I recently attended an Horry County Republican Party meeting in the Burroughs and Chapin Auditorium at the Horry-Georgetown Technical College.
The meeting, which was conducted by Horry County Republican Chairman Robert Rabon, began appropriately with an invocation and salute to the flag. The next item considered was a motion to approve the agenda, which generally followed the format suggested in Robert's Rules of Order, appeared to include such items as a treasurers report and a call for old and new business.
When a motion to approve an agenda is made, and appropriately passed, that agenda then becomes an inviolable document that proscribes the order of business and cannot be altered without special circumstances and considerations.
In other words, the chair must follow the recipe.
During that meeting, Rabon went off, as usual, on his own way, paying little or no attention to the agenda. He gave his chairman's report and then had four County Council candidates introduce themselves. He then attempted to conclude the meeting with no acknowledgment of most of the agenda items.
When challenged, Rabon proceeded to offer alternatives to the old Business item brought up. While Rabon was not allowing the desired discussion, other members in attendance were shouting that they wished to hear and discuss the motion a member was trying to introduce.
In an effort to keep peace in the meeting, that member backed off and, without further comment, the meeting ended - with no attention paid to any of the additional agenda items.
In the five years I have lived on the Grand Strand, I have attended three meetings run by Rabon, and all three were conducted in the same fashion, no leadership as the servant of this committee but rather the ruler, suppressing all conversation that he doesn’t wish to hear.
Article XII of the Horry County Republican Party By-laws states that “in all matters not specifically covered by the by-laws then Robert's Rules of Order mandates the conduct of the proceedings.”
By not allowing open and free discussion on matters affecting the organization, and by the use of subtle intimidation at the meetings, Rabon's conduct has a chilling effect on free speech, matters affecting the party, and the community in general.
I ask a simple question.
Is there a difference between President Obama’s circumventing the U.S. Constitution and Rabon circumventing his own by-laws? The only difference is a matter of scale; the conduct and outcome are the same.
It would be my suggestion that Rabon do one of two optional things as a course of future conduct.
One, either conduct the future meetings politely by the appropriate rules.
Or, two, resign and allow someone to run the party so as to include all thought and suggestions without fear of reprisal.
The writer is a former parliamentarian of Rhode Island Republican Party and member of the National Association of Parliamentarians.