By Eric Beasley
To quantify how important it is to me that I get this story out there, I am delaying watching Supergirl, the first episode of the 4-part crossover event on the CW. Reporting > Nerd Stuff, at least for this evening.
This evening, the Frederick County Republican Central Committee held a open and closed session. I was in attendance in the gallery, along with Delegate Bill Folden and Mark Schaff. A reporter from the Frederick News-Post was there as well. I also saw State Senator Michael Hough lurking in the shadows of Frederick Air, but did not see him leave. I can only guess why he was walking around the back of the building before the meeting started and did not show his face during the meeting. We will attempt to find out his whereabouts.
For some unknown reason #StolenValor Robin Ficker, the unintelligible Dan McHugh, and two other attorney’s were present. For some reason, Montgomery County GOP decided to come up to Frederick to interfere with our Central Committee.
At the offset of the meeting, Chairman Shreve reminded everyone that video and audio recording is not authorized. Obviously, due to the nature of the impending discussion, this reminder was needed.
First topic up for discussion was the MDGOP convention, to be held this weekend at the Holiday Inn Conference Center (built without taxpayer dollars). The County GOP organizations will be hosting a hospitality suite.
But that’s not what you wanted to read about. You want to hear about the bylaw amendments that were covered last week.
The meeting started off with the review of the proposed bylaw amendments. Turns out these amendments are actually from the Howard County Republican Central Committee, meaning they have been approved and utilized by another Central Committee.
Darren Wigfield motioned to approve the amendments, Brooke Winn seconded the motion.
In response, JoeyLynn Hough handed out a written response to everyone in attendance except myself and Mark Schaff.
Here’s where it got a little interesting. Delegate Bill Folden wanted to address the Central Committee and there was a little kerfuffle about this. Basically, Chairman Shreve declares Folden out of order for interrupting the meeting.
I can see both sides of this. At the Central Committee meetings, generally only the committee members can speak. On the other hand. Folden is an elected representative and wanted to contribute in a positive manner to the upcoming proceedings. Here’s where I let you make up your own mind about who was right or wrong.
JoeyLynn Hough reads out the written statement verbatim in a slow, almost painful manner. The statement was full of literary devices, comparing the proposed bylaw changes to the “tyranny of the majority” and compares them to 3rd-world dictators. For good measure, a Castro reference was thrown in there. It reminded me of straight up Republican red-meat rhetoric.
In a statement that drew a chuckle from members of the gallery that actually live in Frederick County, JoeyLynn Hough complains that the bylaws are a “loyalty test.”
Robin Ficker tries to interrupt the proceedings as well, but that was shot down faster than the existence of the Frostburg Courthouse and his military career.
Michael Hill weighed in after the lengthy read of the Hough statement. He essentially repeated everything that Hough stated, but added that if these changes were to be passed that the removal hearings should be open meetings, not closed sessions.
Chairman Shreve decides to make a little joke, stating “the article that was in the paper had the wrong bylaws. Good job!”, addressing the Frederick News-Post reporter in the room.
As the meeting progressed, there were a few changes and minor modifications to the bylaw amendments. Darren Wigfield made a proposal to address a grammatical mistake and a time duration mistake.
Jason Miller states some concern about whether or not Darren’s modifications are significant enough to warrant a new 7-day waiting period to pass the amendment. Cyndi Schaff mentions that previously, the Central Committee had amended and approved changes in the same day.
As Darren Wigfield’s edits were mechanical in nature, the entire Central Committee votes for the modification except JoeyLynn Hough.
Michael Hill also proposed his own changes. He wanted to modify the amendments to allow the removal hearings to be an open meeting in the interest of transparency. He also proposes that the vote be public as well, not a secret ballot like when nominating a chair of the committee. Hill’s motion fails 6-3.
Brooke Winn decides to speak up and also address the Frederick News-Post, by taking full credit for the crafting and proposal of the bylaw amendments. You may recall that the FNP erroneously reported that Chairman Shreve proposed the bylaw amendments. Based on the attitude towards the FNP during the meeting, I have a strong feeling that most of what they reported was inaccurate information. This sentiment was echoed to me personally after the meeting by various members of the Central Committee.
Winn discussed her reasoning for the proposals, essentially that she wants to hold the Central Committee responsible for stabbing the party in the back.
Jason Miller, an astutue parliamentarian, begins a line of questioning that I can only describe as “cross-examination.” The line of questioning between Miller and Hough/Hill went on for a while, but let me give you the bullet points:
- Miller asks specific questions about this written statement that Hough provided to the Central Committee. She is unable to answer these questions and basically says “I don’t know, Dirk Haire wrote this.”
- Because Hough cannot answer these specific questions, Hill steps in to the conversation.
- Miller systematically takes apart every argument that Hill makes against these bylaw amendments by highlighting the hypocrisy and double-speak that Hill is using. For example, Miller mentioned that confidential information leaked out of the Committee when Hough was Chairwoman and she raised holy hell over it. I believe he was referring to the Delegate replacement process which resulted in Ciliberti being a Delegate.
- Miller mentioned that there have been instances of verbal harassment during the meetings and visitors have walked away wondering “WTF”. From the gallery, I heard Delegate Folden say “Like tonight.”
Miller and Wigfield have some back and forth, which could be summarized as “Two Libertarians discussing the First Amendment.” The result of this is that Miller proposes a modification which makes the confidentiality clause only apply to official business.
Shortly after, Miller has to explain the concept of sabotage to Hill, with a noteworthy quote of “you are entitled to your own opinions, not your own facts.”
Quick Editorial Note - I noticed a lot of the problem the Central Committee had was not with the leaked information, but with the fact that the information leaked was false. I saw lots of heads nodding in agreement while Miller was tearing Hough and Hill.
The bylaw amendments come to a vote. The outcome was 7-2 in favor, with Hough and Hill voting against them.
Miller then requested that all the visitors be afforded the chance to speak, which Shreve gave them 2 minutes each. Summary:
- Mark Schaff – Don’t forget about the Club Holiday Party on December 12th.
- Robin Ficker – Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Party Unity (unless you are running in Brunswick, apparently).
- Random Lawyer Dude – Vague threats about how changing bylaws are bad.
- Delegate Folden – Enjoyed the discussion, but has a concern with the removal process. Mentions the possible issue if two members of the Central Committee are running against each other in the primary and say negative things about each other.
- Dan McHugh – Apparently he was so incomprehensible that nobody on the Central Committee even knew what he was saying. I agree with their sentiment.
After the comments from the gallery, the Central Committee moved into closed session. A few things of note when we left the building:
- Robin Ficker and Dan McHugh decided to be their usual bloviating selves. Apparently they are more worried about Frederick County politics than fixing their own house.
- Delegate Folden and I had a fun, off-the-record conversation. Sorry folks, but I do not spill all my beans. Let me just say, that one of these days I want to get Folden and CT Wilson onto my radio show for 2 hours to talk about Annapolis.