Controversial Chairman Lew Oliver again presided over an ever smaller meeting of the Orange County Republican Executive Committee at the Mark Street Senior Center. Attendance at last nights meeting was about 70 people, half of which were supporters of Deon Long who asserts that he, not Oliver, is the real leader of the local Party.
Mr. Long has been presiding over "Special Emergency" Meetings called by disaffected OCREC members at the Winter Park Civic Center. These meetings routinely have over 100 people in attendance. What is all the more remarkable is that Oliver continues to harass Deon's meetings with endless threats of illegality and warning precinct members not to attend. In spite of all that, people continue to put their support behind Long.
The contrast between the two meetings could not be more clear. The group at the civic center is excited and each person that wants to speak is given a chance to be heard. Plans are put forth for growth of the Republican Party and freely debated. Oliver carefully choreographs his meeting and drones on about minutiae never allowing for new business to be considered.
Last night at the Mark Street Center was a perfect example. For the first time in any ones memory State Committeeman Jerry Braley finally gave a report to those in attendance. Usually he defers to his counterpart, Nancy Paterson, to relay tidbits of state party information. This time however Mr. Braley unloaded on Deon Long. He read a letter sent by State Party Chairman Jim Greer, which Long asserts is untrue and one sided. Braley heaped more scorn on Long, saying he wants to tear the Party apart aided by a liberal media.
Mr. Braley made no mention of the altercation that occurred two weeks ago at Long's meeting when police had to be called. A paid operative of RPOF/OCREC was sent to video tape the meeting and later became abusive. Police were called and issued a 'no trespassing' violation to Robert Richmond who is alleged to have made derogatory racial insults to Long (who is an African-American lawyer).
It appears to this writer that the real question is 'who has the real following at OCREC.' Mr.Oliver cannot get but a few of his supporters to show up to small meetings that never seem to go anywhere, while Mr. Long seems to enjoy enthusiastic support of hundreds of people. This is a troubling question that will have to be answered. Unfortunately the old guard (which is an apt description for most of Oliver's aged supporters), seem determined to pursue a caustic and negative campaign against Deon Long and his supporters.
Further proof of what is really happening can be seen by tracing the lineage of the leadership of OCREC. While Mr. Oliver has been Chairman for many years, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Oliver gained his position after the previously mentioned Jerry Braley gave it too him after HIS years of leadership. We now have a picture of OCREC leadership that is more likened to a kingly coronation being passed from father to son, than a free and open civic body. Oh well, maybe someday the peasants will rise up with pitchforks in hand and cast the baron and his princes into the moat!
OCREC Precinct Committeeman #319