Friday Apr 29 2011
How much am I bid for this endorsement?
By: Jim Ruffalo
Looking behind the scenes
Who would have believed that the urban myth about the self-destructiveness of the Republican Party was true, at least here in the foothills? Judging by what I’ve seen so far, if ever the local Republicans were to form a firing squad, they’d first line up in a circle. Perhaps they might want to consider changing their party logo from the beloved elephant to a shoe with a target painted on it. Consider what happened a couple of weekends ago. The faithful making up the California Republican Assembly (CRA) gathered at a Sacramento hotel, then went after each other as if there were a prize in it for whomever wound up with the most scalps. In case you haven’t heard, the CRA convention apparently decided that Hugo Chavez was a better role model than Ronald Reagan, then proved the point by running the thing as if it were a banana republic election. Incumbent president Celeste Greig was re-elected by a scant 46-vote margin, but reportedly needed more than 100 delegates tossed out on their collective ears before ensuring her triumphant result. One side says that Greig’s minions had 125 of the previously registered 321 delegates ruled ineligible, then just to make sure Greig was re-elected, appointed 10 new voting members to the executive board. One of those excused early was Karen England, a Placer County resident who just happened to be running against Greig. Also sent packing were current state senator Joel Anderson (Alpine) and assemblyman Jeff Miller (Corona). The exodus, which included large majorities from 27 state units all pledging to support England, caused former CRA president Mike Spence to note that more delegates were excised in this one meeting than he’s seen tossed in all of 20 years. Check this out! One of those units pitched en masse was because — and I’m not making it up — it held its meetings at a member’s living room. That’s probably a bit too much democracy for the CRA. Cyndy Taylor, another Placer County denizen included in the forced march, later e-mailed friends that “the three thugs running the show were George Park, Aaron Park and Tom Hudson. And don’t those names sound familiar! That’s the same George Park who so offended the good graces of Placer County Republicans that in the most recent election for Central Committee seats, he finished nearly seventh in a six-person race. But although defeated by the electorate, his nefarious career was resurrected when he was again placed on the board as Assemblyman Dan Logue’s ex-officio (and voting) representative. Desiring some depth to the story, I lobbed four phone calls to that many of what passes for the top four Republican elected officials in the area. That was 10 days ago. Although Ted Gaines responded in person on the very same day, Congressman Tom McClintock, State Sen. Doug LaMalfa, and the aforementioned Logue have avoided me as if I were about to ask an embarrassing question. To may way of thinking, their silence can only mean acquiescence for the GOP’s actions of late. It’s as if they don’t care what happens so long as they can fool the majority of the voters into keeping them from having to get real jobs. One embarrassing question I did want to ask was one raised by Tim Snipes, the CRA’s Sacramento Unit President, who also doubled as a worker for Roger Niello, candidate in the recent State Senate District 1 primary race. According to Snipes, during that campaign, he was approached by Aaron Park, and claimed that he was told that if he ponied up $4,000 for a paid ad on Park’s blog, his candidate would be guaranteed an endorsement by the CRA. “I asked how that could be guaranteed,” Snipes told me, “and Park said all he had to do was schedule the endorsement meeting in a place too difficult to get to by supporters of other candidates, then conduct the endorsement vote.” Snipes said he was amazed at the response, not only with the candor, “but with the offhand way it was related to me as if that’s how such business is normally conducted. It was shocking, not only because he thought I was that type of person, but also on how little integrity there was.” Park called the charge “patently false,” adding words to the effect that he wasn’t stupid enough to solicit a bribe. As long as he was handy, I asked Park about what amounted to a small civil war during the CRA convention. “Anybody there could see it was the other side causing the problems, breaking up meetings” and the like. Park insists that just 17 “eligible members were denied access,” adding that the myriad challenges were made because of a lack of solid proof of bona fides. Don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t be surprised if next year’s CRA meeting is held in Syria. Jim Ruffalo’s column runs on Sundays. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.