In the words of the Indianapolis Colts former head coach, Jim Mora, “…playoffs? You wanna talk about playoffs?” Just for fun, let’s trade the word playoffs for the word ‘transparency’. I know, I know, stop using the word ‘transparency’ you say. It fits in this instance though, especially when you’re talking about politics. Local, Harris County Republican Party politics, that is.
Let me introduce myself. I am a Republican precinct chairman, an outreach committee member, a tea party member; basically, I am a full time volunteer for conservative politics locally. I am involved for a number of reasons, but mainly it’s because of my children. I care about the future of our country, the freedoms that we have, and protecting those freedoms. However, when I got involved just a few short years ago, never did I imagine that I would be fighting battles within our own local party. Call me naive, but I just didn’t. I joined the party excitedly and still feel hopeful for the success of our party, but there needs to be some changes made from within.
As a newcomer, you may dismiss my observations, but sometimes it takes a newcomer to look at things in a new way. I happily joined the Outreach Committee and went to work putting together ideas and projects to present to the committee. The chair and co-chair were very receptive to all of my ideas. I even got to implement one of them and it was very successful.
However, that was nearly two years ago.
Yep, you read that right. Two years!
Here’s a little history of the Outreach Committee’s meetings and activities to give you an idea of what I’m talking about. There was one meeting in 2011—July 25, 2011. At that meeting, those present agreed to sponsor a table at the Indian Day Celebration at the George R. Brown Convention Center on August 20, 2011. However, the party did not have enough money to pay for the table, so members of the committee had to donate to cover the cost.
Prior to that meeting, the last meeting of the Outreach committee was on November 8, 2010, soon after the election, and the last report I have is from that December. In that report, activities were discussed that I didn’t even know about as a committee member.
How’s that for transparency?
After November, 2010, meetings were scheduled, re-scheduled and then cancelled through February, and I have some memory of hearing from the chair that he may have been sick during early 2011, but the bottom line is—we’ve only had one meeting of this committee since the week after the 2010 general election.
How’s that for outreach and growth?
From comparing experiences with other activists and precinct chairs, I’ve come to learn that the Outreach Committee isn’t the only committee within the party to experience little to no scheduled meetings and or activities during the last year. The Finance Committee is having the same trouble as well.
Michael and Randy Kubosh, who spearheaded the successful opposition to Houston’s Red Light Cameras, took over the Finance Committee from Mike Riddle, and started doing a wonderful job trying to organize the committee, solicit fundraising ideas, and raise money. But, here’s a sampling of the problems the committee experienced according to committee member, Ed Hubbard:
- Attempts to provide more information and greater transparency were resisted by leadership, after an initial burst of cooperation when the Kuboshes joined the committee;
- Every idea the committee came up with for new ways to raise money, especially from smaller donors than the $1,000-and-up RLC memberships, or expensive luncheon tickets, seemed to hit a dead-end when approval was sought from the party leadership;
- A fundraising letter for small donations was approved by the committee but was never sent, for lack of money to underwrite the postage;
- Like with the Outreach Committee, the last Finance Committee meeting was held in July, 2011; and
- The Kuboshes resigned from the Committee in January, 2012, and no one has been appointed to replace them.
The Kuboshes tried to organize some fundraising to support the Judicial Signing Party last fall, but I don’t know if they were successful. From what I’ve heard from Ed and others, the Kuboshes really tried pretty hard to raise money, but between resistance to transparency and new ideas from within the party, and resistance from donors who no longer trusted the party, even their formidable skills couldn’t improve the party’s fundraising.
How’s that for encouraging fresh thinking and new leadership?
The Bylaws of the HCRP contain specific paragraphs that describe the mission and membership of both committees:
Article VIII, Section 2, Part H. The Outreach Committee: The Outreach Committee will work to develop and implement programs designed to increase Republican voter turnout and encourage Republican growth in minority communities and engage in development of a long-term plan in this area for the future of the Republican Party. The committee membership will consist of: a) Ten (10) members appointed by the County Chairman, b) Three (3) Party Officers or Committee Chairmen as appointed by the County Chairman, and c) Each OSD Chairman (or his appointed representative), who shall be ex-officio voting members. The Outreach Committee shall be responsible for developing and implementing programs designed to increase Republican voter turnout.
Article VIII, Section 2, Part F. The Finance Committee: The Finance Committee shall focus on raising the money needed to fully fund the Party and its activities and its candidates via memberships, sustaining programs, corporate programs and fund raising events. The County Chairman shall appoint members of the Committee, the OSD Chairman shall designate one member each, and the County Chairman, Vice Chairman, and Treasurer shall be voting members of the committee. The Finance Committee shall be responsible for fund raising for the Harris County Republican Party.
I think Ed Hubbard sums it up nicely when he says, “I think it is fair to say that neither committee has been active for quite some time. Neither committee appears to have been supported by the Chair since the 2010 fall election, and the missions of these committees have not been actively pursued since last summer.”
I realize I’m being critical of the party. However, I am willing to be part of the solution, not just part of the problem. The happenings of Outreach Committee and the Finance Committee are just a small part of the bigger picture. If we want to be successful as a party, our activities and our fundraising have to be consistent. It’s similar to a diet and exercise regime. If you eat healthy and exercise a few times a year, you aren’t going to see any changes. If the party chairman appears interested and engaged just a few times a year (election time to be exact) we aren’t going to see any changes either.
Precinct Chair – Precinct 877
|Subscribe to Big Jolly Politics by Email