I'm pleased to report that I was elected as an at-large representative to the state Executive Committee of the California Libertarian Party at our annual state convention in South Lake Tahoe this past weekend. I still have not seen the exact results (happened to be out of the room during the brief time they were posted), but I was reportedly one of the two top vote-getters in a field of eight or so candidates, and so was elected to a 2-year term.
One other candidate, Gale Morgan (the outgoing secretary) was also elected to a 2-year term, and I believe Rich Vanier, Nancy Zardeneta, her partner(?) Armando Romero, and Carlos Rodriguez were elected to 1-year terms, while Brian Andreesen and Mike Paster were elected as 1st and 2nd alternate respectively.) Gale and Rich are not I think very sympathetic to the radical/grassroots agenda, but I have high hopes for Brian, a young activist who appears to "get it". Nancy and her partner, and Mike, are largely unknown to me but seem friendly.
In other California LP convention election results news, Kevin Takenaga was reelected state chair by a vote of 49-17 over newcomer C. Michael Pickens, who was subsequently elected northern vice-chair. Boomer Shannon, a Grassroots Caucus member, was narrowly victorious in his race for southern vice-chair, newcomer Lauren Hilton was elected secretary, and Brian Darby was (unfortunately) reelected treasurer in an uncontested race. I say "unfortunately" because while I do not know him well, he seems to have a strong zeal for enforcing rules whether or not they make sense and in our first post-convention committee meeting was perhaps the chief opponent of my motions.
If anyone has any knowledge of any of these folks, I'd love to hear your experiences or impressions.
Attendance at this year's convention was dismal, though not out of line with expectations or previous year's numbers, which have fallen off considerably in the past decade or so. I haven't seen any other real write-ups of the event yet, and don't recall how many delegates there were, but I think it was no more than 75, with no more than twice that many persons attending in total. Pretty pathetic for such a large state. There were also only two vendors present that I noticed, one of them being LP national chair Mark Hinkle who was hawking LP t-shirts and bumper stickers, and the other being a bookseller (Laissez-Faire Books, iirc).
On the other hand, the convention was lots of fun, as always. The speaker lineup was decent, if not outstanding (see http://ca.lp.org/2011-convention/2011-convention-schedule/), and there was the surprising opportunity to see a sneak preview of the new film based on Ayn Rand's magnum opus "Atlas Shrugged" (part 1). My friend Rhea (who I corralled into coming up to Tahoe with me) and I arrived after it had started and only saw part of the film, but I didn't care *too* much since I plan to watch it again anyway. Much more troubling was the fact that I was far from impressed by what I saw. Feel free to take this with a grain of salt, since I only saw the last third or so and most of the Libertarians present seemed to think highly of it, but I felt that transposing the story to the modern era from the 1950s setting of the book was a failure, that the dialogue was poor and not based on the text, and that ideas seemed downplayed in favor of personal relationships and drama between the characters. I'm often bothered when watching films by a lack of realism, but in this case the characters almost seemed *too* realistic and human, rather than living up to the heroic or villainous personas of Rand's morally black-and-white universe. I suspect she would have really hated the film. But I predict it will be a huge hit anyway, just because it's "Atlas Shrugged", and for the same reason, I think the better it does, the better it will be for the freedom movement.
I narrowly missed getting a major bylaws change passed, which was very frustrating. I was seeking to have the Bylaws committee selected the same way the Platform Committee is now, with each county entitled to send a rep. Under current rules, all five Bylaws Committee members are appointed by the state Executive Committee, and I believe this has a lot to do with the fact that the committee reports typically include a lot of bad changes gradually making the party more top-down, with more authority concentrated at the state level, at the expense of county chapters and grassroots activists.
As for the speakers, Steve Kubby and Jim Gray talked about the new cannabis legalization initiative they are drafting. This was important stuff, but I thought they probably could have been combined into a single session. Steve Greenhut I was particularly pleased with, because during his speech focusing on the failings of the Republican Party, he took a pretty strong stand in favor of the LP taking bold, pro-freedom stands rather than trying to please voters and audiences with watered-down views. Carlos Rodriguez, unfortunately, took more of the opposite tack, talking about the need to win elections and that usual pablum. He seems like a nice guy though, and it was good to have someone talking about outreach to Hispanics. The other speakers including San Francisco's own Richard Winger I unfortunately missed, as I left Saturday evening to drive my friend Rhea back to San Francisco and go to a party with a date in Marin, then drove back up to Tahoe the next the morning to get back for officer elections without having slept a wink. Yeah, I know it was crazy. Still not sure who won the party's fundraising poker tournament.
Please let me know if you have any questions, or input for me in my new role as at-large state ExCom rep!
Love & Liberty,
((( starchild )))