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Graham Parks

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  1. Have you been attending our meetings in secret? That's an elegant fix if you resolve the purported ambiguity (it's sort of like one of those Magic Eye pictures, isn't it? you just can't unsee it once it pops out) in the same direction I do. As I've said repeatedly through my two terms on the Rules Committee, the best way to fix this mandatory organizational awkwardness is by charming the SCC into passing a bylaws amendment (never an easy matter even in the fairest of weather), giving the standing committees the right to elect their own chairs from their own number (or maybe, hewing more to the representational-gymnastics theme of the bylaws generally, having all five standing committees meet jointly at the beginning of their session, and allow everybody with a seat on any standing committee to cast a vote for the chair of each and all of them). And then maybe allow the SCC Chair to appoint "one voting member" without portfolio (or maybe even two!) to each of the standing committees too -- because what fun is it being Chair if your thumb is cut off so short that it can't even reach the scale? That was my hope. We have also stalemated in informal discussions (i.e., in the course of arguing with each other on the Internet between meetings). In mutual exasperation, the most energetic proponent of nonvotingchairism agreed with my notion that the root of our discord deserved to be thrown at the feet of finer minds (minds being amply supplied with feet in my metaphorical universe).
  2. I would buy it if I was told, "I am entitled to send x number of (delegates/chairs/vice chairs/"voting members") to represent my organizational interests on this committee, and there's nothing in the bylaws that says this guy can't be one of them (so long as he's registered to vote as a member of our party) or represent my interests on the committee I've sent him to with anything less than the full rights of membership," by one of the seven distinct appointing authorities (each of the five functionally independent, multi-county congressional district committees whose members are elected by the county central committees and answer to no authority higher than themselves; the Chair of the State Central Committee, which is composed of delegates elected by the county central committees and answers to no authority higher than itself; and the appointed chair of the particular committee, who serves at the pleasure of the SCC Chair and theoretically balances his or her statewide perspective against the assumed crass regionalism of the committee's hoi polloi). RONR (edition not specified, but universally assumed to be the latest and greatest) is our bylaws-designated parliamentary backstop.
  3. I sit on the state rules committee of a major political party. Like many such organizations, our governing instrument reflects several generations worth of hard-fought and often artless political compromise which have left it a bit ragged or disjointed here and there. Recently we have been beset by a controversy over whether the following bylaws language implicitly deprives the chairs and vice chairs of our state standing committees of any right to cast votes in their committees: At its organizational meeting or in its next official meeting, each Congressional District Committee [of which there are five, the membership of which is elected by the county central committees in population-adjusted blocks allocated among the counties that compose the district] and the [State Central Committee (SCC)] delegates and alternates acting as delegates [each elected by and representing their respective county central committees to the state-level organization] living in that district, elects representatives to serve on the standing committees of the SCC. * * * Each Congressional District Committee, along with the SCC delegates and alternates acting as delegates living in that district, elects committee delegates and alternates to the standing committees in the following numbers: Budget Committee: Two delegates, one alternate; Credentials Committee: Two delegates, one alternate; [etc.] * * * The Chair of the SCC appoints the chair, vice chair and one voting member of each standing committee. The chair of the standing committee may appoint one voting member of the standing committee, with approval of the Administration Committee. The argument of the insurgent side of the dispute is tidily summed up by one of its proponents: "If the bylaws were meant to say all are voting members then they'd say one 'additional' voting member, but they don't." We who find this interpretation surprising point to past practices, the basic assumptions about what committee chairs and vice chairs are and do, and the fundamental principle that basic rights of membership in the body cannot be deemed stripped from a class of members except by express provision in the bylaws that a specified right is so stripped. What say you?
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