Having met the requirements for calling the meeting we proceeded to conduct business at hand. Tops on our list was to reinstate the 19 members that Lew Oliver expelled and barred from voting at the December 2008 OCREC Board election meeting. These disbarred members had met all the requirements mandated for voting status by the Orange County Supervisor of Elections. Yet Lew Oliver knew that should they be ceded their voting rights, they would most likely vote against him continuing as OCREC Chairman. So in order to preserve his chairmanship, Oliver refused to allow them to vote.
What Oliver didn't count on was, even with this underhanded trickery, his chairmanship was still very much in doubt. Final vote tally at the December meeting was 122 for Lew Oliver, 121 for Deon Long. Compounding this was the fact that 2 of the votes cast were 'for none of the above.' According to Roberts Rules of Order this should have prompted a second round of balloting. Oliver would not hear of it, and instead grabbed the proverbial 'crown' and placed it on his own head and called the election over.
We disputed this twisted process for some time by having separate meetings at the Winter Park Civic Center. It now appears that Lew Oliver and the the Republican Party of Florida are going to resort to more strong arm tactics. For the last two special meetings, Robert Richmond (a representative of RPOF) has been barging into our gatherings trying to disrupt them. At last month's meeting Mr. Richmond kept interrupting speakers with claims that we were having an 'illegal' meeting. He appeared again at last night's Winter Park Civic Center for our February meeting, this time toting a video camera.
After following people around before the meeting started, pointing the video camera at our members, I gently asked him to be respectful of our meeting and not to shout out statements while we were conducting business. He rudely told me that he could say anything he wanted and that he was there representing the RPOF. I reminded him that he was welcome to attend (we had sent notices to ALL OCREC members alerting them to this special meeting), but that he had to behave himself. I also reminded him that one of our supporters had tried to video tape the December OCREC meeting but was confronted by Lew Oliver's rented Orlando Police Department Officer and told that taping was not allowed. Richmond snorted "That was a different type of OCREC meeting. I'll tape whatever I want here." I decided that trying to reason with this guy was getting nowhere and that he seemed to enjoy picking fights.
We began our meeting and sure enough Richmond paced the room with his video camera zooming in on various people as they spoke. He then began to shout things and Doug Guetzloe (our parliamentarian and temporary chairman for conducting the meeting) ruled him out of order and 'not recognized' by the chair.
This was followed by more pacing and filming interspersed by loud cell phone calls Richmond would make RIGHT INSIDE OUR MEETING AREA. We all decided to ignore his boorish behavior and continue with our proceedings. Doug Guetzloe scanned the room and announced that we had met quorum requirements. We thereupon reopened the unfinished election of chairman and unanimously voted in Deon Long as our new chairman.
This was met by loud applause from the membership. Both Doug, Deon, Sef, and I all gave enthusiastic speeches about the future of the Orange County Republican Party. The atmosphere was one of celebration and anticipation of things to come. We dismissed and went on our way.
Unfortunately Deon Long stayed behind and tried to engage Mr. Richmond in a discussion on why the higher ups in the Party were hampering the growth of OCREC. Mr. Richmond by all accounts seemed to get more and more aggressive taunting Mr. Long as 'the worst example of a black Republican' and 'thinking that the Party owed him advantages.' Deon was surprised at this vitriolic language. Things got heated up after this and accounts vary on small details but the following events appear to have taken place.
Someone came running out into the parking lot yelling to Doug Guetzloe 'come back inside, the RPOF guy is might do something.' Doug rushed back inside to hear Richmond calling Mr. Long a 'n-----'. Doug and others tried to calm the situation but Richmond started either pushing or jabbing his finger into the chest's of both Guetzloe and Long. He also continued to make threats and racial slurs.
By this time the the Winter Park Civic Center attendant got concerned that a fight might breakout and called the Winter Park Police. Two squad cars appeared and they took statements from Richmond, Long, Guetzloe, and many other witnesses. A trespassing warning was issued and other charges are pending.
In closing this is a very sad commentary on the depths that Lew Oliver and others will stoop to in order to disparage our work. Remember also that Oliver is quoted in a recent Orlando Sentinel article as calling Deon Long and others 'Clowns and Losers'. This was in response to Deon Long having filed a lawsuit against OCREC over the rigged voting at the December OCREC elections.
This kind of childish and antagonistic behavior cannot be tolerated by the Republican Party. I urge everyone to call RPOF headquarters in Tallahassee ( 850.222.7920) and demand the removal of Robert Richmond from any official activities. RPOF Chairman Jim Greer asked for the resignation of another Party official for similar racial statements. If no action is taken we will appeal to our new national Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele (who is also African-American) for a swift and speedy resolution of this matter.
Orange County Republican Executive Committee Member
Precinct Committeeman #319
The Orlando Sentinel newspaper carried the story here: http://blogs.orlandosentin