. While not perfect, the Spence plan will allow a primary election to be conducted via mail and allow any interested registered Republicans to participate. Despite three years to plan for it, the Party decided that they did not have the time to implement the system for the 2012 election cycle and opted for a “do no harm” approach to this series of elections.

Spence’s proposal is a positive development but it opens a series of new questions that should be addressed at the next convention.

My peer group has talked it over and we think that using snail mail for anything is costly and if the CRP had any visionary folks they would get the primary set-up as an online voting system. This would be a perfect opportunity for any aspiring tech company to field test their voting system under actual conditions without the repercussions of screwing-up an election for a government entity. After all California is the home of Silicon Valley and such a system is a logical extension of technology.

In addition, the CRP has no clue how to pay for the primary. In the past this exercise has always been paid for by taxpayers. Now that it will become privately funded we are entering uncharted territory.

The one office not addressed by this proposal is the election of Central Committee members. Should this be the only partisan election still paid by taxpayers? How does this affect McCain-Feingold campaign finance laws? Are Central Committees still needed or are they relics of a bygone era?

Allowing registered voters to continue to participate is good but trusting the CRP to get it right is a slightly more dubious proposition.

Nuclear Power Myths

By far the most pervasive myth of nuclear power is that the reactor goes critical just before it explodes. This is non-sense and has been a constant source of irritation to people knowledgeable about nuclear power. I don’t care how big a budget the movie has, when characters start talking about nuclear power they always get it wrong. The only description I have ever seen in popular culture that got it right was Tom Clancy.

Simply put when a reactor is critical, it is creating enough power to sustain a nuclear reaction.

A nuclear reaction is controlled by several factors including design of fuel and control rods, degree of enrichment of the uranium, medium used for heat transfer. The two things controlled by nuclear plant operators are position of control rods and coolant.

When a reactor is “scrammed” the control rods are rapidly inserted into the reactor. The rods absorb energy that would otherwise go into the fuel and disrupt the chain reaction from continuing. Thus the reactor is shutdown. Gradual raising and lowering of control rods can increase or decrease the temperature of the reactor. Depending on the design, a reactor will operate at a temperature of 450 – 600 degree Fahrenheit.

Coolant is used to transfer heat from the reactor to heater exchangers (often steam generators) and then the cooler fluid is pumped back to the reactor to be heated again. Usually the coolant is very pure water. However, I have been to an early reactor in Idaho that was cooled by liquid sodium. This closed loop then transferred heat to another closed loop of liquid sodium and then via a heat exchanger, created steam to power a generator. Imagine if this was the design in Japan and they had to resort to cooling their reactors with sea water. (If you didn’t know, sodium reacts violently with water.)

In many water cooled plants, the water not only is used to transfer heat but it actually can help control the nuclear reaction. In water cooled, water moderated nuclear power plants, the water’s ability to expand when heated and contract when cooled is used to help the reactor maintain a constant temperature. When the water is heated, the water molecules get further apart and reflect fewer neutrons back into the fuel, when the temperature decreases, the water becomes denser and will reflect more neutrons back into the reactor.

A normally operating reactor is critical and will maintain a rather constant temperature as long as the heater transfer process is constant.

Next time you see a movie featuring a hero that is desperately trying to prevent the reactor from going critical; please remember that you are witnessing a drama where a Hollywood myth is being presented as fact. Reactors are supposed to go critical. That’s what they are designed to do.

Meltdown in Japan

First, I am moved by the destruction and devastation in Japan. My prayers are going out to the folks over there. The loss of life is much greater than the preliminary reports.

In a former life, I worked as a nuclear reactor operator so I think I understand the basics of what is occurring in Japan. Much of what is happening depends on the design of the plant. What is the percentage of enrichment of the fuel? What is the coolant used? (Likely very pure water but nuke plants can run with other types of coolant.) What is the operating temperature and pressure of the plant? What is design and placement of the control rods?

The plants where I worked is in some ways like the typical cooling system in a car. The engine is a heat source, water is pumped thru the engine and is warmed, it passes thru pipes to the radiator and is cooled and then the cooler water returns to the engine to be heated. The whole system is closed with an overflow source to allow for expansion and contraction of the water and this allows for the addition of more water to the system.

If the engine is running, ever just idling, and the water pump breaks, water ceases to circulate in the engine. As it heats—even under pressure—it will turn to steam. In a reactor when this happens the core can become uncovered, the fuel rods will distort and could leak fuel into the reactor. What can happen is an uncontrolled reaction that damages the reactor vessel and/or a steam explosion. The end result is an uncontrolled release of radioactive material.

To prevent such an occurrence, there are emergency generators on the site in case an external source of power is needed to run pumps for cooling during maintenance or emergency. Since the plant is on the coast, a last resort would be salt water. The plant can never be operated again if saltwater is used to cool the reactor compartment.

It appears that this option has been used to cool the reactor. When the water was pumped in and came in contact with the pressure vessel—which contains the nuclear fuel—a brittle fracture resulted, some water flashed to steam and the building which was structurally compromised by the earthquake collapsed. At this point the core is covered and the plant is a multimillion dollar pile of scrap.