By Greg Stempfle
Due to the increasing escalation of the coronavirus outbreak, the Libertarian Party of Michigan (LPM) postponed their March 14, 2020 state convention, which was originally scheduled to be held at the Eberhard Center at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in Grand Rapids. The rescheduled convention will be held via video conference on Saturday, April 4, 2020 at noon.
We apologize to everyone for the last minute cancellation. Events unfolded very quickly on that Friday morning before the decision was made and published at about 12:30 PM. The call to postpone the LPM Convention was ultimately made by LPM Chair Greg Stempfle, upon the advice of the Convention Committee Chair Jamie Lewis. The decision was not directly based on any action taken by the Governor, President, or any government official, but by the significant number of convention delegates who said they would not attend or urged us to postpone over concerns of viral exposure.
Over the course of the morning, it was reported, among other things, that four cases of coronavirus were traced to Grand Rapids, and that both the Governor and President would be taking various emergency measures later that day. At this point, the entire banquet program would have been cancelled, and attendance might have been too low for certain business items to have been addressed. Fearing that the fallout from holding the convention, including potentially spreading the virus, would outweigh the fallout of postponing the convention, the Chair ultimately made the decision to postpone.
Rescheduled State Convention to be Held April 4th via Video-conference
The Libertarian Executive Committee (LEC) held an emergency meeting on the evening of Friday, March 13 to discuss the status of the state convention. The LEC voted to hold our rescheduled national delegate selection convention on Saturday, April 4 at noon via video conference. Our bylaws require us to nominate our national delegates by April 10, and it was felt that any in-person convention would not be feasible until the coronavirus outbreak fears subside. This will be a streamlined business session only convention. We also voted to extend the deadline for affiliates to submit names of additional state convention delegates to March 28, and the 30-day membership deadline will be extended to cover those who joined the state party as a dues-paying member on or before March 5th. While the LPM has a business Zoom account, we will investigate other platforms to see which can best accommodate our agenda needs. Before the actual April 4th Zoom convention, the LEC will schedule a trial-run “mock convention” to work out technical glitches in order to ensure that our first virtual convention will run smoothly.
Current Procedural Status of Convention
On Saturday morning, the day the convention was originally scheduled to be held, three members of our executive board (Jamie Lewis, Mary Buzuma, and Nathan Hewer) met outside the Eberhard Center to perform a parliamentary procedure known as “Fix the Time To Which to Adjourn”. What this did is allow us to keep our original call to convention intact and enable our rescheduled convention to be in compliance with Robert’s Rules of Order.
Status of Refunds
It is our intention to provide as much of a refund as possible to those who paid for the various registration items. Jamie Lewis is meeting with GVSU officials today (Monday the 16th) to discuss our financial obligation. However, the Party will still be liable for at least a part of the cost of the banquet and luncheon food purchases. Based on their conversation, the LEC will vote on a refund policy at their next meeting on Sunday, March 22. Some have suggested that, if a significant refund is not feasible in light of the current LPM budget, those fees that persons have paid for this convention could be applied toward future membership dues or convention fees.
The LPM bylaws expressly permit video conferencing for official business.
Many people have asked if our bylaws allow for video conferencing. The answer is yes. There are two places in our bylaws that explicitly state that electronic meetings are acceptable.
IX. ELECTRONIC MEETINGS AND PROCEDURES
This [prohibition of asynchronous voting procedures] does not prohibit other synchronous forms of communication and voting, such as conference call or videoconferencing, to be used for official business.
IV. LOCAL PARTY ORGANIZATIONS
3.A.1. The affiliate may hold a combined convention for all counties and districts within the affiliate region at the same place(s) and/or via a synchronous electronic meeting;
Robert’s Rules of Order Regarding Electronic Meetings
The most recent version of Robert’s Rules of Order (11th edition, published in 2011) has a new section on electronic meetings, pp. 97-99, which will be used, along with our bylaws, as a guide on to how to conduct the video conference convention. When reviewing these applicable pages of Robert’s, note that the 11th edition is the current one that you should be referencing, and that all of the free versions available online are earlier editions.
The Michigan Libertarian Executive Committee (LEC) held an emergency meeting this evening to discuss the postponed state convention. The LEC voted to hold their rescheduled national delegate selection convention on Saturday, April 4 at noon via video conference. Our bylaws require us to nominate our national delegates by April 10th and it was felt that any in-person convention would not be feasible until the coronavirus outbreak fears subside.
This will be a streamlined business session only convention. We also voted to extend the deadline for affiliates to submit names of additional state convention delegates to March 28 and the 30 day membership deadline will be extended to cover those joining on or before March 5th. While the LPM has a business Zoom account, we will investigate other platforms to see which can best accommodate our agenda needs and will schedule a mock convention to work out the details of holding our first virtual convention.
Details will be made available as they take shape.
Thank you to everyone for your understanding during these unprecedented times and please stay safe.
Here is the initial postponement announcement sent to delegates and posted on social media.
Due to the increasing escalation of the coronavirus outbreak, the Libertarian Party of Michigan is POSTPONING their state convention which was scheduled for tomorrow at the Eberhard Center at Grand Valley State University. The state party executive board will be holding an emergency meeting tonight to discuss how to proceed but it’s looking increasingly likely the rescheduled convention will have to be hold via video conference. Most details to follow.
We apologize to everyone for the last minute cancellation.