Monday, January 7, 2013

A Night To Remember

It was a night to remember in Sarpy County. It was a night that would have found the always professionally dressed Omaha World-Herald reporterettes Maggie O’Brien and Robynn Tysver wetting their holey blue jeans had they been there to watch 250 Sarpy County Republicans ‘interact’. It was a night that would have warranted an editorial on compromise and getting along on the local daily’s editorial page.

As our associates returned to their luxurious high-rise downtown Omaha headquarters Friday morning they were still scratching their heads. Not exactly certain what happened who won or will ultimately win. But unlike the local daily, the Objective Conservative was there.

So what are we talking about? The bi-annual election of leadership for the Sarpy County Republican Party. To those uninquizitive, such as local daily reporters, no one would have imagined that the Republican stronghold of Sarpy County that was responsible for re-electing Congressman Lee Terry to his Second Congressional seat would be torn asunder by political division. But Thursday night it was.

What has for years been virtually unchallenged elections of slates prepared in advance by a nominating committee turned into a three hour donnybrook Thursday night. The meeting which normally would have started at 7:00 p.m. didn’t get started until 7:30 when the lines of folks waiting outside in twenty-degree temperatures for admittance and to sign in finally gained admittance to the Liberty Social Hall in Papillion, the site of what apparently will be the last meeting for the county G.O.P. in that facility. What normally would have been a one-and-a-half hour meeting turned into a three hour one that left many unsure about the legality of what had been done and unsure about what would happen at the next monthly meeting in February. Maybe one of the reporterettes will show up to cover the next meeting.

Once called to order the meeting begin with well-earned thank-yous to outgoing Chairman Ken Ragland delivered by Lt. Governor Rick Sheehy on behalf of Governor Heineman and by Chairman Mark Fahleson on behalf of the Nebraska Republican Party..

After the acknowledgments the issue of seating new central committee members was next and was the most important decision of the night other than the election of officers because the seating or non-seating of committee members would determine the outcome of election. With little fanfare, members approved three members originally approved in November but left out of the that month’s minutes and twenty-two members approved in December but done so by a motion by a non-member. Then the ‘fun’ began.

Two individuals and their respective slate of officers were competing for the county chairmanship, Levi Lippencott representing the ‘libertarian’ youth and new members of the party and Jerry Anderson representing the current ‘old’ regime. The so-called ‘libertarian’ group had pretty well taken over the majority of the Sarpy County Republican Party at the county convention held in June. Additional ‘libertarian’ members had been added to the committee including those added in December. Recognizing the numbers disadvantage Jerry Anderson and the ‘old’ regime had been recruiting folks to be recognized as new members at the January meeting in hope of having their votes and numbers there to defeat the young whippersnappers. And Anderson and folks did recruit and had probably 100 folks there wanting to be seated in hopes of filling nearly eighty vacant central committee seats.

When a motion was made to seat the ‘new’ members, it failed by several votes but an amended motion was passed to seat them after the election of the new officers. Even at that point it wasn’t clear who among those wanting to be seated were eligible given different numbers of vacancies in the five central committee districts and a decision on priorities for seating.

The decision made on the ‘new’ members, Chairman Ragland proceeded to the vote aided by the Sarpy County Election Commissioner Wayne Bena. The vote totals confirmed Levi Lippencott as the new chairman,
Jennifer Redding as the new Vice Chairman and Kim Coleman as the new Secretary. John Love, the former Treasurer, surprisingly was retained.

At this point it was clear to us that those who outwork their political opponents are the ones that win and that has clearly been the case with the young ‘libertarian’ group in Sarpy County. We’ve noted many times that elections have consequences and it was clear after the June county convention that such would be the case.

So, was that all there was to the story???? No way!

After the election of officers, a motion was made to go ahead and seat the others who had shown up to be seated, clearly a group that had come to support Jerry Anderson and his slate. Even though early questions about the number of vacancies in each district and the priority for selecting members for those positions had not been resolved, the central committee members went ahead in what was probably a naïve good-well gesture and seated those members. And then, more fun….

Yes, as soon as the members (whose identity we’re still not sure of) were seated, a motion was made by a member to ‘reconsider’ the election of officers that had just occurred. After considerable consultation with Robert’s Rules, that motion was ruled out of order even as two Republican State Senators tried their best to bring a proper motion to do a ‘redo’ of the election.

With total chaos prevailing, Chairman Ragland and Commissioner Bena tried to resolve the issues of which folks would be seated and the meeting came to an end. Interestingly, we note that there were lots of Republican elected officials seeking to be seated at the meeting. There were also lots of folks who had either been unseated at the June convention or had simply ceased to attend meetings as members.

So is the election final? Yes? Will it stay final? We’re not sure. It appears the ‘old’ regime now has the votes to control the central committee once again. We’re sure there will be lots of folks reading not only Robert’s Rules but the Sarpy County G.O.P.’s constitution before the next meeting next month at some new location, the management of the Liberty Social Hall having given prior notice that its facility wouldn’t be available for future meetings. We wouldn’t even be surprised at a lawsuit or two.

Come next month we’ll be there to report back what happens. In the interim our best advice for Chairman Lippencott is to hire a certified parliamentarian and to carefully read the county party’s constitution.

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