CRA After Action Report

The California Republican Assembly’s 80th Annual Convention is now officially over. I would like to give my analysis and comments in no particular order.

First, the circular firing squad report.
Prior to the convention, three known targets were scheduled; Nevada RA, and Steve Sarkis and Baron Knight.

Nevada RA
After weeks of raising hell about this chapter, the Park boys just let it go. Literally nothing was said at the Convention concerning this chapter even though George and Aaron Park had been denying access of information and reports to the Charter Review Committee for weeks. They wasted dozens if not hundreds of manhours of the committee’s time over this issue and then simply dropped it.

Appeal of Sarkis and Knight
Nobody actually had the guts to put this on the convention schedule but saved it for the last item of business on the last day under the euphemistic label of Other Business. The CRA Board presented their case against Sarkis first. The Board was given 10 minutes to show why a lifetime ban was a fair and just sentence. Sarkis was not present so his case was made by Knight. Knight finished most of his defense case in the allotted 10 minute timeframe. Then Tom Hudson and CRA President John Briscoe advanced a motion that changed the sentence from life to five years. This motion was approved. Then Knight—via a motion—was given a one year suspension instead of five. After the motion was approved, Knight objected and asked that the one year suspension be reversed. He claimed he was innocent; so now the Board gave a 10 minute presentation on Knight and then Knight was able to offer his defense. A series of votes were then held; a one year suspension was defeated, then a five year suspension was defeated. In the end, Knight’s suspension was overturned and he is now a member in good standing with the group (assuming his dues are current).

This outcome is most unsatisfactory for me. Knight clearly did things deserving of some type of disciplinary action.

The biggest loser in this was John Briscoe. Briscoe’s team was thrown under the proverbial bus by their leader. I agree that the original sentences from the September 2014 Board meeting were too severe but John agreed to the punishment at the time. His failure to defend his Board is an inexcusable lapse in leadership. Unfortunately, other leadership problems were on display at convention.

Convention shortcomings were evident even before it began. Missing were printed schedules, handouts of relevant materials and lack of meeting rooms. Delegates were exposed to a form of politics that even one-ups Nancy Pelosi’s famous you have to vote for it to know what’s in it. CRA delegates got to vote on stuff they never even saw. They adopted committee reports that weren’t complete or had been edited for content after the committees had met. Thus what was voted on was not the same as what committees had voted upon when they had met. Not even electronic copies or overhead projections of relevant documents were available prior to votes. Occasionally, selected parts were hastily read. Again President Briscoe was apparently OK with this also.

The scheduling was very inefficient. The Saturday afternoon session began over 30 minutes after the lunch banquet was finished and was concluded 2 ½ hour before the evening meal; thus 3 hours of business could have been conducted on Saturday instead of Sunday. (The entire general session on Sunday was scheduled for three hours and forty-five minutes.)

Folks like me wondered why the Resolutions Committee killed the Saturday Only convention resolution when there was literally enough time to do everything in one day and then go home. Oh, but nobody except the Resolution Committee ever saw the resolution because it wasn’t in the committee’s report when it was submitted for adoption on Sunday.

On Sunday, the officer elections were held. Only two contested races were on the ballot; Membership Secretary and National Committee Man.

George Park faced challenger, Rick Marshall for Membership Secretary. Park wasn’t my first choice after doing his best Peggy Mew impersonation for the last several weeks. I was willing to consider Marshall as a worthy candidate until he opened his mouth to say why he was running. Marshall was clearly a leader of the malcontent wing of the group. His whole platform was griping about the move to annual dues which we just implemented in January of this year. Marshall has clearly never been the Treasurer of a local chapter before and was talking non-sense. I think Solomon said that even a fool is regarded as wise when he remains quiet. Marshall could benefit from this advice.

Bill Cardoza faced-off with relative newcomer, Johnnie Miller for National Committee Man. Miller is from a new chapter in south-central Los Angeles. Miller, a rare black face in a very white crowd, looked good in his three piece suit and with a name that could be mistaken for an adult beverage, he proved a formidable foe. Miller was the third person Aaron Park had tried to recruit to oppose Cardoza.

Cardoza tried to campaign for the office while Miller did not. Cardoza started his campaign on Saturday morning by forwarding an email from Aaron Park informing Bill that he would face an opponent. When I first saw the mail, I thought Park had sent it as a hit piece. Upon further examination, Cardoza had sent it. Unfortunately for Bill, it was not a hit piece and the mail was several days old.

The next campaign efforts that I noticed were on Sunday morning. Cardoza had three pieces that he gave out; mostly while folks were in line waiting to vote in his race. This is the first time I ever saw someone soliciting votes during polling. I kept joking with my neighbor in the line that Cardoza couldn’t do that within 100 feet of a polling place.

Cardoza is a follower. Watching him try to say he is a leader was rather pathetic. Yes, he’s been in CRA for many years. He very well could be the oldest active member in the group. He and I are definitely in the top five folks still active. Anyway, he has always found his way to the side in power. He’s a lieutenant and will never be anything more.

Every time Cardoza was able to get in front of a microphone during the convention, he trumpeted his position as chaplain of CRA. Too bad he knows nothing about theology, the group desperately could use a chaplain like that. Cardoza talked repeatedly of being there since the Christians took over in 1988. Hey Bill, this might be a newsflash to you but there was nothing Christian about how Barbara Alby and company took over the CRA. Machiavelli couldn’t have been prouder of your efforts in ‘88. We are still dealing with the fruit of this poisonous tree.

Morgan beat Cardoza handily in the race. After the results were announced, Cardoza was allowed to speak. What most thought would be a concession speech was instead an awkward, rambling recitation of all Cardoza’s accomplishments which was then followed by a brief congratulation to the new officeholder.

This reminds me of Aaron Park’s introduction of a State Assembly member at the Saturday luncheon. Aaron finished his introduction by saying something to the effect that this Assembly Member was so popular in his district that not even Jesus Christ himself could beat this guy. Many of us including the elected official were clearly uncomfortable with these words.

While talking about the convention with the Sith Lord, he speculated that the Nevada RA fiasco was partially a diversion to keep the Charter Review Committee from knowing the current membership numbers in the group. Based on what I know, I think his speculation has merit. It stands to reason that if the state party is hemorrhaging members that its chartered clubs would be too.

Oh, lastly the Board meeting held after the convention was a truncated affair. Newly elected President Briscoe did not fill any vacancies or appoint any committees; even though business was moved from the convention to a Bylaws Revision Committee.

I sense the days of everyone having a chance of being on a committee are over. I fully expect the remaining inner-circle to occupy most vacancies. Briscoe holds power now only because he didn’t face an opponent for re-election. He won’t get a pass next time…if there is one.

My final thought is that CRA is woefully equipped to deal with the new political realities of California. They are too stuck in the past with a broken and defective paradigm. They really think they can control the CRP platform in 2016 and laugh in my face when I tell them that they already lost it last month. They are like a person exposed to a lethal dose of radiation, they are dead but still walking around waiting for their body to catch up with reality.