The Libertarian Party of Venango County hosted the LPPA Annual Convention & Liberty Banquet on April 29-30, 2011 and choose the perfect location for it: the Quality Inn & Convention Center located on Liberty Street in Franklin, Pennsylvania. The hotel's restaurant is even called Benjamin's! The staff was friendly, the hotel room rates were reasonable ($79.00) and free transportation was available to and from Venango Regional Airport.
I arrived on Friday afternoon around 5:00 p.m., dropped my bags in the room and headed over to the Registration Table to check in. The friendly local volunteers from the Libertarian Party of Venango County had everything in order. They handed me my badge and a bag full of goodies, which included:
Pennsylvania Annual Convention & Liberty Banquet 20-Page Directory
Libertarian - More Freedom, Less Government (Bumper Sticker)
Repeal ObamaCare (Bumper Sticker)
Libertarian Party 1971 (Bumper Sticker)
Get Involved...The World Is Run By Those Who Show Up (Bumper Sticker)
Libertarian Party - Government Gone Wild (Brochure)
Northwest Savings Bank Note Pad & Letter Opener
Wiegel Brothers Marine Key Chains
and displayed on the table for us to take were also:
The Declaration of Independence/U.S. Constitution (Booklet)
Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Franklin, PA Tourist Brochure
Oil Region Official Guide
DeBence Antique Music World Museum (Brochure)
Barrow Civic Theatre (Brochure)
in addition to many other documents and invitations.
I went immediately to the Friday Reception where Meatballs, Fried Zucchini and Fried Vegetables were being served up along with great conversation contributed to by many intelligent pro-liberty activists. I sat next to Leo Knepper, who is the PA State Director of Heritage Action For America, and Timothy L. Havener, Central Chapter President of Firearms Owners Against Crime, who was sporting a semi-automatic Glock for self-protection. It was a sleek and handsome firearm! This reception provided delegates an excellent opportunity to network and make new friends. I stayed until 9:30 p.m. and then went to bed but for those younger and more energetic than I, there was a Hospitality Suite being hosted by Montgomery County that started at 9:00 p.m. ($17.76 cover for Friday or Saturday; $35.00 cover for both nights) featuring Complimentary Munchies, Liquid Refreshment and Door Prizes.
On Saturday, April 30, 2011, things started up early at 7:00 a.m. for a breakfast buffet and a presentation by Timothy A. Russell, who was elected Emlenton Boro Mayor. The LPPA Convention was expertly and professionally chaired by Michael J. "Mik" Robertson, LPPA Chair. The morning session featured Officer and Committee Reports. The Strategic Planning Committee made a presentation and the Chair of that Special Committee recommended the LPPA "avoid controversial hard dogma and positions without sacrificing libertarian principles", "soft-pedal heated political philosophical debates", and focus on the following three positions, which most LPPA members are in agreement with: "Constitutionally Limited Small Government with Low Taxes, Fiscally Responsible Balanced Budgets, and Free Market Economy and Sound Money". The Platform Committee recommended and obtained the repeal of a detailed LPPA Platform and had it replaced with a simplified platform most felt was an improvement over the old Platform.
Lunch was from noon to 1:15 p.m. and the speaker was Marybeth Kuznik of Vote PA who spoke about the security problems with the many different voting machines now in use in Pennsylvania.
The afternoon session saw the election of Party Officers. Lou Jasikoff was elected Chair and spoke of his belief that even more can be done to build the Libertarian Party in Pennsylvania. He complimented Mik Robertson for the excellent work he has done in bringing the party to the point it is at but he also stated he is ready to do more to make things happen. Currently, the LPPA has organizations in 23 of the 67 counties in the state and even though there are 38,000 registered Libertarians in Pennsylvania, the LPPA has, at most, 250 paid members and there were only 27 certified delegates in attendance at the convention. At the Saturday night Liberty Banquet at which Bill Still, author of The Money Masters: How International Bankers Gained Control Of America, spoke, it was also announced that Lou Jasikoff won the Liberty Bell Award for his activism during this past year. Mr. Jasikoff is the former Chair of the Libertarian Party of New Jersey and he recently co-founded Campaign In A Box, which offers advice and services to candidates seeking public office.
Three colorful phrases I recall hearing at the convention were Marybeth Kuznik often referring to something being "as slow as blackstrap mollasses in an ice storm", Eric Viker stating about some issue that "we need to keep our eyes on the big balls and the little balls", and Kevin Knedler, LNC At-Large Representative, telling the delegates that Matthew Cantrell (a candidate for appointment to the National Platform Committee "comes with the full package" (I didn't inquire further).
The full cost for convention delegates was only $73.00, which is a great bargain. The people were friendly and their commitment to liberty was inspiring. Congratulations on a job well done!