Sunday, May 21, 2006

From a reader... YAF conference...

St. John’s delegation to recent YAF retreat an embarrassment to state

This past weekend, conservative leaders gathered from all corners of the nation at the Reagan Ranch in Santa Barbara, CA for a Young America’s Foundation retreat. Our newly elected Vice Chair North, Luke Hellier was present, as well as Luke Fischer, our newly appointed Deputy Executive Director.

St. John’s sent a total of three to the retreat where watchdog is ashamed to report that their behavior was less than exemplary. Watchdog’s informer reports that the three drank excessively and tried to lure females back to their cabins—including female YAF staffers. The informer also stated that the three were exclusive and were not friendly to others at the retreat. With a “holier-than-thou” attitude, they shamed our Great State.

St. John’s owes you, the members of the Minnesota College Republicans, an official apology for such behavior on behalf of Minnesota. Remember, when you are at a national retreat such as this, you represent not only yourselves and your chapter, but your state as well. We’ll keep watching you…

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Spring chapter elections


Rest assured, Watch Dog will provide you with a complete chapter election update after all of our MCR’s go home for the summer. For now, we thought we’d share some that have peaked our interest.


St. Cloud State: Katie Kartak, who ran on Dane Gallagher’s ticket as Vice Chair North, beat out a large field of candidates to be elected as chair. This represents a big victory for the reformers in Minnesota. While Katie was popular in St. Cloud during the last state election, the chair was still a Sunderman supporter. Now, she’s running the chapter. St. Cloud State, which has long been the center of strength in the 6th District, will be even more important during this year’s Congressional election.

Note: The St. Cloud CR’s are known for having strong ties to Michelle Bachman, who recently beat all other candidates like a rented mule at convention to win the GOP endorsement. The MCR board who supported Phil Krinkie will have some catching up to do.

Best of luck to Katie and her newly elected board.

University of Minnesota: Freshmen Beth Dorobiala, deputy vice-chair metro on the state board, defeated Karl Kerr for the chair spot. Surely a big pick up for Sunderman’s crew. Former UofM Chair and everybody’s favorite kegmeister Tyler Richter was said to have made quite a stir over Karl’s choice for executive director, which may have swayed the election in Beth’s favor.

Note: Beth’s sister Brooke attended Gustavus, back when they had a solid CR chapter, and served on the state executive board. She has since gone on to work for Congressman John Kline. Brooke’s relationship with the old MCR guard is described as rocky at best.

Shenanigans? Tim Rudolph, Vice Chair Metro, Sunderman cohort, and a member of the St. Thomas CR’s, was appointed the “impartial” vote counter for the UofM election. Rudolph was present for the election for a seemingly unrelated issue.

Future advice to University of Minnesota…. Scenario: The metro Vice Chair comes to visit. The deputy metro Vice Chair is running for chair. Appointing the metro Vice Chair as vote counter is a bad idea if the goal is impartiality.


St. Olaf and UMD

It looks like St. Olaf Chair Justin Swenson and UMD Chair Christina Wilson will be sticking around.

Justin Swenson, who secured the spot of Political Director on Sunderman’s board towards the end of the campaign, is running unopposed for reelection. Being one of the few to tread the line between the current MCR board and the reformers, he is certainly a chair to be watched this year.

Watch Dog advice to Justin: St. Olaf is one of the top chapters in the state. Next time, hold out for a better job.

Christina Wilson, who ran for co-chair at convention, will remain chair pending elections in the fall. It is rumored that she will hand over the reigns at that time to go cause trouble someplace else. Chances of an MCR board pickup at UMD… slim to less than slim…


St. Thomas: Al Heavens was recently elected chair of UST to replace Emily Reagan. She is leaving office to serve as the MCR Executive Director. Considering the St. Thomas presence on the MCR state board, Al’s election won’t make too much of a difference… but we congratulate him none the less. Taking over the “chapter of the year” is a big accomplishment, no matter how many of your Tommie CR’s outrank you.

Congratulations and good luck to all our newly elected chapter chairs!

And as always, comments, suggestions, praise, and cursing may be directed to


mcrwatchdog@gmail.com

Monday, May 08, 2006

Bachmann blowout shocks MCR establishment

"Bachmann simply out-organized her adversaries and showed up with the most troops."

"..the outcome was never in doubt."

The hotly contested fight for the 6th Congressional District Republican nomination ended in an unexpected landslide for State Senator Michelle Bachmann on Saturday. Also surprising was the performance of State House member Phil Krinkie, who was backed by many current and former MCR board members.

He finished a distant third, mustering only 10% of the vote.

Bachmann coasts to GOP nomination


Former MCR State Chair, CRNC Treasurer, and general CR power broker Chris Tiedeman was on the Krinkie payroll throughout the campaign. He collected about $10,500 as of April, 2006. If you attended the MCR convention, you may have seen him twisting arms, making promises and spreading rumors to secure votes for Team Sunderman.

Also on the payroll as a field staffer was former MCR state board member Ryan Flynn. You may remember him for giving Tyler Sunderman's nominating speech at convention.

Tiedeman and Flynn worked together on an earlier failed congressional campaign. Former Minnesota Education Commissioner Cheri Pearson Yecke mounted a brief bid for the 6th District nomination in 2005, however dropped out of the race to go work for Governor Jeb Bush. Jake Grassel also worked for Yecke, and collected nearly $11,000 for fundraising work.

Watch Dog's point? Many College Republicans have political day jobs. If your MCR leaders are pushing a certain candidate for endorsement or election to a party office, don't just take it at face value. Find out who they're working for, who their friends are working for, and who has a vested personal interest in the outcome. Such pressure is not only divisive and inappropriate, but lately has not been politically expedient.

Just look at the Yecke and Krinkie campaigns...

Now, let's go get that awesome lady elected!

Bachmann for Congress

Saturday, May 06, 2006

St. Thomas consolidates power










The St. Thomas College Republicans achieved nearly total control of the state federation last March. It began with an unprecedented election of three Constitutional officers from a single chapter at convention. Tyler Sunderman, Tom Kalil, and Tim Rudolph were elected as Chair, Treasurer, and Vice Chair Metro respectively. Sunderman's choice for executive director, the second most powerful position on the board, was not announced during the campaign. Soon after he was voted in however, St. Thomas Chair Emily Reagan was appointed as the ED.

Four of the top eight spots are now held by Sunderman's own chapter members, having taken three of the five Constitutional positions they are eligible for. No other chapter has more than one. St. Olaf, Bethel, and Augsburg, chapters where the last 5 MCR state chairman have hailed from, have none.

The top position not held by a St. Thomas student is Emily Loehr of UofM Morris. Her lone responsibility as Co-Chair, according to Sunderman's platform, is to serve as editor of The Minnesota Conscience. As this new online publication is, as we have pointed out, not currently online, it is unclear what her duties are as of now.

How was St. Thomas able to accomplish such a feat? A combination of factors. It is true they are the largest chapter in the federation. They did receive the "chapter of the year" award at the College Republican National Convention last year. The state chair hails from their school. The convention site was blocks from the St. Thomas Minneapolis campus, ensuring the largest delegation in attendance. Shouldn't they be entitled to such a role in the Minnesota College Republicans?

Precedent and experience would say no. Past administrations have witnessed what can occur when power becomes overly concentrated in one chapter. Other chapters begin to weaken and dissolve as their representation on the state exec board diminishes. The chapter running the board can suffer as well, as a strong presence on campus is sacrificed for statewide efforts. An organization with many strong chapters, working together across the state, has always been the desired outcome of board elections.

Effective former state chairs like Eric Hoplin, Mike Krueger, and Jake Grassel worked hard to ensure a geographically diverse board that would be responsive to the entire federation. Sunderman abandoned this principle, and the effects are all ready being felt.

Why publish this now? For one, transparency. The average MCR does not even have the ability of looking up who their officers are, let alone determining what chapter they are apart of. This is certainly a fact worth knowing. You will have to work harder and yell louder than ever for state board influence and support.

We are also here to advocate change, and changes must be made. Any candidate for state chair in the future must build a more geographically balanced ticket so that all our voices are heard. If a candidate does not, then you, the membership, must hold them accountable at convention.

The convention being located within walking distance of a candidate's home school should be another red flag. St. Thomas had an insurmountable advantage in selecting a site where their members could easily show up the day of and vote. Those from areas outside the metro area could not possibly compete. St. Thomas was allotted the largest amount of delegate spots and given the best means to fill them. As a result, they grabbed as many elected positions as they could. This cannot happen again, for St. Thomas or any individual chapter.

Watch Dog suggests a more neutral location next year. We encourage the state board to entertain bids from a variety of CR chapters and to select one that will provide for the fairest possible electoral outcome. In the mean time, work hard to make your own chapters strong and your voices heard. Transparency and accountability is the trump card that can bring equality back to the Minnesota College Republicans.

Friday, May 05, 2006

A little more to chew on...

Tyler Sunderman Technology and Communications Platform

Here is a link to Tyler Sunderman’s platform piece on technology. It goes without saying that he may have fallen short on this one.

Some excerpts… Watch Dog comments are italicized.

“A good organization has a good website.”

So what does that say about an organization with no website?

“In my travels around the state, I have talked with many of our members about the need for MCRs to develop a new website that will contain useful information, pictures, important links, and chapter resources.” You ran into some bright folks in your travels, Mr. Chairman. We agree.

“MCRs is currently developing a new website that will better represent our organization. Therefore, my administration will act to immediately implement the new website, allowing us to continue to develop it as we approach the 2006 election.” Apparently the terms “currently” and “immediately” are used loosely here.

You will also find something about the state email server being able to host individual chapter addresses to “improve the way that clubs communicate with their members, by giving them a secure place to store and utilize their lists.” His program, YourClub@MNCR.org, is likely "currently" being worked on, and will "immediately" be implemented... or as soon as the board has nothing better to do.

MCR website down for nearly two months


March, 2006. It’s a week before the 2006 Minnesota College Republican State Convention. Dane Gallagher is running against heir-apparent Tyler Sunderman for chairman. Members are excited for the first opposed election in years and are checking our state website for details. Then, everything goes dark.

Inexplicably, the MCR website is taken down.

But why would the state board take down our website one week before their most important event of the year? No official explanation is given, but rumors persist.

Those close to Tyler Sunderman say that the site is undergoing “renovations,” and that we will all be surprised with a “new and improved” website at convention. Those opposing Sunderman claim it is a ploy to ensure “Team Sunderman” email updates remain the sole source of information for CR’s. Nearly the entire MCR email list had been added to his campaign’s alias, and the opposition ticket smelled a rat. The membership in general was confused, and waited to see what would happen at convention.

Of course, no website was delivered. One week went by. Two weeks. A month. We are now officially in our seventh week of having no presence on the internet. Periodic attempts at half constructed websites have been posted, usually consisting of MCR email updates and a list of the state board members. Other times, only the vDeck logo, a web hosting service, was seen. To date, the link to www.mncr.org is simply dead.

It should go without saying that the board’s policy on technology is woefully inadequate. Newly elected MCR Chairman Tyler Sunderman promised not only to have a revamped state website, but to also provide individual chapters with free web hosting. Since his election as state chairman, our presence on the internet has been non-existent.

Having an up to date website is an absolute necessity for recruiting new members and presenting a professional image to the public. When members of the media, new college students, or candidates wish to research the Minnesota College Republicans, the internet is always their primary source. Lacking even a simple website is not only embarrassing, it is extremely damaging to the organization as a whole.

We at MCR Watch Dog ask that you all join us in demanding that Tyler Sunderman remedy this problem immediately. As there is no website to look up his contact information, his email address is posted below.

tjs@mngop.com

We will also contact him, along with MCR Technology Director Joe Schumacher, for comment.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


Welcome to the first publication of MCR Watch Dog!

We here in the secluded Watch Dog Bunker appreciate your readership and look forward to your advice and correspondence. Many who are familiar with the organization may be asking, why does the College Republican world need another blog? In many cases and in many areas of the country, we would answer, it does not.

However, the Minnesota College Republicans are a very unique federation with a very unique history. Through our humble beginnings to the height of our power, and now in our unfortunate decline, one theme has permeated the mentality of MCR leadership;


Transparency

….or lack there of, we should say.

Federation and chapter constitutions are kept secret, usually hidden in a dusty file cabinet and viewed only by those at the top. MCR budgets are vague and are regularly passed without discussion. Leaders are selected, not elected, leaving most CR’s with a cynical and detached attitude towards our state executive board. Sources of revenue, and even our very status as an organization, are unknown to the vast majority of our membership.

With our publication and your action, we hope this to change… in time.

For now, we are pleased to offer you our first of many updates. Our goal is to inform, inspire, and entertain the thousands of college students who have taken a stand in liberal academia by calling themselves a CR. You have taken a great step in joining this important organization. Now, take the next. Demand that your leadership work for you, and ultimately, for the goals the College Republicans must achieve.

We hope to hear from you!

- From all of us at MCR Watch Dog