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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tempest in a Lehigh Valley Teapot

A few days ago, Kim Schmidtner resigned as the LV Tea Party Chair. Her temporary successor, Barbara Walters, stepped down yesterday. So did Secretary Joan Campbell, who quit the Executive Board as well. Campbell cites "continued personal attacks by members of the board." That's not all. One of its most active participants, Donna Baver Rovito, has bailed out as Chair of its Health Care Reform Committee. Rovito notes "animosity, paranoia, and desire for control" from two unnamed members of the Executive Board, but she is obviously referring to King Joe Hilliard and Queen Kim Schmidtner.
This infighting is a dispute over the local party's continued role. Should it be strictly an educational group that meets once every month to listen to some speaker drone on about high taces? Or should it take a more active role in the political process? Exec Board members Joe Hilliard and Kim Schmidtner prefer the lecture circuit, and the result has been a dwindling membership. Some formerly active members, like Chris Miller, left long ago because he was actively discouraged from taking an active role in the political process. Mat Benol, the first elected chair, stepped down in February, amidst accusations that he was too chummy with Congressman Charlie Dent.

During my trial, I learned that the local tea party has yet to file for 501(c)(3) status. So there really is nothing holding them back if they want to be more political, except their own by-laws. Those can be amended.

Although the tea party espouses greater individual freedom in principle, its leadership has operated in the shadows. A mysterious "Executive Board" decides everything without rank-and-file members having a clue, and then refuse to post their minutes online. Mat Benol asks,"Shouldn't the LVTP show the same transparency that we ask in our Government?" In addition, they've posted pronouncements on their web page, but lock the topic to bar further discussion. I am still barred from the site, except as a "guest." That's a direct violation of the decision of rank-and-file members.

The tea party meets monthly at the Chrin Community Center in Palmer Township. But guess what? The agreement is in Benol's name. Hilliard and Schmidtner have been told that they'll need to find a new place to meet because a new group is forming, and they'll be using the Chrin building.

My suspicion is that there will either be a new, politically-focused tea party, or the entire group will disintegrate.


purrduedvm said...

You can only be a guest on the website?? WHAT??

Well, speaking for some I know, there will be NO giving up the good fight for our Constitutionally granted liberties, fiscal responsibility, repeal of the PPACA, etc.
For others, we can only hope they graduate from junior high SOMEDAY.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Love your blog.

I was able to get on for a day or two, and then was cut off. Joan Campbell set up an account herself and it does not work.

Anonymous said...

There should be two segments to the Tea Party. One for educational purposes and the other to get people elected who care more about the taxpayers and less about running for next office.

It's sort of sad to see everyone bailing out like that, but one can only hope that in the end a stronger group of leaders emerges.

Anonymous said...

A few knuckleheads who think they run things cannot dampen the voting enthusiasm of those who detest political organization and want government to be smaller. Two assholes don't speak for the larger movement. And the last time I checked, Chris Miller was heading for the Nazareth School Board. I'd be willing to pay admission to attend those meetings. The movement is more than two people who want to be in charge, or anyone who demands disaffected voters stand neatly organized. Last November proved that.

notsocasualobserver said...

Donna Rovito has been an asset to the the Lehigh Valley since at last 2003, long before there was a tea party and her involvement, I am sure, will continue in the LV. The TP was lucky to have her sanity, professionalism and dedication. We all benefit from her contributions to our community

purrduedvm said...

Well said notsocasualobserver!

Jon Geeting said...

"A few knuckleheads who think they run things cannot dampen the voting enthusiasm of those who detest political organization and want government to be smaller."

Clearly the LV Tea Party detests political organization, and that is why they are no longer politically organized.

Patrick McHenry said...

Jon -

I'm sure you're right. Nothing to worry about for 2011 (or 2012).

You can go back to sleep now and keep dreaming.

Ayn Rand said...

Anonymous 7:11AM
Come on down and help us out. It is going to be an interesting journey. I am looking forward to serving on the board and I would like to see as many residents and taxpayers at the meetings as the room will hold. I would like to see indivi

Chris Miller said...

Anonymous 7:11
Allow me to continue. I would like to see taxpayers at s the table when it comes time to do things like buying books, negotiating contracts and the budget process because you are not represented at the table of very important issues. Come to the board meetings and give us your opinion and ideas

Donna Baver Rovito said...

Purr Views (http://purrduedvm.blogspot.com/) is a deliciously fun blog to read - I especially love the post about NEUTICLES - which are prostheses that allow neutered male dogs to look....well, UN-neutered!

I could think of a couple of humans who might benefit from the installation of a pair of neuticles...whoops, did I say that out loud?

notsocasualobserver - THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for the VERY kind words.

No worries, folks, the work to repeal ObamaCare and replace it with real reforms that will actually work will continue.

The medical groups with which I work have long understood that legislative advocacy inevitably morphs into political advocacy when important issues aren't resolved within a single legislative session (and they almost NEVER are, since slow and backward are the usual speeds in most legislative bodies).

At that point, groups must ensure that their supporters remain in office to achieve their legislative goals - or that those who oppose those goals are replaced with "friendlier" legislators. That's why physician and patient advocacy groups have political action committees - so that one arm of their organizations can focus on education and pure legislative advocacy, while the other focuses on making sure that elected officials who support their agenda get elected and/or remain in office. In many cases, the same people are involved in both efforts, as I have been for many years. It's a fine line we must walk, but it's not all the difficult to separate legislative from political advocacy if you just think about what you're doing. My personal line will become a little trickier when I take over as President of the PA Medical Society Alliance on Oct. 16, but I'm pretty sure I can manage to distinguish between education, legislation, and politics. Anyone with a modicum of intelligence and a clear understanding of the differences can manage to do that.

That nothing in government is done in a timely fashion is why elections matter as much as they do. It isn't enough to tell politicians what we expect of them, because there are SOME politicians (in BOTH parties) who will never, EVER do what the public wants (like those who voted for the PPACA even though the American people opposed it by wide margins.)

And legislative advocacy matters - calling and emailing and writing to and meeting with our elected officials DOES make a difference.

And holding elected officials' feet to the fire matters. They all need to know that the next election just JUST AROUND THE CORNER, and if they don't keep their promises or vote as their constituents want them to, it could be pink slip time.

IT ALL MATTERS. And citizens need to be involved in ALL of it.

Perhaps it was inevitable that those who support engaging in ALL of those activities would break with a group which is focused only on education - and while educating the public is a noble and important goal and LVTP has done an outstanding job doing so, there are other steps which need to be taken. Many of us are hoping to take those steps, to combine our efforts, and really make a difference not only in the next election cycle, but for years and years to come.

MY focus continues to be quality health care, and to that end I plan to continue to work with the members of our health care committee to defund, repeal, and replace the PPACA - and if part of that effort includes supporting candidates who promise to do so after they take office in 2013, then I'm prepared to do whatever needs to be done to achieve that goal. (Hint - we need more doctors and other medical professionals to run for public office!)

Anyone who would like to be involved in that effort is welcome to contact me at LiabilityNews@aol.com.

Bernie, thank you for making sure that the public finds out what's really happening. It was an honor to defend your freedom of speech and the press.

Anonymous said...

Hey Chris, the first thing you can do to show your good faith and honesty is to publicly give up your publicly funded teachers pension. You know the evil public pension you get so you can crusade against all those who work for a pension, oh oh, never mind.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie O'Hare said...

The point's been made once. No reason to be repetitive, especially with a comment that screws up every other word.

Chris Miller said...

Anonymous 4:19PM
Were you born a fool or just transitioned into it. For all you know I might be giving my pension to charity. That said, in order to get us back on line I would be willing to give up 10% of my pension until the economy was back in good shape. Now how about you big mouth.

Chris Miller said...

Tell me why you refuse to put your name up there. Are you a Gracedale Goon who feels guilty about picking up your paycheck because you know you didn't do a damn thing to deserve it? I know you aren't a private union guy because they don't belong to the anonymous family. They guts

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie O'Hare said...

If you want to continue your attack on Chris Miller, identify yourself.

Anonymous said...

Ok Bernie, you are right I am "Battle Cry of the Republic" or you can call me "Ayn Rand". I am no longer anonymous, right Chris.

Bernie O'Hare said...

If you want to attack Battle Cry or Ayn Rand, knock yourself out. But if you want to attack Chris Miller, please identify yourself.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Battle Cry is a fraud.

Ayn Rand