Written by Aaron F Park
Many of you wonk types know that we pulled off a stunning upset, electing John W Briscoe CRA President in an 84-78 shocker.
The real story leads up to the convention and about the convention itself. Those of us supporting Briscoe had the deck stacked against us.
Briscoe only had the public support of three CRA Executive Board Members – CRA VP Tim Thiesen, Membership Secretary George Park and Sgt. At Arms Aaron Park.
The location of the convention in Burlingame was a product of Celeste leaning on the CRA board with a “fairness” argument against it being in Sacramento again. In reality, Celeste believed that having the San Mateo RA and not the Placer/SAC/Cosumnes RA hosting worked in her favor.
In the days leading up to the convention, it became obvious to our team that Celeste and others were attempting to control all the details of the convention and that information about the convention was closely guarded – including confirmed speakers. There were never communications on CRA emails or otherwise – the official CRA email system was reserved for Celeste campaigning.
The agenda of the convention was a closely guarded secret as well. No one except for Celeste’s team knew what it was until getting to the convention.
All of these measures of control depressed attendance – which appears to have been a goal of Celeste’s campaign.
This is a sick irony to the 1,000 member loss since 7/23/2011 – the central point of John W Briscoe’s campaign against Celeste.
We chose to employ a strategy of exposing Steve Frank’s undue influence in the CRA. Mr. Frank could not handle it. He made a series of blunders that were indicative of someone 1/3 his age.
At the Convention itself, we had decided to make sure that Steve Frank felt like he was under siege. The “Stop Frank” signs were everywhere, there were handouts and all the usual stuff you’d see at a CRP convention – except that Steve Frank was the star.
This had a devastating effect on Celeste Greig. Steve Frank went in to save himself mode. He threw everyone under the bus to save himself – including a mole that was in our operation! Steve Frank threw the mole under the bus because he was running for CRA VP as well.
Celeste had stacked every committee – the Credentials Committee was stacked 6-2 against Briscoe, and we fully well expected Steve Frank to take a run at several of our units. I had attacked him repeatedly for doing so in the weeks leading up to the convention and he did. He attempted to disqualify Kings, Fresno and Ventura – all had endorsed Briscoe.
The Convention Rules Committee – Almost All were Celeste Supporters.
At the convention – there was a strong whisper campaign. We were accused of boycotting the meals, accused of supporting liberals, accused of supporting fake units, accused of wanting to take over CRA – whatever it took to try to convince people to support Celeste.
On Sunday during the voting – one of our team members saw Celeste sitting with the delegates from Porterville and telling them how to vote their ballots!
For me personally, the absurdity of the convention was underscored by the fact that my opponent changed that weekend. Originally, JD Kennedy was supposed to oppose me, but at about Noon on Saturday – San Joaquin RA President Jim Shoemaker was tapped by Team Celeste instead.
During the candidate speeches – Steve Frank committed suicide. He spent his speech attacking me and ironically, I had to quiet a heckler while Mr. Frank was attacking me!
Even the election committee was stacked. All of them were Celeste supporters. I was the only Briscoe supporter in the room with six others.
Early in the count – we were all losing, and at the halfway point, I was up by a couple, George was trailing as was John.
It was not until the last ballots were counted that George pulled away and John took a lead that stood up.
The people in the counting room were in shock.
I had heard that Celeste’s team believed that they were up 35 votes. My count had John up 25 votes – which I embellished to 35-40 votes when I talked to people on Saturday (psyops).
For the three weeks in to the convention, I had John leading on every headcount. The whisper campaign only succeeded in keeping Orange County delegates on the reservation, but the reason why John only won by 6 votes is that there was massive drop-off. Several delegates no-showed at the last minute, the usual stuff.
I had never made it public what kind of a lead John Briscoe had on purpose – or we would have lost, as many more would not have showed.
As it was, the lengths that Celeste went to control an outcome were extraordinary.
Now – some of the rumors floating around are that Munger took over the CRA. (Where’s my check, Charlie???)
But my favorite stupidity is that we “stole the election”, yeah with an election committee of 100% Celeste supporters?
The era of a small group controlling CRA has been lifted. The CRA is closed for business and open to activists.
But, this is the rest of the story on the convention.