Robert’s Author Gives Opinion On LP Convention Registration Fees

According to a source on the Libertarian National Committee, LP Chair Bill Redpath yesterday received an opinion by the authors of Robert’s Rules asserting that the LP’s rules allow a registration fee at conventions.  The six-page opinion begins:

This letter constitutes our professional opinion as parliamentarians concerning the following questions with regard to the Libertarian Party:
1. “Does any provision of the Libertarian Party bylaws, of its rules, or of its parliamentary authority, Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, prohibit charging delegates a convention registration fee?” In our opinion, the answer is no.
2. “Does the National Committee have the authority to set a convention registration fee?” In our opinion, the answer is yes.
3. “If the National Committee has the authority to set a convention registration fee, and it does so, can that decision be overruled or rescinded by vote of the delegates at a convention?” In our opinion, the answer is no, unless the delegates do so by adopting a bylaws amendment.
4. “Is there any basis for the Judicial Committee to override the LNC’s decision to establish a  convention registration fee?” In our opinion, the Judicial Committee would have jurisdiction to  review such a decision, but, on the basis of our analysis in response to the first two questions, ought  not to override it.

The opinion is silent on the claim (e.g. by 2012 LP presidential nomination hopeful Tom Knapp here) that a registration fee would be an illegal “poll tax” under Morse v. the Republican Party of Virginia.

188 thoughts on “Robert’s Author Gives Opinion On LP Convention Registration Fees

  1. David F. Nolan

    Interesting, but as of this moment the LNC has not voted on the question. The proposed “registration fee” is being imposed by the Convention committee, which has no authority to do so. At its upcoming meeting in Austin, the LNC should vote either to authorize or overturn the “registration fee.” If the LNC votes in favor of the fee, that vote can be appealed to the Judicial Committee. Hopefully, the LNC will heed the grassroots-level protest against the fee, and will vote it down, thus eliminating the need for a fairly tedious and time-consuming process whose outcome cannot be predicted.

  2. Aaron Starr

    BYLAW ARTICLE 8: NATIONAL COMMITTEE
    1. The National Committee shall have control and management of all the affairs, properties and funds of the Party consistent with these Bylaws. The Libertarian National Committee shall establish and oversee an organizational structure to implement the purposes of the Party as stated in Article 3. The National Committee shall adopt rules of procedure for the conduct of its meetings and the carrying out of its duties and responsibilities. The National Committee may delegate its authority in any manner it deems necessary.

  3. Tony Wall

    Do not hide behind your sacred Holy Grail by asking for an opinion by the creator. Exercise some courage and confront your membership with a public vote on this issue in Austin. Mrs. Mattson has now taken a written stand. Allow her the pleasure of being joined by the other authoritarians who wish to restrain liberty rather than embrace it.

  4. JT

    Without coming out for or against, a “tax” is a payment imposed by a *government*. Calling a fee charged by a party or a business or any other kind of organization a “tax” is wrong, even if it helps to inflame people against it. It’s as wrong as the people who accuse private organizations of “censorship,” which is content banned by a *government*. Libertarians should understand the difference.

  5. Thomas L. Knapp

    Paulie,

    I think the number is 83 delegates. Could be wrong on that, though. Or x% of the sustaining membership.

    Technically, the matter could be appealed to the Judicial Committee right now. As Mr. Starr points out, the convention committee’s powers are delegated powers of the LNC; the imposition of the poll tax was therefore an act of the LNC by proxy.

    BUT! Last year we saw the first appeal to the party’s Judicial Committee in 30 years. It would be nice to see another 30 years pass before the next such appeal. Let’s give the LNC a chance to correct itself before asking the Judicial Committee to force it to do so.

  6. Don Lake ........... rearraigning the deck chairs ??????

    Tony Wall // Feb 20, 2010:
    Do not hide behind your sacred Holy Grail by asking for an opinion by the creator”

    Oh Jesus, if, if, if, the greater powers have direct intervention in affairs on this plane; if, if, if, the Universe micro manages human doings; then don’t ya think the fates would occasionally be on the side of fairness and justice ……….

  7. Thomas L. Knapp

    “The opinion is silent on the claim … that a registration fee would be an illegal ‘poll tax’ under Morse v. the Republican Party of Virginia.”

    There’s an opinion from the LNC’s counsel that it is not such a tax. That opinion and $1.99 will get said counsel a cup of coffee to carry into the courthouse with him when he’s ready to argue the matter where it counts.

  8. Marc Montoni

    The opinion is essentially a logic error (or perhaps a rhetorical fraud) known as “an appeal to an irrelevant authority”.

    Parliamentarians allegedly know parliamentary law. They are not authorities on our bylaws.

    I will repeat my earlier suggestion:

    1) We don’t need any more divisive decisions.

    2) The floor fee is divisive, and its proponents knew very well that it would be.

    3) Given the washout in attendance compared to the 1996-2004 period, perhaps the convention organizers should think about doing things to encourage attendance, rather than discourage it.

    4) The qualifications for getting onto the business floor are listed in the bylaws, and they do not include a floor fee.

    5) The delegates should be asked to impose a floor fee on themselves; it should not be imposed by fiat.

    6) It won’t hurt the LP one bit to delay the implementation of a floor fee for a few months until the delegates can make the decision for themselves.

    7) I would support a floor fee if it was agreed to by the delegates in convention.

    8) The alleged need for a floor fee to pay for convention materials and the room required could have been avoided with saner budgeting.

    9) I’d rather see substantially higher dues + in-kind credit for work towards dues, than a floor fee. Being allowed to muck about in the Libertarian Party’s business should require a rather large investment of either money or time.

    10) Most important of all, the D’s and R’s do not charge a floor fee, because they know how to raise money from outside sources. I have asked the LNC may times in the past to investigate the possibility of obtaining corporate sponsorships of our convention committee (entirely legal!), but the majority is so wrapped around the axle in their march to charge floor fees and eliminate the povertarians that they have apparently chosen to remain willfully ignorant about this legal source of money. Frankly I do not understand the insistence on keeping the LP mired in amateur hour.

    I’m not sure where the disconnect is with these people.

    – The LP now has many fewer annual donors than it had in 2004; and less than half as many as it had in 2000.

    – Fundraising is continuing to slide.

    – The number of members/donors is either stagnant or in decline.

    – Mentions in the media has, for all practical purposes, evaporated.

    – Overhead compared to revenue is way up. Spending on FEC compliance, for instance, was ridiculously cheap in 2000 compared to what is being spent on it now.

    – About 300 to 500 LP candidates will run this year — down from 699 in 2004, which was down from 1,436 in 2000 (oh, but “now we’re no longer a debating society are actually participating in politics”).

    – There seem to be about 150 to 200 Libertarians in public office of some sort; which is down from almost 600 in 2000 (oh, but “now we’re no longer a debating society are actually participating in politics”).

    – Many state affiliates are either basically shut down or are on life support.

    – Dozens, if not hundreds, of local affiliates have imploded across the country.

    – Our skill at getting on ballots has eroded quite a bit since 2000; were it not for inertia in many states where we earned status many years ago, LP ballot status would be taking a nosedive in many states.

    – Convention attendance is way down compared to past years.

    There are so many functional problems in the LP at the moment that it is simply beyond irresponsible for the LNC to continually choose to act in ways that alienate large chunks of the membership. We need every warm body we can muster; but the majority on the LNC seems absolutely hell-bent determined to make decisions that they know damn well are not going to be popular with everyone.

    In short, instead of addressing the real problems, the majority only considers actions that specifically avoid the real problems, while opening up divisive new cans of worms.

    The only question is, “why?”

  9. Michael Seebeck, who knows what words mean

    Argument to authority is meaningless. Furthermore, I have doubts as to whether the question was presented fairly and properly in the first place.

    Furthermore, this entire document is bunk and completely flawed in its logic.

    Bylaws rule on the issue, whether Robert or any other person thinks otherwise. And the binding Bylaws are Article 6, Sections 3 and 5, and Article 11, Section 3-b.

    If there is ANY section in Robert’s or the Bylaws that allow the LNC to impose any delegate restrictions beyond what the Bylaws limit and delegate exclusively to the states, then there must be a different version of the Bylaws floating around or an eleventh edition of Roberts walking around, because it sure isn’t in there.

  10. Michael Seebeck, who knows what words mean

    As simple evidence as to the flawed logic, all one has to do is look at RONR p.555:2-4 and Robert III’s illogical explanation for it to realize that the whole thing is junk. To quote:

    On page 555, lines 2-4, RONR states, “Members cannot be assessed any additional payment aside from their dues unless it is provided for in the bylaws.” RONR (10th ed.), Webster’s Third New International Dictionary defines “assessment,” as here relevant, as “a levy made on members of an organization (as a club or union) for a special purpose not covered by dues.”

    Well, since the dues don’t cover the convention, per the LNC budget, members are being assessed an additional payment asides from their dues, not provided for in the Bylaws, therefore the fee runs afoul of that Parliamentary rule.

    IOW, Robert III’ the so-called authority, can’t even read his own rules correctly, since they clearly say “no way”. Of course, he was never told about the lack of a convention budget, either, so of course his reasoning would be flawed!

  11. Scott Lieberman

    So many claims, so little time to refute them.

    I will stick to just one of Mr. Montoni’s claims; I am sure other people can tackle his other bullet points.

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

    “There seem to be about 150 to 200 Libertarians in public office of some sort; which is down from almost 600 in 2000 (oh, but “now we’re no longer a debating society are actually participating in politics”).”

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

    The National LP currently has 149 Elected Libertarians in partisan and non-partisan positions.

    Possibly due to implicit pressure from past LNC’s, past LPHQ staff made it a point to lump together elected Libertarians and Libertarians appointed to Boards and Commissions, and called them “Libertarian Public Officials.” This had the result of being able to report a number that was about double either number taken alone.

    My impression is that at our peak, we might have had around 220 ELECTED officials. So, we might be off our peak somewhat, but not precipitously off of it. Plus – right now we have 7 County Supervisors, which compares favorably to the time when we had 4 State Legislators in New Hampshire, none of whom were elected solely on the Libertarian ballot line. (not to take anything away from those NH guys – I am glad they got elected).

  12. Steve

    I want to keep myself out of the cross-fire but as a point of order, R’s and D’s do generally charge delegate fees for lower level conventions, just not the national. Usually its a small amount like $20. But that probably varies state-to-state or district-to-district.

  13. Carolyn Marbry

    Does anyone else find it ironic to the point of tragedy that the LIBERTARIAN party is so rule bound and governed to death that it’s being held hostage by professional registered parliamentarian high priests on this point rather than relying on common sense?

    What could possibly be the problem with leaving this rather important deviation from precedent to be decided by the delegates in St. Louis, rather than ramming it down the throats of the party under the guise of appeal to authority? Wasn’t this the same group of folks who said that what was done to Lee Wrights was legitimate before the party’s own judicial committee tossed it out?

    These people are NOT Libertarians (which, I understand, is why they were consulted in the first place), they’re apparently NOT familiar with our philosophy (e.g., opposing taxes and favoring SMALLER government with LESS POWER, power concentrated at the lower eschelons of government if not entirely with the governed rather than at the top…) and they can only really rule on their own intentions in RONR, which is TRUMPED BY OUR BY-LAWS ANYWAY.

    If it’s about the money, fine. Let’s talk about alternative ways of raising that same piddling amount of money. We’re talking about maybe 10% of the delegates who don’t pay at convention. With no rebate to them, the most you could hope to raise from imposing this on them against their will is $7,500 if we had 750 delegates. For at most the equivalent of 3/4 of one month’s rent at the Watergate building, the LNC would break precedent, impose an unwanted fee on our delegates and create a power struggle between national and the state parties over who really gets to choose delegates. Is it worth it?

  14. Thomas L. Knapp

    “[T]he LNC would break precedent, impose an unwanted fee on our delegates and create a power struggle between national and the state parties over who really gets to choose delegates. Is it worth it?”

    That depends on what the goal is, doesn’t it?

  15. David F. Nolan

    Without naming names, I will offer the observation that there’s a strong INVERSE correlation between a person’s eagerness to cite Robert’s Rules of Order and their gut-level devotion to liberty. RR is a procedural manual, devised to maintain order at large and otherwise unwieldy meetings. It is not a code of law, and I instinctively distrust anyone who revels in its minutiae.

  16. Scott Lieberman

    “Carolyn Marbry // Feb 20, 2010 at 9:32 pm
    Does anyone else find it ironic to the point of tragedy that the LIBERTARIAN party is so rule bound and governed to death that it’s being held hostage by professional registered parliamentarian high priests on this point rather than relying on common sense?
    These people are NOT Libertarians (which, I understand, is why they were consulted in the first place), they’re apparently NOT familiar with our philosophy (e.g., opposing taxes and favoring SMALLER government with LESS POWER, power concentrated at the lower eschelons of government if not entirely with the governed rather than at the top…) and they can only really rule on their own intentions in RONR, which is TRUMPED BY OUR BY-LAWS ANYWAY.”

    I agree with Ms. Marbry that the Libertarian National Committee should use common sense when deciding how to vote on the various issues that come before us.

    Professional Registered Parliamentarians only issue written opinions, such as this one, after they read an organization’s Bylaws and Special Rules. The National Association of Parliamentarians has a code of ethics, and there is no way that the co-authors of Robert’s Rules who issued that opinion would issue an opinion that was not thoroughly researched. It is very clear that Mr. Robert and Mr. Balch have read the National LP’s Bylaws and Convention Rules. In their opinion, our Bylaws do not forbid the LNC from instituting a mandatory Convention Registration Fee for Delegates, either directly, or indirectly by delegating that power to our Convention Committee.

    I suggest that people actually read the opinion in its entirety, at

    http://www.independentpoliticalreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/2010-02-20-LP-

    (which is the URL in the first sentence of the body of this IPR article)

    “For at most the equivalent of 3/4 of one month’s rent at the Watergate building, the LNC would break precedent, impose an unwanted fee on our delegates and create a power struggle between national and the state parties over who really gets to choose delegates. Is it worth it?
    Carolyn Marbry”

    Whether it is a good idea to have a mandatory Convention Registration Fee is a legitimate question of debate. I will certainly entertain those arguments at the upcoming LNC Meeting.

    Scott Lieberman Libertarian National Committee Alternate, Region 2

    Member, National Association of Parliamentarians

  17. George Phillies

    @9 is as usual clearly correct on the issues here. If he were to announce that he is running for an At-Large position on the LNC, on any reasonable set of stands, I would be inclined to support him.

    Roberts in practice tends to encourage the sort of parliamentary grandstanding seen here by Poll Tax supporters. That is not a good thing.

  18. Thomas L. Knapp

    Dr. Lieberman,

    This is the second time that I’m aware of that the Starr/Sullentrup clique has presented an opinion from Robert/Balch.

    It’s also the second time that said opinion has agreed with the Starr/Sullentrup clique’s claims.

    As you may recall, the last time around the Judicial Committee found opposite the Robert/Balch opinion.

    I’m confident that if this matter reaches the Judicial Committee, the same thing will happen again — because they’re just as clearly incorrect this time around as they were last time around.

    At present, I’ll refrain from speculating as to why they persist in delivering inaccurate opinions, for the simple reason that I can’t think of an explanation which wouldn’t reflect poorly on their intellects, their ethics, or both.

  19. Brian Holtz Post author

    Isn’t Chuck Moulton a registered parliamentarian? I wonder if he disagrees with Robert’s opinion.

    The opinion should have more explicitly stated a crucial point, which is item two in an argument I’ve offered here before:

    1. Bylaw 11(3) mentions delegate registration as an extra step beyond accreditation by an affiliate: “At all Regular Conventions delegates shall be those so accredited who have registered at the Convention.”
    2. Nothing in the Bylaws defines registration.
    3. “The rules contained in the current edition of Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised shall govern the Party in all cases to which they are applicable and in which they are not inconsistent with these bylaws”.
    4. RRONR p. 593 says registration “normally includes” “paying the registration fee”.

    The conjunction of these four assertions is very strong prima facie case that a non-zero registration fee is permitted by our rules — rules that we voluntarily agree to by remaining members of the LP.

    I agree with JT @5: if someone would use “tax” to describe a registration-fee rule in a voluntary society, or “censorship” to describe editorial control at a privately-owned forum, or would say that the LP should oppose voluntary rules just because it opposes the State’s force-initiating laws, then that someone just doesn’t understand libertarianism.

    David @16, I don’t see how it’s “minutiae” to observe that our Bylaws mention “registration” without defining it. The definition of “registration” in RONR seems quite straightforward. The registration fee it mentions is no more a “poll tax” than the sign-in step it mentions is a handwriting test.

    Mike @11, it seems like you didn’t read p.3 of the opinion. Are you claiming that RONR p.555 forbids the LP from charging members an attendance/registration fee at any event, ever?

    I agree with Marc’s point @9 that there should be a higher bar to becoming a NatCon delegate and voting on the future direction of the LP. However, it’s inconsistent with his advice that “convention organizers should think about doing things to encourage attendance, rather than discourage it”. I’m surprised that he didn’t seem aware of the elected-vs.-appointed distinction that Scott corrected him about. Comparing 2010 to 2004 or 2000 in number of candidates also seems faulty, as 2010 is not a presidential cycle. If FEC compliance spending is up, one wonders how much that is due to BCRA (2002). If Marc has comparative data on LP media mentions, I would love to see it, as that is a metric we should try to track closely. My own impression is that our 2008 ticket got far more eyeball-minutes of media coverage than we got in 2004. I agree with Marc that our HQ overhead is too high.

  20. Michael Seebeck, who knows what words mean

    No, Brian, I did read it. Mr. Robert is applying it incorrectly, in what should be an obvious manner, that being his inability to separate the core mandated function of the convention–the business session–from the optional stuff.

    In fact, RONR p.555: 2-4 when properly applied actually prevents a floor fee from being applied to the business session, as I clearly explained in #11, second paragraph to the end–but not the optional parts of a convention.

    And while I wouldn’t presume to speak for Chuck, I have it on good authority that he believes that a floor fee in fact does violate the Bylaws.

  21. Chuck Moulton

    Brian Holtz wrote (@20):

    Isn’t Chuck Moulton a registered parliamentarian? I wonder if he disagrees with Robert’s opinion.

    I already stated my opinion, which disagrees with theirs.

    My opinion:

    Yes, I believe it implicitly conflicts with the bylaws.

    Just because registration “normally includes” paying a fee doesn’t mean a fee is thereby authorized.

    Normal procedure is often a function of what the majority of organizations have in their bylaws and do by custom. There are many things that are normally done which are contradicted by bylaws in general and the LP bylaws specifically. The bylaws take precedence.

    I don’t believe our bylaws explicitly allow a fee or explicitly forbid it; however, the bylaws do implicitly forbid a fee by listing qualifications and not listing payment of fee as one of those qualifications.

    This is clearly a gray area because it is not made explicit. In interpreting, the implicit arguments have to be weighed against one another. In this case I would look at principles of interpretation and custom.

    Custom is straightforward. We have never charged a mandatory registration fee or a floor fee for business sessions in the LP’s 35+ year history. This leads me to the conclusion that for the purposes of our organization, registration does not “normally include” a fee.

    A principle of interpretation is on point. “If the bylaws authorize certain things specifically, other things of the same class are thereby prohibited.” RONR (10th ed.), p. 571, l. 24-25. In this case the bylaws list qualifications for being a delegate. Imposing other qualifications that are not listed in the bylaws is therefore prohibited.

    The right thing to do is let the delegates decide. It won’t be the end of the world if we punt 2 years and conduct this convention like all the other LP national conventions ever held and do not have a mandatory minimum registration fee. Let the delegates make this matter explicit by passing a bylaws change and make a decision for the 2012 convention based on clear unambiguous wording instead of tortured parliamentary procedure arguments that waste lots of time.

    With respect to the opinion from Robert’s, it seems odd to me that it specifically discusses enumerated powers in the context of the convention (page 4, bottom full paragraph), but does not even mention the enumerated qualifications to be a delegate.

    I agree with Tom Knapp that there is a disconnect between these parliamentary opinions and the likely interpretations of people who actually are the final arbiters of such matters: the Judicial Committee and the convention delegates.

    To disabuse people of the notion that the parliamentarians were influenced by the way the question was asked or the opinion of the person paying them — or the possibility of getting 10 different opinions and only distributing the one that agrees with the requester — it would be nice if the engagement had been made in a public manner via an open letter with clear neutral language all sides could be satisfied does not suggest a conclusion.

    I have to wonder at what point the money spent buying opinions from parliamentarians and the cost of the LNC’s time spent arguing this (even assuming minimum wage for hours spent) exceeds the money that will be brought in by a floor fee. Actually, I’m fairly confident we passed that threshold long ago. Plus that’s even assuming that this fee will generate an increase in revenue — it is much more likely to decrease revenue by discouraging convention attendance and causing people to boycott gold packages and convention hotel rooms.

    I predict:
    1) The LNC will uphold the floor fee in Austin
    2) There will be a roll call vote
    3) It will be appealed to the Judicial Committee
    4) The Judicial Committee will overturn the floor fee
    5) Most of those who supported the floor fee will not be re-elected

    Letting the delegates decide seems far simpler than this huge waste of time.

    I serve on the Bylaws Committee. I am proposing two bylaws changes: one to explicitly forbid a floor fee and one to explicitly allow it. My hope is that the Bylaws Committee reports out both and lets the delegates decide. If they don’t, I’ll introduce one or both of the changes from the floor.

    Both would add a subsection c to Article 11, Section 3.

    Forbid:

    c) Delegates shall not be required to pay a registration fee to be credentialed or to access the floor for business sessions.

    Allow:

    c) At the discretion of the Libertarian National Committee, all delegates may be required to pay a minimum registration fee before being credentialed.

    I’d like to say I think one of those bylaws changes will pass putting this issue behind us. However, it’s possible one fix will garner majority support, but neither will get the necessary 2/3 support.

  22. Brian Holtz Post author

    Mike RONR 555.2-4 is in the middle of a discussion of what should be said by the Bylaw article that defines membership. It’s only about the requirements for membership, and lines 2-4 are just saying that no fees beyond dues can be required for membership. This has nothing to do with whether a registration fee can be charged to the tiny subset of members who are delegates to a convention. Instead, it would forbid the LP from, say, requiring all members to also buy an LP News subscription, over and above their dues.

  23. David F. Nolan

    @24 – Burns is a clueless clown. Isn’t there already an independent or third-party candidate in the race? Probably not a libertarian, but a way to cast a protest vote.

  24. Michael Seebeck, who knows what words mean

    @23 & @25:

    I don’t agree.

    Assessing a floor fee on a delegate is assessing an excess fee on a member as is prohibited by that section. There is no indication of a limitation or exemption on when that excess fee can or cannot be assessed, including any exemption for a convention registration.

  25. Marc Montoni

    So many claims, so little time to refute them. … I will stick to just one of Mr. Montoni’s claims; I am sure other people can tackle his other bullet points.

    Once again, Mr. Lieberman missed the point completely.

    The central issue is not whether we have 600, 220, or 149 “elected” officials or “Libertarian Public Officials.” [And by the way, assuming one accepts the 220 figure, if we’re now at 149, I’m not sure a decline of over a third is anything to crow about; nor am I sure that a decline of a half or a third sounds much different to most people – decline is decline, whether it’s 1/3, 1/2, or .38925.]

    Rather, the central point is that the LP has many serious problems right now, yet the majority faction on the LNC has continually — regardless of the deleterious consequences — chosen to champion issues they know in advance are divisive and yet which will have no effect whatsoever on the many serious core problems. If anything, the fanatic obsession on bringing forth divisive decisions make those core problems much worse.

    Just in case the reader is logic challenged, here is an example, fully spelled out:

    The LP already has a serious fundraising problem. Angering a few hundred members out of our membership base of 14k or so guarantees that we will have an even greater fundraising problem, because the few hundred aren’t going to open their wallets or circulate petitions in the future if they think the leadership regards them as gutter trash.

    My impression is that at our peak, we might have had around 220 ELECTED officials. So, we might be off our peak somewhat, but not precipitously off of it.

    Let’s go over it again:

    1) We don’t need any more divisive decisions.

    2) The floor fee is divisive, and its proponents knew very well that it would be.

    3) Given the washout in attendance compared to the 1996-2004 period, perhaps the convention organizers should think about doing things to encourage attendance, rather than discourage it.

    4) The qualifications for getting onto the business floor are listed in the bylaws, and they do not include a floor fee.

    5) The delegates should be asked to impose a floor fee on themselves; it should not be imposed by fiat.

    6) It won’t hurt the LP one bit to delay the implementation of a floor fee for a few months until the delegates can make the decision for themselves.

    7) I would support a floor fee if it was agreed to by the delegates in convention.

    8) The alleged need for a floor fee to pay for convention materials and the room required could have been avoided with saner budgeting.

    9) I’d rather see substantially higher dues + in-kind credit for work towards dues, than a floor fee. Being allowed to muck about in the Libertarian Party’s business should require a rather large investment of either money or time.

    10) Most important of all, the D’s and R’s do not charge a floor fee, because they know how to raise money from outside sources. I have asked the LNC may times in the past to investigate the possibility of obtaining corporate sponsorships of our convention committee (entirely legal!), but the majority is so wrapped around the axle in their march to charge floor fees and eliminate the povertarians that they have apparently chosen to remain willfully ignorant about this legal source of money. Frankly I do not understand the insistence on keeping the LP mired in amateur hour.

    Rather than quibbling over 600 vs 149 vs 220, maybe proponents of the $129 floor charge could answer the following questions, based on the above numbered list:

    1) Why do you favor continuing to bring forth things you know will be divisive?

    2) Did you think the floor fee would not be divisive? If not, why not?

    3) Given the washout in attendance compared to the 1996-2004 period, why do you believe the convention committee should be adopting policies that will tend to depress attendance? Why do you believe it should NOT enourage maximum attendance?

    4) (you guys have made it clear that the clear language of the bylaws changes meaning with your desires; so never mind this one. We already know.)

    5) Why do you disagree that it should be the delegates who should be allowed to decide whether to impose a floor fee on themselves?

    6) What supporting data do you have [that we don’t] that suggests it would injure the LP to delay the implementation of a floor fee for a few months until the delegates can make the decision for themselves?

    7) N/A

    8) Why do you disagree that the alleged need for a floor fee to pay for convention materials and the room required could have been avoided with saner budgeting?

    9) N/A

    10) Why do you refuse to consider other legal sources of convention cash, such as corporate donations, that are not regulated by the FEC?

  26. Michael Seebeck, who knows what words mean

    @23:

    Had the limitation been on membership fees alone, then it would say so, but it does not.

    It does not say, “Members cannot be assessed any additional payment for their membership aside from their dues unless it is provided for in the bylaws.”

    In the absence of that wording, it applies to all cases.

    In rules and bylaws, like public laws, what is stated matters just as much as what is not stated.

  27. Thomas L. Knapp

    I agree that the provisions of RONR p. 555 do not forbid the charge of fees for activities which individuals participate in. They merely forbid charging members additional “assessments” for this or that general purpose as a requirement for continued membership in good standing.

    For example, the LNC could not, for example levy a $50 assessment on each member for the 2010 ballot access campaign, with the memberships of those who decline to pay being forfeit.

    On the other hand, RONR p. 593 merely alludes to “the registration fee.” It is not authorizing language, but rather language which makes a general assumption that happens not to apply to the LP’s national convention.

    The reason that assumption doesn’t apply to the national convention is that the LP’s bylaws list specific qualifications for delegates with no provision for the LNC to modify those qualifications, and specific entitlements for state affiliates with no provision for the LNC to modify those entitlements.

    RONR should be understood as a manual of parliamentary procedure that fills in gaps in the bylaws. The Starr/Sullentrup clique treats the bylaws as an obstacle and RONR as a vehicle for getting over that obstacle.

    As a side note, Robert and Balch do discover a severe defect in the LP’s organizational rules (see section 3).

    The delegates to the national convention should seriously consider modifying the sections giving the LNC “plenary authority” over the party’s operations. When a dog tries as hard as this one has to break its leash, that leash should be tightened and strengthened.

  28. Marc Montoni

    I want to keep myself out of the cross-fire but as a point of order, R’s and D’s do generally charge delegate fees for lower level conventions, just not the national. Usually its a small amount like $20. But that probably varies state-to-state or district-to-district.

    Not trying to put you in the crossfire, here, but I did have a comment: Yes, that is often true. However, it varies by state. In just about every state where a local, district, or state delegate fee is assessed, the D/R affiliates also codify the right to request that the fee be waived. I’ve attended many dozens of meetings of the competition over my 40-year political life — in Akron, Pittsburgh, Bridgeport (CT), Sarasota, Virginia, and one or two others — and have looked at the organizing documents, applications, membership forms, and things they always have available at the registration table.

    Every LP member should do his own spying…

    In any case, unlike our peculiar snobbatarians, the other parties don’t generally make a big deal about free attendance. I didn’t hear anyone calling the “waived fee” delegates “povercrats” or “povericans”; nor have I ever seen a name tag that said “subsidized” at a D/R event. My mother attended D meetings for most of her adult life, and she had the same philosophy about her allegiance with the D’s as I do: they could have her money or her time, but not both.

  29. Marc Montoni

    JT @ 5 said:

    Without coming out for or against, a “tax” is a payment imposed by a *government*. Calling a fee charged by a party or a business or any other kind of organization a “tax” is wrong, even if it helps to inflame people against it. It’s as wrong as the people who accuse private organizations of “censorship,” which is content banned by a *government*. Libertarians should understand the difference.

    I’m sure everyone is fully aware that “taxes” per se are government activities. However, many feel the floor fee demand is reprehensible and therefore inflammatory monikers should be expected. Describing an opponent of the floor fee as a “povertarian” while remaining completely ignorant of the individual’s actual financial condition *invites* just such derisive rhetoric.

    In short, this is politics. Inflammatory words will be spoken.

  30. Brian Holtz Post author

    “Members cannot be assessed any additional payment aside from their dues unless it is provided for in the bylaws.”

    Mike says this “applies to all cases”, and not just the membership requirements that are the clear context of a Bylaw article defining requirements for membership.

    So if “all” means “all”, then Wes Benedict apparently violated the Party’s rules when he assessed members a payment of 10 cents for each bumper sticker they desired.

  31. Brian Holtz Post author

    Tom writes: “RONR should be understood as a manual of parliamentary procedure that fills in gaps in the bylaws.”

    Tom, our Bylaws use the term “register” but don’t define it.

    RONR defines it quite straightforwardly.

    Can you or can you not quote a definition of “register” in the Bylaws? Yes or no. Don’t wait for the translation. Answer the question.

  32. Thomas L. Knapp

    “Tom, our Bylaws use the term ‘register’ but don’t define it.”

    You’re right — it doesn’t.

    There are a lot of terms the bylaws don’t define — quite possibly because it’s assumed that the English language is understood by the readers. For example:

    Register \Reg”is*ter\, v. i. 1. To enroll one’s name in a register. [1913 Webster]

    “RONR defines it quite straightforwardly.”

    No, RONR describes a usual version of it as practiced in a usual context quite straightforwardly. There’s a difference.

    “Can you or can you not quote a definition of ‘register’ in the Bylaws? Yes or no. Don’t wait for the translation. Answer the question.”

    I already did. Your turn. Can you or can you not quote a definition of “the” in the bylaws? Yes or no?

  33. Brian Holtz Post author

    Tom, @31 you told us that Robert’s “fills in the gaps” in our Bylaws. Now you say the dictionary does. Make up your mind. 🙂

    So when Robert’s says registration also “normally includes” delegates “signing the list of registrations”, that too is merely a sociological observation about what is often included in the Bylaws of organizations, and an organization is strictly forbidden from such a signing step if its Bylaws don’t specify it?

    ROTFL.

    This is very simple. Our Bylaws mention “registration” without defining it, so Robert’s fills in the gap with a straightforward definition.

    Tom reminds me of Clinton, with his strained it-depends-on-the-meaning-of-‘the’ contention that the registration process described in Robert’s is meaningless unless its minutiae about signatures and badges and fees are copied and pasted into the Bylaws.

    Tom, if Robert’s had a page that described what we should take “the” to mean, you’d have a point. What page of Robert’s was that again?

    Page 593 of Robert’s talks about “the list of registrations” and “the official program”. Neither of these things are mentioned in the LP Bylaws. Do you think that it is therefore verboten for a convention committee to require signing a registration list, or to declare a document to be the official program?

  34. Michael Seebeck, who knows what words mean

    Brian,

    You miss the point. Again. Why that is so, is beyond me.

    Answer the simple question: why does a convention exist in the first place? Here’s a hint–it ain’t for the optional coffee klatch.

    “If your brakes break, the brakes won’t brake, and they’re broken; but if the brakes don’t break, then the brakes brake and the brakes aren’t broken. But that’s the breaks on brakes.”

  35. Michael Seebeck, changing gears to

    I will leave the arguing to others. I have better things to do than that. Like working on building membership in my region.

  36. paulie

    I will leave the arguing to others. I have better things to do than that. Like working on building membership in my region.

    Sensible.

  37. Marc Montoni

    I agree with Marc’s point @9 that there should be a higher bar to becoming a NatCon delegate and voting on the future direction of the LP. However, it’s inconsistent with his advice that “convention organizers should think about doing things to encourage attendance, rather than discourage it”.

    Not necessarily. The two goals are not always mutually exclusive. Let me preface…

    1 – I have long been in favor of requiring national convention delegates to be contributing national members.

    2 – I have also long been in favor of raising dues to substantial numbers. $100 or even $1000.

    3 – At the same time, I also favor establishing a system of acknowledging contributions-in-kind as an acceptable form of “dues”. In-kind contributions could include petitioning, editing a state party newsletter, organizing a bunch of outreach booths and collecting hundreds of new prospective members, and so on — basically any enterprises that substantially benefit the LP and require time & effort “over and above” the usual norm.

    The snobbatarians seem to grasp the first two (demanding more money from loyal Libertarians) but they turn tail and run on the third. Frankly, I think having someone who is willing to collect 1000 ballot-access signatures every election is worth double that in cash dues. So why not invite that petitioner to attend the national convention gratis, as an honored participant?

    As for the convention itself, there are factors that are entirely independent of cost that will make people want to attend — or not.

    For instance, the convention committee can:

    a) schedule a speaker with a substantial negative reaction among some fraction of members, who has a well-known position(s) that is (are) at odds with long-standing Libertarians positions;

    or:

    b) schedule a speaker who isn’t a divisive presence and speaks on an issue that almost all L’s believe in.

    Choice a) would tend to depress turnout; choice b) would tend to increase turnout.

    I would think a really good party schedule, for instance, would be a great draw. Informal nightly receptions with noted LP personalities or other “heroes of the movement” (Walter Williams, Gary Johnson, etc). Comedy breaks during the business session (Tim Slagle, etc) would add some welcome lightheartedness. If I sat here for a few hours I’m certain I could think of plenty of ways to attract more attendance without much expense; but for me that would be time wasted because I’m not on the convention committee.

    Meanwhile, those who are on the committee have chosen to refuse to seek corporate and other outside funding for the convention and have also decided to impose … a floor fee.

    ———————————

    I’m surprised that he didn’t seem aware of the elected-vs.-appointed distinction that Scott corrected him about.

    He didn’t ‘correct’ me so much as he engaged in a bit of sophistry. Remember that *I* said: “There seem to be about 150 to 200 Libertarians in public office of some sort.” I did NOT claim that “there seem to be about 150 to 200 elected Libertarians.” Lieberman brought that into the conversation, not me.

    Things to keep in mind:

    1) Elected vs appointed differs by state. For instance, Dundee Township Library Board in IL is an elected position (congrats to Bill Stephens!). In Virginia and almost all other states, library boards are appointed by the municipal government.

    For that reason alone, it’s probably a mistake to restrict the list at to only those who were elected.

    2) A casual glance at that list reveals there are a few “appointed” offices still on the list. And I notice that it says there are 152, not 149. Perhaps Lieberman should check his facts before relaying.

    ———————————

    Comparing 2010 to 2004 or 2000 in number of candidates also seems faulty, as 2010 is not a presidential cycle.

    OK…

    1980 ?? ??
    1981 ?? ??
    1982 ?? ??
    1983 ?? ??
    1984 ?? 11
    1985 ?? ??
    1986 200+ ??
    1987 ?? ??
    1988 ?? ??
    1989 ?? ??
    1990 ?? ??
    1991 ?? ??
    1992 700+ ?
    1993 ?? 15
    1994 650+ 40
    1995 ?? 3
    1996 800 7
    1997 64
    1998 853 19
    1999 215 20
    2000 1,436 34
    2001 312 96
    2002 1,642 ??
    2003 230 46
    2004 699 ??
    2005 ?? ??
    2006 ?? ??
    2007 81 ?? http://www.lp.org/index_2007.html

    Sources: “The LP in the ’90s: A decade of growth”, LPN 12/99
    and http://www.lp.org/organization/history.shtml

    Sorry, can’t find 2006 numbers. In any case, “the lowest number of candidates in an off-presidential year since 1994” has a kinda bad ring to it.

    ———————————

    If FEC compliance spending is up, one wonders how much that is due to BCRA (2002).

    I’d bet very little. BCRA didn’t change all that much for political parties except for prohibiting “soft money” contributions. It had a lot more to do with regulating the role of nonprofits and corporations, etc regarding federal elections.

    FEC compliance spending went way up because the LP ruined its own books and database in 2004.

    ———————————

    If Marc has comparative data on LP media mentions, I would love to see it, as that is a metric we should try to track closely.

    George Getz used to monitor & report media mentions. That practice was stopped and I haven’t heard that it has been restarted. However, anyone with a Lexis-Nexus account can do a year by year search. Even Google News provides a rough idea of media mention trends (look at the skinny graph at the top).

    ———————————

    I agree with Marc that our HQ overhead is too high.

    I am not necessarily talking about rent expense, about which others are wrapped around the axle.

  38. paulie

    I’m not a bylaws expert and don’t want to become one.

    The real heart of the matter as Chuck pointed out:

    “I have to wonder at what point the money spent buying opinions from parliamentarians and the cost of the LNC’s time spent arguing this (even assuming minimum wage for hours spent) exceeds the money that will be brought in by a floor fee. Actually, I’m fairly confident we passed that threshold long ago. Plus that’s even assuming that this fee will generate an increase in revenue — it is much more likely to decrease revenue by discouraging convention attendance and causing people to boycott gold packages and convention hotel rooms.”

  39. Jeremy Young

    I’m not entirely sure what the politics behind the floor fee is. Aaron Starr seems to be promoting this fee as a way to keep the relatively poorer RadLibs from attending the convention, so his Reformers can form a majority and sweep the elections. But isn’t it just as likely that the RadLibs will show up pissed as hell and vote Starr out of office?

    It seems like a heck of a gamble for Starr. If I were a wealthy RadLib, I’d offer to pay the floor fee for any credentialed delegate who wanted to attend, then sit back and watch them crucify Starr.

  40. Brian Holtz Post author

    Mike, this is a debate about the text of our rules. If your question about convention purpose has an answer in that text, then please quote it. If it doesn’t, then whatever answer you’re thinking of is irrelevant to the question here.

    And that question is simply this: what do the Bylaws mean when they use the word “register”?

    The Bylaws don’t say what “registration” means. Robert’s does. And Robert’s says it “normally” includes a “registration fee”. End of debate.

    Marc, my answers to your questions:

    1) I of course oppose LP divisiveness. How about you? You wrote in 2007: “I do not agree that any affiliate has the right to call for a new national sales tax, or even a state one. I do not agree that any affiliate has any right to advocate for school vouchers. […] And I do not agree that affiliates who endorse candidates who support any of these things should be allowed to remain as affiliates of the Libertarian Party”. Do you really believe the LP should disaffiliate the LPNC for endorsing the voucher-advocating Michael Munger, as well as every affiliate that endorsed the sales-tax-advocating Bob Barr? (If you’ve already disavowed that 2007 statement and I missed it, then I apologize for bringing it up, and won’t do so again.)

    2) I don’t consider it divisive to ask that conventions be self-financing. I agree that “being allowed to muck about in the Libertarian Party’s business should require a rather large investment of either money or time.” I agree that in-kind donations should count. I’ve always said that the our power lies in our ideas and the votes they can attract, not in our money or in the voting strength of the officials we can elect.

    3) Over 4% of all LP sustaining members — nearly 1 out of every 20 — were delegates at the 2008 NatCon. Last weekend, the LPCA didn’t even come close to filling all our NatCon delegate slots. If the goal is to get more members exposed to a NatCon, I would waive the registration fee for non-voting observers — as long as it’s easy to make sure they don’t try to vote as delegates.

    4) The Bylaws mention registration but don’t define it. Robert’s defines it, and says it normally includes a registration fee. QED.

    5) I of course don’t oppose the right of delegates to pass a Bylaw on this question. I do oppose the ~500 delegates deciding to vote themselves a subsidy from the dues of our ~12,000 members. Whatever subsidy the conventioneers in St. Louis vote to give me, I’ll be donating back to the LP.

    6) I oppose dues-payer subsidies for conventioneers now, and I’ll oppose it a few months from now. If you’re trying to ask why we shouldn’t run one last money-losing convention for old times’ sake, I don’t need any “data” to oppose that idea. I’m against the LP bleeding money, period.

    7) I too would pay whatever registration fee the delegates vote (or even just resolve) in support of. Now, are you willing to set a maximum per-delegate loss (i.e. subsidy), beyond which you would donate the remainder back to the LP? For me, that number is zero. What is it for you?

    8 ) I would love to see LPHQ spend its money more wisely, but that doesn’t mean I agree that the meeting costs of conventioneers should be subsidized by the dues of non-conventioneers.

    9) I agree that “being allowed to muck about in the Libertarian Party’s business should require a rather large investment of either money or time.” Again, this seems inconsistent with your point 3: “convention organizers should think about doing things to encourage attendance, rather than discourage it.”

    10) I’m all for “other legal sources of convention cash such as corporate donations”, but the LP is an anti-rent-seeking party. What’s the most that an LP (or other anti-rent-seeking political) convention ever got from such donors, and who in the LP knows how to make it happen again? Numbers, please, not hand-waving.

  41. Chuck Moulton

    Brian Holtz wrote (@45):

    10) I’m all for “other legal sources of convention cash such as corporate donations”, but the LP is an anti-rent-seeking party. What’s the most that an LP (or other anti-rent-seeking political) convention ever got from such donors, and who in the LP knows how to make it happen again? Numbers, please, not hand-waving.

    The LP has turned down at least one check within the past decade that exceeded the yearly individual contribution limits. I’d simply suggest that the donor be asked to donate to the convention instead of being asked to write a smaller check.

  42. Michael H. Wilson

    Put a large glass bowl on the floor asking for contributions to help pay for the convention and be done with it.

  43. The Scarecrow

    Most humans NORMALLY have a fully functional brain… I guess the same cannot be said of all members of the LNC.

    Just because something “normally” happens doesn’t mean it ALWAYS does or MUST.

  44. The Scarecrow

    The bylaws don’t allow for it; No it can’t!

    The bylaws don’t say one can’t throw kittens at LNC members, can I do so??

  45. Robert Capozzi

    Scarecrow, you are making the anti-fee/LNC-doesn’t-have-the-power forces look bad by association. Of course you “can” throw objects at LNC members, but other laws — like assault — could be enforced against you.

  46. The Scarecrow

    Most humans NORMALLY have a fully functional brain… I guess the same cannot be said of all members of the LNC.

  47. Party Monster AFH

    Less than beneficial effects of a registration fee:

    1. Less participation.
    2. Class based division.
    3. Yet another credentialing device to empower unprincipled people to exclude their competition by abusing positions of trust.
    4. Disintegration of a coalition environment.

    Beneficial effects of a registration fee:

    1. More money in the coffers to put elsewhere.

    Is the imposition of floor fees a breach of the rules? Who cares? laws, rules, and by-laws are for people who are willing to use force to get their way. It should not even be a consideration for Libertarians.

    The Party is organized to promote a philosophic and ethical paradigm in the poltical realm as it interfaces with government. That purpose is outside of the authority of rules lawyers to comprehend much less render an opinon on.

    I would encourage my fellow libertarians to drop all of the maneuvering and stick to:

    “Taxing people to participate in the decisions for electing leaders is >>immoral<<.

    If you cannot win the argument and influence decisonson that alone, you have no other moral or ethical recourse but to bring more people to the table that agree with you… provided of course that you are allowed to bring anyone to the table with people abusing their positions of trust to prevent it.

  48. Brian Holtz Post author

    Is the imposition of a registration fee a breach of the rules? Who cares? Contracts, binding rules, and private association are for people who are willing to use force to enforce the plain text of voluntary agreements. It should not even be a consideration for Libertarians.

    In Libertopia, there is no taxation, and so admission to everything everywhere is free — hotels, movie theaters, airlines, buses, taxis, universities. And brothels. Don’t forget brothels.

    P.S. Scarecrow, to learn whether the Chair at an LP meeting has the authority to sanction/remove cat-throwers, see Robert’s p.626ff, “Breaches Of Order By Members In A Meeting”.

  49. Kim Goldsworthy

    Here is an exercise in logic.
    ***
    S1. I am a member of my state party.
    S2. I am a member of the national party.
    S3. A fee is being imposed on party members who attend a convention.

    C1. If I do not attend the national convention, then I do not get assessed a convention fee.
    C2. If do not get assessed a convention fee, then the fee is NOT being assessed on ALL party members, but only on a SUBSET of party members.
    ***
    Thus, it is insincere to argue that the fee/tax [choose one] is being placed on all party members.

    The fee/tax is only being placed on (an estimated) 5% of the total membership of the party (i.e., attendees). — Not all party members.
    (Est.) 95% of all party members (a ratio of one in twenty) won’t even see or hear the fee.

    The fee/tax is only being assessed at a pay-as-you-go event. — The fee/tax is NOT being assessed on any NON-attendees of the event.

    To avoid the fee/tax, all one needs to do is NOTHING. — Don’t attend any pay-as-you-go event.

    You will remain a member, by not going.
    You will retain all rights of membership, by not going.
    ***
    (An analogy. Warning: Sarcasm ahead.)

    Advice: “Never attend a supper club.”

    Why not?
    The libertarians who run the event will FORCE YOU to buy a meal.
    Sure, they argue that they must pay the restaurant for the use of their banquet room.
    My proportion works out to be 1/30th of the cost, in fact, based on average attendance.
    But 1/30th is so, so small! — They don’t really need my money for 1/30th of the overall costs.
    Why doesn’t the supper club:
    1. Make just listening free?
    2. Subsidize me?
    3. Fund raise so that I may pay nothing?
    4. Budget better so that I may attend for free?
    5. Build into their mailing list subscription fee an extra margin of money so that I may attend for free?

    Hey! It is a supper club event, so let the supper club pay for it all. — It’s their event, not mine! It’s their money being put up front, not mine! It is their financial risk, not mine!
    ***

  50. Aaron Starr

    Is this the same Kim Goldsworthy who

    1) is a long-time Professional Registered Parliamentarian,
    2) is a former state chair of the Libertarian Party of California back from the early 90s, and
    3) served as the LPC’s parliamentarian at their most recent convention?

    If so, what is your opinion of Henry Robert and Thomas Balch’s written opinion? Do you find their reasoning compelling?

    By the way, I’ve seen some of your articles published in National Parliamentarian. How many years have you been a PRP?

  51. Party Monster AFH

    @55
    FYI and I think you know this… sarcasm can be difficult to parse.

    “In Libertopia, there is no taxation, and so admission to everything everywhere is free — hotels, movie theaters, airlines, buses, taxis, universities. And brothels. Don’t forget brothels.”

    One of the purposes of a convention is for members to choose representitves.

    If there is a barrier like a registration fee to choose those representitives then it is a poll tax.

    Poll taxes are immoral.

    The “guys with guns” and all of their US Codes and election reform cannot change that.

    The “guys with books” and their by-laws and robert’s rules cannot change it either.

    The legality of one action or another does not make it the correct thing to do. Appealing to authority, pointing out the advice of counsel, illustrating the “fine hats” another person wears also gives no bearing to the moral problem.

    Creating barriers to membership to choose their representitves is immoral. For existing representitves to make barriers to their position being changed is a breach of trust.

  52. Tom Blanton

    The LP could pay for the convention by charging access fees to individuals in attendance who are not there to promote the interests of the LP. Fees could be charged to hookers, pimps, dope dealers, and bookies working the convention. People selling their books or bad ideas (Fair Tax, wars, vouchers, etc.) could also be charged. Government agents engaged in COINTELPRO type operations should also be assessed fees, although I imagine those agents on the LNC would not be in favor of this.

    The LP could also run some carnival-style games like pitching baseballs at a target that dunks a clown when hit. Divisive speakers, like Neal Boortz could give their speeches sitting in the clown seat.

    Then turn all the collected fees over to Wayne Root to place bets with. The LP would soon be rolling in dough.

  53. Darryl W. Perry

    Quick question for anyone willing to answer,
    What’s the point of being a lifetime member of the LP if I must pay an added fee to attend the convention?

    Note: I’m not talking about paying for travel, lodging, food, etc – just the fee to attend the convention as a Delegate and have a say in how the party operates!?!

  54. Brian Holtz Post author

    Party Monster, when a sovereign monopoly government charges everyone in its jurisdiction to vote, that’s a poll tax.

    When a club sets up rules for those who voluntarily choose to join and remain in the club, and one of the rules is that club elections are held at conventions that “normally” include a “registration fee” for the conventioneers that voluntarily agree to direct club business, then that’s just not the same as a poll tax.

    You might argue that the St. Louis registration fee is a bad idea for various reasons, but one of them can’t be that the rules of a voluntary club are morally equivalent to those of a force-monopolizing sovereign state.

    The distinction between voluntary and involuntary association is one of the most fundamental concepts in libertarianism. I’m simply embarrassed when I hear prominent self-described Libertarians stumble over this basic distinction.

    If you don’t like a club’s rules, you can always un-join it. You can’t un-join the State.

    Darryl, there is no fee imposed by the LPUS (beyond either ordinary LPUS or affiliate dues) to “have a say in how the Party operates”. The way you have that say is by helping to choose the NatCon delegates from your affiliate.

  55. Brian "If you don’t like it, leave" Holtz

    Just because something “normally happens” doesn’t make it any more right than if it rarely happens.

  56. Brian Holtz Post author

    For the record, I’m Brian “A club means you’re free to leave it” Holtz, not Brian “If you don’t like it, leave” Holtz. Pointing out the freedom to quit is not an invitation that anyone should quit.

    The Bylaws don’t tell us what is “right” — i.e. sensible, advisable, righteous, etc. The Bylaws just tell us what is required, what is allowed, and what is not allowed.

    My argument that a registration fee is allowed by our rules is of course not an argument that the $99 St. Louis registration fee is sensible, advisable, or righteous. That would depend on the per-delegate costs of our meeting facilities, and what the available alternatives were.

    I used to think that as-yet-to-be-revealed data about St. Louis facility costs might constitute an argument that the $99 registration fee is not sensible, advisable, or righteous. Then I noticed that the people who should be most interested in offering such data/argument are instead busy making extremely flimsy arguments that even a $1 registration fee is not allowed under our rules.

    Thus the marketplace of ideas is sending me a robust signal that the $99 registration fee is approximately in line with the costs of the convention facilities our conventioneers would expect.

    If anybody wants to correct that signal with actual data, I’m all ears.

  57. Marc Montoni

    The first response from the above individual was actually somewhat germane to the original commentary. Almost polite, even. However, his next reply immediately degenerated into a dishonest, manipulative, hyperbolic screed replete with rhetorical cheap shots. Silly me — I thought perhaps the individual in question had mellowed; otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered responding the first time.

    People who behave that way should be shunned; and since nothing has changed, I’m going to return to that philosophy.

  58. Morse v. Republican Party of Virginia

    THE SUPREME COURT’S DECISION:
    “The Party’s decision to exact the registration fee was subject to 5 [section 5 of the Voting Rights Act], which, among other things, prohibits Virginia and other covered jurisdictions from enacting or enforcing “any voting qualification or Page II prerequisite… different from that in force… on” a specified date unless the change has been precleared by the Attorney General…

    By limiting the opportunity for voters to participate in the Party’s convention, the fee undercuts their influence on the field of candidates whose names will appear on the ballot, and thus weakens the ‘effectiveness’ of their votes cast in the general election itself.”

    The US Supreme Court reversed and remanded the judgment of the District Circuit.

  59. Bill Wood

    Soooo, let me see if I have this straight. If you are a poor libertarian then you are a “radical” being put down by the “Man”. If you are considered a wealthy libertarian, you are the “Man” surpressing the “poor, radical libertarians” whom do not consider the wealthy libertarians, libertarians at all. I’m not sure where the bar is set to determine the “poor libertarian” from the “wealthy libertarian”. I am far from wealthy, I don’t plan on going to the Convention in St. Louis due to the cost and I also have to work, I don’t consider myself a “radical” or a “reformer”. I like what Whoopie Goldberg once said about labeling I am an American, not an African-American, so I am not an Anglo-American. I believe in Liberty, so I guess I am just a plan old “Libertarian”

  60. Rorschach

    The first question gives it all away:

    “Does any provision of the Libertarian Party bylaws, of its rules, or of its parliamentary authority, Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, prohibit charging delegates a convention registration fee?”

    This is completely irrelevant in the context of the LP. The question that needs to be asked is, “Does any [list of documents] PERMIT charging the delegates a convention registration fee?”

    If you think that a ruling body is permitted all powers not expressly forbidden, rather than having the body limited to a short list of permitted actions explicitly stated and all others prohibited:

    YOU ARE IN THE WRONG PARTY.

    I’m sure the Democrats and Republicans are taking applications.

  61. Rorschach

    That is to say, in a wider scope things:

    Consistent with the Libertarian philosophy of limited government (which, in order to avoid hypocrisy, we ought to have in our own organization), EVEN IF there is no letter-of-the-law prohibition, that DOES NOT mean that it SHOULD be done.

    Once again, this is not the place for that crap.

  62. Michael H. Wilson

    Marc writes; “Even Google News provides a rough idea of media mention trends (look at the skinny graph at the top).”

    Looks like 96 and 2000 were better than recent years. Could be my glasses. Maye they’re rose colored.

  63. Brian Holtz Post author

    For those unfamiliar with Mr. Montoni’s shunning initiative mentioned @66, He Who Must Not Be Named is apparently me, as I don’t know of anyone else targeted by his project. (I also don’t know of anyone else participating in it, but it’s inherently hard to know who is.)

    He claims that some conveniently-unspecified comments by me here were a “dishonest, manipulative, hyperbolic screed replete with rhetorical cheap shots”. I stand by everything I’ve written here (or anywhere else), and assert that it’s always been at or (usually) above the civility level of the particular remarks that I’ve been responding to. I’ll gladly answer any argument or evidence to the contrary, but Montoni presents none.

    Rorschach, where in the LP’s rules is it “explicitly permitted” that delegates be charged for convention banquets? Are convention meals supposed to be free, then?

    Wrong party? I’m sorry, I thought this was the party whose founding motto was TANSTAAFL.

    Morse, hurt me with the problem of The State using its cops and guns to try to prevent freely-associating individuals from deciding what user fees to charge members for private events. It sounds like a great publicity opportunity for a slam-dunk court victory, and the only problem would be finding a Libertarian willing to endure the shame of invoking the State’s cops and guns and to interfere in what Libertarians obviously should consider to be a private party-internal matter. In the absence of any Party member willing to say they would consider invoking State force in this way, why are we even discussing this?

  64. Rorschach

    Wait, what, are you telling me that I HAVE to eat tiny, over sauced steaks with a couple asparagus sprigs in order to attend to the business of the Party? Dear God, WHY DID NOBODY TELL ME!

    Apples and oranges, Mr. Holtz. My membership entitles me to vote and be a delegate. It does not entitle me to eat mediocre food while wearing a suit and getting droned at by whatever egotistical, no-name hack we’re supposed to be excited enough to see that we’ll actually pretend to like hotel food.

    If the Party can’t cover the cost of a convention with membership dues, then what am I paying you idiots for? Raise the dues to cover the ONE thing that the Party has to do only every other year. “Buy a State Membership and get a National membership FREE” is ludicrous. Fifty bucks a year is a steal. A hundred bucks a year is reasonable.

  65. Thomas L. Knapp

    Brian,

    The banquets, speeches and other entertainments are NOT THE CONVENTION.

    They’re extracurricular events which, for obvious reasons (lots of Libertarians around!), are often scheduled for the same location and timeframe as the convention.

    The convention is the business meeting.

    If someone attends one of the extracurricular events, they are not doing so AS a delegate, any more than they are doing so AS a Catholic, AS a Beatles fan or AS a stamp collector.

    To put it a different way, you’re wrong about this for the same reason that you’re right about RONR p. 555 not prohibiting a delegate registration fee (it’s the bylaws which preclude said fee).

    Now, on to the matter of the poll tax. You write:

    “when a sovereign monopoly government charges everyone in its jurisdiction to vote, that’s a poll tax.

    “When a club sets up rules for those who voluntarily choose to join and remain in the club, and one of the rules is that club elections are held at conventions that ‘normally’ include a ‘registration fee’ for the conventioneers that voluntarily agree to direct club business, then that’s just not the same as a poll tax.”

    The LP is not a club. It is a political party, and to the extent that it exercises control over a tax-funded ballot line it is in fact a subdivision of the “sovereign monopoly government” which operates that ballot system.

    For various reasons going back to the Reconstruction era, the “sovereign monopoly government” which the national LP is a subdivision of for the purpose of nominating a presidential ticket has decreed (through the Voting Rights Act) that that subdivision doesn’t get to tax the delegates who dispose of that ballot line, or (through litigation of various sections of said act) who elect the officials which operate the general affairs of the subdivision.

    The registration fee is, within the meaning of the Voting Rights Act and litigation clarifying the meaning and intent of that act, a poll tax.

    There are various arguments for opposing treatment of political parties as subdivisions of government. The argument that we should just pretend that we are not so treated isn’t a very good one.

  66. Brian Holtz Post author

    Read the Bylaws, Rorschach. Membership does not entitle you to be a delegate. You have to be chosen as a delegate, and then accredited and registered as such: “At all Regular Conventions delegates shall be those so accredited who have registered at the Convention.”

    The Bylaws don’t define registration, but Robert’s does. It says (p. 593) that at least two obligations may be imposed on a delegate as part of registration: “paying the registration fee” and “signing the list of registrations”.

    You earlier said “the body is limited to a short list of permitted actions explicitly stated and all others prohibited”. Now you say that by “all” you did not in fact mean “all”, invoking the landmark precedent of Apples v. Oranges. I’d ask you to make up your mind, but in fact I don’t need to argue that a registration requirement is an unenumerated power. I’ll quote its enumeration again: “At all Regular Conventions delegates shall be those so accredited who have registered at the Convention.”

  67. Brian Holtz Post author

    Tom, I didn’t say we should “pretend political parties aren’t treated as subdivisions of the government”. I just said that 1) we should eagerly invite a court contest with anybody who wants to argue that we should be considered part of the government, and 2) any Libertarian should be ashamed to make that argument.

    It’s just not tenable to argue that the Bylaws outlaw the Robert’s-described registration process merely by using the term without defining it. By your logic, it’s against our Bylaws to require delegates to “sign the list of registrations”, as the Bylaws mention no such list among the various things that delegates can or should sign. That result is absurd.

  68. Marc Montoni

    Soooo, let me see if I have this straight. If you are a poor libertarian then you are a “radical” being put down by the “Man”. If you are considered a wealthy libertarian, you are the “Man” surpressing the “poor, radical libertarians” whom do not consider the wealthy libertarians, libertarians at all.

    Hi Bill! Are you running for congress again this year?

    Actually the derisive term used is “povertarian”, and it is not always used in terms of ideological preferences. It’s a mistake to conflate the two terms (povertarian and radical) as equivalent — there are “povertarians” who are reformers, and “povertarians” who are radicals.

    If one wishes to generalize, then yes, it is possible that there are more “radicals” who are of lesser means. This may be especially true of our college-aged members, who generally tend to be more radical than overfed middle-aged white males like me — and who generally can’t afford a lot in fees but who do a lot of our “street level” activity such as petitioning and staffing outreach booths. It might be better to encourage such youth to participate, even if they aren’t moderates, eh? In case you hadn’t noticed, the LP is graying considerably. When I joined in 1980, most of the people who attended my local meetings were in their twenties. Now, most of our audiences are in their 40’s and 50’s.

    I’m not sure where the bar is set to determine the “poor libertarian” from the “wealthy libertarian”. I am far from wealthy, I don’t plan on going to the Convention in St. Louis due to the cost and I also have to work, I don’t consider myself a “radical” or a “reformer”.

    Hmmm… I’m a little surprised to hear you say that. You’ve been listed as a member of the Reform Caucus for almost 5 years now (since 2005-07-27).

    I like what Whoopie Goldberg once said about labeling I am an American, not an African-American, so I am not an Anglo-American. I believe in Liberty, so I guess I am just a plan old “Libertarian”

    So where’s your line in the sand, Bill? What issues would someone have to step over for you to think of them as a conservative or liberal, rather than a libertarian? Was Bill Clinton a libertarian? After all, he said “I’m something of a libertarian myself…” I heard him say it late one night in 1993 while watching television during an envelope stuffing party as an employee of LP National Headquarters — and reported it to the the LNC. After we confirmed he’d said it, the Party issued a media release congratulating him for his rhetorical alliance with us, and then asking him to act on his words by walking the walk.

    Should we have just sent him a membership card instead — a few months before his goons barbecued a bunch of people in Waco?

    Everyone has a line in the sand. Where’s yours?

  69. Marc Montoni

    Ooops… Messed up the formatting… sorry.

    —–

    Soooo, let me see if I have this straight. If you are a poor libertarian then you are a “radical” being put down by the “Man”. If you are considered a wealthy libertarian, you are the “Man” surpressing the “poor, radical libertarians” whom do not consider the wealthy libertarians, libertarians at all.

    Hi Bill! Are you running for congress again this year?

    Actually the derisive term used is “povertarian”, and it is not always used in terms of ideological preferences. It’s a mistake to conflate the two terms (povertarian and radical) as equivalent — there are “povertarians” who are reformers, and “povertarians” who are radicals.

    If one wishes to generalize, then yes, it is possible that there are more “radicals” who are of lesser means. This may be especially true of our college-aged members, who generally tend to be more radical than overfed middle-aged white males like me — and who generally can’t afford a lot in fees but who do a lot of our “street level” activity such as petitioning and staffing outreach booths. It might be better to encourage such youth to participate, even if they aren’t moderates, eh? In case you hadn’t noticed, the LP is graying considerably. When I joined in 1980, most of the people who attended my local meetings were in their twenties. Now, most of our audiences are in their 40’s and 50’s.

    I’m not sure where the bar is set to determine the “poor libertarian” from the “wealthy libertarian”. I am far from wealthy, I don’t plan on going to the Convention in St. Louis due to the cost and I also have to work, I don’t consider myself a “radical” or a “reformer”.

    Hmmm… I’m a little surprised to hear you say that. You’ve been listed as a member of the Reform Caucus for almost 5 years now (since 2005-07-27).

    I like what Whoopie Goldberg once said about labeling I am an American, not an African-American, so I am not an Anglo-American. I believe in Liberty, so I guess I am just a plan old “Libertarian”

    So where’s your line in the sand, Bill? What issues would someone have to step over for you to think of them as a conservative or liberal, rather than a libertarian? Was Bill Clinton a libertarian? After all, he said “I’m something of a libertarian myself…” I heard him say it late one night in 1993 while watching television during an envelope stuffing party as an employee of LP National Headquarters — and reported it to the the LNC. After we confirmed he’d said it, the Party issued a media release congratulating him for his rhetorical alliance with us, and then asking him to act on his words by walking the walk.

    Should we have just sent him a membership card instead — a few months before his goons barbecued a bunch of people in Waco?

    Everyone has a line in the sand. Where’s yours?

  70. Rorschach

    Oh, he’s a litigious fucker, ain’t he?

    The banquets, getting Billy Maysed to death by Wayne Root, and looking at your grotesque features are not part of the convention, the business, or whatever else you choose to call the reason for our being in so miserable a place as Denver, Portland, or (God help us) St. Louis.

    Do I have to pay to be a delegate? No? Huh. What about to walk into the hotel? No? Huh. What about to hob-nob with whatever social misfits are running for office or pretending they don’t spend their free time being dicks on the internet? No? I’m sensing a pattern here.

    So I’m a delegate, I’m in St. Louis, and I’m on the floor, as a delegate, but for some reason, there’s this …THING that for some reason it is necessary I do OR ELSE I AM PREVENTED FROM PERFORMING THE DUTIES WITH WHICH I WAS CHARGED.

    What are those duties? Be a member. State or national, doesn’t matter. Get selected. Go to convention. Let them know I showed up. Vote on meaningless crap that means nothing to anyone. Yeah, that’s about it. That’s all that is REQUIRED of me.

    What about Roberts, you say? What about it? They only govern in places where applicable AND where they are not inconsistent. Sure, I need to let some paper-pusher know I done showed up, but Convention Rule 2.2 says, in part:

    “All delegates shall be eligible to vote on all matters. In order to vote on a given matter, a delegate must be present on the floor at the time the vote is taken. Each delegate present shall have one vote”

    Nothing about payment, nothing about doing a dance, nothing about renewing an oath. As a Delegate, I am entitled to vote. ENTITLED.

    You want to add new REQUIREMENTS? Here’s an argument you’ve probably heard: change the bylaws.

    And I repeat an argument from the moral high ground: Even IF a thing can be done, does not mean it SHOULD. Punching you would be nice, but that isn’t exactly libertarian, is it? And that’s the crux of the issue that you, and Aaron, and Redpath, and all those other balding, wrinkled, myopic, pale, scheming, scamming, conning, hustling, maladjusted, mismanaging, malodorous, sexually repressed, impotent, deluded trolls are all on the wrong side of.

    That is to say, even if you’re “right” (which you’re not, so don’t get your hopes up), you’re wrong.

  71. Thomas L. Knapp

    Brian,

    You write:

    “The Bylaws don’t define registration, but Robert’s does.”

    No, it doesn’t define registration. It describes a “normal” registration process. Registration is defined in any good dictionary, just like most of the other undefined terms found in RONR.

    “It says (p. 593) that at least two obligations may be imposed on a delegate as part of registration.”

    It doesn’t say that any “obligations may be imposed.” It simply describes the obligations which are “normally” imposed.

    RONR p. 593 is general descriptive, not specific authorizing, language. No matter how hard you click your heels together and wail “there’s no place like the rules being whatever I want them to be,” the wizard is not going to deliver you to the land of RONR authorizing a registration fee.

  72. Michael H. Wilson

    Are those who buy the meal package with speakers going to cover all of those costs, like speaker’s fee, etc. or is that spread out somewhere else?

  73. Marc Montoni

    Hey Tom,

    You know, the following occurred to me: The national party asks its state affiliates to send their delegates to the national convention. Now, “Delegate” is defined as “a person chosen or elected to act for or represent another or others, esp at a conference or meeting“. In this case, the state parties choose people to represent the state party at the national convention.

    So maybe it should be asked under what logic is an appointee sent to perform duties on behalf of his state party and yet is a “freeloader” or “povertarian” if he doesn’t pay?

    If delegates really are **delegates** according to the dictionary definition of the word, if any entity is charged for participation, it is the state parties that should be paying, rather than the appointed individuals.

    Not that I’m arguing in favor of such a transfer payment.

  74. Brian Holtz Post author

    Tom, I’m not arguing that “any” registration requirement may be imposed. I’m arguing only that the two requirements listed in Robert’s may be imposed: “paying the registration fee” and “signing the list of registrations”.

    It remains absurd to argue that neither of these requirements may be imposed, simply because our Bylaws mention the word “register” without specifying what registration means. I note that you continue to evade my point that your argument would outlaw a registration requirement to “sign the list of registrations”.

    Mr. Montoni claimed @9 that the LP’s “mentions in the media has, for all practical purposes, evaporated”, and that the Google News graph would substantiate this. Here is the graph:

    NewsLibrary.com reports this many articles that mention the LP in post-presidential-election years:

    1993: 621
    1997: 983
    2001: 1534
    2005: 1519
    2009: 1648

    For election years:

    1992: 1572
    1996: 2535
    2000: 3413
    2004: 3177
    2008: 4442

    (If anybody is worried that there is some natural growth bias in NewsLibrary results, note that “Reform Party” mentions dropped from 14K in 2000 to 2K in 2004. Google News also reports a sharp decline in “Reform Party” hits since 2000.)

    Below is a playlist I made of Bob Barr media appearances in the 2008 campaign cycle. I stopped at around 50 videos two months before the campaign ended, and it only included TV appearances that I could find on YouTube. Most were on national TV channels, while Harry Browne’s 2000 campaign only claimed 53 national TV appearances in total. Root reports 1000 media appearances since the 2008 campaign, which is more than the total that top-of-ticket Brown claimed for his entire 2000 campaign.

    This doesn’t seem like evaporation to me. Mr. Montoni’s claims about objective facts of LP history usually are quite accurate, but this particular one doesn’t check out.

  75. Party Monster AFH

    Brian @62
    “You might argue that the St. Louis registration fee is a bad idea for various reasons, but one of them can’t be that the rules of a voluntary club are morally equivalent to those of a force-monopolizing sovereign state.”

    You are quite correct. Calling it a Poll Tax is incorrect, but you do not negate the argument by removing the emotional label.

    For existing representatives to make barriers to their position being changed is a prima fascia breach of trust.

    Therefore creating barriers to membership to choose their representatives is immoral.

    This particular barrier is extra onerous because it is economically delineated. The higher the bar, the fewer working class and middle class people will be able to participate.

    It does not require a very strong sense of fair play to understand why a floor fee for voting is inappropriate and worse, damaging of trust.

  76. Thomas L. Knapp

    Brian,

    You write:

    “Tom, I didn’t say we should ‘pretend political parties aren’t treated as subdivisions of the government’. I just said that 1) we should eagerly invite a court contest with anybody who wants to argue that we should be considered part of the government, and 2) any Libertarian should be ashamed to make that argument.”

    Whether or not we “should be” considered part of the government is an interesting question. I’m open to arguments that we shouldn’t be.

    Whether or not we “should be” considered part of the government is only marginally relevant, though. At this time we are considered part of the government within the meaning of law as written.

    Is that worth challenging? Maybe so. Is allowing an LNC subcommittee to violate our bylaws a good way of challenging it? No, it isn’t. If we’re going to challenge it by levying a poll tax, we should first modify our bylaws so that we’re not breaking our own rules as well as Uncle Sam’s when we do so.

    “It’s just not tenable to argue that the Bylaws outlaw the Robert’s-described registration process merely by using the term without defining it. By your logic, it’s against our Bylaws to require delegates to ‘sign the list of registrations’, as the Bylaws mention no such list among the various things that delegates can or should sign. That result is absurd.”

    Only if you ignore the DEFINITION of “register.”

    Registration is DEFINED IN THE FUCKING DICTIONARY AS SIGNING THE FUCKING REGISTER.

    So, when the bylaws require registration, they require registration. What the bylaws don’t require, and what they preclude by omission from either delegate requirements or caveats to affiliate entitlements, is a registration fee.

    I’m now going to pull a Brian Holtz Pivot and smarmily say that I’m happy to let “the readers” decide who is correct on this matter ;-)*

    Regards,
    Tom Knapp

    * The Massachusetts LP’s executive committee sided unanimously with my interpretation versus yours earlier today. The Missouri LP’s executive committee did likewise, with one audible no vote from among 11 members present.

  77. Brian Holtz Post author

    I seriously doubt that anything I wrote was presented to the LPMA or LPMO ExComs. What I would have wanted them to read was this:

    1. Bylaw 11(3) mentions delegate registration as an extra step beyond accreditation by an affiliate: “At all Regular Conventions delegates shall be those so accredited who have registered at the Convention.”
    2. Nothing in the Bylaws specifies the details of the registration process.
    3. “The rules contained in the current edition of Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised shall govern the Party in all cases to which they are applicable and in which they are not inconsistent with these bylaws”.
    4. RRONR p. 593 says the registration process “normally includes” “paying the registration fee”.

    Robert’s pp. 592-599 gives detailed guidance about the responsibilities and procedures of a Credentials Committee, precisely because a society shouldn’t need to specify these details in its Bylaws. It remains absurd to claim that these details must be incorporated into a society’s Bylaws in order for a Credentials Committee to be authorized to follow them.

    Rorschach @80: “balding, wrinkled, myopic, pale, scheming, scamming, conning, hustling, maladjusted, mismanaging, malodorous, sexually repressed, impotent, deluded trolls”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_projection much?

  78. Michael H. Wilson

    Brian @ 87 “Again, since I don’t hear fee opponents seriously arguing that the St. Louis facilities are unreasonably luxurious, I’m starting to think that they’ve defaulted on the crucial argument.”

    Brian this issue has been brought up a number of times. Maybe not specifically in reference to this particular venue but the issue of costs has been discussed many times. Maybe people just have gotten tired of bring it up because no one seems to be paying attention.

    Maybe another reason membership is down is because people are made to feel unwelcome.

  79. Brian Holtz Post author

    Turns out that the LPMA and LPMO resolutions merely assert that 1) a registration fee is not among the delegate qualifications listed in the Bylaws, and 2) the Bylaws do not “provide for” a registration fee.

    But that doesn’t address my argument. My argument is that the Bylaws mention delegate registration as an extra step beyond accreditation by an affiliate, that the Bylaws indeed don’t provide any information about what registration entails, and that Robert’s fills in the blanks.

    The LPMA resolution merely “opposes in principle” the imposition of registration fees, arguing that basic convention facilities should be financed from dues. I don’t agree with that position, but it doesn’t contradict how I read our rules.

    The resolution of Tom’s own LPMO doesn’t even include the “oppose in principle” provision. Neither resolution actually says that a registration fee is forbidden under the rules that govern the LP.

    Readers can decide for themselves whether Tom misled them when he claimed that the LPMO and LPMA “sided with my interpretation versus yours”.

    Michael, I don’t recall anybody anywhere offering numbers about 1) the per-delegate costs of the basic meeting facilities we’re using in St. Louis, or 2) the per-delegate costs of a serious alternative venue. I’d appreciate it if you can point me to such numbers.

  80. Kim Goldsworthy

    I forgot to ask the most important libertarian question!

    Regarding “property rights.” Regarding “trespass.” Regarding “contracts.”

    Q. Who owns the property?

    In this case, regarding the LP convention, who gets the last word on:
    (a.) choosing the hotel?
    (b.) negotiating the hotel’s “cut” (call it what you will — “kick back” or “bribe”)?
    (c.) setting the fee/tax (whatever you wish to call it)?
    (d.) allowing/disallowing comps?
    (e.) fixing the number of programs, speakers, break-out rooms, workshops, etc.?
    (f.) negotiating with speakers and workshop leaders for their fees?

    • If the LNC is setting the fee/tax (and all the rest) , then take up your argument with the LNC.

    • If the convention committee is setting the fee/tax (and all the rest), then take up your argument with the convention committee.

    • If [party X] is responsible for [issue Y], then take up your argument with the proper, responsible party.

    But please do tell me:
    Follow the money, and tell me who has the final word on setting a “value” on the “registration.”

    Q. Who is responsible?

    Q. Who owns the property?

  81. Rorschach

    “I know you are, but what am I”
    -Brian Holtz

    So, lemme get this straight, not now only are you one of those schmucks, but you’ve not matured past the fifth grade. Niiiiiice. I suppose the floor fee issue is the closest you can get to the nostalgia of stealing someone’s lunch money.

    To put it on a level you can understand, that’s “I am rubber and you are glue. Neener neener neener”

  82. Brian Holtz Post author

    Rorschach, since your IP address tells me and every other IPR comment moderator who you are, I’ll take all your childish insults as a vote of confidence in the integrity of my colleagues and me, acknowledging that we would never offer, confirm, or deny any information/speculation about your identity (unless of course you asked us to).

    Your secret is safe with us, so fire away. 🙂

  83. Thomas L. Knapp

    Brian,

    You write:

    “Readers can decide for themselves whether Tom misled them when he claimed that the LPMO and LPMA ‘sided with my interpretation versus yours.'”

    I was the author of both resolutions, and moved and argued the Missouri resolution before the LPMO’s executive committee. If those resolutions don’t embody my interpretations, what does?

    Your opinion is reasonably supported/promulgated by Ms. Mattson’s 10-page parliamentary exegesis, the Robert/Balch RONR opinion, and the Sinawski legal opinion, all of which were presented by LNC secretary Bob Sullentrup to the Missouri executive committee in the email discussion of the resolution leading up to the meeting at which the resolution was passed. I am 90% certain that Mr. Sullentrup would likewise have forwarded any written argument you cared to offer, had you wanted to offer one — and 100% sure that if he had declined to do so, I would have been willing to do so.

    In Missouri, the paragraph concerning “principled opposition” was removed, and the language about leaving it to the delegates added, as a friendly amendment. As the author/mover of the resolution, I chose to accept that amendment as friendly because it broadened, rather than narrowed, the basis for support of the resolution (since some members of the executive committee — including myself on second thought — do not necessarily oppose floor fees “on principle,” but merely because our bylaws don’t permit them).

    I kept my claim as to “my interpretation” specifically to Massachusetts and Missouri, since they are, so far as I know, the only states which have so far adopted resolutions personally authored by me. I left out New York and New Hampshire because their opposition to the floor fee took forms for which I cannot claim any credit. I left out California, North Carolina, Idaho, Tennessee and other states which have the matter under consideration (some in the form of my resolution or a revision thereof) because they haven’t acted yet.

    It is possible that one or more affiliate may not resolve in favor of either my position (anti-floor-fee) or my interpretation (the reasons for being anti-floor-fee).

    It is LIKELY that some state affiliates will take no position at all.

    To the best of my knowledge, though, not a single state affiliate has thus far adopted, or is likely to adopt, a resolution affirming the floor fee or the arguments for it, even though such a resolution is in circulation for prospective adoption (Mr. Sullentrup forwarded it to the LPMO’s executive committee last week, stating his intention to sit as an alternate in the meeting and move it as a substitute for my resolution; he subsequently changed his mind).

  84. John C

    I guess I will never understand any of this stuff- why the LP follows a “bible” called ” Roberts Rules,” why all this masturbation over “order”, “parliamentary” bullshit, etc is the focus of the party. I guess it beats doing politics or getting anything done, and provides a convenient excuse.

  85. Bill Wood

    Hello Marc,

    No way to running for Congress.

    Yes, I joined the ‘Reform” group because I believed the LP platform was bogged down with wording that would leave most people scratching their heads and saying what, lol.
    I like Tom Knapp’s simple statement for a platform.

    Bill Clinton might say he is a libertarian, but we know he isn’t, because of his beliefs in big government and government control etc.

    Drawing lines in sand you can do twice a day. I drew the line when I realized that the Reps and Dem who are elected to Office have totally messed up and are taking away our “liberty” our freedoms and our money, so I did draw a line and joined the Libertarian Party.

  86. George Phillies

    Readers may recall that past rules committees and national conventions at some stage have already rejected the notion that delegates are required to pay money to national in order to be credentialed as delegates.

    For those of you who have forgotten recall past debate that did not advance requiring delegates to be National Party Sustaining members in order to be delegates.

    In fact, if you look at the LNC January filings, you will find a long list of people who have bought convention packages, and therefore given the LNC $349 or some other amount. Each of these people is now under the Bylaws a sustaining member, if they have taken the oath at some time and not revoked it, if they were not beforehand, in violation of past acts of the convention.

    The important issue here is not all this Roberts Rose Fertilizer From Male Cows. (which is not to say that I oppose having a functional set of rules of order being used by grownups, the last clause being an important consideration.)

    Our Bylaws were written by a party that believes in common sense reasonable behavior to advance Liberty, and assumed that its officers would consistently reach that standard.

    As my undergrads would say “EPIC FAIL HERE!”

    The important issue here is that we have an organization that is sinking like the Titanic, with membership down more than 50% and income in real dollars down more than 70%. Our National Committee has *willfully* engaged in a *recklessly divisive* course of action that will probably lose money for our National Party.

    The possibility that other states will follow the thus far-tabled New Hampshire Resolution and boycott the convention — which is the same thing as denying the validity of the convention and its acts — threatens our party with terminal catastrophe.

  87. Brian Holtz Post author

    Tom, the most powerful argument against a registration fee is to say that convention facilities should be subsidized by the dues of the sustaining memberships that help determine delegate allocation. The text of those resolutions could have been supported by anybody who agrees with that argument, and indeed they were clearly aimed at eliciting that agreement.

    John C, I agree that it’s tedious to debate whether the LNC is following our party’s rules, but we have to take seriously even the most strained and tendentious arguments that it’s not. It would be far simpler if LNC critics focused on the merits of whether the meeting facilities of conventioneers should be subsidized by the dues of non-conventioneers, but that’s not as good a hook for conspiracy theories about the LP’s ship of liberty being deliberately scuttled.

    George, if income in real dollars is down 70%, and the LP is sinking like the Titanic, then I don’t see how it’s necessarily divisive for the LNC to decide that four money-losing conventions in a row is enough, and that we need to change course.

    I don’t see anybody arguing that a registration fee is “required” by our rules. LNC critics keep arguing against that position, but I’ve yet to see a single person assert it.

  88. Chuck Moulton

    Brian Holtz wrote (@97):

    I don’t see how it’s necessarily divisive for the LNC to decide that four money-losing conventions in a row is enough, and that we need to change course.

    The assertion that the last four conventions have been money losers is factually incorrect.

    As far as I know Atlanta made money and Denver made money. I have no knowledge about Indianapolis. Portland lost some money for the LP I believe, but the paid convention organizer made a bundle. Hiring that convention organizer was a poor decision.

    There is controversy about whether Atlanta made money or lost money. The LP treasurer post-convention said it lost money. Other people question that accounting (such as the convention organizer). They point out we had more money after the convention than before the convention and we can only be said to have lost money if staff time at the convention is allocated at significantly inflated rates.

    I was not on the LNC post-Denver. However, I have been told by others that the convention organizer did not lose money. Since the convention organizer was bearing the risk (profit or loss) and convention fundraising went to the party, I would think the convention made money for the LP. Perhaps I have recollected wrong and banquet fundraising went entirely to the presidential campaign. That is the only scenario I can envision where the party could have lost money. Of course losing money in such a fashion would be a conscious decision that has nothing to do with fees charged to the delegates.

  89. Michael H. Wilson

    Regardless of who is right or wrong it would be nice to see an effort made to have a large turnout and make the delegates feel welcome. I doubt that will happen.

  90. Brian Holtz Post author

    Alicia Mattson’s memo claims that the last four conventions lost money. The guiding principle here should be to avoid cross-subsidies between different categories of conventioneers, and between conventioneers and non-conventioneer dues-payers. So in this debate, I give the benefit of the doubt to whoever is providing the most detailed cost breakdowns to back up their claims about how a convention should be financed to minimize such subsidies. What follows is the part of Alicia’s memo that I’d like to see rebutted with actual numbers, and not just a “nuh uh”. I’d like to hear Alicia’s response to Chuck’s rebuttal of her claim about the last four conventions losing money.

    The Convention Oversight Committee decided on the prices of the different convention registration packages after careful study of the expenses associated with each. The Basic registration package is not subsidizing the perks for the Silver or Gold packages. The price of the Basic package was calculated only considering costs that benefit every delegate. In fact, a delegate who buys a Basic package at $99 early bird pricing and gets the $50 rebate for staying in the hotel pays a net of $49 to register. At that rate he is not fully paying for his share of the convention expenses, as the common expenses are approximately $79 per delegate. The Silver and Gold packages still subsidize that Basic early-bird-rebated package by $30.

    These prices assume that we’re going to book enough hotel rooms and sell enough optional food/beverage to get our meeting space for free. Even then, there are many other costs. Audio/video rental and personnel to run them are very expensive. We also need to pay for staging, backdrop, labor costs for special room setup, printed delegate materials, badges and ribbons, internet connections for official business, the refreshments that are available to all, keynote speaker travel expenses, computers, printers, etc.

    Because of the expectation that every convention delegate this year would be paying a registration fee, this year’s Silver and Gold package prices were reduced by over $100 from the 2008 rates because they wouldn’t have to subsidize other attendees as much.

    The Convention Oversight Committee saw that the last 4 LP conventions have lost money, and decided that their goal for this one would be to not lose money. Even a $25 per delegate fee would not be sufficient to keep us from losing a significant amount of money on this event.

  91. R. Lee Wrights

    Re: #97

    “I don’t see anybody arguing that a registration fee is “required” by our rules.”

    That is because the argument cannot be made. There is no provision in our By-laws or Robert’s that “requires” a registration fee.

  92. R. Lee Wrights

    Re: #100

    “Alicia Mattson’s memo claims that the last four conventions lost money.”

    This claim is clearly false. Just ask the convention organizer of the Denver convention, BetteRose Ryan. As I undertsand from her, the Denver convention made around $30,000.

  93. Thomas L. Knapp

    Brian,

    You write:

    “Tom, the most powerful argument against a registration fee is to say that convention facilities should be subsidized by the dues of the sustaining memberships that help determine delegate allocation.”

    Budgeting for the convention from dues isn’t a “subsidy,” any more than buying or renting Wes Benedict’s desk, chair and phone are.

    The convention isn’t a gift or benefit to the delegates — it’s a bylaws-mandated party activity at which the delegates serve as party workers, just as much so as Mr. Benedict does when he reports to work every day as executive director.

    Those delegates serve without pay and generally spend a good deal of their own money on travel, lodging and food, not to mention giving up their holiday weekends, to do that work for the party. How the hell can providing the “office” in which they do that required work be considered a “subsidy?”

    “George, if income in real dollars is down 70%, and the LP is sinking like the Titanic, then I don’t see how it’s necessarily divisive for the LNC to decide that four money-losing conventions in a row is enough”

    Not a single LP national convention has ever “lost money” — because the convention is a bylaws-mandated activity which constitutes party operational overhead. It’s not a profit/loss activity.

    While it’s a great idea to surround the convention with extracurricular activities which make money for (and in other ways benefit — morale-building, feelgood fellowship, etc.) the party, those activities are simply not the convention.

    The convention is the business meeting. The people coming to do the party’s work at the party’s business meeting should not be told “you’ll pay for some portion of those extracurricular activities whether you’re interested in participating in them or not.” That would be a subsidy.

  94. Robert Capozzi

    tk: Not a single LP national convention has ever “lost money” — because the convention is a bylaws-mandated activity which constitutes party operational overhead. It’s not a profit/loss activity.

    me: All fundraising has a p&l implications, Tom. The convention is mandated, but the sources and uses of the funds to stage it are not.

    Consider an extreme hypothetical example. Say the LP had $1MM in the bank that was embezzled prior to a convention. The convention is “required,” but there’s no cash to hold it.

    The Bylaws don’t specify there be an escrow account to stage the convention, therefore the Bylaws are silent on the scope, scale and funding of the convention.

    Note that I find the floor fee uncool on a lot of levels, but your overstatement undermines your argument.

  95. David F. Nolan

    @104 – Not quite correct. In days gone by, the party often contracted with an independent entity to run the national convention. The group than ran LP/10 in Denver (1981) was a private operation, and made a decent profit. I forget just how much, but the investors made about 50% on their original investment, as I recall. Of course, we also worked our asses off for nearly a year!

  96. Thomas L. Knapp

    Bob,

    You write:

    “All fundraising has p&l implications”

    That’s true — but the convention isn’t a fundraiser, it’s a mandated business meeting.

    Although they are not, strictly speaking, a contract, think of the bylaws as one in this respect:

    – The LNC is empowered (in the bylaws) to set and dues for sustaining membership, to collect those dues, and to disburse those dues in the course of its operation of party affairs.

    – The other side of the contract is that the LNC is required to do certain things. One of those things is to put on the biennial convention.

    If I enter into a contract with you under which you pay me $25 a year and in return I have to give you a case of Klondike Bars each month when you send a courier around to get them, I don’t get to retroactively decide that I’m going to charge the courier an additional fee for the act of picking them up.

    I might decide to surround my Klondike Bar warehouse with carnival rides and a petting zoo and an iMax theatre, and hell, your courier may decide to ride the merry-go-round and catch a matinee of Avatar, but I don’t get to tell him he has to do those things or I won’t hand over the Klondike Bars.

  97. Chuck Moulton

    There is a distinction between whether the convention organizer made money and whether the Libertarian Party made money on a convention — unless there was no convention organizer and the convention was entirely organized by staff.

    Usually the convention organizer bears most of the profit and loss risk. The LP will pay some maximum amount to the convention organizer to mitigate losses (generally around $5,000 I believe). And when the convention organizer makes a profit, she does not ask for or get that loss mitigation money.

    What expenses does the Libertarian Party itself incur? The loss mitigation amount if it comes into play is one element. Money can be owed to the hotel if room commitments aren’t met (and aren’t washed out by food & beverage profits). Some items are usually bought for the business session itself, which varies depending on the arrangement between the convention organizer and the LNC. Often the website for the convention is setup initially by the Libertarian Party and credit card charges for registration go to the Party, which in turn means credit card processing fees are paid. Finally the LP accounts for staff time spent at the convention and staff time spent servicing the convention in preparation as part of convention costs.

    The convention organizer pays for the space, advertising for the convention, speakers, equipment rental, and anything needed to decorate the convention.

    The convention space itself is greatly reduced in price due to hotel room commitments and commitments on food & beverage sales.

    Registration fee revenues go to the convention organizers — minus processing fees to the Party meant to cover credit card processing fees and staff time. The Party mainly earns revenue through fundraising at the event itself — especially at the main banquet.

    As you can see from above, the LP’s expenses and revenues are relatively minimal compared to the convention organizers’ expenses and revenues. The main expense the LP can be hit with is failure to hit room commitments. It can be quite severe. My recollection is Portland had a very large expense in this category.

    Most of the accounting for the convention is fairly straightforward. Where it gets murky is calculating staff time. For the 2004 convention staff time was accounted for by charging 10% to all money that passed through the LP’s hand. (This was also how staff time for other projects was accounted for. All of this was pre-Starr, btw.) But Atlanta double dipped by accounting for staff time twice: once through the 10% fee (which is quite an exorbitant and inaccurate estimate) and again by directly calculating staff time spent at the convention.

    The key to the LP itself not losing money is:
    1) meet hotel room commitments
    2) not have much staff expenses
    3) do a lot of banquet fundraising

    Registration fees have little to do with the LP not losing money. It bears far more on whether the convention organizers make or lose money.

    I tend to agree with Tom Knapp: the convention is a bylaws mandated activity that does not need to be “profitable.” We should strive to not lose money and to put on the best possible convention.

    Because it is a bylaws mandated activity, in my view spending staff time on the convention is not a bad thing. This makes over-charging for staff time especially egregious.

    My focus would be on meeting room commitments and banquet fundraising.

    There are three ways to approach the room commitments:
    1) In the hotel negotiation, minimize the room commitment we make.
    2) Maximize convention attendance, which naturally will lead to more people getting rooms at the convention hotel itself.
    3) Require or financially incentivize convention attendees to stay at the convention hotel itself.

    The organizers seem to be focusing on option 3. However, in the process they are discouraging convention attendance, so option 2 works against option 3. In my opinion the revenue lost from extra attendees will exceed the revenue gained from financial incentives to stay at the convention hotel itself.

    I am unclear whether in this case the convention organizers are the LP itself. If so, that is a big mistake. As Libertarians, we should know that entrepreneurs get better results because they have financial incentives to make good decisions. In contrast, when the benefits don’t directly accrue to the decision makers they have less incentive to make things profitable, efficient, and customer serving.

    A good example of this is LPStuff.com. The Libertarian Party was losing significant money on its merchandising. So we outsourced the operation. Putting the merchandising in the hands of entrepreneurs meant they actually asked the customers what sorts of products they wanted and looked for ways to produce and sell more efficiently. The operation went from a loss to profitable, product selection expanded, and everyone was made better off. Staff looked at the profits and wanted to insource the operation again to grab that money. Thankfully the LNC declined to do so. I am certain it would not have been profitable anymore if taken out of the hands of entrepreneurs and handed back to staff.

    The same logic applies to conventions.

    Anyway, that’s my 2 cents on conventions. It contains my best understanding of how things work. If my understanding is wrong, please correct me.

    Btw, Brian, Alicia’s statement may be correct if she is referring to off-year conventions rather than all conventions. It is possible that the last 4 off-year conventions have lost money. I only know about Portland. The three previous off-year conventions I have no information on.

  98. Rorschach

    @92

    No, Brian, it is not a vote of confidence and I am certainly not impressed with your integrity, as I believe is clear. Were you to so abuse your position and begin confirming or denying speculations, or to start making some of your own, it would only betray YOUR abuses of station. As it turns out, I, and everyone else, get to say what we want – within certain legal limits, of course – and you have to respect any desire to remain anonymous lest all the mud end up on you.

    All I would have to do is change handles at the first sign of such an action, whether or not you were even remotely close in what information you divulge, and continue.

    Maybe I’d even send you a big ol’ finger in the form of a proxy IP, too, which, in truth, I would have done in the first place if I had known WHO exactly ran and moderated this site. Live and learn, I suppose.

    That you would make such a half-veiled threat just shows your true colors.

    “I’m not here for your amusement. You’re here for mine.” -Johnny Rotten

  99. Brian Holtz Post author

    Chuck @108, thanks for the info about convention financing issues — that’s much more insightful than Tom clicking his heels and defining conventions as metaphysically unable to lose money. 🙂 If Tom is keeping a straight face at his keyboard when he says that delegates are analogous to paid staff, then he’d advocate that they should — or at least could — be paid for their time just as staff are. I doubt he wants to dig himself any deeper into that hole.

    I find Tom’s positioning in this controversy to be an enlightening experiment about the resistance of Libertarian politicians to the temptations of rent-seeking. We have ~500 delegates, controlling a pile of cash collected from the other 95% of dues-payers — who registration-fee critics are saying are analogous to taxpayers. We have Tom Knapp hoping to win votes from these delegates when they re-convene in 2012 to nominate a presidential candidate. So what does Knapp tell them? “95% of the cost of your meeting facilities should be paid for by dues-payers who won’t be coming to the convention, and you’re doing them a favor by controlling the direction of their Party, and the service you provide them is analogous to the clerical labor that the Party pays its HQ staff for.” That’s not exactly a shining example of a Libertarian politician telling its audience something it doesn’t want to hear.

    Or is it? I may be naive, but I have a higher opinion of the delegates entrusted by our affiliates to be stewards of our Party (and its money). I don’t think these ~500 elite freedom fighters are as susceptible as the American people are to the siren song of rent-seeking. I think that these delegates are people who are quite used to personally sacrificing for the cause of liberty, and who don’t want to have to tell potential LP recruits that part of their dues will finance the “overhead” of the meeting that decides (indirectly) how to spend the rest of their dues. I think that, even though it may be against their personal financial interest, most delegates would agree that there should not be cross-subsidies between different categories of conventioneers, and between conventioneers and non-conventioneer dues-payers. In St. Louis, I’ll be proud for everyone to know that I’m a pay-as-you-go TANSTAAFL delegate. I wonder if delegates who agree with Tom will be proud for everyone to know that they are “party workers” who consider the labor of steering the LP to be analogous to opening its mail or doing its database entries. (I wonder if they’ll want to unionize?)

    Rorschach @109, a person’s character is most clearly revealed by what they do when they think nobody else will know. So it’s fascinating that, when you find out that IPR moderators can tell who you are, your first reaction is to talk about continuing your behavior behind a proxy IP. That’s fine, and I indeed defend your right to anonymously say whatever you want — not only to the limits of America’s current laws, but also beyond the particular legal limits that I consider unjust.

    I can’t make you believe it if you’re determined not to, but my comment was not a threat to unmask you to the public, and that’s why I deliberately worded my comment in a way to maximize the shame that I or any other IPR moderator would get for leaking any information whatsoever about who you might be. Rather, the purpose of my comment was to unmask you to your mirror, to see if your behavior might change with the knowledge that you’re not as anonymous as you thought you were when you wrote “balding, wrinkled, myopic, pale, scheming, scamming, conning, hustling, maladjusted, mismanaging, malodorous, sexually repressed, impotent, deluded trolls”. If a request comes from your email or IP to take down that comment, I’ll quietly do so. If instead you want to leave it up, that’s your call. Live and learn, indeed.

  100. Robert Capozzi

    tk, yes, conventions are requirements, one that has expenses associated with it. Therefore, conventions have P&L implications.

    It it were an actual contract, then the LNC would be required to setup an escrow account to meet the specific contractual obligation. However, it’s NOT a contract, so no escrow is required.

    As the fiduciary, the LNC has a fairly wide discretion in how it raises money and how it spends it, including for the convention. Or you’d have to make a case for a SPECIFIC contract term breach. You can’t, because there isn’t one! Making a reasonable analogy (which your case is) is fine, but it’s pretty easily seen through.

    Of course, given some of the moves that this LNC has made — esp. the tin-eared Wrights episode — I certainly understand your skepticism about their motives. I don’t have a problem with some sort of fee, but the timing, presentation and magnitude of the fee doesn’t represent good judgment, IMO. Near as I can tell, there was still a desire in the past year or so to have the convention on a cruise ship, which is really impractical on many, many levels.

    I’m scratching my reformist head over these developments, wondering whether liberty is best advanced through a party or in another manner, quite frankly. But I’m a forgiving sort, so I remind myself that everyone’s doing the best they can….

  101. Tom Blanton

    Rorschach writes:

    “And I repeat an argument from the moral high ground: Even IF a thing can be done, does not mean it SHOULD. Punching you would be nice, but that isn’t exactly libertarian, is it? And that’s the crux of the issue that you, and Aaron, and Redpath, and all those other balding, wrinkled, myopic, pale, scheming, scamming, conning, hustling, maladjusted, mismanaging, malodorous, sexually repressed, impotent, deluded trolls are all on the wrong side of.”

    Rorschach sums it all up pretty well there.

  102. Thomas L. Knapp

    Bob,

    You write: “given some of the moves that this LNC has made — esp. the tin-eared Wrights episode — I certainly understand your skepticism about their motives.”

    I think if you examine the record, I’ve been fairly mild in speaking to motive.

    I don’t recall asserting, for example, that the motive for the floor fee is to price less well-off delegates out of being able to attend the convention.

    That’s one obvious effect, I know that some people have claimed that effect to be part of the intent, and they may be right, but I’m not one of the people arguing that.

    I have no problem stipulating, for the sake of argument, that the motive of those backing the floor fee may simply be to reduce the negative, or create a positive, impact of the convention and its related events on the party’s coffers.

    Even assuming such a positive motive, however, doesn’t change the fact that the LNC and its designees are exceeding their authority in attempting to levy the fee.

  103. paulie

    I have no problem stipulating, for the sake of argument, that the motive of those backing the floor fee may simply be to reduce the negative, or create a positive, impact of the convention and its related events on the party’s coffers.

    Even assuming such a positive motive, however, doesn’t change the fact that the LNC and its designees are exceeding their authority in attempting to levy the fee.

    I’ll likewise stipulate non-nefarious motives. But I don’t think the floor fee will in reality have a positive impact on revenues, when you consider:

    A reasonable estimate of planned attendance is 300-500. Averaging that down the middle let’s say 400.

    The numbers that I have seen are that 10-15% typically don’t buy packages. Let’s average that at 12.5%

    Doing this in my head, at $100 a pop that means the revenue that may be raised this way is $5,000 or so.

    On the other side of the ledger:

    * Premium packages have been discounted by about $100 as a result

    * It is likely that some people will not attend at all – either because the cost is make or break for them, or out of protest. And that means they won’t make any contributions they may have made once there.

    * Others may still attend, but only buy a basic package (even though they could have afforded a premium package) out of protest/solidarity

    * Some people – whether they would have attended or not – will not renew, or scale back their involvement in the party, in protest. How much will all that ill will cost?

    * Young people – who could have been the next generation of party leaders, lifelong donors, candidates, activists – will be most discouraged from attending and getting more involved. How much long term opportunity cost does this represent?

    * For anyone watching on CSPAN, youtube, etc., the party will appear even less diverse, exacerbating an existing problem and reinforcing unfortunate stereotypes and misconceptions about our motives.

    * How much LNC, state committee, possibly Judicial Committee, conceivably legal counsel (note: I am NOT recommending anyone pursue that), and party activist time will be wasted just debating the issue, regardless how it comes out? That alone is probably worth more than 5k.

    Now, the argument may be made that a more unanimous LNC, free of its radical dissenters, and a party with fewer radicals involved will be able to recruit/retain disgruntled Republicans more easily.

    I don’t believe the data so far bolsters this argument, but we may yet see.

    I’m far from being a bylaws, Robert’s Rules, or legal expert, and have no interest in becoming one, so I will take no sides in the arguments about whether or not the fee is bylaws, Roberts Rules, and/or regime law compliant or not. My argument is solely that it will hurt, not help, revenues.

  104. Brian Holtz Post author

    Paulie, are you saying that Premium package-buyers should be billed up to $100 more than the per-delegate costs of the programs they’re signing up for?

    In other words: do you put revenue maximization above the principle that there should not be cross-subsidies between different categories of conventioneers, and between conventioneers and non-conventioneer dues-payers?

    If a vocal minority argues angrily for such cross-subsidies, why should the resulting controversy be laid at the feet of those who oppose cross-subsidies?

    I’m not too worried about hypothetical lost donations from delegates who aren’t even willing to pay the per-delegate costs of the meeting facilities.

    I doubt that our off-year NatCon will be on C-SPAN, but it wouldn’t change my judgment if it were.

  105. paulie

    Brian, I think that the rest of my argument is far more relevant than how much premium package buyers pay.

    Since we are talking about profit/loss, I don’t think there is anything wrong per se in people of means paying more than the exact cost of optional side events that are not crucial to the business of the meeting.

    But I find this to be the least important part of the argument.

  106. paulie

    I’m not too worried about hypothetical lost donations from delegates who aren’t even willing to pay the per-delegate costs of the meeting facilities.

    If you end up losing more than the $5k you gain, it is hard to characterize this as a profit-maximizing move.

  107. Brian Holtz Post author

    Paulie, I can’t tell whether you disagree with my principle in bold above. Was your vagueness intentional? At least Tom is clear when he boldly tells conventioneers that the cost of their meeting facilities should be 95% borne by dues-payers who won’t be at the meeting.

    I repeat: I consider “donations from delegates who aren’t even willing to pay the per-delegate costs of the meeting facilities” to be extremely “hypothetical”. Readers can decide whether they think such donations would sum to more than $5K.

  108. paulie

    Paulie, I can’t tell whether you disagree with my principle in bold above. Was your vagueness intentional? At least Tom is clear when he boldly tells conventioneers that the cost of their meeting facilities should be 95% borne by dues-payers who won’t be at the meeting.

    I think Tom makes a good argument that the cost of the business portion of the convention is one of the key core functions of the party that regular dues should cover.

    I repeat: I consider “donations from delegates who aren’t even willing to pay the per-delegate costs of the meeting facilities” to be extremely “hypothetical”. Readers can decide whether they think such donations would sum to more than $5K.

    Indeed, I agree that when readers consider each of my bulleted argument points individually as well as cumulatively, they will be equipped to decide whether such costs can outweigh the revenues generated. My personal opinion is that they can far outweigh the revenues, and in fact it is even possible that the very time wasted on the issue and ill will it is likely to generate have already outweighed any revenues that can reasonable be expected to accrue.

  109. Brian Holtz Post author

    If you know of a fungibility spell that can magically make LP donations out of the effort invested in strained arguments that the registration fees discussed in our rules are against our rules, then I’d love to hear about it. 🙂

    That a few LP members are willing to invest arbitrary amounts of effort arguing against X is not a dispositive argument that X has opportunity costs equal to the magnitude of those efforts.

  110. paulie

    If you know of a fungibility spell that can magically make LP donations out of the effort invested in strained arguments that the registration fees discussed in our rules are against our rules, then I’d love to hear about it

    My argument has nothing to do with rules.

    It has to do with the lost income from ill will, waste of LNC, state committee, activist, JC, and possibly legal counsel time, resulting non-attendance, resulting scaling back of premium package buying and other gifts in protest/solidarity, long-term loss of members and scaling back of involvement, loss of potential activists and contributors, possible negative PR side-effects,
    and other such costs.

    To put it simply, the argument wastes valuable time and hurts morale, which ends up costing money in both the short and long run.

  111. David F. Nolan

    Herewith, the text of an e-mail I sent to members of the LNC yesterday. (There was more in that message, but this is the portion dealing with the “floor fee” issue. It makes many of the same points covered by Paulie @114 above.)

    I am writing to the members of the Libertarian National Committee prior to your upcoming meeting in Austin to express my concerns about two contentious issues regarding our 2010 national convention that are being widely discussed on the Internet. These observations are intended as constructive, and not to stir up any factional bickering.

    First, the “floor fee” that the convention arrangements committee has proposed, in combination with a rebate offer that will require a considerable amount of time and energy to fulfill.

    Most of the debate on this matter centers on whether such a fee is “legal” under the existing LP by-laws. I will not attempt to address that question here, as it seems virtually certain that there will be an appeal to the Judicial Committee if the fee is not struck down. If this occurs, I am sure all the arguments pro and con will be duly presented and the Judicial Committee will reach a decision.

    I sincerely hope that does not become necessary, however, as it would be a huge waste of time and energy, and having the status of the fee “in limbo” while the appeal is made and ruled on will cause a lot of people to simply hold off on registering until the process is complete.

    Just as important, in my mind, is the question of whether imposing such a fee is productive, in terms of maximizing convention turnout. At this point in our nation’s history, the opportunity for the LP to grow and attract new members – and especially activists – is perhaps greater than ever before. The last thing we should be doing is placing barriers in the way of people who are willing and able to attend our convention as duly elected delegates. Activists are our lifeblood, and in my opinion, a good, excited member is worth far more than the relatively minuscule amount we might realize by imposing a floor fee.

    Let’s do the math. Most estimates I’ve heard place the expected turnout in St. Louis at 450-500 delegates – about midway between the number who showed up in Portland in 2006 and in Denver in 2008. Typically, more than 2/3 of convention attendees purchase a meals-and-speakers package. If that holds true this time, maybe 150 people who plan to attend will go for the lowest, bare-bones registration.

    My suggestion to you is to make that fee as low as possible – no more than $49 – and make it voluntary. I’ve talked to a lot of people over the last month, and every one has said that they’d be happy to pay a reasonable registration fee if it is not compulsory. All libertarians hate compulsory anything, and many members feel it is morally wrong to require delegates to pay a fee to represent their state party organization on the floor.

    But let’s assume 50 of the 150 people who would typically pay the lowest-level registration will “opt out” if given the chance. I think the actual number is likely to be fewer than 20, but let’s assume 50. At $49/head, the amount of revenue lost to the convention would be $2,450 – about 1/8 of 1% of our party’s annual budget over a two-year cycle. This means that 13 cents of a typical member’s $100 donation would be going to cover this shortfall. Truly a flyspeck!

    It’s also arguable that letting in a handful of people who object to paying a “floor fee” will not decrease revenues at all, as some of those people will pay to attend specific events if they can be purchased a-la-carte. In addition, some will stay at the convention hotel, and many will buy items from vendors who have paid to rent space in the exhibit area. Extra room-nights and happy vendors are a good thing!

    Obviously, under the plan I describe, those who opt to pay only the $49 fee, or no fee at all, would not be eligible for a rebate for staying at the convention hotel. But that too is good, as it eliminates unnecessary paper-shuffling and its attendant costs.

    For all these reasons, I strongly urge the LNC to reduce the basic registration fee to $49 or less, and make it voluntary. Libertarians love voluntarism and hate compulsory fees!

  112. Scott Lieberman

    “David F Nolan – Libertarians love voluntarism and hate compulsory fees!”

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

    Mr Nolan – I thought the original quote was…

    “Libertarians love voluntarism and hate compulsory charity.”

  113. paulie

    Elsewhere Brian Holtz writes:

    “The LP should be all about showing and growing the American electorate’s desire for more personal and economic freedom. We won’t do this through the size of the LNC’s budget. The way to do it is by making it easier for freedom-lovers to be effective LP activists and candidates.”

    I propose that this would be easier by making it easier to get in the door and then exciting people to contribute more – and harder by charging them what many people find to be a high price to get in the door.

  114. Party Monster AFH

    @123
    “Libertarians love voluntarism and hate compulsory fees!”

    I take a cue from an OLD college textbook I have. Written back when universities were places of education rather than extended babysitting services and right before the rise of fascism, the book’s description of political parties is very straightforward*:

    “Aims of Party Organization.
    In a certain sense the aims of the party organization are those of the party itself: selection of candidates, winning of elections, determination of the issues, criticism of the party in power, education of the electorate, and arousing enthusiasm in campaigns. This must of necessity be so, for the organization that reaches the smallest unit of local government to the national capitol is in very truth the party itself. The numerous committees and officers carry additional responsibilities, however, in the maintenance of the strength and power of the party. Dissension within the ranks and threatened disruption are to be prevented and the differences adjusted or smoother over to the end that the party may at all times be a unified and formidable force. Another very important task of the organization, particularly of the local units, is the recruitment of members. This work is carried on among immigrants, newly-naturalized citizens, people who have changed their residence, young men and young women who have reached the voting age, and those voters generally who may be won to the party either from affiliation with another party or from a position of party disinterest or independence. It is obvious that the success of the party in its primary objective , the control of the government through victory at the polls, is dependent largely upon the efficiency and ability of the local units of the party organization.”

    The book goes on to describe American parties as being distinctly bottom up. It describes natural conditions where a person or group will gain influence over a segment of the organization and wheel it with their will. Fascism changed the bottom up part, and the “party bosses” became entrenched.

    We suffer the same danger. The National Committee seems to be moving to centralize control and emulate the same broken paradigm that the two major parties have moved to since the New Deal. That is my greatest concern with the national party, that they are so enamored by emulating “power” that they have forgotten that they are a representative body placed in trust.

    Committee members are NOT leaders. Leaders may become committee members, but just getting elected does not mean people want to do what you command.

    We have been long without activists in our “leadership” positions and it is hurting us to be so off balance. Bean counters are useful, but a political party is not a “business”. The first priority is not profit but coalition.

    I think activists have a better handle on that. The “suits” have all the right ideas for business, but little regard for people. It seems to me that the dominance of the positions of responsibility recently has led to a narrowing of perspective that is anti-party membership and anti coalition.

    With the recent spate of purges (successful and not so successful) it is more than apparent to me that there are people in positions of trust that are willing to do “anything” to become a “party boss” and thus are shrinking the party down to only people that agree with them.

    Floor fees are too easily an expression of that same unhealthy attitude toward the party’s purposes and responsibilities. Regardless of intention, floor fees limit participation and centralize influence.

    *”American Parties and Politics – History and Role of the Political Parties in the United States” by Harold R. Bruce (Dartmouth), Henry Holt and Company 1927, Chapter: “Party Organization”, pg. 164-165

  115. Brian Holtz Post author

    Paulie: resulting non-attendance, resulting scaling back of premium package buying and other gifts in protest/solidarity, long-term loss of members and scaling back of involvement, loss of potential activists and contributors, possible negative PR side-effects

    I’ll file this list away to use in case anybody ever proposes to resuscitate the divisively extremist quasi-anarchist personal-session Platform.

    If your argument is based solely on “lost income” and “gifts” and “contributions”, then I’ll tell ya what. Make a list of all the LP members who have already said here on IPR that a non-zero registration fee is against our rules, or that non-conventioneer dues-payers should have to pay for the meeting facilities of conventioneers, or that a non-zero registration fee might hurt LP contributions. Then document from the FEC database all their contributions to the LNC in 2009 over and above their dues. Then subtract from that sum my own 2009 FEC-documented contributions to the LNC. Whatever is left over, I’ll match this year in my contributions to the LNC, up to a limit of, say, $1000.

    But I’m guessing the match would be right around zero.

  116. Chuck Moulton

    Brian Holtz wrote (@128):

    Make a list of all the LP members who have already said here on IPR that a non-zero registration fee is against our rules, or that non-conventioneer dues-payers should have to pay for the meeting facilities of conventioneers, or that a non-zero registration fee might hurt LP contributions. Then document from the FEC database all their contributions to the LNC in 2009 over and above their dues. Then subtract from that sum my own 2009 FEC-documented contributions to the LNC. Whatever is left over, I’ll match this year in my contributions to the LNC, up to a limit of, say, $1000.

    But I’m guessing the match would be right around zero.

    I’ll start. My monthly pledge to the national LP is $100. So in 2009 I donated at least $1,200.

    Brian, it would help if you told us what your 2009 contribution were so we know when to stop listing. I don’t have time right now to look through the FEC reports.

  117. paulie

    Brian, in addition to what Chuck said, I don’t see how such FEC research will address all the different impacts/costs I listed at 114.

    I’d prefer to keep my day free of volunteer FEC research and accounting, so I’ll just refer you back to the quote I posted in #125 from someone named Brian Holtz.

  118. Brian Holtz Post author

    Chuck, the FEC says my 2009 contribution was $250. It shows zero from you, Knapp, Phillies, Marbry, Seebeck, Wrights, Nolan. I stipulated that my data sample come from FEC-documented contributions because they are the only kind I know how to easily and publicly verify.

  119. Darryl W. Perry

    @Brian, you do realize that anything less than $200 isn’t reported to the FEC, right?
    I intentionally donate less so that my donations are kept as private as possible. I’m willing to wager the same can be said of others.

  120. Chuck Moulton

    The FEC is wrong then. Although all of my contributions were below the $200 limit, they should in aggregate be well above the $200 limit. I’ll ask Wes about it in Austin.

  121. Thomas L. Knapp

    Party Monster AFH,

    You write:

    “We have been long without activists in our ‘leadership’ positions ”

    I’m not sure how you define “activist.” Prior to becoming LNC secretary, and to a lesser but definitely non-zero degree since, Bob Sullentrup certainly fits any reasonable definition of that word. He’s worked OPH booths, done the scutwork to make state- and local-level events happen, etc.

    Brian,

    You write: “Chuck, the FEC says my 2009 contribution was $250. It shows zero from you, Knapp, Phillies, Marbry, Seebeck, Wrights, Nolan.”

    I don’t recall exactly how much I contributed to national in 2009. I know that it was less than $200, but I’m also sure it was more than $25.

    Usually I send $10-$20 to national whenever they ask for money for something I want to see happen.

  122. Rachel H

    Brian @ 131 –

    Have you forgotten that Wrights paid dues, and then became a Life Member?

    Obviously.

    And I know that several of those people you named spend large amounts of money on activism – hell, even attending LNC meetings amounts to 1000s of dollars a year. Pretty easily $4000/yr. minimum. That’s doing it frugally.

    By my estimation, Wrights has $6000 into party/activism last year. LNC meetings, other public appearances/meetings (TX gathering, TN convention, that I remember specifically).

    Plus donations and activism in local parties.

  123. Brian Holtz Post author

    Rachel, I too spend thousands upon thousands on LP activism that doesn’t show up as FEC-documented LNC donations. In fact, I see now that I sent a separate sub-$200 donation to the LNC in 2009. I maintain a partial reconstruction my LP activism expenses at http://libertarianmajority.net/bh-lp-activism. I don’t keep a running tally, but it looks like it’s approaching $15,000 over the last six years.

    I’m just trying to figure out how empirical data can be used to evaluate Paulie’s claim that the LNC would end up making more money if non-conventioneer dues-payers had to eat the costs of the facilities used by conventioneers. Obviously, it the LNC can be convinced of that, then they would likely cancel the registration fee in order to enjoy this alleged extra money.

    Making these sorts of revenue-maximization judgments is what we elect LNC to do, right? I would suggest that registraton-fee critics should start publishing how much they’ll be donating toward facilities costs if the registration fee is canceled. I’ve already said that if the LNC or the delegates put the facilities costs on our non-conventioneer dues-payers, I’ll be donating my share of the costs to the LNC.

  124. LibertarianGirl

    so Alicia Mattsen showed up at the LPNevada convention with a statement and reasons against my resolution condemning the floor fees. Fair enuf , but my resolution did not get addressed because ( the lamest excuse ever because everyone had to have a copy in their email) the secretary didnt bring a copy , WTF ever . anyways , Ive now brought the motion to my excom , however a cpl wh previosly supported it are now on the fence because of the paper Alicia wrote . Can anyone point me to some good counter arguments or some good arguments against the floor fees that I can forward to my group . If I try to write my own itll def fail:)

  125. LibertarianGirl

    Brian , thanks for the snide comment , but Im broke and I couldnt give anymore than my annual dues but thanks for that. Another $100 very well may be the difference in me attending , and I may not give much , but Ive given a ton of time to my LP and I should be allowed to vote.

    so anyone else besides snidely thats got some pointers let me know

  126. Brian Holtz Post author

    Debra, Paulie’s the one saying reg-fee opponents will likely give more than the reg fee. I’m just the messenger.

    Again, I agree that in-kind effort should be able to substitute for money for this sort of thing. If you can make it to St. Louis, your reg fee is on me.

  127. Chuck Moulton

    Brian Holtz wrote (@136):

    I would suggest that registraton-fee critics should start publishing how much they’ll be donating toward facilities costs if the registration fee is canceled.

    I emailed the LNC weeks ago saying:

    1) Without a minimum registration fee I’ll be buying a gold package and staying at the convention hotel;

    2) With a minimum registration fee I’ll be paying the minimum last minute, staying at a different hotel, expecting a refund after there is a vote on the floor overturning the fee, and donating the difference between that and the gold package to a state affiliate or other libertarian organization.

    But that’s just me. I can’t speak for anyone else.

  128. paulie

    Brian….you’ve greatly oversimplified my argument from #114, and you know it.

    LG: Try printing out #114, it’s the best I can think of. Maybe Tom can improve it.

  129. Brian Holtz Post author

    Paulie, I thought that part of your argument was that reg-fee opponents, over some reasonably near-term horizon, will likely give more than the reg fee if there is no reg fee. I apologize if I misread you.

  130. paulie

    Some will, yes.

    In fact I have heard some already say so, including Chuck in 142.

    Others elsewhere.

    But, yes, there’s a lot more to my argument than any such straight line comparison.

    My argument is that all the factors added together will cost the party more than the money raised.

  131. R. Lee Wrights

    Re: #131

    Sorry dude. The national party does not just “give” life memberships away. Whatever report you are looking at is obviously wrong. But, being wrong has never stopped you before, so…

  132. R. Lee Wrights

    Follow up Re: #131

    Apparently, our national Treasurer still hasn’t got the hang of filling FEC reports properly, even after several years of practice. Something to think about.

  133. Brian Holtz Post author

    I had searched for “Lee Wrights”. When I look at all the LNC donors under “W”, I do see a $200 contribution in 2009 by R. Lee Wrights. Of course, if this is part of the dues for a life membership purchased in 2009, then it doesn’t actually count toward my proposed matching contribution.

  134. R. Lee Wrights

    Re: #150

    If that is all it shows then it is wrong. I am not concerned with any matching contribution of which I had no knowledge. My concern, as always, is with the accuracy of our recording and reporting. Obviously, it is still not being done correctly.

  135. Brian Holtz Post author

    Or, just maybe the government’s web-based search interface doesn’t work very well. When I go directly to the raw filing for Aug 2009, your $1000 life-dues payment is listed.

    When I’m faced with the choice of suspecting 1) government incompetence or 2) Libertarian incompetence, I go with option (1).

  136. Chuck Moulton

    Thanks, Brian.

    http://query.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/dcdev/forms/C00255695/450056/sa/ALL

    As I said my 2009 donation was $1,200 aggregated from a $100 monthly pledge, which is shown in this itemized FEC report. I have been a life member since 2006, so the entire $1,200 is above my dues. Subtracting your $250 that makes $950.

    If anyone else in the list donated $50 above their dues we could get to the $1,000 match limit. But for now I am honored to have helped facilitate your generous donation of $950.

    If you are not already a lifetime member, may I suggest taking this opportunity to do so by donating a full $1,000?

    I applaud your commitment to liberty by supporting the Libertarian Party not only through serving as an elected Libertarian on the water board, running for Congress every 2 years, devoting time to the Platform Committee, and blogging about libertarian issues; but also donating money to help the national Libertarian Party survive and grow.

    I’m glad this parliamentary wrangling has not been a total waste of time: it at least led to one increased donation.

  137. George Phillies

    The search interface is not always doing what one might think.

    For accurate results, download the .FEC files as ‘download’ of the monthly or whatever reports; those can be imported into a spreadsheet as though they were .CSV files.

  138. libertariangirl

    thanks Paulie and David and Moulton , I stole y’alls statements and argument and prepared my brief to my excom . I must say before the convention , they were all with me . Alicia must have mad persuasion skills because her paper or whatever has changed e lot of their minds . If I get it passed itll be a miracle:)

  139. Brian Holtz Post author

    Chuck, I would hope that the future contribution levels of past/present/candidate LNC members would not be dependent on whether our dues-payers subsidize our conventioneers, but I’ll make good on my pledge regardless of whether or not the subsidy is reinstated. I’m already a life member, but this will be a good opportunity to buy a life membership for my wife.

    So, for people scoring Paulie’s and David’s contribution theory at home, the public pledges by opponents of dues-payer subsidies for conventioneers’ facilities so far stands at $1000. Meanwhile, the public pledges toward facility costs by advocates of dues-payer subsidies for conventioneers’ facilities (conditioned of course on a voluntary facilities fee) stands at $0.

  140. paulie

    Brian, what I wrote at #114 remains true and remains available, no matter how many times you caricature it.

    The losses are both short and long term.

    Thanks for your contribution, though!

    Will you be in Austin? I don’t have a video setup secured yet, so IPR could use some other people on the ground to provide coverage besides just me.

  141. Thomas L. Knapp

    “So, for people scoring Paulie’s and David’s contribution theory at home, the public pledges by supporters of delegate subsidies to consumers of extracurricular convention activities so far stands at $1000. Meanwhile, the public pledges toward facility costs by advocates of complying with the party’s bylaws stands at $299.”

    There. Fixed that for you.

  142. paulie

    Also, Brian is being too modest, as he also promised to host LG at the convention, in addition to his extra $1,000 pledge to the party.

    I hope she can room with me tho 🙂

  143. Brian Holtz Post author

    He’s talking about Chuck’s promise to buy a $299 gold package if the LNC decides to have non-conventioneer dues-payers pay for the meeting facilities enjoyed by the conventioneers who volunteered to (indirectly) control the Party’s money.

    Heh. Tom’s suggestion that gold packages are 100% profit to the LNC almost matches the silliness record set by his claim that conventions are by definition not capable of causing a financial loss to the LP.

    No, I won’t be in Austin. As not all of our future Libertarians are out of diapers yet, babysitting remains the biggest constraint on my out-of-the-house political activism, and my claims on my wife’s babysitting time are already too high with twice-a-month all-evening meetings resulting from my Water Board office.

  144. Thomas L. Knapp

    “Tom’s suggestion that gold packages are 100% profit to the LNC ”

    In other words, the suggestion that Tom never made (your $1000 contribution isn’t 100% profit to the LNC, either) …

    “almost matches the silliness record set by his claim that conventions are by definition not capable of causing a financial loss to the LP.”

    Nice try. Conventions come at a financial COST to the LP, but that cost is the bylaws-mandated operating overhead of a non-profit organization, not a “loss” in the “profit-loss” equation of a for-profit enterprise.

  145. Shane

    Maybe you’ve already done it but I think you guys should actually be debating whether the floor fee or subsidy is actually necessary.

    To do that — if you can do it — just get your hands on the financial data from the 2008 convention and I’m willing to bet a few donation dollars that it was indeed profitable without the floor fee.

    In 2006, we had about at $20k loss but you have to take into account the little things like the LNC’s vote to hire a $30k+ planner.

    In 2004, the organizer (Nancy) says the convention was in the black although a former LNC treasurer disputes that. I’ll side with Nancy because she’s more attractive than Mark.

    Getting a hold of the 2008 data would probably be the most helpful as it took place under a grandfathered model to comply with the FEC.

    Those debating this issue should probably be familiar with this convention corp model that’s setup and how profits from previous conventions are supposed to be carried over to the next. Due to this situation, which allows sponsors to legally offset costs of events not taking place in the business hall, any convention profits cannot go back to the LNC.

    That begs the question, if the 2008 convention was profitable, will those funds be used to offset costs of the 2010 convention?

    If yes, then we either have a situation where certain folks are using the floor fee issue as a political tool, or there’s something else going on.

    That’s for you guys to find out.

  146. Scott Lieberman

    “Shane // Feb 24, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    if the 2008 convention was profitable, will those funds be used to offset costs of the 2010 convention?”

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

    “Shane” is making a hidden assumption with this argument. He is assuming that the Gold and Silver package buyers are not contributing towards the cost of the Convention Hall. Obviously, the Gold and Silver packages have the $99 Registration Fee built in to their prices. So, Mr. Cory is assuming that any previous National Libertarian Party Convention profits should automatically be used to subsidize Delegates who would otherwise be paying the Basic Registration Fee.

    Isn’t it more libertarian to use any previous Convention profits to lower the prices of ALL packages by the same amount, including the Basic Registration Fee package, since all packages contribute the same amount towards the cost of the Convention Hall?

  147. Chuck Moulton

    Brian Holtz wrote (@156):

    Chuck, I would hope that the future contribution levels of past/present/candidate LNC members would not be dependent on whether our dues-payers subsidize our conventioneers, but I’ll make good on my pledge regardless of whether or not the subsidy is reinstated.

    My monthly pledge hasn’t changed since 2005. And it won’t change regardless of how this convention turns out.

    However, that is irrelevant to your match offer, which seemed to be based on the concept that all the people who advocated against a floor fee don’t donate much to the party anyway (also by implication don’t buy convention packages) and would continue that trend. That may not have been your intention, but it was the implied subtext I read into the one way wager.

    Here it is:

    Brian Holtz wrote (@128):

    Make a list of all the LP members who have already said here on IPR that a non-zero registration fee is against our rules, or that non-conventioneer dues-payers should have to pay for the meeting facilities of conventioneers, or that a non-zero registration fee might hurt LP contributions. Then document from the FEC database all their contributions to the LNC in 2009 over and above their dues. Then subtract from that sum my own 2009 FEC-documented contributions to the LNC. Whatever is left over, I’ll match this year in my contributions to the LNC, up to a limit of, say, $1000.

    But I’m guessing the match would be right around zero.

    I’m already a life member, but this will be a good opportunity to buy a life membership for my wife.

    Sounds great!

    I’m glad you have a family that lets you be so involved with the Libertarian Party (and helps you with those clever promotional videos!). Many other libertarians aren’t so lucky.

  148. Chuck Moulton

    Shanes’ comment #163 reinforces my comment #98.

    I still would like some feedback on my comment #108 — especially from someone like Shane (if he is Shane Cory) — about whether my understanding of how conventions are financed is correct or incorrect. If parts of my understanding are inaccurate, I would like to be corrected so I can be accurate on those points in the future.

  149. Shane

    Scott, uh, that’s not at all what I was assuming. You’re getting into semantics about package levels and I’m talking about a much bigger system that was setup many years ago and was used in 2008.

    You’re talking about fairness and I’m talking about necessity. They don’t necessarily contradict one another but it’s an apples and oranges argument. Keep it up and I’ll throw a grape and a kiwi into the argument. 😉

    BTW, I’m not opposed to a floor fee but I am opposed to using it as a tool to suppress so-called “radical” turnout if that is indeed what is happening.

    From our past number-crunching, we found that free-riders were not a significant cost factor. If that’s changed due to the increased cost of air and the credential’s committees volunteer time, just let me know.

    Otherwise, why not let the delegates vote on the matter while in convention?

  150. Shane

    Chuck, yes it’s me.

    You’re referring to the convention corporation that was setup years ago along with the pre-BCRA, perpetual convention organizer’s contract with the company.

    It is used from time to time and amended with each use. It was not used in 2006 but was used, in 2008.

    It’s not necessarily true that the organizer assumes risk. That’s up to contract amendment negotiations between the organizer and the LNC. I don’t think I have the privilege to disclose the 2008 amendments.

    What I can say is that 2008 was different in that the organizer collected all of the registration fees and money was not collected or passed through the LNC. While the LNC holds the hotel contract, I believe the business expenses don’t exist if we meet our contract minimums for rooms and f&b.

    So, if a profit was made from 2008 and we’re operating under the same model in 2010, then those funds could offset convention costs and then the delegates could decide the floor fee issue.

    However, that’s dependent upon the current owner of that corporation (I’m not sure if they followed the pattern this time so I don’t know who owns it).

  151. Scott Lieberman

    “Shane // Feb 24, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    From our past number-crunching, we found that free-riders were not a significant cost factor. If that’s changed due to the increased cost of air and the credential’s committees volunteer time, just let me know.”

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

    In 2008 16% of the Delegates to the National LP Convention paid a Registration Fee of $0.00

    16% is significant.

    And that doesn’t take into account the 27% of the Delegates to the 2008 National LP Convention who were NOT dues paying members of the National Libertarian Party.

    Remember – if you don’t have a financially viable National Party, you don’t get a National Convention, because there is no reason to have a Convention for a non-existent Political Party.

    Would “Shane” like to comment on why the Green and Constitution Parties have both independently come up with the same pricing structure of having mandatory Registration Fees for all of their Convention Delegates? Has the Green Party suddenly gone wobbly on their principles, or do they just realize that having mandatory Convention Registration fees for their delegates is both necessary and proper? (I have documented these other parties mandatory Regis. fees in other IPR comments)

  152. Shane

    I didn’t realize my name included quotes these days. Pretty cool.

    Scott, I don’t give a single thought to what the Green or Constitution Party does. Last time I checked, I wasn’t a member of those parties (although someone signed me up to the Socialist Party one time as a prank).

    So 16% is significant. I don’t disagree with that number. But what’s the cost of 16%?

    Now, before you answer that, be careful now. You can only include the costs born by the organizer which includes A/V, etc.

    Are there costs? Sure. Are they significant enough to cause even a minor rift in our party? I say no.

    As for the 27% of dues paying members you refer to. That’s a new argument thrown in that has no bearing on reality. The ONLY requirements to be a delegate is that you’ve signed the pledge and you have a heartbeat (I think the heartbeat may be optional). Additional restrictions can be created by the state party of course.

  153. Brian Holtz Post author

    Chuck wrote that his LPUS contribution level “won’t change regardless of how this convention turns out.”

    Thank you for providing such a powerful data point against Paulie’s thesis that eliminating the registration fee would more than make up for itself through increased contributions from those who think that non-conventioneer dues-payers should pay 95% of the costs of the facilities used by conventioneers. My wager was aimed at the alleged increase in contributions, and was based on the baseline of contributions only because the increase is a counterfactual and potentially unmeasurable. So I took the baseline only as a proxy, and thus my wager was confoundable by someone like you.

    The comments by Shane @163 and Chuck @98/@108 are the first I’ve seen that address the cost-analysis claims in Alicia’s brief. Such analysis should be the only thing that matters — at least to people like me who believe in the principle that the various categories of members and delegates shouldn’t have to subsidize each other. All the rest of the sturm und drang here is just a distraction from that principle and the analysis it cries out for.

  154. Shane

    No worries, Chuck. I hope you’re doing well.

    Also, on my earlier post, I meant to say “You CAN’T include costs born by the organizer which includes A/V, etc.”

  155. paulie

    “Paulie’s thesis that eliminating the registration fee would more than make up for itself through increased contributions from those who think that non-conventioneer dues-payers should pay 95% of the costs of the facilities used by conventioneers. “

    I’ve proposed no such thesis.

    To read my actual thesis, see comment 114.

  156. volvoice

    We always love Alicia’s 10 page briefs…you know like the one where she wrote 7-10 pages on why roberts rules should not allow alternates to be seated at the platform committee meeting, had guys like Brian stand behind her ‘analysis’, cast the vote that broke the tie in her favor…..only to turn around a few years later on a different plat. comm. meeting and seat Aaron Star as an alternate. I have not been around as much this time around, but I would love to hear your take on this issue Mr. Holtz.

  157. Chuck Moulton

    Brian Holtz (@172):

    Thank you for providing such a powerful data point against Paulie’s thesis that eliminating the registration fee would more than make up for itself through increased contributions from those who think that non-conventioneer dues-payers should pay 95% of the costs of the facilities used by conventioneers.

    The convention package I purchase and hotel I stay in does depend on the outcome of this controversy.

    I don’t vary my monthly pledge by the outrage of the month because my commitment to the Libertarian Party remains unwavering and I don’t want to punish the liberty movement and the LP for the actions of a few well-meaning but misguided people.

    It is usually the case that the LNC alienates the membership with controversy (e.g., the many redefinitions of membership over the years) while staff is relatively stable (save a few errant press releases). This is especially the case here because Executive Director Wes Benedict is on record from the previous LNC term as supporting delegates with no floor fee. Observe that in the last roll call vote of the term on providing convention materials to “free” delegates the only supporters were myself, Wes, Julie Fox, and Angela Keaton.

  158. Brian Holtz Post author

    Paulie, the last sentence of your @114 is: “My argument is solely that [a registration fee] will hurt, not help, revenues.”

    If it’s not your thesis that eliminating the registration fee would more than make up for itself through increased contributions from reg-fee critics, then that cancels my wager, which was introduced thus: If your argument is based solely on “lost income” and “gifts” and “contributions”, then I’ll tell ya what.

    But I might still buy a life membership for my wife. And with my eldest daughter at 9 going on 19, it might be time for her to get one too. (For her class letter to Obama that they wrote this week, she wrote: “Please lower the taxes. Are you going to write back?”)

  159. Chuck Moulton

    volvoice wrote (@175):

    [Alicia] wrote 7-10 pages on why roberts rules should not allow alternates to be seated at the platform committee meeting, had guys like Brian stand behind her ‘analysis’, cast the vote that broke the tie in her favor…..only to turn around a few years later on a different plat. comm. meeting and seat Aaron Star as an alternate.

    The bylaws were amended since that platform alternate controversy. The amendment was introduced by me with the intention to avoid such problems in the future — and it seems to have worked.

    I will be proposing bylaws amendments this year in hopes of fixing the floor fee controversy.

  160. Brian Holtz Post author

    Volvoice, the distinct questions of whether to seat PlatCom alternates for mere vacancies in 2008 and 2010 are such no-brainers that they can be answered with zero argument beyond merely quoting our rules.

    For the 2008 case, read http://libertarianintelligence.com/2008/02/either-lp-follows-its-own-rules-or-not.html.

    For the 2010 case, see the amendment adopted in Denver to Bylaw 11.7.d: “Ranked alternates may be named by the appointing bodies to fill any vacancies or absences in the Convention Committees.”

  161. Thomas L. Knapp

    Shane,

    You write:

    “The ONLY requirements to be a delegate is that you’ve signed the pledge and you have a heartbeat (I think the heartbeat may be optional). ”

    Actually it’s the pledge that’s optional. You have to be either a national member (which requires the pledge) or a member of the affiliate you’re representing (which may not).

    I’m not sure how many state affiliates don’t require the pledge, but I do know that Missouri is one of them, and that in the past we’ve sent delegates who were state-only, non-pledged members.

  162. paulie

    Paulie, the last sentence of your @114 is: “My argument is solely that [a registration fee] will hurt, not help, revenues.”

    That is correct.

    However, the rest of the post places it in context, and none of your subsequent attempts at reductionism which attempts to boil some small part of that or another to an exact objective dollar amount capture or address the bulk of that argument.

    Nor does whether the monthly portion of Chuck’s donations change or not.

    Chuck also gives in many other ways, as he has pointed out.

    But please do go ahead with your pledge(s). That’s at least one good thing to come out of all this.

  163. Shane

    Tom you’re 100% correct. Article 11 3.a.

    We always had to run membership checks for the credentials committee to check for pledge signers (not “sustaining” members). I assume the committee went to the state for a membership check if they we’re not on the national roles.

  164. volvoice

    Oh yeah…vacancies vs absences…. I thought that one was a no-brainer the first time around.

  165. Thomas L. Knapp

    Shane,

    Yes, I think that’s how it works. Since I’ve always been a national member at convention times anyway, I’ve never had to wait on something like that, though, so I don’t know for sure.

    In 2000, Liberty magazine publisher RW Bradford joined the Missouri LP at the national convention in Anaheim. I don’t think he was a delegate — more likely he was just there covering the convention as a journalist — but he wanted to be an LP member and couldn’t join national or the Washington LP because he refused the pledge.

  166. Brian Holtz Post author

    Volvoice, I’d love to hear your “no-brainer” interpretaton of whether/when alternates can sign minority reports. Can an alternate quickly sign a minority report if a PlatCom member arrives late (or leaves early) for one of our meetings? Absence can only be defined for meetings/sessions, while minority reports happen offline outside of any meeting/session, so you could argue that Alternate Starr should not be able to sign any minority report unless there is a vacancy on the committee. On the other hand, it would be somewhat odd if he could sign Recommendations that he voted for as an alternate, but couldn’t sign a minority report for Recommendations he voted against.

  167. Volvoice

    Sounds to me like you have just opened up another can of worms….quick ,you guys better appoint a rules committee for the platform committee so you’all can straighten all that out. LOL! I am sure that Alicia could find something, somewhere in Robberz Rulz that gives a highly questionable argument to do whatever it is that you guys decide should be done. I look forward to seeing the 10 page dissertation on how all of these deeply disturbing problems will be resolved. I am currently on the edge of my seat, just waiting to find out whether or not an alternate can or cannot sign a minority report.

  168. nemo

    Hey guys. I’ve read all the threads on this subject.
    Clearly there isn’t too much I can personally do at this point.

    Well, there is one thing. I’ve contacted them to cancel my $20 a month sustaining membership.
    I’ll reinstate it in 5 months assuming I feel somewhat optimistic about the party.

    I also intend to sponsor other libertarians who show up at the convention.

    My finances are not huge, but I can probably do a few.

    I will extend my cancellation to 5 months per person I sponsor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *