LPNY 1993 Nominating Convention

From Nathan Horwitz:

I've just read my mail and it seems that I am the only person on Libernet who actually attended the NYLP convention. I'll try to clear up some errors I've read in previous posts and give a short description of what it was like.

First of all, there were a number of mentions of someone named "Flanner" or "Flanz". In actuality, they were referring to Dr. Robert Flanzer who is a longtime party activist and was our candidate for controller as part of the Tuccille for Governor ticket in 1971. He never said (as has been reported) that he would leave the party if Stern were selected, although he did make mention of others who did say that. (Although he may have said that to some reporter privately, I don't think that Dr. Flanzer is capable of leaving the party.)

It's also been reported that Stern won 297-34. This is not an accurate account. It's true that the #2 candidate only recieved 34 votes, but a few other candidates were very close to this figure as well. (Ostrowski got 34; Dottie-Lou Brokaw & Norma "108K" Segal both scored in the 20s) Stern himself recieved 287. Combined, Howards opponents got about 100 votes.

Every article I have seen makes mention of "scantily clad women." There was one woman who wore a shirt and a thong bikini all day. Another woman stripped down to a thong bikini for about five minutes after it was announced that Stern had won. Most of the women there were not dressed professionally but they did keep thier clothes on.

Anyway, I got to the Italian American center (in Colonie NY, a suburb of Albany) a little before 7am. There were a few other local Libertarians there and about thirty people who seemed to be Stern fans. I passed out copys of the world's smallest political quiz to everyone who would take them.

Things started to get going around 8am. The doors opened and we set up inside. People and press started to arrive. People were asked at the door if they were members. If they said yes, they were allowed inside where a more thorough check was made. Every one was given a packet as they went in. It had a nametag in it, but mostly was full of ads for various Libertarian groups; Laissez-Faire books, Reason, Freedom Daily, etc.

Howard Stern came in at about 10 AM with his gang. I'm not familiar with who these people are, but I got the impression that all of his usual sidekicks were with him. The only ones I recognized were David Peel and Tiny Tim. The place went temporarily crazy and got very noisy, but it quieted down soon enough. (Except for a couple of idiots who continued to shout out bizarre things like "Howard is God.")

Local resident and main convention organizer Jeff Russel started off speaking with a bunch of Thank yous to us local people. Rebecca Wilber (the only elected Libertarian in NY) gave the Keynote adress. Both of these were difficult to hear as it was still noisy in the place and the press had swarmed around Howard Stern in the back of the room.

Then State Chair Ludwig Vogel spoke. This was followed by the nominating speeches for the candidates. Part of this I missed because I went outside to hand out literature to the people who couldn't get in. Sandy Feld gave a nice speech before nominating Norma Segal. The nominating speech for Stern was given by someone named "Elephant boy".

Norma Segal gave a great talk about gun rights. Dottie Lou Brokaw gave an excellent speech welcoming in the new members, and then dropped out of the race. Howard Stern was surprisingly polite and seemed truly sincere. People screamed like crazy every time he spoke. He was followed by Jim Ostrowski who mostly talked about drug legalization and how much he hates Mario Cuomo. This got him some cheers but he also got some boos. I think his sense of humor was too low key and subtle for the Stern crowd.

Then there was a big fight about voting. Vogel favored a voice vote. Others wanted a head count. What we finally did was a paper ballot, but it was handled so badly that I'm not sure if it was any better than the first two choices. At first, they had eight of us sitting by voting booths (mine was for the letters A & B) and we were supposed to check off people's names as they voted.

Then Don Ernsberger (from the national LP-whose main job was to stand around and seem self important as far as I could tell) took away the lists. Instead of voting row by row, it was decided that they would call peoples names out to let them vote! No one monitored if people were voting only once or not. I could have voted many times if I wanted to. Eventually, this system broke down to "EVERYBODY WHO'S NAME BEGINS WITH "L" SHOULD NOW VOTE."

This took quite a while. Throughout this time I was pleased to note how respectful (!surprise!) Howard Stern had been. He spoke when it was his turn and didn't make fun of the small size of the party. (and that would have been very easy -- the reason the days events had to end at four was because there was a wedding later that night at the Italian American center. Can you imagine that happening to the republicans?) I was also impressed with most of Stern's fans. True, many were rude and obnoxious, but most listened attentively to the other speeches and cheered in the right spots....the press though, what a rude, unruly, disrespectful and badly behaved bunch they were! (there were a lot of them-about one third of the attendees were in the press corps.)

Of course, Stern won. Things were OK up to this point, but got ugly when it came time to pick Liuetenant Governor. We ended up picking Stern's hand picked running mate, Stan Dworkin. It was done by voice vote and it definitely had that railroaded through feeling. There were some bad moments, like when Vogel and Flanzer were fighting via microphone. Another bad moment came when Dottie Lou Brokaw stepped aside as nomineee for lg. She endorsed Dworkin and some older LPers seemed to see this as a sell out.

Things only got worse when Dworkin spoke. He only spoke briefly, but he certainly did not seem like a Libertarian. He sounded like your typical opportunist-no values politician whose only goal is personal political advancement.

A few hours later we reconvened at The Ramada hotel for our banquet. I won't go into that much, but in a poll that went around asking people at the banquet who they voted for Ostrowski came in first, followed by Stern, Segal, Brokaw, and Brennan. Stern was not at the banquet. The people at the banquet were mostly the "old" LPers. As far as I could tell there were only four "new" LPers there.

The next day (today, Sunday) the business meeting started out by removing Vogel from presiding over the meeting. I guess the members must have been pretty upset with him about everything. This was borne out when he later lost reelection (to Gail Bova) by about a three to one margin. (for State Chair) I won't bore you with all the details, but there was a movement to end the convention on the grounds that we no longer had a quorum.

We chose Norma Segal to run for senate against Moynihan. James Conti was probably the candidate who sounded the best -- he was our choice for attorney general, and Ed Geyer (who was not there!) is our candidate for controller.

Joe Brennan and Dottie Lou Brokaw won as the two vice chairs.

I can't remember who all the at-large comittee members are (Rich Moroney and Fred Cookinham are two of them) but I thought it was interesting that Buffalo resident and non-Stern fan Ostrowski as well as new party member, Buffalo resident and strong Stern supporter (with the unlikely name of) Jerry Lewis both were elected at large. (The two had been arguing for a while during the banquet.)

Well, that's all for now. I'll write back if there are new developments.