Existing mention of convention in Governing Documents
When you look at the Governing Documents, you’ll find the annual convention in a lot of places.
The word “convention” appears in the Constitution in Article III, Section 7, as part of the description of the Membership Committee.
The Membership Committee shall be appointed by the Chair and confirmed by the Executive Committee. It shall consist of at least five (5) members of the LPF with the majority NOT being members of the Executive Committee. The Committee must include the LPF Secretary, who maintains the membership records, with assistance and guidance from this committee. The principal duties of the Membership Committee shall be responsible for increasing the membership in the LPF and for increasing the LPF voter registration. The Membership Committee is also responsible for recruiting members both for the Affiliate and for the LPF. for recruiting members both for the Affiliate and for the LPF, at convention April 9, 2016
This may be a special case. It may not have been meant to be part of the Constitution, but rather a footnote indicating when it was added. Generally the footnotes are actual footnotes, but this could have been accidentally included in the text.
Article V of the Constitution is supposedly about Conventions & Meetings, but all Section 1 says is that there will be a convention.
The LPF shall hold an annual convention in accordance with the provisions of the Bylaws and Standing Rules.
In Article VI, it states that the Platform is to be developed during the conventions, implying that the Platform is not developed during the Executive Committee meetings or at other times.
The Statement of Principles of the Libertarian Party is hereby ratified. The LPF may develop a Statement of Principles consistent with the Libertarian Party’s as a preamble to the Platform developed by the Convention, and as prescribed by this Constitution, By-Laws, and Standing Rules.
Finally, Article VIII Section I stated that the Constitution needed to be approved at the convention in 1974.
This Constitution shall be adopted when approved by two-thirds of the delegates of the 1974 Convention.
According to Article 3 Section 3, the Chair and the Secretary have specific roles during the convention. (I’m assuming that Chair and Chairperson are the same.)
A. The Chair shall be the head of the LPF, presiding over all meetings of the party, convention, and Executive Committee. The Chairperson is the official spokesperson for the LPF, subject to the dictates of the constituted authorities of the Executive Committee and Convention.
C. The Secretary shall serve as recorder for all meetings of the party, conventions, and Executive Committee. The Secretary shall be the custodian of the minutes of all meetings, correspondence, committee reports, and the Constitution, Bylaws and Standing Rules, and shall make provision for legal service to the LPF. The Secretary of the LPF shall also serve as a member of the Membership Committee, and shall be responsible for maintaining party membership records.
Article IV Discusses the Convention at length. I’m skipping Section 6 which has nothing to do with the Convention.
Section 1. Annual Convention Dates
- The Executive Committee shall set the date(s) of the Convention and Annual Business Meeting of the Libertarian Party of Florida.
- The officers of the Party at the time of the commencement of the Annual Business Meeting shall be the officers of the Annual Business Meeting, and shall preside. Officers elected during the Annual Business Meeting shall take office immediately following the close of the Annual Business Meeting in which they were elected. To comply with Florida Statute 103.095(3), the Libertarian Party of Florida Executive Committee shall elect a Chairperson, Vice Chairperson, Treasurer, and Secretary at the Annual Business Meeting immediately following the election of the officers by the assembled delegation. The will of the delegation shall be of the highest regard when the Executive Committee conducts the election of the officers, and the election shall be taken as a single vote on the slate of prevailing candidates elected by the delegation.
Section 2. Agenda
- The Executive Committee shall set the agenda and business of the LPF Annual Business Meetings and conventions.
- The order of business must include the adoption of agenda. The meeting may amend the agenda by majority vote.
Section 3. Delegates
- Any person who is both an LPF registered voter and an LPF member at least sixty (60) days before the start of the Annual Business Meeting and who maintains that membership and registration through the Annual Business Meeting shall be eligible to be a delegate to that meeting. Delegate status may be denied or revoked by a 2/3 majority vote of the Executive Committee if a potential delegate has been found to have violated the non-aggression pledge.
- Each delegate must sign the Libertarian Party of Florida Affirmation of Qualifications for Delegate form or other equivalent form approved by the LPF EC.
- Credentials: The Secretary of the LPF, or his/her authorized representatives, shall be responsible for verifying the membership and voter registration requirements of each delegate.
Parliamentary Authority Robert’s Rules of Order as most recently revised shall be the parliamentary authority for all matters not covered by the Constitution, Bylaws and Standing Rules.
Section 5. Annual Conventions
- The Executive Committee shall appoint members to the Convention Committee at least one hundred eighty (180) days before the date of the annual convention. The Executive Committee shall also notify the state party members at least ninety (90) days before the Annual Business Meeting. The Executive Committee shall assume all responsibility for the Annual Business Meeting, including but not limited to: the annual business of the Libertarian Party of Florida, hosting events, the rental of accommodations to hold the annual business meeting and all other events surrounding said meeting.The LPF will split in a 50/40/10 manner all net profits from annual business meeting with the following breakdown:50% to the state party, 10% to the host county affiliate if in good standing, at the time of selection, and 40% to be split equally amongst the remaining county affiliated in good standing at the time of the conclusion of the convention.Otherwise the split shall be 50/50 with half to the state party and half split equally amongst all county affiliates in good standing at time of conclusion of the convention.
- The committees shall report recommendations to the floor of the convention at the Annual Business Meeting in accordance with the Standing Rules.
- The Selection Committee shall compile the nomination applications for delegates to the National Convention and state officers and Executive Committee. It shall present these candidates to the membership at the Annual Business Meeting without recommendation. Nominations from the floor may be made to amend this report.
- The Platform Committee shall make recommendations for the platform and Statement of Principles.
- The Rules Committee shall be the deliberative body in matters of dispute and its decisions may be appealed to the Executive Committee or the members at the Annual Business Meeting in assembly according to the Standing Rules.
- The Chairperson or the Executive Committee may appoint such committees as are deemed necessary to conduct the business of the LPF and its meetings.
The Standing Rules
There’s mention of the Convention in Article IV (Election of Officers, Directors, Candidates) Section 1
All candidates for office and political office may be asked to confirm certain basic principles before the convention This may be delegated to the Selection Committee for candidates for party office (including Delegates to the National Convention of the Libertarian Party and Presidential Electors) and to the Candidate Committee for Candidates for political office, and includes confirming that they are members of the State Party and registered to vote in the state as Libertarians.
Section 5 has to do with the selection of delegates to the National Convention. It implies that delegates to the national convention are supposed to be elected to their position at the state convention, but sets authority if there are additional delegates required.
Delegates and Alternates to the National Convention of the Libertarian Party not otherwise elected at an LPF State Convention shall be approved by the LPF Chair and the LPF Secretary to be credentialed as delegates and alternates. Members of the LPF EC may be credentialed as EX Officio Delegates at any time. All delegates and alternates must be registered to vote as Libertarians in Florida and be members of the LPF.
Article VI (Convention Rules) really only discuss one item at the convention, the development of the platform. I’m not at all sure what the topic of Section 2 is. If the committee is the convention committee or the rules committee, that’s a direct contradiction with the clause stating that the Executive Committee controls the agenda.
A minority report may be made by two members or 10% of the committee on any plank of the platform or changes under the Rules Committee. There shall be a limit of two minority reports on any one of the items. The highest number of votes shall determine the rank of the reports.
The Chairperson of the committee shall decide the order of business and the appearance of persons before the committee.
Article VII (Statement of Principles, Platform & Policy has a couple mentions of the convention. Previously I discussed that the rules imply that the platform can only be amended during the convention.
A supplement party platform for Florida politics may be presented to any annual convention.
The LPF may adopt resolutions to present to the National Libertarian Party convention.
Article X specifically deals with the convention agenda. Who controls the agenda, and how to have things placed on the agenda. (The deadline in Section 2 for the 2018 convention is January 24, 2018.)
The Executive Committee shall manage all conventions.
Any members may request the Executive Committee to include on the agenda any item. Such request shall be in writing to the Chairperson thirty (30) days prior to the convention, or within seven (7) days following the announced date and place of the convention, whichever is closest to the convention date.
The agenda must include all items required by the Bylaws and Standing Rules.
The Rules Committee may establish and publish convention rules to supplement existing requirements and Standing Rules. The Chairperson may exercise this right unless one third of the delegates object.
Even though Article XI Annual Convention has the word convention in the title, it doesn’t appear to have anything to do with the convention. Interestingly, there’s no notice requirement in this article.
Special meetings of the LPF may be called by the Executive Committee or by two (2) county affiliates, or by twenty-five percent (25%) of the county affiliates, whichever is the largest.
Article XII Annual Convention Delegates and Procedures also affects the convention.
Motions to be offered in the business meetings should be reduced to writing, signed by the maker and seconded, and filed with the Secretary; except for routine matters, agenda items, short wording, or with leave of the Chairperson to omit written motions.
The Annual Meeting Minutes (after approval by the Executive Committee) as well as any Committee reports to the Annual Meeting, including amendments to the Constitution and Bylaws, shall be made accessible to the membership in a digital format no less than 14 days prior to the next Annual Meeting.
I’ve discussed a proposed amendment to Section 2 elsewhere.
Finally, the last Article and Section state that the Standing Rules can be changed by the delegates to the convention.
The Standing Rules may be changed by a majority vote of the delegates to the annual convention or by two-thirds vote of the Executive Committee.
Obviously the sections dealing with the convention need to be reorganized. It’s obvious they were added as separate motions, but never organized. There are a few typos that need to be addressed, and some possible inconsistencies need to be rationalized. But that’s something that really should be hashed out by the Rules Committee.
What’s more important for me is the lack of institutional knowledge in the process. If the rules are followed exactly, then the convention committee dies the last day of the convention, and a brand new convention committee is formed six months before the next convention. The new convention needs to start over from scratch.
Last week’s LPF EC meeting had a motion from the Convention Committee to set a date and venue for the 2019 Convention. The motion was tabled for a variety of reasons, but one of them came from the Chair. He felt that each convention committee should be a stand alone entity, creating their convention completely separate from any previous convention. He was opposed to the motion because it came from the old convention committee. He wanted to form a new convention committee after the convention ended, and have the new committee find a venue and organize the convention. Given the Bylaws, that new convention committee wouldn’t need to form until six months before the planned start of the convention.
Needless to say, I think that’s a bad idea. The national LP begins working on their convention two years in advance. (They just selected Austin as the location of the 2020 convention.) The World Science Fiction Convention also works on a longer than two year schedule, with proposing groups competing, and a final selection of location at the convention two years in advance. And yet the LPF thinks that six months is more than adequate?
Be that as it may, one area that institutional knowledge is missing is on the financial side. I don’t know the financial results of the previous convention. How many attendees bought meals. What was tried and worked. What was tried and failed. We just got approval by the LPF EC to purchase some A/V equipment. Are we the first convention committee that suggested buying equipment, or is there LPF equipment already owned and just lying around?
Rather than completely re-write the convention governing documents, I decided to address one part, the financial part. Rather than reinventing the wheel, I’m proposing that the convention committee have some sort of fiscal discipline, supplied by the LPF Treasurer. The following is a proposed addition to the Bylaws, Article IV, Section 5, Part A. (In terms of structure, I proposed to number the existing text as (1), and this new section as (2).
The Treasurer of the LPF shall directly appoint a member to the Convention Committee to act as Treasurer’s Representative. (Treasurers can appoint themselves.) The Treasurer’s Representative shall act to maintain the financial records of the Convention, to ensure that only convention related income and expenses appear on the convention financial records, and to prepare detailed financial statements of the convention. These statements are to be completed within sixty days of the close of the Convention and presented to the Executive Committee at their next meeting. Once reviewed by the Executive Committee, the financial statements shall be distributed electronically to the affiliate chapters, along with their portion of net profits if any.
What does this do? In addition to the obvious — someone on the convention committee has some fiscal knowledge & there’s reasonable backup for the profit distribution — it also starts the process of having some sort of existence for the convention committee after the convention and before the new convention committee is formulated. Unlike my other thoughts about the convention committee, this doesn’t require a total rewrite of the existing rules; it’s just a simple addition to the existing rules.
In the long run, I’d like to see the convention committee work in three overlapping phases, with two separate chairs focusing on two different conventions. Walking through a complete cycle:
- Fifteen to Eighteen months before convention 20XX: A Committee Chairman is appointed for the 20XX convention.
- Appointment of Committee Chairman – Twelve months before the 20XX convention (and prior to the previous convention): Committee Chairman with assistance of convention committee members from previous convention survey potential convention sites, winnow down the list, and report to EC on recommendation for the 20XX convention. The location of the 20XX convention is to be announced at or before the previous convention. (Under current rules, it would be announced prior to the convention since the EC makes their decisions at their own meetings. If the rules were changed, it might be possible to create a system by which the convention membership decides.)
- After previous convention and more than six months before the 20XX convention: The convention chairman for the 20XX convention will be available to deal with early issues, as well as recruiting for the 20XX convention. At the last EC meeting more than six months before the 20XX convention, the convention chairman will report to the EC on the proposed members of the 20XX convention committee. (Also at this meeting, the convention chairman for the 20XX+1 convention will be appointed, starting the next cycle.)
- Six months prior to the 20XX convention to the convention: The convention committee creates a convention website and does all the necessary planning for the 20XX convention other than the actual business meeting agenda, which is created by the EC. (There will need to be communications between the EC and the CC so that adequate time is left on the schedule for the business meeting.)
- After the 20XX convention to six months after the convention: The majority of the convention committee is released from service. The chairman and the Treasurer’s Representative prepare all after action reports.
Obviously, this is a high level sketch. But it does several things. First, it gives enough time for a convention committee to run a convention from start (venue selection) through finish to after action reports. Second, it has a convention venue chosen with time to market the convention to Florida libertarians. Third, a convention committee member is dealing with only one convention at a time. Fourth, there is enough overlap that the convention chairman for the 20XX convention can go to the previous year’s convention chairman for advice, and can turn around and give advice to the 20XX+1 convention chairman, building up the institutional knowledge of the LPF.
But creating this structure in the Governing Documents? That’s something for the Rules Committee, unlike adding a Treasurer’s Representative. I’ll toss this out to the Rules Committee, and let them determine if it’s workable.