Tom Stevens: LPPA Judicial Committee Blasts The New Voting Disorder In The Post-Stevens Era

The following was posted on May 7th on Dr. Tom Stevens’ blog, Liberty Lion: 

 

The Judicial Committee of the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania issued a unanimous decision on May 7, 2013 in which, in dicta, it blasted the new current voting disorder brought about through the procedures set up by the Board of Directors at a four and a half hour meeting held on April 13, 2013. During that meeting, chaired by Lawrence James Fryman, the new LPPA State Chair, the Board voted to establish two unmoderated Yahoo Groups: one for general Board Business Discussion where all LPPA members can post (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LPPA_BUS) and a second for motions, debate and voting to which only Board Members and Alternates can post (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LpBoard-Business). The Judicial Committee directed its criticism to this latter group, the LpBoard-Business Yahoo Group.

Article V, Section 2 and Article V, Section 5 of the LPPA Bylaws, read together, permits the Transaction of Business Over The Internet. Section 2, reads, in part: The Board of Directors may without meeting together, transact business by mail or telephone, by voting on questions submitted to them by or with the approval of the Chair. Section 5, reads, in part: Any business of the Board of Directors can be conducted over the internet in the same manner as via mail or telephone. Prior to his resignation from the position of State Chair of the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania, Thomas Robert Stevens, now Immediate Past Chair, never chose to transact Board Business over the Internet and never submitted a motion to the Board of Directors by or with his approval. During his term in office, Dr. Stevens chose to have all motions debated and voted on at Board of Directors Meetings held in person or by teleconference, where minutes were always taken and proper parliamentary procedure was always followed.

The Judicial Committee of the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania issued the following statement regarding current voting disorder on the LpBoard-Business Yahoo Group:

During the last several months, the LPPA Board of Directors has been conducting much of its business via “LpBoard-Business@yahoogroups.com”. This is in effect a continuous, round-the-clock board meeting at which motions are made without recognition by the Chair, sometimes without seconds, and at which the Secretary acts as the de facto presiding officer. Board members are apparently expected to monitor this “group” on a regular basis – plowing through a morass of objectionable language and commentary – in order to see whether any actual business motions are pending. Votes are then cast by being posted for other members to see.

At best this is a disorderly, confusing and time-intensive procedure, probably not one contemplated by the applicable bylaw, and one that operates oblivious to the applicable provisions of Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised (adherence to which is mandated by the Bylaws, Art. XIII).

Dr. Tom Stevens, Immediate Past Chair of the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania, reacted as follows:

When you have anarchist influence in a private organization, you don’t get ‘spontaneous order’, you get ‘spontaneous disorder’. There is nothing un-libertarian about a private organization instituting a Communications Policy and enforcing it on the lists and social media sites it owns. There is nothing un-libertarian about warning individuals who consistently and repeatedly violate that Communications Policy and, in rare instances, to ban those individuals from party-owned lists. 

In most instances, the trouble is caused by a handful of Toxic Libertarians who personally attack others and who are unable to control their exhibitionist tendencies. If those individuals are given free reign to call others “dick-hugging bitches” and similar names, many devoted and committed volunteers will lose interest because they don’t want to put up with the “childish behavior” and the “bullshit”. They came to promote liberty and when they see a handful of malcontents engaging in personal attacks and destructive behavior, they will leave the group and find other avenues for their activism.

For an organization to thrive, it needs to have a vision and a strong, charismatic leader to inspire others to be an active part of the team. Those with natural leadership abilities and potential will rise to the top. This is the natural order of things. Allowing Toxic Libertarians, violent Anarchists, Vote for Nobody types and Fifth Column Infiltrators unchecked influence will only degrade the capability of a political organization to achieve its goals.    

Dr. Tom Stevens served as State Chair of the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania from April 22, 2012 to April 5, 2013.

34 thoughts on “Tom Stevens: LPPA Judicial Committee Blasts The New Voting Disorder In The Post-Stevens Era

  1. Krzysztof Lesiak Post author

    No way he became state chair in April 2013. He had to be elected earlier, since he was there during the November 2012 elections. My guess is he became chair on April 22, 2012.

    Tom, if you’re reading this, whats the correct date?

  2. Stewart Flood

    This past year has proven that Stevens is at least as crazy as Milnes.

    Now that he’s been pushed out of power in the LPPA, Stevens’ rantings are no longer news and shouldn’t be posted here. It only encourages him.

  3. Krzysztof Lesiak Post author

    @2

    He asked me to post it, so I did. I’m not saying you’re wrong, but IPR is supposed to, in my opinion, provide balanced coverage from all sides. I’m just posting it hear to inform and give the public a forum to which express their opinions about it.

  4. Sam Kress

    “For an organization to thrive, it needs to have a vision and a strong, charismatic leader to inspire others to be an active part of the team. Those with natural leadership abilities and potential will rise to the top. This is the natural order of things.”

  5. Dr. Tom Stevens

    Re: 1

    Yes it was an error and I have corrected it on my blog. I was elected in 2012, not 2013

  6. Dr. Tom Stevens

    Re: 2

    This post and two others I am preparing highlight decisions of the Judicial Committee of the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania on important issues presented in a Decision adopted unanimously by the Judicial Committee members.

  7. Ed Reagan

    Let me save Tom the trouble of “preparing” his drama filled posts regarding his so called “important issues”.

    Here is a link to the report so you can read the whole thing, not just the pieces that Tom cherrypicks to support his personal agenda.

    https://www.box.com/lp-judicial-report-5-13

    I hope all the post on IPR serve as a warning to any group that may cross Tom Stevens path. It is best to just ignore him and not allow him to infect your organization.

  8. paulie

    I was invited to join LPPA_BUS, but as of the last time I checked my request to join was not approved.

  9. Stewart Flood

    @6,

    Why does the statement from the JC contain subjective commentary rather than a statement of the complaint, the name(s) of who submitted the complaint and their authority to submit it (petition by delegates to last convention, percentage of members, etc), and the JC’s decision regarding whether or not there was an actual violation of the ByLaws?

    Does LPPA’s Judicial Committee issues rulings without holding a hearing? Who submitted the complaint? Were those accused of violating the ByLaws given time to respond or even given a hearing? This came too quickly for there to have been time for due process.

    This does not look like it is legit.

  10. Stewart Flood

    @7,

    I was interrupted while writing my comments, so I didn’t see your post until after I hit submit.

    The document answers some of my questions. Stevens posted the discussion, not the ruling. The ruling contains no subjective comment and appears to be based on other facts in evidence that Stevens did not post.

  11. paulie

    Thank you, Dr. Sarwark 🙂

    On a semi-related note (not PA related):

    Regarding Article 6 of national LP bylaws, would you interpret “cause” in Section 6 to be limited to only the items in Article 6, Section 4, or would you interpret “cause” more broadly?

  12. David Colborne

    @12: I hate to admit it, but… this is actually correct, per RROR §56:

    If the bylaws authorize certain things specifically, other things of the same class are thereby prohibited. There is a presumption that nothing has been placed in the bylaws without some reason for it. There can be no valid reason for authorizing certain things to be done that can clearly be done without the authorization of the bylaws, unless the intent is to specify the things of the same class that may be done, all others being prohibited.

    Additionally, Article 6, Section 5 of the Bylaws of the Libertarian Party states:

    The autonomy of the affiliate and sub-affiliate parties shall not be abridged by the National Committee or any committee of the Party, except as provided by these Bylaws.

    Consequently, since there are actions enumerated in the bylaws (Article 6, Section 4) that affiliate parties may not engage in, the explicit listing of said actions must imply that those are the only valid causes to revoke the status of an affiliate party.

    As a refresher, those reasons as enumerated are:
    Endorsing any candidate who is a member of another party for public office in any partisan election.
    Taking an action inconsistent with the Statement of Principles.
    Taking an action inconsistent with the Bylaws of the Libertarian Party.

    There’s certainly no blank check, but revocation of affiliation isn’t limited to state parties that endorse Republicans, either.

  13. paulie

    Chuck, Nick, others,

    Agree/disagree?

    If so, that needs to be fixed.

    My reading of the bylaws was that affiliates can be disaffiliated for whatever cause the LNC wants as long as it stands up to a JudCom challenge.

    If not, we could have affiliates openly violating their own bylaws, among a lot of other things. If that is the case, the bylaws committee should address it.

  14. David Colborne

    Functionally, this is sort of true:

    My reading of the bylaws was that affiliates can be disaffiliated for whatever cause the LNC wants as long as it stands up to a JudCom challenge.

    However, someone challenging a disaffiliation would have a very strong leg to stand on if someone failed to justify it using one of the three criteria listed above.

    Now, with those criteria in place, it’s not completely catastrophic. National bylaws don’t touch on affiliate behavior much, but if an affiliate were to, say, fudge financials, that would fall afoul of National’s ability to conduct its accounting per GAAP (see Article 10). Alternatively, purposefully short-circuiting National efforts to succeed in a particular state might run afoul of the Purpose of the LP (see Article 2), though RROR advises against interpreting a Purpose or Preamble this way.

    The Statement of Principles, meanwhile, deals directly with the LP’s position regarding the proper role of government, including freedom of contract. Hypothetically, it would be possible to make the case that, if a state affiliate’s affairs were run so poorly that the only method of resolution was government interference (e.g. petitions to the SoS, court cases, and so on), that would violate the Statement of Principles and would thus be grounds for revocation of affiliation.

  15. paulie

    Sounds like the bylaws committee may well need to address that. But I am still interested in other people’s views on this, especially the bylaws/parliamentary experts.

  16. Nicholas Sarwark

    My opinion is that there are other causes other than violating an enumerated bylaw, but it should probably be a good one. There’s nothing in the LNC Bylaws that says affiliates can’t be run by Nazis, but if one was, I think it’s cause to disaffiliate. The LNC holds the trademark and doesn’t need it tarnished.

  17. paulie

    My opinion is that there are other causes other than violating an enumerated bylaw, but it should probably be a good one. There’s nothing in the LNC Bylaws that says affiliates can’t be run by Nazis, but if one was, I think it’s cause to disaffiliate.

    That’s what I thought. However, Geoff says otherwise and David Colborne lays out the reasoning above. This needs to be cleared up.

  18. Nicholas Sarwark

    @22: I’m not overly keen to have the bylaws have an enumerated list of disaffiliation causes. My preference is to leave it to the judgment of the LNC, since there’s a 3/4 super-majority required to disaffiliate. Which, incidentally, means that it doesn’t matter what the Chair’s opinion is of cause, since 3/4 of the LNC could easily appeal the ruling of the Chair that a disaffiliation vote is out of order.

  19. Darryl W. Perry

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Stevens replaced as Chair 2 weeks before a new Chair was elected? If so, how is he the “Immediate Past Chair”?

  20. Dr. Tom Stevens

    Re: 24

    The LPPA Annual Convention is June 8, 2013. I resigned on April 5, 2013.

    Lawrence James Fryman is currently LPPA State Chair. I am Immediate Past Chair

  21. David Colborne

    @23: Ironically, if causes weren’t enumerated, there would be more flexibility regarding disaffiliations. Unfortunately, RROR has some rather interesting “gotchas” that can bite well-meaning bylaws authors and voters in the tail if you’re not careful.

  22. Erik Viker

    And the LPPA continues to provide excellent online entertainment. If these guys would put half as much effort into promoting Libertarian principles in public policy as they put into vilifying their LPPA rivals, statism wouldn’t have a chance.

    But silver lining. . . MOAR FIASCO!

  23. Erik Viker

    Following the “official” LPPA Board email list is like watching cannibal sharks in bloody water.

  24. Starchild

    From the article:

    “…the Board voted to establish two unmoderated Yahoo Groups: one for general Board Business Discussion where all LPPA members can post (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LPPA_BUS) and a second for motions, debate and voting to which only Board Members and Alternates can post.”

    Assuming there is some truth in their Judicial Committee’s observations, the Pennsylvania LP folks may well find it prudent to tweak their rules or customs in order to optimize current LPPA procedures for the good of the organization.

    But I hope they don’t retreat to more of a top-down control approach. Presuming that members can still access the latter list on a read-only basis, the model described above appears to show an admirable commitment to transparency in contrast to the ancien regime, and I applaud the new Pennsylvania leadership for adopting it.

    They definitely appear to be a step ahead of the Libertarian National Committee in this respect.

  25. Steve Scheetz

    It turns out that the Judicial Committee acted outside of the bylaws when it ruled without even discussing what was happening with the Secretary who they ruled against… I would not take their ruling too seriously, and I would take silly blog posts about said ruling even less so.

    Sincerely,

    Steve Scheetz

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