Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Stevens Urges LP Delegates In St. Louis To Oppose Efforts To Decrease Involvement In Party Affairs

Dr. Tom Stevens, two-term LPUS Judicial Committee member and State Representative of the Libertarian Party of Queens County to the Libertarian Party of New York, has urged delegates attending the Libertarian Party's National Convention in St. Louis over Memorial Day Weekend to oppose proposed bylaw amendments that would have the effect of decreasing the participation and involvement of party members in party affairs.

Dr. Stevens stated the most dangerous proposed bylaw amendment involves putting into place a new "conflict of interest" rule that will allow the national Libertarian Party leadership to target disruptive individuals serving the party on a national level and to seek their removal if they are active in another political party. Stevens said, "The LPNY has no such conflict of interest rule. We have members who are left Libertarians who are active in the Green Party and right Libertarians who are active in the Republican Party. All make positive contributions to the growth of the Libertarian Party in New York State. I would not want to see them excluded. My position is the same with respect to those party members who are active on the national level."

Another proposed bylaw amendment would again reduce the number of delegates allotted to state affiliates. The argument here is that not all the delegate slots are usually filled and that, therefore, we should reduce the number of potential delegates so the LP National Committee can plan to hold smaller conventions. Stevens said, "The Libertarian Party should be addressing this issue not by reducing the number of potential delegates but by working to increase party membership and by making the conventions more interesting so that more people will want to attend them." This same argument applies against the proposed bylaw amendment that would end the practice of holding national conventions every two-years, making them every four years instead. Stevens said, "Libertarian Party National Conventions energize activists. They then bring their enthusiasm back to their state affiliates, run for local office and recruit new party members. It is important we make those National Conventions available for people to attend every two years."

Stevens mentioned that participation by delegates and candidates at National Conventions is also being placed in jeopardy by the proposed bylaw amendment that will require 20 seconds instead of 1 for a motion to be debated and the proposed bylaw amendment that would require a higher bar for candidates seeking national office to participate in televised debates and to contest for the nomination. Stevens said, "I support increasing the opportunity for candidates to contest for the Presidential and Vice-Presidential nominations of the Libertarian Party. The more candidates there are, the more exciting the process and the more people who will choose to be involved. Similarly, requiring 20 seconds for every motion before debate can begin on an issue stifles the ability of individual delegates to have an impact on business conducted at the conventions."

Finally, the most controversial proposed bylaw amendment is the one that seeks to ban the charging of a "mandatory convention registration fee" for all attendees at LP National Conventions. Dr. Stevens made the motion putting the Libertarian Party of New York on record against charging a "floor fee" for delegates attending the LP National Convention. Stevens said, "The proposed bylaw amendment seeking to ban a mandatory convention registration fee requires a 2/3 vote of the delegates to pass and presupposes that a floor fee is permitted by the LP National Bylaws through its reference to Robert's Rules of Order. With the bylaw amendment proposed in this manner, future mandatory convention registration fees will be permitted unless 2/3 of the delegates voting in St. Louis oppose the imposition of a floor fee. While not taking a position on the legality of charging mandatory convention registration fees under the LP National Bylaws, I believe such floor fees should not be charged and that the convention packages offered should be made more attractive to encourage delegates to purchase them. I also support the formation of a fund that would enable delegates with more financial resources to help out delegates who would not be able to attend the LP National Convention without a little financial help. In the final analysis, I believe delegates selected by the state affiliates should not be asked to jump another hurdle to be credentialed to vote during the business sessions of the LP National Convention."

Dr. Tom Stevens said, "It is very important that delegates attending the LP National Convention in St. Louis over Memorial Day Weekend see this package of proposed bylaw amendments for what they are. Namely, an attempt to decrease involvement of LP members in party affairs. I call on all delegates seeking positions on the LNC and all affiliates to speak out on these proposed bylaw amendments so awareness can be raised and coordinated action can be taken to alert the delegates regarding what is at stake."

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