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Saturday, April 02, 2011

CRA Battles to Verge of Extinction—Update2

Note the following blog entry if reviewed by Rush Limbaugh would require either Trouble Coming by Randy Stonehill or Eve of Destruction by Barry McGuire as the bumper music for the segment. A quick review of the previous post on this matter would help add further context.

The results of the California Republican Assembly State Board move to disenfranchise many of their delegates in hopes of thwarting a challenge to President Celeste Greig were appropriately enough released on April Fool’s Day. Before commenting further, here is the official announcement from the Membership Secretary.

Dear CRA Board Members:

The vote on the Greig-Hudson motion regarding the upcoming CRA Convention, conducted from Tuesday, March 29 to Thursday, March 31, had the following results:

Eligible to vote: 49
Voted: 47
Did not vote: 2

Yes: 31
No: 15
Abstentions: 1

Having received a majority of “yes” votes by the CRA Board of Directors, the motion is hereby approved.

Best regards,

Janine Heft
Corresponding Secretary,
California Republican Assembly (CRA)

As this vote was underway, I emailed both Karen England and Celeste Greig and asked them both to request their supporters to dial back on the rhetoric. I also proposed a middle way for Celeste to consider.

In my unit we get four delegates. At our last meeting we brought up the subject of who should choose the delegates, the club as a whole or the president. The motion to let the president decide was made and passed unanimously. All members present were asked if they wished to be delegates. Several members were emailed about the opportunity. The president had zero responses from anyone to be a delegate. After he began calling the more active members, he was able to get a list of four.
Anyway, two of the names that we submitted are disqualified under your proposal. One delegate lives four blocks outside of our northern boundary. Another lives just over the county line, in a place that has a paper club that has not met in at least five years. Oh by the way, this delegate is the father of one of the members you selected to be on the Credentials Committee. Both people helped in the campaign last year and have been members in good standing up until the current controversy. To get these folks caught-up in the current controversy is unfair to our club and our delegates. How can we be expected to grow our club in the current toxic environment. Given a choice, I think we would rather not have delegates at the convention than have their first exposure to the statewide CRA organization be this nightmare.

Interestingly, the vortex of this controversy is centered in Placer County. In the email traffic that I have seen, it has been Karen England squaring off with Aaron and George Park and Tom Hudson.

Tom Hudson is an attorney and member in good standing with the California Bar. He is often looked to for legal advice and provides counsel in parliamentary procedures. He is approachable and pleasant to speak with at various CRA functions. However, I have found that like many parliamentarians, his advice while delivered with authority is often what will help the chair or move to the outcome he desires and may not in fact be in accordance with either Robert’s Rules of Order or the governing bylaws of the organization. Perhaps lawyers are trained that in public you never say I don’t know or let me look that one up and I’ll get back to you.

An experience that I had with Tom many years ago relates directly to the controversy now. It touches on the Yolo County CRA chapter with which Karen England is now a member. It touches on the CRA Board refusing to act in accord with its bylaws and discipline a paper club, and Tom Hudson giving advice contrary to the CRA state bylaws while speaking as the representative of the State Board.

A friend of mine and I were residents of Yolo County and members of the Yolo CRA chapter. Some of the members that rose to leadership in the group began to view their time in office not as representatives of the CRA and the members that elected then but as the owners of the chapter. Think Gollum in Lord of the Rings. “It mine, my precious.”

We documented a number of abuses and went in person to the State Board meeting that was held in Napa to request relief from the State Board. Below is the text of the letter that we presented.

April 24, 1999

State CRA Board,

During the past year, we have been experiencing a number of difficulties with the CRA chapter in Yolo County. These difficulties are of a nature that we feel that they need to be brought before the state organization. We have attempted to get the current president of the chapter to correct these problems and he has remained intractable in his disregard of local and state Bylaws and in ignoring Robert’s rules of order and other things that traditionally govern a political organization. We would normally bring our complaints (to) the senate district Director, but he is an officer in the Yolo County Republican Assembly and is fully aware of the misconduct that is transpiring in Yolo County and is a willing participant in its activities.

Since we cannot appeal to the Senate District Director, we have reluctantly chosen to appeal to the State Board.

Below is a partial list of recent areas of improper activities of the Yolo County group.

1 Per their by-laws, the group was required to meet monthly for a general membership meeting. In addition, a monthly board meeting was also required. However, in 1998, an election year, the Yolo Chapter held its last meeting of the year in March. They did not meet again until February of 1999.
2 This lack of meetings did not prevent the chapter president from making many decisions in the name of the group and conducting activities in the name of the membership without approval of the board or general membership.
  a the chapter president endorsed candidates in the name of the Yolo County RA for countywide office without conducting formal meeting or an endorsing convention.
  b dues were collected from at least one individual in the county that we are aware of but the apportioned dues to the state organization were never paid.
  c Campaign contributions were collected and expenditures were made without the consent of either the board or membership. These include both cash and in kind contributions that were never reported to the Fair political Practices Commission, as is required by state law. One of the signers of this letter, William Tolson, resigned as treasurer of YCRA when this lack of accountability was manifested. This was May of 1998.
3 During the general election campaign of 1998, the president of the Yolo County RA, an ex-officio member of the county central committee, refused to work with the county central committee and support all of our Republican nominees for partisan office.
  a In several instances, he misrepresented himself to republican volunteers as the county party and directed the efforts of these volunteers to personal projects and preferred candidates and away from coordinated activities with both the county central committee and Lungren for Governor campaign.
  b As president of a Republican volunteer organization, he was permitted to work out of the county campaign headquarters of the local party. While he was working at the headquarters, he actively dissuaded activists who desired to work for Republican nominees other that those he personally supported from volunteering their services to the local party and the Lungren for Governor campaign.
  c Furthermore, he pressured the area precincts coordinator of the county party to provide separate walking packets and precinct lists for his volunteers, which included only literature of candidates he approved, and for special exclusionary use of headquarters during the last days of the campaign.

While all of these things during 1998 were offensive to us, it was our hope that a new president would be elected. However, the bylaws were again ignored and no nominating committee was formed in December as require(d). no election was held in January as required by the bylaws. Furthermore a meeting was held in February to elect officers but no meeting notification was sent to the membership. Via word of mouth, we found out about the meeting. We attended the meeting and no quorum was present and no officers were elected.

As a result of the feeling of disenfranchisement from this type of leadership, William Tolson, availed himself of the opportunity at the republican state convention and joined the Sacramento chapter of the CRA. He had formerly been a member of the Sacramento chapter while attending college.

In March, another meeting was held without any meeting notification to the members. In fact the president commented that he purposely did not inform certain individuals because they were not welcome. This action occurred with the knowledge and approval of the senate District Director, who is also the Vice-President of the group. Furthermore, a new set of bylaws was adopted without any prior notification to the members.

Highlights of these bylaws changes include:
  Removal of the meeting notification to members
  Removal of meeting notification requirement for nominating committee for club officers
  Membership is forfeited for non-payment of dues after 60 days upon notification instead of 60 days after notification as previously required
  Any member whose dues lapse and wishes to rejoin the chapter must be approved by a 3/5 vote of the executive board
  Any member missing two consecutive meetings looses voting rights
  To regain voting rights, member must attend two subsequent meetings
  Meetings were changed from monthly to bi-monthly and executive board meetings to quarterly

In light of Article VI Section 3, Item g, what is the function of members of the chapter?
“The Board of Directors shall be vested with the power and the duty of transacting all the business of the Assembly. It shall be responsible for carrying out the objectives and purposes of the assembly and shall make such rules and regulations as shall be deemed advisable provided only that such rules and regulations are not in conflict with these By-laws.”

There is no similar statement empowering the general assembly and there are no restrictions provided by the bylaws on actions that can be taken by the governing board.

As a result of these changes and the manipulation of the election process, Carl Brickey, a former secretary of the chapter, has joined the Sacramento Republican Assembly.

The sprit and tenor of these bylaws is not in sync with a grassroots organization who claims the cornerstone of its existence is that of limited government, fair representation, fair elections, open debate and the rule of law.

As a result of the above we humbly ask that the state CRA consider the following actions:

1 Audit the records of the Yolo County Republican Assembly, including financial records, FPPC reports, and minutes of both regular and board meetings.
2 Instate generic bylaws from the state organization and require reorganization of the Yolo County republican assembly, under the supervision of the state board.
3 Take disciplinary action against the chapter president and senate district director.

Our intention in bringing these matters to your attention is to restore the integrity and reputation of the Yolo County Republican Assembly. We trust that this matter will be dealt with discreetly and we wish to direct this matter to the appropriate authority within the state organization.

After arriving at the State Board meeting in Napa, we inquired who would be the best person to speak to about this and we handed off to Tom Hudson. Tom read the letter reproduced above and sent us away with a promise to look into it. No action was ever taken by the Board and we have no indication that the matter went beyond this discussion in the parking lot at the Napa meeting. Eventually Tom counseled us to join the Sacramento unit since we were welcome there.

It wasn’t until we were attending the State CRA convention as delegates of the Sacramento RA that we discovered that what Tom told us to do was in direct violation of the state bylaws. Per the bylaws were only allowed to be a member of the Republican assembly where we lived.

Section12.03. Qualifications for Membership. Members of each Chartered Republican Assembly shall be those American citizens of good moral character who are registered with the Republican Party, in the geographical area of that Chartered Republican Assembly, except that those registered in an area where there is no Chartered Republican Assembly may become members of a Republican Assembly in a nearby unit until a new Republican Assembly may be Chartered Republican Assembly and must continue to comply with those Bylaws, and must pay such annual dues as may be fixed.

A few years after our experience with the State Board the bylaws were amended to allow membership in any unit in the State. Reportedly, others had similar problems with their local chapters. The ironic part is Tom Hudson likely had a hand in helping to write this into the Bylaws.

In light of all this you might be asking why if Tom Hudson knows all this would he craft a rule that all delegates must live in the area where the club is chartered when he knows the history of this section of the bylaws. It goes back to getting the outcome that he desires verses following the rules. Tom is supporting Celeste Greig. Due to conflicts with the Placer CRA group, Karen England is a member of the Yolo group. By crafting the rule the way he did, it disenfranchises Karen England as well as many of her supporters. It results in a favorable outcome in Toms eyes so it is a justifiable action. Simply put its gotcha politics.

Another gotcha moment was a week ago when Karen England said she could support the principals of Grieg’s Contract with the CRA. In response the webmaster for Contract with the CRA added the verbiage that to support the contract was an endorsement of Greig and her slate. They took an olive branch from England and an opportunity for common group and turned it into a gotcha moment.

Then the Park Brothers released the following email on March 31. The email begins with a banner “From George and Aaron Park” followed by the CRA logo.

Take it from us, we know Karen England better than most. We have endured the full force of her bully tactics for years.
Like the letter her lawyer sent us - Karen chooses to handle political disagreements with deceit and threats of legal action.
Her Northern California supporters were distributed throughout the delegations of CRA units in Southern California.
Like any bully, she uses surrogates to fight her battles for her. Yet, she seeks to be the leader of the California Republican Assembly, the conscience of the California Republican Party.
Now that the fraud Karen and her supporters have perpetrated is being exposed—-
Let us share our experience, as a warning about the kinds of rotten things that Karen England is likely to do if we stick to principle, enforce our rules, and refuse to seat fraudulent delegates:
She will threaten to sue all of us;
She will try to get an injunction to shut down the CRA Convention;
She will complain to the District Attorney;
She will complain to the FBI (we’re not kidding!);
She will complain to the Fair Political Practices Commission;
She will complain to the Federal Elections Commission;
She will complain to the City of Sacramento Code Enforcement Office that the Convention does not have all the proper permits;
She will complain to the County of Sacramento that the host unit does not have a business license to run the Convention;
She will threaten to sue the hotel for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act;
She will complain to the legislators and tell them to threaten us on her behalf;
She will complain to the California Republican Party and seek to have CRA de-chartered;
She will complain to the NFRA and seek to have CRA de-chartered;
She will complain to the World Court at the Hague, accusing us all of being war criminals!  OK, maybe she won’t do that, but you get the idea.
Sound far-fetched? Those of us who are part of the Placer CRA Majority on the Placer County Republican Central Committee have lived with many of the above bully tactics.
You have been warned!

From my point of view what should Karen do?
She can’t appeal to the CRA Board because they are not willing to be bound by their Bylaws. She needs to appeal to an outside authority to referee this fiasco. She could go to the California Republican Party Board but much of the non-sense thus far is internal to the CRA. Other than get CRA stripped of recognition by the CRP which does nobody any good what can she do? I think her only recourse in the time remaining is probably the courts. If I had the funds I would probably consider it. The legal opinion that was given to Scott Voights sounds suspiciously like my previous blog.

“… we believe that the proposed Policy conflicts with the CRA bylaws, may violate state law, and that implementation of the Policy would require an amendment to CRA’s Bylaws which is approved by CRA delegates at a convention.” The Sutton Law Firm

If I were England and wanted to get relief in the Courts, I would get an injunction to block Greig and the CRA Board from enforcing the policy. If they took any action in violation of the court order I would have them removed as officers of the corporation.

As I keep saying, if Greig and company would follow the Bylaws and trust the process she would probably still win. All this is destructive, counterproductive and totally unnecessary. After this election is over how does anyone expect this group work together? As usual we will spend our time fighting each other and ceding the battle to the Democrats. I’m glad we’re all God fearing folk in this group because I’d hate to see how pagans would treat each other.

Posted by william on 04/02 at 01:42 PM
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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

CRA Battles to Verge of Extinction—Update

Updated material follows. The “nuclear option” went live today here is an analysis.

The nuclear option reads as follows:

It is the policy of CRA that Convention Delegates and Alternates must reside in the geographical boundaries of their respective chartered Republican Assemblies.  In order to prevent massive voter fraud, this policy will be implemented immediately and communicated to unit presidents, Board members, and proposed Delegates and Alternates as soon as possible.  The CRA Board of Directors requests that the Convention Rules Committee and the Credentials Committee adopt fair and even-handed policies and rules to implement this Board policy.  In order for the Credentials Committee to identify and communicate with Delegates and Alternates who may reside outside the boundaries of their respective chartered Republican Assemblies, four new members are hereby appointed to that Committee to help implement that effort…

Oh, the vote is due 03-31-11

Per President Celeste Greig, please vote (YES, NO, ABSTAIN), no later than the end of Thursday, March 31, 2011, on the motion below concerning the upcoming CRA Convention.

Two sections of the CRA Bylaws have a direct bearing on this proposal. They read as follows:

Section 9.04. Special Meetings. The Board of Directors may, without meeting together, transact business by mail, by voting on questions submitted to them by or with the approval of the President. Fifteen days shall be allowed for the return of the votes by mail, facsimile, or electronic mail to the Corresponding Secretary. The voting shall be considered closed at the end of fifteen days, provided that the majority of the members of the Board shall have returned their votes by that time, or it shall be considered closed at any time prior thereto if and when all of the Directors have returned their votes. If, at the expiration of the fifteen-day period, a majority of the Board of Directors has not returned their votes, the measure being voted upon shall be deemed to have failed. The Secretary must preserve all ballots received until the next meeting of the Board of Directors, at which meeting the Board of Directors shall order the disposition of the ballots. In cases where a hearing is required by the Bylaws of the CRA, voting by mail shall not be permitted unless authorized by a two-thirds vote of all members of the Board of Directors.

Clearly a two day voting window is a violation of the State Bylaws.

Section 4.04. Membership Requirements. In order to be eligible to join CRA, a person must be an American citizen of good moral character who is registered to vote as a Republican in the State of California.

Thus anyone can join any Republican Assembly as long as they reside in the State of California and are a registered Republican. If you can live anywhere and be a member, it is only logical that you could be a delegate too.

My daughter is in college in Southern California and a member of our Sacramento County unit. If a convention was held in Orange County and due to the cost of travel, it was necessary for her to be a delegate I would have no problem with that. It would allow our unit to be better represented by someone that we know and at a cost savings to members of our unit. Sure the folks attending the meeting locally should be offered the delegate positions first but if we need her and it works with her schedule then why not call on her?

However, such a generous membership policy was not always the case. I have a copy of the 1991 CRA Bylaws because I was at the Spring Convention and had several resolutions adopted that my friend Donna and I wrote. As a result, I kept my newsletter from the event as a souvenir. If you can find a copy, look at the following section:

Section12.03. Qualifications for Membership. Members of each Chartered Republican Assembly shall be those American citizens of good moral character who are registered with the Republican Party, in the geographical area of that Chartered Republican Assembly, except that those registered in an area where there is no Chartered Republican Assembly may become members of a Republican Assembly in a nearby unit until a new Republican Assembly may be Chartered Republican Assembly and must continue to comply with those Bylaws, and must pay such annual dues as may be fixed.

Because of other adventures that I had in the CRA, I know that this was changed sometime after 1999, when the requirements to live within the boundaries of the chartered club were dropped and residence anywhere in the State was instead adopted.

When I get into the tall grass with issues like this, I often hearken back to the Tom Cruise movie The Firm. The challenge of his character was how to get out of the mess he was in without tarnishing himself and losing his ability to practice law. He decided that if he would follow the law that he would be on safe ground and he could find a legitimate way of punishing the bad guys. In short should you cheat or behave honorably?

I think supporters of both Celeste Greig and Karen England should follow the rules and may the best person win. The irony of all this is that a Bylaws amendment has been written to deal with the delegate issue and it is likely to pass at the upcoming convention. After this gathering it should be a mute point.

Celeste has had two years to decertify the charters of the “paper clubs” that she now fears. She also could have set some delegate guidelines at the January 2011 Board Meeting but she lacked the foresight to do that. If she and her team failed to move on these issues when they had the time to do so then that’s too bad. The die is cast and to try to change the rules after the delegate deadline is destructive to the organization and says that the actual character of Celeste and her public persona are greatly divergent. Trying to suspend the Constitution to save the Union only worked for Lincoln because he had a bigger army.


Posted by william on 03/29 at 08:19 PM
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Sunday, March 27, 2011

CRA Battles to Verge of Extinction

The knives have come out for the fight over the leadership of the California Republican Assembly. In a contest that harkens back to the old MTV Celebrity Death Match, it’s incumbent Celeste Greig vs Karen England.

Celeste Greig started this term as one of ten vice presidents in California. After the CRA president—Ken Mettler—resigned to run for state assembly, she was promoted to replace him. Greig has served most of the two year term. She has been active in the CRA periodically for more than three decades. She has had some exposure on a national stage as a representative of Republican and conservative causes. In the early days of the program, she was a guest several times on Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher. She is strongly rooted in her views and values.

Karen England has been the president of Capitol Resource Institute (CRI) for many years. I know her best as the person that runs the City on a Hill summer camp for high school kids. England is often the lone voice at the capitol dissenting the crazy anti-family legislation that spews forth from liberals in Sacramento. Karen has served many terms as a vice-president in CRA. Most recently she was the National Committeewoman charged with representing the CRA the at the convention of National Federation of Republican Assemblies (NFRA).

Unfortunately, both candidates have their downside. Neither is an ideal candidate for the leadership of a volunteer grassroots organization that has gone from a paid membership of over 100,000 to one that now is lucky if they have three thousand. Both have some shady folks in their corner that tarnish the reputation of those around them. Heretofore, my biggest complaint is that they don’t respond to email correspondence from CRA members unless there is a potential benefit to them personally.

The rhetoric has been escalating for several weeks but supporters of Celeste Greig are preparing their version of the nuclear option. What they are planning will insure a victory over England but this short-term victory will likely destroy the organization. The reality is that if they follow the rules they would probably win on a straight-up vote, get the reforms that they seek and still beat England. This shortcut will be as divisive as the take-over of Barbara Alby and company in the late 1980’s.

From a look at the bylaws, what is being proposed cannot be done; however, this may not stop Greig and her supporters from trying. While I have promised not to disclose the particulars of the proposed course of action, I strongly argued that the tactics about to be employed are the wrong way to deal with England and her people. Once again, the God fearing folk in the Republican Party are resorting to power politics and not letting Scripture guide their lives.

Posted by william on 03/27 at 08:16 PM

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Reapportionment Rumors

Two rumors have been circulating lately about the process of drawing new lines for California districts for Congress, Senate and Assembly.

First, one consultant on the short list of possible vendors to help the citizen’s commission draw the new lines is directly affiliated with the guy that drew the lines last time Jerry Brown was governor.  This group claims to be non-partisan but they are just a front for Democrats.

Second, the new lines for Sacramento County will include two self contained congressional seats. By self-contained I mean that the districts will likely be wholly within the county. The western district will run from Natomas thru Sacramento to Elk Grove. This will be the new safe seat for Doris Matsui and the other district would be the more competitive home of Dan Lungren.

Let’s see if these two rumors come to pass.

Posted by william on 03/22 at 07:02 PM
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Monday, March 21, 2011

AT&T Ranks last in 4G speeds

The news for AT&T continues to be bad. First, AT&T has the most dropped calls of any U.S. cellular provider and terrible customer satisfaction results from J.D. Powers. Two weeks ago, it was reported that AT&T’s 4G speeds are actually slower than their 3G speeds. And now, AT&T has received yet another honor. Today CNET is reporting that RootMetrics has conducted a survey of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.

In the results shown below, Verizon clearly beats all other carriers. This news comes the day after AT&T announced that they have agreed to buy T-Mobile. Ironically, most folks that I know using T-Mobile are refugees that fled from AT&T because of their high prices and lousy service.


AT&T has become to the cellular phone industry what America Online has become to Internet service providers. If the recent data on AT&T won’t persuade you to change carriers then you deserve to wallow in mediocre technology.

Here is a sample of the press AT&T has received recently.

J.D. Power says Verizon tops in call quality

How AT&T Totally Flubbed 4G
“…if you stand in the same place with a “4G” phone and a “3G” phone on the same network, the 3G phone will be faster.”,2817,2381915,00.asp

Study: Verizon fastest among 4G networks

Posted by william on 03/21 at 09:00 PM

Sunday, March 20, 2011

CRP Convention

Thanks to Congressman Tom McClintock, the California Republican Party was delivered from the destructive course of action advocated by outgoing chair, Ron Nehring. In the eleventh hour, McClintock lent his name to the proposal by Mike Spence to move to a vote by mail caucus beginning in 2014. While not perfect, the Spence plan will allow a primary election to be conducted via mail and allow any interested registered Republicans to participate. Despite three years to plan for it, the Party decided that they did not have the time to implement the system for the 2012 election cycle and opted for a “do no harm” approach to this series of elections.

Spence’s proposal is a positive development but it opens a series of new questions that should be addressed at the next convention.

My peer group has talked it over and we think that using snail mail for anything is costly and if the CRP had any visionary folks they would get the primary set-up as an online voting system. This would be a perfect opportunity for any aspiring tech company to field test their voting system under actual conditions without the repercussions of screwing-up an election for a government entity. After all California is the home of Silicon Valley and such a system is a logical extension of technology.

In addition, the CRP has no clue how to pay for the primary. In the past this exercise has always been paid for by taxpayers. Now that it will become privately funded we are entering uncharted territory.

The one office not addressed by this proposal is the election of Central Committee members. Should this be the only partisan election still paid by taxpayers? How does this affect McCain-Feingold campaign finance laws? Are Central Committees still needed or are they relics of a bygone era?

Allowing registered voters to continue to participate is good but trusting the CRP to get it right is a slightly more dubious proposition.

Posted by william on 03/20 at 10:03 PM
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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Nuclear Power Myths

By far the most pervasive myth of nuclear power is that the reactor goes critical just before it explodes. This is non-sense and has been a constant source of irritation to people knowledgeable about nuclear power. I don’t care how big a budget the movie has, when characters start talking about nuclear power they always get it wrong. The only description I have ever seen in popular culture that got it right was Tom Clancy.

Simply put when a reactor is critical, it is creating enough power to sustain a nuclear reaction.

A nuclear reaction is controlled by several factors including design of fuel and control rods, degree of enrichment of the uranium, medium used for heat transfer. The two things controlled by nuclear plant operators are position of control rods and coolant.

When a reactor is “scrammed” the control rods are rapidly inserted into the reactor. The rods absorb energy that would otherwise go into the fuel and disrupt the chain reaction from continuing. Thus the reactor is shutdown. Gradual raising and lowering of control rods can increase or decrease the temperature of the reactor. Depending on the design, a reactor will operate at a temperature of 450 – 600 degree Fahrenheit.

Coolant is used to transfer heat from the reactor to heater exchangers (often steam generators) and then the cooler fluid is pumped back to the reactor to be heated again. Usually the coolant is very pure water. However, I have been to an early reactor in Idaho that was cooled by liquid sodium. This closed loop then transferred heat to another closed loop of liquid sodium and then via a heat exchanger, created steam to power a generator. Imagine if this was the design in Japan and they had to resort to cooling their reactors with sea water. (If you didn’t know, sodium reacts violently with water.)

In many water cooled plants, the water not only is used to transfer heat but it actually can help control the nuclear reaction. In water cooled, water moderated nuclear power plants, the water’s ability to expand when heated and contract when cooled is used to help the reactor maintain a constant temperature. When the water is heated, the water molecules get further apart and reflect fewer neutrons back into the fuel, when the temperature decreases, the water becomes denser and will reflect more neutrons back into the reactor.

A normally operating reactor is critical and will maintain a rather constant temperature as long as the heater transfer process is constant.

Next time you see a movie featuring a hero that is desperately trying to prevent the reactor from going critical; please remember that you are witnessing a drama where a Hollywood myth is being presented as fact. Reactors are supposed to go critical. That’s what they are designed to do.

Posted by william on 03/15 at 09:53 PM
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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Meltdown in Japan

First, I am moved by the destruction and devastation in Japan. My prayers are going out to the folks over there. The loss of life is much greater than the preliminary reports.

In a former life, I worked as a nuclear reactor operator so I think I understand the basics of what is occurring in Japan. Much of what is happening depends on the design of the plant. What is the percentage of enrichment of the fuel? What is the coolant used? (Likely very pure water but nuke plants can run with other types of coolant.) What is the operating temperature and pressure of the plant? What is design and placement of the control rods?

The plants where I worked is in some ways like the typical cooling system in a car. The engine is a heat source, water is pumped thru the engine and is warmed, it passes thru pipes to the radiator and is cooled and then the cooler water returns to the engine to be heated. The whole system is closed with an overflow source to allow for expansion and contraction of the water and this allows for the addition of more water to the system.

If the engine is running, ever just idling, and the water pump breaks, water ceases to circulate in the engine. As it heats—even under pressure—it will turn to steam. In a reactor when this happens the core can become uncovered, the fuel rods will distort and could leak fuel into the reactor. What can happen is an uncontrolled reaction that damages the reactor vessel and/or a steam explosion. The end result is an uncontrolled release of radioactive material.

To prevent such an occurrence, there are emergency generators on the site in case an external source of power is needed to run pumps for cooling during maintenance or emergency. Since the plant is on the coast, a last resort would be salt water. The plant can never be operated again if saltwater is used to cool the reactor compartment.

It appears that this option has been used to cool the reactor. When the water was pumped in and came in contact with the pressure vessel—which contains the nuclear fuel—a brittle fracture resulted, some water flashed to steam and the building which was structurally compromised by the earthquake collapsed. At this point the core is covered and the plant is a multimillion dollar pile of scrap.

Posted by william on 03/12 at 12:42 PM
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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

2011 Budget Drama: Jerry’s Deadline Near

Two more days until Jerry Brown’s deadline for a ballot measure to be approved by the legislature so voters can raise their own taxes in June. Will Republicans hold fast or will Jerry find replacements for Roger Neillo and Abel Maldonado?

Posted by william on 03/08 at 10:41 PM
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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Get Expelled for $4.99


I found Ben Stein’s Expelled: No Intelligent Design Allowed at Fry’s Electronics today for $4.99.
If you aren’t familiar with the movie here are some things for you to learn more.

World Magazine Article.

RC Sproul interviews Ben Stein about the movie.

Posted by william on 02/26 at 04:12 PM

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Open Letter to CRA Leaders calling for response to the Ron Nehring amendment


CRA has been a leader in California Republican Party politics for over 75 years. One distinctive that has always set CRA apart from other groups is the emphasis on pre-primary endorsements. In the wake of the passage of Prop 14, the pre-primary endorsement is no longer possible. However, I think most in CRA would like to have our local chapters have a voice in deciding who wins in the June election. The Nehring proposal will effectively make the endorsement of any republican candidate not selected by his process illegal.

CRA members who are delegates to the endorsing conventions must literally tow the party line or risk expulsion for four years from any party activity. The CRA no longer has a prohibition on officers also serving on county committees but the inverse is about to be true. The CRA will be muzzled on its choice of candidates or lose its right to participate in the selection process.

Nehring’s proposal implements at top-down leadership style much like he ran in San Diego County as its Central Committee Chair. CRA is a grassroots, bottom-up organization.

Nehring is advocating a “smoke filled room,” behind closed doors event, populated by party insiders and is disenfranchising millions of republican voters by excluding them from the process. Whatever process is adopted, it must include the opportunity for rank and file republicans to have a voice. If regular republicans are told by party bosses who their nominee is then haven’t we crossed the proverbial Rubicon and become the Democrat party. After all that’s how they got Jerry Brown.

Nehring’s proposal has many shortcomings that we still have time to fix but in order to do so we must organize enough to vote this down at the spring convention and work to substitute a better framework for adoption in September. This is the crucial issue of the 2012 election and we need to start acting now.

I think CRA needs to adopt a statement of principles about what would be an acceptable process for endorsement. I suggest the following as a basis for that discussion.
• If the CRP is to establish an official party nominee, all registered republicans should be afforded an opportunity to have input into that system. I don’t think a majority will actually participate but the fact that they could if they chose to will be the difference between the nominee being accepted or ignored. If our voters think they are being dictated to by the party, then I think many will sever their ties to Republican Party. Ronald Reagan had faith in the American people and so should we.
• No incumbent should be given a free pass for endorsement just because he won the last election. We can all name a host of RINOs that deserve to have a challenger from within our own party. Candidates that lose touch with their constituents always move decidedly to the Left.
• The entire process must be open to the public. Transparency and the rule of law will set us apart from the Democrats. When California goes off the cliff, we must show that we are offering something different and better not just more of the same if we hope to gain the trust of the electorate.

The Republican Brand is tarnished and Nehring’s plan will relegate us into obscurity. If it passed, in four short years we will be hearing of the Tea Party versus the Democrats because no one will be a Republican any more.

I implore you to stop the Nehring plan and work to open the process to all republicans.

Posted by william on 02/23 at 10:15 PM
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CRP Says Forget about 1099s

Oops. I just got word that the California Republican Party neglected to send Form 1099s to their campaign workers. The forms were legally required to be sent by January 31st. Their position is it is a matter of conscience whether you wish to report the income. They reported it to the FEC as services rendered. I guess they missed the part about getting a corporate ID number or needing to report the workers paid over $600.

Did they learn nothing from all the BS Meg Whitman went thru with her maid?

Posted by william on 02/23 at 10:03 PM
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

SCRP Crab Feed & Million Dollar Budget for 2011-12

The Sacramento County Republican Party met Thursday night (Feb 10) for their monthly general meeting. The two main pieces of business that were discussed were the crab feed that was held the following night and the adoption of the two year budget.

Here is a brief summary of the crab feed.
The crab feed was held in Elk Grove at the SES hall. Like much that the Central Committee has done lately it was the things missing that were most noteworthy. Neither Republican group based in Elk Grove was contacted prior to the event being planned and asked for help or input. Neither club was asked for volunteers in exchange for part of the ticket sales. At the event, there was no formal program. It is the first event that I have attended since the “Christian Conservatives” took over the committee three years ago that did not include a Flag Salute, opening prayer—including grace before the meal—and a headliner or guest speaker. Only wine was available during the meal. No water or soda was offered or available for purchase once serving began. The only person formally introduced was chair Sue Blake. After about 25 percent of the folks had gone home, the drawing for the raffle was begun. The desert promised in the flyer advertising the event was never served.

The other item of business was the two year budget.  The budget was put together by political consultant Duane Dichiara who was appointed head of the Finance Committee. It was presented to the Executive Board—however; notice to the general membership for this meeting was ever given. The budget was not given to members of the committee prior to the meeting. I first saw it when I arrived at the Thursday night meeting. Amazingly enough, this budget was over one million dollars!

The 2011 budget is $150,000 and the 2012 budget is $975,000. That’s $1,125,000 for you and me. $750,000 of this is allotted for pass-through of funds to various campaigns.

As is now the practice, what we weren’t told is where my interest is focused. We had a two year budget for 2009 & 2010, logically; one would like to know how we did on that one before approving another. Since the committee went thru four treasurers in the last term, this might require some work by the new treasurer—the fifth since Blake rose to the Chair in 2009.

This budget coupled with the current bylaws is a formula for malfeasance. There are no checks and balances from here on out as the executive committee proceeds to spend like drunken congressmen. As long as they stay in “the black” nothing will happen to the committee. The real question is how liability will be apportioned to the membership if this group ends up in debt? The irony that such a group (lead by lawyers) has such contempt for the rule of law is a marvel to behold.

Unfortunately, two features that dominate the committee leadership are that they are government employees and none have any children. Thus private sector experience and affordability of events are lacking as important values in the current group.

As I watch this group, my mind keeps harkening back to book that Gary North wrote about the confrontation of Moses and Pharaoh. In the book Moses and Pharaoh: Dominion Religion versus Power Religion, North discusses that Pharaoh was all about “power religion”—to him the State was all powerful and he was its god. The SCRP seems to have embraced power as the quick path to success. The notion of serving those who elected the committee members is a very foreign concept to the current leadership. This will no doubt end badly but the full extent of the carnage will be somewhere in the future.

Posted by william on 02/15 at 10:26 PM
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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Organizational meeting Sacramento County Republican Central Committee 2011-12

Every time I go to a meeting like last night, I’m reminded of a statement that someone once made to me about moving on from the central committee and getting involved in meaningful politics. Anyway, the bulk of the meeting was predetermined prior to last night. Having been on the planning end of such meetings, I know ‘em when I see ‘em.

After the opening ceremonies of the meeting, county elections officials administered the oath of office and then the business portion of the meeting began.

The center of contention was not the slate of candidates because those were a foregone conclusion, but the bylaws. As was predicted to me several weeks ago, the ruling majority from last time lead by Sue Blake and Terry Mast under the tutelage of Duane Dichiara implemented much of the bylaws from San Diego County.

Minutes prior to the meeting, one of my friends did manage to negotiate a few minor concessions from Terry Mast; however, two major points that we objected to survive motions to remain in the document that was adopted.

First, a provision was added to require mandatory dues of $100. This provision reads:

Section 6.  Annual Dues.  Annual dues for Members, Alternates, and Associates shall be $100 per year, payable no later than the regular March Central Committee meeting. These dues shall qualify Members, Alternates, and Associates for membership in the Century Club. Those individuals who can demonstrate financial hardship to the Chairman may be allowed to “pay dues” at a rate of $10 per hour “volunteering” at the Republican Headquarters or Central Committee events, as approved by the Chairman, for a maximum of six and one half (6.5) hours.  Members must pay a minimum of $35 cash.  Members who have not paid dues or arranged to work off their dues will have their voting rights suspended until such dues have been paid.

The second provision that survived last night’s voting requires any new business to go to the Executive Board or it cannot be brought up at the regular meeting of the Central Committee without a 2/3 vote of members. Reluctantly we did get them to agree to strike the portion that a majority vote was required by the Executive Committee to bring something to the committee.

Section 1.  All resolutions, bylaws amendments, or other business of the Central Committee shall be first brought to the previous meeting of the Executive Board. A majority vote will bring this business to the full Central Committee. In the alternative, business may be brought before the full Central Committee for placement on the agenda, and will require a two-thirds vote of the Central Committee to be considered.

Jeff Allen was nominated as First Vice-chair. Carl Brickey was nominated also. A motion was then made and passed to close nominations. After this was done Mr. Allen informed the chair that he had not taken the oath of office. The chair administered the oath on the spot and then proceeded with the vote. After several motions about whether the vote should be voice, roll call or standing, the vote was held and Allen was resoundingly elected.

Today a friend reminded me that Jeff Allen had won election to the Placer County Republican Central Committee in June 2010 for the term beginning this month. He said that Jeff was not at their organizational meeting this week but his alternate—Tom Hudson—was. He also told me that Jeff had turned in his voter registration card for Sacramento County yesterday just hours before the meeting. Both Sue Blake and Tom Hudson are members of the California State Bar.

No other offices were contested. The Composition of the Executive Board is five elected members and six members appointed by the chairman. We did get them to agree that these appointments should receive the consent of the full committee.

In the new business portion of the meeting the chair announced the crab feed that was scheduled in February. Most of the way thru her presentation she was asked if the Committee needed to authorize funds for the Event. Sue was bewildered. After being reminded that no budget yet existed for the committee and that per her bylaws any expense over $1,000 needed authorization, she finally agreed to request funds up to $5,000 be spent on the event.

Today a friend spoke at length with the Executive Director of the Committee. He was told that the actual cost of the crab feed was far in excess of the $5,000 that was authorized. He inquired why only this amount was requested. He learned that the money was spent in December. The reasoning was that since this was under the old committee, no one needed be informed of this information. He then pointed out that no funds were authorized by the previous committee. The ED just shrugged.

As the expense issue was winding down, the chair then remembered that it would be a good idea to actually appoint her Events chair and get the consent of the group. That went so well she also announced her Finance chair. Now that she was really warmed-up she decided to do the rest of her slate in one vote.

Thinking that the meeting was over she asked if there were any other issues, I raised my hand and when called upon (after all, my wife is a teacher) I asked what was going on with the Executive Director? We were told that he was part time during January. The follow-up question is how much is part time? We were told $1,700. The chair was then reminded that she needed this expense to be authorized also. The motion was made to authorize the Executive Board to spend up to $5,000 for the Executive Director. Others on the committee questioned the number and said shouldn’t we authorized something more like $2,500. The makers of the motion were firm that $5,000 was the correct figure. After a few grumbles, the question was called and passed.

After puzzling this over last night the epiphany occurred what was really going on. If half is $1,700 and full time is $3,400 this is suspiciously close to $5,000. They have him on half salary this month and plan to go up to full salary in February without coming back to the body. Sure enough he confirmed this when my friend talked to him today. This was the plan all along.

This group is amazingly tone-deaf to the electorate and many of their own members. It costs nothing to file to run for county central committee, we appear on the ballot and are either directly elected or represent candidates that are but now we must pay a $100 fee to vote on behalf of the people that elected us? This is both illegal and contrary to our republican form of government. We even must take the same oath of office as the Governor of our state!

Furthermore these same people now assert that this elected body is private and can exclude members of the public at will. Imagine that, you can vote for us on the ballot but have no right to know what we do or how we conduct our business on your behalf. This is the Soviet style of governing not the model of American Democracy. Refusing to publicize their meetings and invite the public just makes the group more insular and less accountable.

The irony is that the same people that just tripled the dues and made them mandatory are the same folks that said it was illegal to charge any dues just four short years ago. Now like their former benefactor Roger Neillo, they think the solution is to triple the dues in the midst of an economic slowdown.

The Republican Party is in decline in California. Less transparency and more barriers to participation are not the way to grow the party. It is doubling down on a suicide pact. With the changes coming in the next election cycle, behavior like this can only hasten the decline of the party.

Posted by william on 01/15 at 12:31 PM

Friday, November 05, 2010

Democrat Tactics in California

The Democrat Party in California did something the national party could not do; they ran a unified campaign for the entire state. The themes of the Democrat campaign was attack Republican opponents and avoid their own records. Unlike most campaigns however, they did not rest with attacking their Republican opponents, they actually attacked the Republican base. Democrats employed focus group results, push polls and targeted mailing.

The Democrats employed a “campaign in a box” strategy. Republican candidates were classified into categories and then attacked by the same accusations that were used on the neighboring Republican candidate. It was literally a form letter “insert name here” approach. For example, Jack Sieglock and Abram Wilson were attached with the same accusation with the exact same wording in several flyers mailed into their districts. The only difference was the color scheme of the flyer. By centralizing printing operations and using “cookie cutter” mailers, not only did they save lots of money but they were able to use tested materials to maximize the damage inflicted on Republicans.

In their mailers Democrats divided the electorate into three groups. They tried to increase their own base, sway the fickle Decline to State voters and depress Republican turn-out. Many mailers appeared with subtle variations to micro-target various sub-groups of voters. Many districts saw 30 to 40 different mailers with different distributions.

In addition, high propensity Republican voters were targeted with “push polls” to try to reduce their support of Republicans and if possible discourage them from voting. “Push polls” disguise gossip and distortion into a Dr. Seuss style litany. They ask questions similar to these: If you knew your candidate was an axe murderer would you still support him? If you knew he beat his wife and liked the New York Yankees would you still support him? If you knew Sarah Palin sent him an email would you still voter for him? The voters are subjected to psychological warfare to separate them from their candidates.

By waiting for the month before the election, they caught the Republicans flatfooted again. Republicans knew that the Dems would “go negative” but by running decentralized campaigns with no coordination they had no idea what hit them. What I wrote in this blog is known only to a few outsiders to the Democrat campaign machine. The beauty of this strategy is that it uses the strength of the Republicans against themselves. Democrats divide and conquer by uniting.

Posted by william on 11/05 at 08:33 PM
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