A proceeding contesting the results of the Virginia Beach Mass Meeting was properly brought before the Virginia Beach City Committee last night on behalf of 106 signatories who were “slated off” the Virginia Beach delegation to the 2nd District Convention. (More on that here). The allies of Sen. Frank Wagner (R-VA Beach) who engineered last month’s disenfranchisement of nearly 1000 Republicans at the Virginia Beach Mass Meeting continued last night with the same kinds of procedural gymnastics in a transparent effort to defend their indefensible tactics.
And who are these 106 people? Among them is Jimmy Hargrove, an elderly African-American veteran of the United States Marine Corps. His effort to vote at the Mass Meeting was denied—along with that of all other minorities present and desiring to become delegates to the 2nd District Convention. According to those seated near him at the Mass Meeting, Jimmy tried to vote at the Mass Meeting despite being in difficult health, and on oxygen. Unable to navigate the stairs to reach the ballot box, he asked for someone to be allowed to place his vote in the box for him. The Longo/Wagner/Stolle faction, including uniformed law enforcement offers, denied him this. Then they denied his request that the ballot box be brought to him, effectively telling this 30-year veteran of our nation’s service that his vote was not wanted. Mr. Hargrove, who at one time served in a segregated Marine Corps, is not unfamiliar with this kind of injustice, but he is most certainly undeserving of it.
So what did Chairman Ken Longo do when presented with a challenge to his Ray Allen-engineered slating? First, he apparently tried to keep the meeting a secret from all but those who supported the slating. Then, when that didn’t work, and when more people who opposed slating showed up to hear the contest, Longo apparently decided it would be best not to have a vote on the contest, and instead moved to quash it by disclaiming any valid authority to hear the appeal:
This is only going to take about 5 or 10 minutes of your time…I’m going to read a statement, and then we’re going to quickly adjourn. The City Committee has no authority to overturn the results of the mass meeting conducted on March 10 of 2014 at Cox High School. The appeal that you have in your hand is out of order and the remedy sought is not in authority under the state Party Plan. With that being said, ladies and gentlemen, that concludes our meeting.
The problem with that? Well, under Article X of the Republican Party of Virginia Plan of Organization, “Each Unit Committee shall decide all controversies and contests arising within its jurisdiction.” That means that the Virginia Beach City Committee has original jurisdiction over all contests relating to the Virginia Beach Mass Meeting. Rather than hear about this from Dan Rodgers, the attorney representing the 106 signatories to the appeal, Longo and the Virginia Beach sheriff had Rodgers forcibly removed.
Making matters worse, Longo was among the hundreds who received guidance from the state party ON FRIDAY that contests like this must originate in the unit committee, and that the unit committee did indeed have jurisdiction. From RPV’s guidance circulated last week to unit chairmen and State Central members:
According to the Party Plan, a contest relating to a Mass Meeting, Party Canvass or Convention held by a unit should be brought to the unit committee for that unit. Anyone adversely affected by the unit committee’s decision may appeal the decision to the district committee. An adversely affected party may then appeal the district committee’s decision to the State Central Committee. Chairman Mullins has indicated that a special committee will review the decision and provide a recommendation to the State Central Committee for action at its meeting on June 6.
So, at best these actions in Virginia Beach display a willful ignorance of the process. At worst, it displays a despicable and shameful effort to bury a legitimate contest in additional layers of red tape. Roberts Rules has a term for this type of tactic: dilatory.
We hope that the Second District Committee will recognize that by its refusal to act, the Virginia Beach City Committee has in effect refused to grant the relief sought, and find that the appeal that comes before it tonight is procedurally sound and proper. The tactics of delay and obfuscation on display by Chairman Longo should not be condoned or rewarded. These 106 people should be heard.
I am told that Mr. Hargrove is now in a coma, and is unable to attend to the vindication of his rights at tonight’s Second District meeting. I hope those who will hear this contest tonight will keep this veteran at the front of their minds when they pass judgment on the despicable tactics of the Slate-master and his allies in Virginia Beach.