Libertarian Party Watergate office: worth the price?

Scott Williamson writes at Liberty For All:

When I moved my family from Michigan to Nashville three years ago one of the decisions we had to make was where we were going to live. We could have chosen to live in the heart of the action and moved to a loft in down town Nashville. We chose to spend half as much and move to a neighborhood. Sure, when we go to see a ball game or attend a play we have to fight traffic and drive downtown. In the long run, by living away from downtown we free up thousands of dollars a year to spend on other things.

If you run a business or run a household you know that we make economic decisions daily. Often the issue is not how much you spend; it is how you are spending it. By spending money on one thing you now have less to spend on other things. This is a lesson Libertarians have been trying to teach government for years.

In order for the Libertarian Party to have moral authority to teach this lesson it is imperative that we make sure as a party we are wisely spending our own money. Federal Election Commission December report shows the LNC pay’s $10,928.89 a month for office space. To put this into some perspective, a sustaining member pays $25.00 annually for their membership; it takes over 437 sustaining members a month to pay the rent on our Washington, D.C office. If you are a sustaining member, it took you and 5,245 others to pay the rent on our national office in 2009.

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51 thoughts on “Libertarian Party Watergate office: worth the price?

  1. Aroundtheblockafewtimes

    NoVa probably has higher rent than the “average for state of Virginia” but is still going to be less than Watergate if LNC moved to Fairfax or Manassas. The D.C. convenience is only relevant if the LNC is active each day on Capitol Hill, meeting with think tankers, discussing political strategy with political operatives, etc. Or if the current staff needs to be kept and demands an office in D.C. due to their housing and commuting obligations.
    Otherwise, the LP could be headquartered almost anywhere to do its administrative tasks.
    Any symbolic places come to mind? Valley Forge? Lexington or Concord? Monticello?
    Mason’s Neck?

  2. paulie Post author

    If it should be in the DC area at all, it should be easily walkable for the average person off a Metro stop, otherwise, it may as well not be anywhere near DC at all.

  3. June

    As a pledgerI just received the most recent treasurer’s report and one thing that jumped out at me was a major increase in the line item for “Deffered Rent” between Dec 06 ans Dec 07. I have no idea if this is because there was a major increase in our rent at that time or we significantly increased the amount of space we were renting, but I’d like to know which it was. The figure shown currently indicates a larger amount than the FCC report but I presume that it includes other things we might be renting in addition to office space.

    I seem to recall that the main argument for moving the office to DC (from San Francisco) was that we had to be in DC to be considered a credible party. Personally I think it may have had more to do with Crane being in charge back then and his desire to have his fledgling Cato Institute located there.

    In considering the possibility of another move though, we need to be aware that there can be significant costs involved in moving as well as staying. Still it seems that it might be a good idea for someone on the Natcom to take a good look at both options and present their recommendation to the full committee.

  4. Thomas M. Sipos

    I’m sure there’s plenty of cheap office space in D.C., perhaps in the black or immigrant areas.

    If the LP were to move offices to one of those neighborhoods, maybe a street level storefront, it would show solidarity with common folk.

    If the LP staff doesn’t like it, a new staff should be easy to find.

    I realize that some LP officers and staff may feel uncomfortable in a black area. And I think many voters of color sense this about the LP.

  5. Marc Montoni

    Most of the people who keep stressing over the Watergate location haven’t followed the history of LPHQ and the multiple attempts made to relocate it.

    I do think a presence in DC is necessary.

    However…

    I worked at LPHQ when it was in southeast @ 1528 Pennsylvania Ave SE, during the days of the very corrupt administration of mayor Marion Barry. That was back when police service took hours (rather than minutes) when seconds counted. “The place is still there”.

    Rent there was pretty cheap, as DC metro rental rates go — but I wouldn’t wish that place on anyone. The second day I was there, I worked late, and heard a commotion outside. I snuck a look, and right outside the front window, under that tree you can see in the Google street view, six DC cops were beating the snot out of a car thief they had caught.

    Volunteer parties at our office were frequently blessed with the sound of gunfire nearby. More than once I escorted volunteers and female staffers to their vehicles, or to the Metro station.

    The LP doesn’t need that kind of crap near its headquarters.

    Since HQ was moved to the Watergate, repeated attempts have been made to find office space in or near DC — but the eventual conclusion by the searcher is that the Watergate is competitive with rents in other safe areas. Really — The Watergate is not out of line. I’ve heard the Crystal City suggestion before, and it is also good to remember that there are good and not-so-good areas in CC too. Nice office space where you wouldn’t mind meeting new members, reporters or dignitaries (and know they would be safe traveling to & from their car) is going to cost a little more than bargain-basement.

    I like Crystal City, too. In fact I’d eventually like to place a bid for a national convention there. At least there, I personally know where all the Ethiopian, Indian, and Mongolian buffet restaurants are.

    ———————–

    The part of the LP’s never-ending headquarters dilemma that I found most frustrating was that we long ago should have owned our own building.

    For well over a decade, I repeatedly made inquiries trying to get the LNC to look at buying a building. Until BCRA, or McCain-Feingold, political parties could spend unlimited & basically unrestricted amounts of money on “party building” and “rent or mortgage” costs (these unlimited funds were what McCain & Feingold derided as so-called “soft money”). Even corporate contributions were allowed for these two limited functions. The LP could have raised money from corporations for the singular purpose of buying a building (or paying rent), but it never did so.

    After my research, I spoke with a succession of LNC chairs and other officers beginning shortly after (spring 1990) I started working at LPHQ. I even wrote a formal letter to the FEC requesting an Advisory Opinion (“AO”, in government alphabet-soup parlance) on the subject. NO ONE ever lifted a finger to get such a project going — and then the window closed in 2000, with BCRA, probably forever.

    Now the only way the LP will **ever** buy a building is either by setting aside a big chunk of donations every year — a money pile that would always be the gleam in some idiot’s eye (“hey, we have $300,000 saved up, let’s blow it all on _x_!” — or by getting a mortgage, with all of the risks and pitfalls that carries with it. The thing about the rent/mortgage/party-building money was that it could ONLY be used for those very limited purposes. It would have been a lot harder for some brilliant mind to come along and plunder the fund.

    I still think one of the main things the LP should be working towards is buying a permanent headquarters building. Next door to CATO would be great, just for irony.

  6. Stewart Flood

    The FEC report is based on actual revenue and expenses in a given period. Our financial statements are not.

    The Treasurer is required to keep our internal party financial records in line with GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles). Because of this, certain obligations, such as rent owed through the end of a lease, are recorded in a manner different than you’ll find in on the FEC report. Our lease, like most leases includes increases at certain periods (usually based on number of years into the lease). When there is an increase in the rent based on the terms of the lease the amount of deferred rent will change.

    Another good example is payroll. It is quite common at the end of a month to be in the middle of a payroll period. Our financial statements show the amount that our staff have earned for the period the report covers, regardless of when they are actually paid. The FEC report contains only the actual payments, so these numbers rarely match.

    Some party members keep trying to infer that there is a problem with our financial statements because they do not exactly match the FEC report. I’ve been present when the Treasurer has explained the facts to one of these very vocal critics, but the critic continues to claim there is something wrong.

  7. Stewart Flood

    Mr Montoni raises several very good points. If I had been active in the party in 1990 when he was pushing for the party to purchase a building I would have been arguing the case along side him. Owning our own building would have been the right move to make, but as he pointed out it is very difficult to do under the current federal regulations.

  8. Thomas L. Knapp

    Setting aside stuff that probably won’t fly with most people (moving LPHQ to a trailer in Minot, North Dakota, etc.), it seems to me that right now might be the PERFECT time to buy a building in the DC area (maybe in Maryland or Virginia, but in the DC metro).

    The real estate bubble is still pretty much in collapse, right? That means bargain basement price, and it might be possible to find a seller or lender who will carry the paper for the entire price rather than requiring a large down payment.

    A handy-dandy online mortgage calculator tells me that a $1 million dollar mortgage on a 20-year term and with an exorbitant (at the moment) 8% interest rate would take a payment of a little less than $8400 per month.

    That’s $1500-$2000 less than we’re paying at the Watergate, although the numbers would get closer to each other when mortgage insurance and escrow for property taxes are figured into the monthly payment.

    Questions:

    – Would $1 million buy office space equivalent to or larger than the Watergate space?

    – Does the Watergate lease include utilities?

    – Does the Watergate lease include other amenities (access to equipment provided by the building owners, etc.) that the LP needs and would have to buy itself?

    In the past, the main — not the only, but the main — arguments for sticking with the Watergate seem to have been that it’s a prestige location and that we’re already there. If we can save significant money by owning our own digs, it seems worth it.

    If we’re not too picky about the prestige location thing, we could look at traditionally commercial, rather than business, space — a lot of shopping centers seem to be losing occupants, and an old department store space could have a small part at the front remodeled into a basic office suite, with a bunch of space left over that could be rented out for commercial storage or something and help cover the costs.

  9. Aroundtheblockafewtimes

    I seem to recall Chair Jim Turney wanting to buy some dump near Union Station, about where the parking garage is now. LP’s landlord on Penna. Ave. wanted to sell the building, but Montoni has identified the scary situation that prevailed around that place.

    I suppose if Koch-type money had been available, the LP could have gotten something.

  10. Michael Seebeck

    Tried to post this earlier but IPR crapped out.

    Think outside the box, people.

    We believe in capitalism, right?

    Well, from a LLC or a Corp., do a freaking IPO and use the capital to buy a damn building and then rent-to-own it to the LP for $20K a year. Once the principal is paid off, the LP owns the building free and clear. As the commercial real estate market is tanking right now, buildings should be cheaper than usual.

    Advantages: sends a clear message to members about long-term commitment, cuts rent by 75%, protects building owners if LP goes under.

  11. Thomas L. Knapp

    Michael,

    Something like that has been tried before, only not with a building but a computer system. The results were bizarre. Ask someone who was around back then about “Liberty Computing.”

  12. Robert Milnes

    I made a similar coment a couple of weeks ago. LP buy a building/hotel in DC &/or some resort. e.g. Reno/Vegas, Lake Havasu, NH Free State, St. Louis(central location) etc.

  13. Bill Wood

    Found a Victorian style building with 4,400 sf at 415 8th St NE 8 blocks from the Capitol for $845,000. Looks like it will need some work.

  14. George Phillies

    The different ways of covering our party finances have been covered recently in Liberty for America Magazine http://LibertyForAmerica.com . The differences between the treasurer’s financials and the FEC reports were only called to my attention recently, but for those of you interested in what is being discussed, here is the article from Liberty for America:

    The Other LNC
    Financial Disclosures

    In addition to the FEC reports, the National Committee has internal financials mailed to members. A copy of these financials reached this magazine, not from the LNC mailing operation.

    Of course, book-keeping rules readily lead to all sorts of outcomes, so it is not surprising that the two sets of financial reports do not agree with each other, but the two reports do present two different perspectives on the same pile of cash.

    For the current year, on the income side the internal report is somewhat less positive than the FEC filings are. The Quarter numbers are cumulative for the year to date. In particular

    FEC To-date LNC to-date
    Q3 2009
    Income 822 141 787 094
    Outgo 796 807 762 487

    Q2 2009
    Income 556 857 522 704
    Outgo 524 932 505 374

    Q1 2009
    Income 290 671 256 669
    Outgo 266 019 241 900

    2008
    Income 1 669 047 1 637 139
    Outgo 1 779 028 1 803 580

    Income 1 454 411 1 613 727
    Outgo 1 346 854 1 337 686

    2006
    Income 1 277 215 1 289 792
    Outgo 1 257 274 1 246 585

    2005
    Income 1 337 702 1 367 329
    Outgo 1 394 063 1 497 666

    There are various accounting process for describing the same situation, so there is no indication of impropriety here, but it is certainly interesting how a change in perspective can have a considerable effect on nominal income or outgo.

  15. bubba gump

    They oughta get a double wide in Bayou La Batre. It’s a damn sight cheaper than some fancy office in the watergate, I guarantee. And a lot less associated with scandal unless you’ve been watching Jerry Springer.

  16. Marc Montoni

    Thomas Sipos said:

    I’m sure there’s plenty of cheap office space in D.C., perhaps in the black or immigrant areas. … If the LP were to move offices to one of those neighborhoods, maybe a street level storefront, it would show solidarity with common folk. … If the LP staff doesn’t like it, a new staff should be easy to find. … I realize that some LP officers and staff may feel uncomfortable in a black area. And I think many voters of color sense this about the LP.

    As one who has spent much of my adult life in various… “ethnic” neighborhoods due to work (not to mention partying) and other reasons, I have to say it’s easy to say that from an armchair. There were/are neighborhoods in DC where tough white **cops** simply would not go (at least not without a dozen backup units). Who in the hell wants to work or volunteer in the LP national office and face the possibility of being murdered for it?

    When LPHQ was in southeast, female members were afraid to come there. I wonder why? Maybe because of the area’s bad rep for violent crime?

    Anecdote: When I worked at LPHQ from 89-93, I was the organizer of our regular volunteer parties. One night we had our three interns (including a young (18) guy named Tom, who I understand is now active in the RLC), two of our regular volunteers, and the rest of the office staff. After the work was done, we took everyone out to the Pizza Hut (now a NY Pizza but you can tell it’s a Pizza Hut building) two blocks up.

    So the 9 or so of us are sitting there minding our own business, and this belligerent hoodlum comes over and starts mouthing off to us, saying how he’s going to “kill every whitey”, and so on. We all try to ignore him – except our intern Tom. Tom starts talking back to the guy, saying he can’t talk to us like that, which of course gets the guy riled up even worse. Nearby, a table full of local thugs is laughing and egging the guy on (they knew his name).

    So Mr. Belligerent says he’s going to cut us all, and his hand is in his pocket. I kick the hell out of Tom under the table and tell him to quit mouthing off and to ignore him. After Tom went silent, the guy walks away from us, still muttering, and he goes towards the table with his cheerleaders. At that very instant, two big cops walk in and walk straight over to the table with the guy and his cheerleaders. Attitudes in the cheering section change instantly, the cops start to arrest the belligerent, we take that as our cue to mosey along, we pay our check and make a beeline out the door while the cops keep them busy.

    ————

    Placing the national office in a war zone is a bad idea.

    Aroundtheblockafewtimes said:

    I seem to recall Chair Jim Turney wanting to buy some dump near Union Station, about where the parking garage is now. LP’s landlord on Penna. Ave. wanted to sell the building, but Montoni has identified the scary situation that prevailed around that place.

    We did make inquiries of the Pennsylvania Ave landlord, and yes he was willing to sell. Thankfully, the enthusiasm for permanently locating there was low. Although — had we bought it in 1992, it wasn’t that expensive then and could conceivably have been paid off within just a few years — maybe 5 or 6. After that we could have sold and used the equity to help finance a better building in a better part of town/

    I suppose if Koch-type money had been available, the LP could have gotten something.

    Who needed Koch money? A lot of LPers would have jumped at the opportunity to throw bucks into a fund for a permanent building. It would have taken discipline and commitment, but my guess was that the LP could probably have raised the dough to pay for an acceptable building in NW DC within five years. Just talking to the people I did, I found about a dozen people who were very excited about the idea, and were willing to pledge $1,000 each towards the fund — and I wasn’t a fundraiser then by any stretch. Just the old, “if I get this going and put my $1,000 in it, will you match me?” pitch.

    A few times in 1990, I drove around looking for appropriate properties. My preferences were Pennsylvania Ave NW, near the Rock Creek Parkway for easy ingress/egress for our visiting members. This one had a “for sale” sign up and I went inside to look around (it was a multi-unit office at the time but the landlord was selling out). I thought it was perfect. The LP could have fit its entire operation into half of one floor and rented out the rest, or perhaps as Seebeck suggested, an LLC could have been set up to buy it and handle the rental of extra space — and as the LP grew, it could simply buy more of the building from the LLC.

    But…

    All the plans of mice & men…

  17. George Phillies

    @6 paragraph 2

    In fact, the mailed Financial FEC reports and the LNC FEC reports on ‘rent and utilities’ and practically identical, so there is no issue with that line item for anyone who can compare the two reports for the first three-fourths of the year, and do a little arithmetic.

    Mind you, there seems to be some confusion on this matter, as witness the contributor elsewhere who thinks he had had a conversation with me about this topic…far before I was aware it existed.

    The more important issue is that the reports for the first three-quarters of this year differ by perhaps $45,000 in income, doubtless through a series of rational applications of orthodox accounting, and the great graveyard of the dotcoms is littered with companies that did not realize that you need to keep track of actual cash flows in addition to GAAP accounting.

  18. Johncjackson

    Does the LP even need office space? I probably do more real business than the LP and I don’t have any.

    The staffers should be able to work remotely, except for all those meetings they have with Congressmen and everything…

  19. Robert Capozzi

    gp 18, strikes me that if you are going to make an accusation, you should make it, not just engage in innuendo-mongering. You’re running for Chair, after all!

    In my direct experience, it wasn’t that the dotcoms weren’t tracking cash flows…they were and they HAD to. Publicly traded companies must file a CF statement along with a P&L and balance sheet. As a general matter, the dotcom phenomenon was more of a case that startups and even business plans were being funded by Wall Street (vs. private equity) prematurely. The Street and managements CERTAINLY observed cash burn rates. Valuations were based on highly speculative expectations, and, for a while, the dotcoms could go back to the public markets for more capital.

    Some of them — AOL comes to mind — used aggressive revenue recognition policies that seemed very misrepresentative.

    But, the LP isn’t a publicly traded company, and it cannot raise capital in the markets, so, again, what sounds to me like accusations seem offbase.

  20. Stewart Flood

    Since I’m the only person in this discussion that has mentioned being present when the Treasurer has explained how FEC reports can differ from financial reports, I believe it is safe to conclude that Dr Phillies was referring to me when he said

    “Mind you, there seems to be some confusion on this matter, as witness the contributor elsewhere who thinks he had had a conversation with me about this topic…far before I was aware it existed.”

    Note that I said I was present, not that I had a conversation with the critic about it. And while I did not directly identify the critic, it was Dr Phillies, and he was present during at least one of the LNC meetings where the Treasurer has explained the process.

    The term “present” does not imply a personal conversation. I did not use the word conversation. What I said should have been very clear to Dr Phillies. I was present.

    The Treasurer’s explanation at the LNC meetings where this topic has come up should have been more than sufficient for anyone with questions about the process. I have been present at every LNC meeting this term, and I have seen Dr Phillies at at least one meeting where this subject has been discussed.

    But while Dr Phillies was present at the meeting, it is of course quite possible that he was either not paying attention or that he just didn’t understand what was being explained.

    Of course the party tracks actual cash flow. Implying that the party does not, as Dr Phillies has done above (18), is irresponsible.

  21. George Phillies

    @21

    The confusion I mentioned referred to a post on this list, not to anything said at an LNC meeting, and since the post does not use a full name, let alone “Stuart Flood” I am quite certain that the person who made the statement is not the person who posted @21. However, the poster in question rather clearly refers to a private conversation, not to something said at an LNC meeting, so the clarity of explanations at LCN meetings is not at issue.

    You may rest assured that if I want to say that we are not tracking cash on hand, I will do so. Actually, though I am not going to waste my time searching it out, I have previously said that the two methods of generating accounting reports agree as to our cash on hand on the same dates, @21 to the contrary.

    In my experience, and unlike some people out there I have have made a considerable amount of money on the stock market in the last two years, there were a quite adequate number of dotcoms that noted they had sold an object, they had receivables, and when push came to shove they did not yet have the money in the bank to pay their creditors.

    @21, perhaps you should consider taking to heart your own comments about innuendo. You go on in @6 about real estate costs, which have not been an issue in this context, and which the several legitimate accounting methods report cost very nearly the same amount, up to issues such as ‘did the money change hands on the last day of the month or the first day of the next month’.

  22. Stewart Flood

    Dr Phillies,

    My reference (6) to rent increases being reflected in a change in deferred rent is based on explanations of the process by the Treasurer. It was made in response to a question (3) in this discussion and was relevant to the topic.

    I would appreciate you using using the correct spelling of my name. We have met numerous times at meetings, and my name is also listed on my posts here on IPR. I am Stewart Flood, not “Stuart Flood.” I do not call you “Georgie” or spell your last name “Phillys.”

  23. George Phillies

    @5 Mr. Montoni makes a series of extremely intelligent points, most notably that it would be absurd to locate your headquarters in a dangerous urban slum.

    On the question of what you can get for a million bucks, at one time I priced modernized mill building space in New Hampshire, and based on realtor statements one is talking about totally enormous amounts of square feet.

    If someone had the money to launch a lobbying or think tank interaction operation, which we are not noted for doing, there would actually be a rationale for having an operation in D.C.

  24. Thomas L. Knapp

    Marc,

    You write:

    “Placing the national office in a war zone is a bad idea.”

    That may or may not be true — and whether or not it is true may depend on what kind of party we are, and on what kind of party we want to be.

    Last time I checked (and it’s been a year or so, so it may no longer be true), one of Missouri’s two US Senators (Democrat Claire McCaskill) had an office located in an area of St. Louis primarily known for the easy availability of crack and prostitutes … if you wanted to brave the possible gunplay.

    A further description of the area the office is in: It’s just to the west of the complex of “private streets” described in the 1981 article “Getting Streetwise in St. Louis” by Theodore J. Gage in Reason magazine. It’s just to the west of the St. Louis/University City border. That border is the subject of a dispute by the two cities’ police departments, as they have a habit of driving gangs of surly (and often armed) youth back and forth over it so that they’ll be “the other city’s problem.”

    Oh, and that office is a couple of blocks north of the venue (Talayna’s pizza) where, any time the local county and city LPs have an event, I try to reserve a room for said event.

    While I don’t think the exact location of LPHQ is a major issue — anywhere affordable and accessible would be fine — there’s something to be said for the idea that a principled populist party (which the LP must become if it’s ever going to get anywhere) should headquarter itself among the populace rather than in some sterile, “safe” establishment enclave.

    A populist party is a party at war (class war between the productive class and the political class). A populist party’s staff should be warriors. And a populist party’s HQ should be located at the front.

    Or maybe somewhere out in the suburbs. The middle class is, or should be, part of the populace we’re hitting, too.

    The Watergate, though, just screams “we don’t want to CHANGE things, we just want to be accepted as part of the ruling class.”

  25. Marc Montoni

    Hey, wow — here’s a building for sale right across the street from a previous LP national office at 2139 Wisconsin Ave NW. Looks like it’d be cheap, too. Needs a coat of paint and some gutters….

    But seriously, Tom is right in one respect — now is probably a good a time as any to think about a permanent building purchase. Given the lackluster leadership of the past few years that’s slowly strangling the LP, maybe an initiative like this would help generate some excitement.

    There are plenty of commercial property listings in DC.

  26. Marc Montoni

    Just for giggles…

    Old LPHQ Addresses
    ———————————-
    1972-1974 Denver CO (David Nolan’s house)
    1974-1975 San Francisco CA Kearney St
    1975-1979 Washington DC #1 1516 P St NW Washington DC
    1979-1982 Washington DC #2 2300 Wisconsin Ave NW Washington DC
    1982-1983 Washington DC #3 2139 Wisconsin Ave
    1983-1986 Houston #1 7887 Katy Freeway, Suite 385. Houston, TX 77024
    1986-1987 Houston #2 W 21st St, Houston TX
    1988-1995 Washington DC #4 1528 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington DC 20003
    1995-2007 Washington DC #5 2600 Virginia Avenue NW Ste B100, Washington DC 20036
    2007- Washington DC #6 2600 Virginia Avenue NW Ste 100, Washington DC 20036

    [source: 1996 LP Presidential Nominating Convention booklet, “Declare Your Independence”]

  27. Daniel Kamerling

    The focus should be on raising new money and growing the party rather than cutting costs. I know that $120k per year seems like a lot. To put that in perspective it’s less than what the leading house candidate in my district received in PAC money. There are a lot of political dollars out there and if we are going to be serious we need to capture that market.

  28. Thomas L. Knapp

    Ralph,

    I’m not active in the BTP, but if I ever become active in it again, and if it considers opening a meatspace office, I’ll recommend that it do so outside the DC beltway in a place where real people live.

    In the LP, there’s a longstanding cultural misunderstanding — the exact reverse of reality — which has not served us well.

    Some of our leaders see that the “major parties” have offices inside the Beltway, staffed with suits, and assume that the power and relevance those parties possess comes from those offices and those suits.

    Actually, it’s the other way around. The offices and suits are made possible by the fact that people like Richard Gephardt go down into regular people’s neighborhoods, knock on regular people’s doors, and solicit regular people’s votes.

    That’s not to say that the national office has to be located next to a crack house, but the fact that it’s located where it is seems to be an artifact of the aforementioned misunderstanding (which I’ve previously labeled “cargo cult libertarianism”) rather than a rational business decision.

  29. Bill Wood

    I like the idea of moving the LPHQ to Northern Virginia. A place that has office space and a 1st floor retail space that could be leased out to help pay for the LPHQ. The cost in NVA should be cheaper and it would be better for those who wish to carry a firearm.

  30. bubba gump

    There are many advantages to having a big tent.

    I mean, think about it.

    Fire and brimstone preachers.

    Spiritual healings.

    People getting knocked out and speaking in tongues.

    Elephants, clowns, a three ring circus, and maybe even a midget.

    It could be a lot of fun.

  31. Marc Montoni

    Daniel Kamerling said:

    The focus should be on raising new money and growing the party rather than cutting costs. I know that $120k per year seems like a lot. To put that in perspective it’s less than what the leading house candidate in my district received in PAC money. There are a lot of political dollars out there and if we are going to be serious we need to capture that market.

    Daniel, you hit the nail squarely on the head. I should have said that, but I forgot to. When you’re done with your current endeavor, I intend to start a draft movement for you to serve as the LP’s political director!

    Bill Wood said:

    I like the idea of moving the LPHQ to Northern Virginia. A place that has office space and a 1st floor retail space that could be leased out to help pay for the LPHQ.

    Only thing is with BCRA I’m not sure the Party itself can lease out much of anything. That’s why the talk of an LLC above.

    The cost in NVA should be cheaper and it would be better for those who wish to carry a firearm.

    I hadn’t considered the carry angle, but I agree that should be one consideration. Not a big one, though — it’s more important that the national office provides a convenient place to accomodate visitors (Washington DC is one of the world’s largest vacation destinations, and Libertarian Party members vacation there also — we usually had a couple of dozen national members visit the HQ every month when it was still in SouthEast DC; and the few times I temped at LPHQ between 1998-2002 (at the Watergate location) I saw periodic visitors as well).

    Incidentally, none of what I’ve said above should be construed to mean that, just because I favor locating the “headquarters” of the national LP in DC, I don’t also think there are functions that must be performed at a DC office.

    A modest, nice office with offices for executive staff (national director, political director, and media director) and a conference/interview room would suffice for a “DC presence”, and would require about half of the footage HQ now uses.

    A second office with all of the back-office functions (the operations director, interns, database, volunteer parties, etc) could be located, as Scott Williamson suggested, anywhere in the USA. However, for practical reasons, I think it should be within reasonable driving distance (<2 hours) from the exec office. The back office location should focus on getting local volunteers to come in and do work (which is not unheard of — by the time I left HQ in 1993, when it was still in SouthEast DC, the volunteer program was quite robust, with a couple of dozen steady local volunteers every month doing collectively a hundred hours or more of volunteer tasks. They got a lot of work done. Had it been in a better location, I have no doubt the volunteer staff would have been larger.

  32. Marc Montoni

    Thomas L. Knapp said:

    While I don’t think the exact location of LPHQ is a major issue — anywhere affordable and accessible would be fine — there’s something to be said for the idea that a principled populist party (which the LP must become if it’s ever going to get anywhere) should headquarter itself among the populace rather than in some sterile, “safe” establishment enclave. … A populist party is a party at war (class war between the productive class and the political class). A populist party’s staff should be warriors. And a populist party’s HQ should be located at the front.

    You said two different things. I agree our offices should be among/accessible to “the populace”. But I disagree that the LP, by locating in an urban slum, would be fighting “on the side of the good guys” in a “class war between the productive class and the political class”. Urban slums are created by government welfare and laws absolving people of their responsibility to care for themselves. “Thou shalt not tempt”, because some will take you up on it. Slums are creations of government tempting people with its ill-gotten gains.

    Tom, if you have some evidence, even anecdotal, that locating in a war zone generates the kind of interest & support you suggest it would/should, I’d love to hear it. I’m open to the idea but I personally do not see how that has any relation to what an office is for.

    If you want an organization that locates among productive people who mostly work in the honest sector rather than the thief sector, then we should be locating in an area that is weak on government presence and strong on manufacturing and entrepreneurship. If you define that as a state with a low total tax burden, that means Alaska, Nevada, or Wyoming. However, huge swaths of those states are owned by the federales. If you define that instead as the largest concentration of wealth production facilities (manufacturing and entrepreneurship) without regard to tax burden, the place for an office would probably be centered around the Mistake on the Lake (Cleveland OH).

  33. Brad

    Urban slums are created by government welfare and laws absolving people of their responsibility to care for themselves.

    Not to side with Tom’s larger point necessarily, but I’m pretty sure that slums predated welfare.

  34. Brian Holtz

    Marc makes a lot of sense here — as he often does when discussing LP administration and party-building.

    Count me as skeptical that the LPUS should be spending $130K/yr on office space. If we’re getting much mileage out of our office space being in D.C., I sure would like to hear more about it.

  35. paulie Post author

    What’s with the moderation queue today?

    I don’t know why akismet selects some legitimate comments and puts them in spam and lets some spam through.

    Most of the time it does what it is supposed to do but sometimes it does screw up.

    When that happens let us know at contact.ipr@gmail.com and hopefully someone will take the time to pull your comments out of spam. I always do when I’m around, but I’m not always around.

  36. Robert Capozzi

    tk: A populist party is a party at war (class war between the productive class and the political class). A populist party’s staff should be warriors. And a populist party’s HQ should be located at the front.

    me: I’d say we ARE a “populist” party as it stands now. I’d say a populist party has HQ where its goals and operations are best met, depending on budget. I’d say where that is physically matters very little, since the “front” is — these days especially — on the Internet. I’ve only been to the Watergate once, and to the old Wisc. Ave space a few times. I seriously doubt that either space made a lot of difference in terms of the party’s effectiveness vs. the other. The only thing a “nice” space might do is impress large donors, but I really doubt it. In fact, I really doubt that many visitors even COME to the office very often. Mostly, you want a space that attracts the best staff and volunteers, and allows the occasional physical networking. Having a DC address has some cache.

  37. Michael H. Wilson

    Not that it matter what I think but the location isn’t as important as what you do with the office once you have one.

    In the private sector there are any number of stories of businesses having fancy digs and then failing. At the same time there are those businesses where the offices don’t amount to much but they put out a hell of a product.

  38. Scott Lieberman

    The only reason the rent on the LPHQ office space seems so high is that the Libertarian Party has been unwilling and/or unable to elect more than a very tiny handful of Libertarians to State Legislatures in 38 years of trying.

    If the Libertarian Party starts electing thousands of Libertarians to local offices, then by definition the rent for the Watergate office will be a trivial fraction of our annual revenue.

  39. Michael Seebeck

    As usual, Scott has it backwards.

    Saying the Watergate rent cost for LPUS is a byproduct of state elections is like saying Tiger Woods’ $100M in endorsements lost is because didn’t win enough golf tournaments: DOES NOT FOLLOW!

    Besides, IIRC the GOP with their thousands of elected officials was recently (as in 2008) going broke themselves…

    Frankly, if the rent wasn’t so damn high, that cash could be put to real budget uses, such as what George continually points out.

  40. Thomas L. Knapp

    Marc, you write:

    “Tom, if you have some evidence, even anecdotal, that locating in a war zone generates the kind of interest & support you suggest it would/should, I’d love to hear it.”

    I didn’t suggest that it would “generate that kind of interest and support.” I do suggest that it would be part of a package intended to generate interest/support.

    If the Black Panthers had rented office space at the top of a skyscraper, nobody would remember them today. They located where their natural constituency was (in the Oakland slums) and played a key role in turning Oakland (and the Bay area, and arguably California) into the socialist hellhole that it has become, as well as having some national impact.

    If you want to go further back, do you think that the Workingmen’s Party put its offices in corporate office buildings? Do you think that if they’d have done so they’d have been in any position to pull off (for example) the 1877 St. Louis General Strike, which was effectively an American version of the Paris Commune, requiring 8,000 troops and police to suppress?

    It’s natural to locate where your constituency is. The LP has yet to properly identify its constituency, but when it does I hope that it will locate itself among that constituency for the most part.

    In any case, you’re missing my point. My point is not necessarily that LPHQ should be headquartered in “the slums,” but that in headquartering it at the Watergate at greater expense than it would cost to headquarter it elsewhere, we aren’t getting anything extra that we need for that additional cost.

  41. Scott Lieberman

    “Michael Seebeck // Jan 2, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    Frankly, if the rent wasn’t so damn high, that cash could be put to real budget uses, such as what George continually points out.”

    **********************************

    Brian Holtz won a Water Board seat for something like $60, if you include his (non-existent) filing fee, and the cost of his labor at $15 per hour. ( I am sure Brian makes a lot more than that, but it would be impossible to use individualized salary figures to compare campaigns across the country).

    Pennsylvania can elect hundreds of Election Inspectors, and maybe even a few Auditors, for less than $100 per elected official.

    Plus, when money is contributed to the National LP, it is not necessarily available as a contribution to a candidate for a City Council.

    My point is: libertarians who want to change the system without using violence need to see the Libertarian Party make significant electoral progress before they will join the LP.

    Right now, the best way to show progress is to urge as many LP members as possible to run for, and win, local offices. Or, at a minimum, to apply for, and get appointed to, local Boards and Commissions.

    Mr. Seebeck and Mr. Knapp: are you taking into account that some donors might not contribute money to the LP any more if they see that we moved our HQ to Madison, Wisconsin? (no offense to residents of that city!).

    I hope you are willing to admit that some potential contributors see a Washington, DC address as a positive reason to contribute money to the National Libertarian Party. In other words, even if the National LP decreases its expense for rent, contributions might decrease by the same amount.

    Plus, have you considered the positive synergy that you get from having 10 or so Libertarians working in the same office? I am not saying that our staff would not be able to function at all if they worked at different locations across the country, but it is MUCH better to have most or all of your staff working in the same office. Just because teleconferencing amongst staff can be done, that doesn’t mean it is the ideal way to run a non-profit organization.

    One last point – I want to thank Robert Kraus for his continual efforts to negotiate rock-bottom prices with the National LP’s vendors; and so far, it seems that Mr. Benedict is doing a good job of keeping the National LP’s expenses in line with our revenues.

  42. Thomas L. Knapp

    Dr. Lieberman,

    You write:

    “are you taking into account that some donors might not contribute money to the LP any more if they see that we moved our HQ to Madison, Wisconsin?”

    That’s certainly a factor that I’ve considered.

    There’s the oppposite factor to consider, too … how many donors would up their donations, or non-donors become donors, if LPHQ could announce that it’s spending their money as efficiently as possible … for example, by shaving $2k per month off the cost of office space immediately, and buying instead of renting so that eventually that cost will come down even more?

    Keep in mind also that I’m not personally recommending moving the HQ to Madison, or Minot, or Hooterville. I’m recommending moving it to less expensive digs in the DC metro area.

    I also don’t insist that the new location must be located between a crack house and a hooker stroll. Although there are certain pluses to that idea, there are also downsides.

    But it’s not like the office staff is constantly running back and forth between the Watergate, congressional consultations at Rayburn, and emergency meetings in the Oval Office, such that the Watergate location is essential.

    How expensive is the Tenleytown neighborhood? That seems to be where most of the DC television stations are located. That might get us more media exposure simply by virtue of the TV stations knowing that they can get an LP talking head to the studio on 5-10 minutes’ notice for “breaking news” reactions.

  43. Thomas L. Knapp

    Oops … I hit send to soon.

    Yes, I agree that having one office, not two, makes more sense than having a “front end” and a “back office” in different locations. Staff duties probably overlap between the two and it’s easier to coordinate activities with co-location.

    That’s one reason I suggested a LARGE space further out — a space large enough to bring in 100 volunteers for special “big push” activities. Finish part of it out as a nice-looking office space, leave the rest relatively unfinished. Phone bank? Run some extension cords, set up some tables. Lobbying day? Use it as an initial rally point to hand out materials, etc., then get the people on buses or march to a nearby Metro stop. Fit it out a little as necessary to use for a fundraiser party. Whatever.

  44. Rorschach

    Why DC?

    If the Libertarian Party seeks to offer a different solution, an end to “politics as usual”, why emulate the Big 2?

    DC is THEIR pond. We’re the little fish. We don’t have any support out there, no constituents, no friends, no policy. Why not set up somewhere that speaks to the love of Liberty in Americans?

    Why not Vermont? Texas? New Hampshire? Nevada? Oregon?

    Hell, if we’re looking to inspire warm, fuzzy feelings of power and patriotism while still being freedom loving, what’s wrong with an office looking out over New York harbor? There’s a jolly green symbol of what we stand for in New York. There are dozens of white marble mausolea in DC.

    Why DC? and Why the Watergate?

    It’s a waste of money. It’s a BAD location. The dinosaurs on the LNC might remember a time when the Watergate was the height of fashion, but for people born after women got the right to vote it represents all of the corruption and evil in Washington.

    There is a reason EVERY political scandal gets the suffix “-gate” appended. Filling an office there is just ASKING for mockery, raised eyebrows, and perhaps our own little scandal.

    Perhaps one involving the LNC wasting money? I like to call it Libertarians-Wasting-Money-On-A-Dying-Image-In-The-Watergate-Gate. It’s just a working title, but I think it gets the point across.

  45. Pingback: Darryl Perry: ‘Announcing the formation of the Rent is Too Damn High Caucus of the Libertarian Party’ | Independent Political Report

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