The Libertarian Party should focus on recruiting and supporting candidates. I strongly favor hiring a Political Director to work full time on candidate recruitment, candidate support, and ballot access. At the May 2005 LNC meeting Scott Lieberman and I introduced a resolution indicating LNC support for a Political Director... it failed overwhelmingly. My opponent M Carling did not attend that meeting.
Roll Call Votes
At the February 2005 LNC meeting, dues were raised to $50 by a secret ballot vote. I share your anger at this process. My opponent M Carling seconded the secret ballot and voted yes.
The November 2004 and February 2005 LNC meetings had zero roll call votes. I made it my personal mission each subsequent meeting to line up enough people to request a roll call whenever possible. Lee Wrights always volunteered and I managed to find a few others depending on the issue.
Delegates at future conventions ought to be able to make educated decisions in LNC elections based on voting records. If there are voice votes instead of roll call votes, members will have no official record of their representativeís vote Ė though observers could keep track (e.g., Sean Haughís LNC meeting reports). When votes are conducted by secret ballot, even observer recording isnít possible.
I favor mandating all roll call votes. I will be supporting a bylaws change to that effect this convention. If elected, I will do my best to ensure all votes are conducted via roll call regardless of whether that procedure is mandated.
Meeting Minute Archive
When I joined the LNC, there was an archive on lp.org of all meeting minutes from the last few decades. Much to my surprise, minutes from this LNC were not added to that archive. Instead staff was instructed to remove access.
I introduced motions at the March 2006 LNC meeting to put the archives back up and post all official approved minutes there. My motions passed, so we now have an archive with all minutes from this term except draft minutes from the most recent meeting.
If elected, I will work to restore all past minutes to that archive (not just the ones from this term) and to post draft minutes as well.
Many members are more willing to donate to a project than the general fund. They can get more excited about a specific action than paying rent for headquarters and salary for staff. Unfortunately, this term donor confidence has been eroded as earmarked donations were used to keep the doors open. The LNC must demand that project funds remain strictly segregated Donors should be sent an accounting of projects they support to restore confidence in the project based funding system.
It is in staffís interest to promote general fund donations and discourage project donations. The LNC should intervene by demanding that an easy and prominent method of donating to all projects be added to the website.
We need a consistent income stream. The LNC should use a pledge revenue metric to set bonuses for the Executive Director. Supporters can afford more than $25 a year Ė most can afford $20/month. If properly motivated, staff can sell pledging to our donors. Then we can become long term financially solvent instead of struggling month to month for one time donations. I encourage all of you to become monthly pledgers if you arenít already.
Volunteers, Tailored Letters
I would like the Libertarian Party to develop a comprehensive database of volunteer expertise, favorite issues, outside affiliations, donor history, etc. and use it to target donors and volunteers better. Outside affiliations of existing members can be leveraged to prospect for new members.
If there is a ballot access lawsuit, it should be possible to pull up a list of lawyer members within a few minutes. If a candidate or state party needs a treasurer, the national office should be able to generate a list of CPAs on the fly. Volunteers should be matched to projects in a much more efficient way. We arenít utilizing our volunteer base anywhere near its potential due to lack of organization. Volunteers are a resource an order of magnitude more important than money, but they are largely ignored when donations are the only metric tracked.
Letters to donors should be narrowly tailored to their interests. If I am excited about marijuana issues, donít send me a letter about guns... it is a waste of money and will result in fewer donations. Donors should be sent suggested donation amounts based on their previous donor history (average donation or maximum donation). College Libertarian clubs could send donation requests to alumni of their schools.
I realize this isnít an LNC policy issue, but if I am elected staff will give more weight to my suggestions.
The membership database is the heart of our operations. When the national office switched from FoxPro to Raiserís Edge at the direction of the LNC, database dumps to states were repeatedly changed over many months. This made it impossible for state parties to automate the import process and frustrated numerous volunteer state database administrators.
It should be common sense to not switch fields around, add new fields in the middle, delete existing fields, or change formats each month. Unfortunately, it is clear that there will continue to be problems unless the LNC sets a policy. I support mandating a consistent database field order and field format, with new fields always added at the end. Further, staff should be encouraged to facilitate automated imports and exports and to develop useful database software for state and county parties (similar to Greg Dirasianís Nidus). I voted against data sharing guidelines formulated by the LNC without any input from state database administrators. My opponent M Carling did not attend that meeting.
The Raiser's Edge database should have been implemented by running the old and the new database concurrently, making the switch only after all bugs were worked out and the transition was seamless to state database administrators (who would receive the same data in the same format). And it certainly shouldn't've been done in the middle of a presidential election.
Contradicting the Platform
As a delegate, I strongly support making the Libertarian Party a big tent party that welcomes not only anarchists that are 100/100 on the Nolan Chart like me, but also everyone else in the Libertarian quadrant. To accomplish this I favor a bylaws change modifying or eliminating the pledge. In addition, I would like an incremental libertarian platform that contains 10 key issues achievable within a term of office instead of throwing everything and the kitchen sink in a document that advocates only Libertopia tomorrow. The style of our platform should read more like the Contract with America than a novel.
Although I would like to see the platform made less radical and more short-term achievable, that is a decision that should be made by the delegates, not the LNC or staff. Ignoring the platform in LP News articles, policy proposals, and press releases is tantamount to the U.S. Government ignoring the Constitution when it makes its laws. I will support a bylaws change this convention forbidding the LNC and staff from contradicting the platform. If elected, I will encourage staff to follow our platform.
I was not in favor of the Iraq Exit Strategy; it violated our platform and policy papers are better left to other libertarian organizations (such as the Cato Institute). I was the only LNC member who read and provided input on the follow-up ďWar on Terror Strategy.Ē My suggestions prevented even worse platform violations from being released in a white paper. Most importantly, I opposed the elimination of the Advertising and Publications Review Committee and vigorously lobbied for its reinstatement.
Working LNC Members
Many LNC members just show up 4 meetings a year, send a few emails, and do nothing else. We ought to expect more from our Board. I favor increasing the number of subcommittees on the LNC and requiring every LNC member to participate in a minimum number of those bodies.
In addition, most non-profits see fundraising as the primary responsibility of their Board members. We should demand the same from the LNC. Minutes should include a spreadsheet of how much money each LNC member raised since the last meeting. Iím not particularly good at fundraising, but Iíll learn.
At the August 2005 LNC meeting, the LNC voted to set dues at zero starting January 1, 2006 and phase out UMP starting October 1, 2005. States could choose a 6 month or 12 month phase out. UMP ended in March (6 months, constant payments) or will end in October (12 months, decreasing payments).
It seems clear to me that the LNC is required under the bylaws to set dues. Zero dues are not dues. Only the delegates should make the decision to have no dues. This could be done with a bylaws change that either explicitly eliminates dues or empowers the LNC to not charge dues.
Iím not opposed to zero dues as a concept... I'm just against the method of passage. In fact, I like focusing on donors and volunteers instead of members. I think Texas's and Indiana's recent successes are partly attributable to the change. Active state parties will benefit; inactive state parties will suffer.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to tell you sending out large UMP payments 3 months after charging zero dues put the party in a very financially precarious position. Frankly, without a very competent penny pinching staff doing financial acrobatics for several months, we would have gone bankrupt. UMP should have been completely phased out before the transition was made to zero dues. Or at least we should have waited until there was enough money in an UMP escrow account to cover 6 months.
We need to keep in mind that the LNC cannot force the delegates to do something. The power hierarchy is the other way around. It will be pointed out to the delegates that without changing the bylaws to redefine delegate allocation and LNC representation, the 2008 convention will be very problematic because all of our 90,000 pledge signers will count for delegate allocation. But I submit to you that if no bylaws changes are passed, the LNC will have to clean up its own mess before the 2008 convention.
The national office should be aggressively prospecting for new donors, volunteers, pledgers, and candidates. If we donít prospect, attrition will eat away at our donor and volunteer base.