Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chaos, Confusion & Conflict - CRA Convention April 2011

There were four police squad cars in the front parking lot as I arrived at the CRA Convention at the Hilton Hotel in Sacramento on Saturday morning. Shockingly, they were there due to problems, even some physical altercation at the CRA convention! Unbelievably, it was a disturbance but at least no arrests. Sadly at a time the sorry state of California needs the strong leadership of CRA we are mired in this mess.

Something is definitely wrong in CRA. For weeks, poison emails flew back and forth as the two candidates, Celeste Grieg, the incumbent and Karen England,the challenger, battled for the state presidency. What should have been a clean competition of different visions for CRA, unfortunately, descended into destructive attacks, insults and even legal action.

I have been active in CRA since the 90's, currently serving as the president of the East County Unit. Consequently, I've attended numerous CRA conventions, this one had to be the most contentious, ranking as one of the worst.
In their desire to correct valid problems in CRA with the endorsement process, the current leadership totally bungled it. They made last minute rules changes. The changes made demands on autonomous units unaccustomed to top down directives in a grassroots up organization. This resulted in people of a volunteer organization, paying to show up at a convention only to learn they would not be seated as delegates. These numbered around 125 delegates ruled ineligible after a nine hours of grueling, ugly process on Saturday. In a departure from the norm, even guests who paid to register, were prevented from entering the sessions. Thus things got heated, I was told, requiring the police to come and restore order when people demanded to enter the session.

The credentials committee meeting dragged on as seated delegates voted out many units' delegates. When it came to discussion regarding the Greater Santee Lakeside unit, I wanted to offer assurance that the unit is not a fake one. On the contrary, our unit works with Frank Hilliker's group co-hosting forums, endorsing conventions and other events. I was not allowed to speak.
Even Karen England, the challenger to the president, I know has been involved with CRA for years was denied delegate status.
Ironically, Senator Joel Anderson, who our local units worked hard to get elected was voted out as a delegate. The Senator was able to briefly address the convention at the dinner Saturday night only because Assemblyman Dan Logue gave him some of his time. His remarks are on youtube:


We were told that during the sessions, due to the still pending litigation, no video taping, recording or photos would be allowed except for the official CRA newspaper reporter. I made a simple request to be able to take a picture or two for my blog in case something exciting took place. The leadership and most members seemed inclined until Baron Night objected. He spoke against it, so it was denied failing to meet the 2/3rds threshold. They really didn't have to worry. The picture I was hoping to get was one of Celeste and Karen shaking hands in reconciliation. The shot I wanted was of the moment of recognizing and thanking Peggy Mew for her years of work and countless hours of faithful service when a new membership secretary was elected. And to capture the moment,of appreciation to those who served on the board so faithfully now replaced in the election. Actually, my camera would have stayed in my purse since it didn't happen.

The election resulted in Celeste winning over Karen by a vote of 165 to 119. Celeste's slate also swept the contested races.

This weekend reminded me of a quote, however distorted, from the Vietnam War years, "It became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it"

(In the interest of full disclosure, I endorsed Celeste early on in the campaign. Both ladies are long time, strong pro family conservatives who are professing Christians. It makes what happened even more regrettable.
Lastly, at the end of the convention we voted to at least refund the registration fees to those who paid and were denied entrance to the sessions.)