TXGOP Breaks Out

The TXGOP Convention earlier this month produced much more than a controversial platform and mass criticism.  It also introduced breakout sessions into the agenda, something I’ve never seen in all the years I’ve been attending conventions.  The party offered multiple opportunities for attendees to learn about issues, legislation, parliamentary procedure, and urban engagement, among other topics.

Having been to quite a few political conferences over the years, I was looking forward to seeing how the RPT’s sessions would compare.  My expectations weren’t very high, but I was extremely excited to see this addition to the convention.  As I’ve said elsewhere, when you have that many Republican activists (in theory, anyway) gathered together, it is a supreme waste of opportunity not to offer them a chance to learn something new.  The RPT took this mission seriously, and I am hopeful that they continue the practice.

I attended two breakout sessions, and recruited help from other people who were attending sessions I missed.  At first writing of this piece, I only have a few submissions, but I will add details for other sessions as I receive them.  Sadly, my notes for the sessions I attended have been lost, but I can at least give some general impressions.  And I haven’t been able to find video of breakouts or speeches, something that really ought to be done.  It’s not an option anymore – the TXGOP needs more of an online presence, and this would have been a good way to do it.

I can’t praise Chairman Munisteri and his staff enough for utilizing this opportunity, and covering such a wide range of subjects.  And I can’t thank enough the great folks who kindly shared their notes from the other sessions.

Urban Engagement

This panel, hosted by Harris County’s newly elected County Chair Paul Simpson, was a brief (too brief!) discussion about how to engage voters and communities that do not traditionally vote Republican in large numbers.  Time constraints made this panel appear rushed, what with trying to both offer the four panelists time to speak and taking audience questions.

The panel members (including my buds Chris Carmona and Temo Muniz) offered their insights and experiences in talking to people about Republican ideas and values.  Each had much to say in the limited time allotted, but the two major takeaways I emerged with were:

1)      You have to LISTEN to people – just showing up and speaking at people doesn’t advance the image of the party.  In order to find the places where you agree or where you can work together, you must spend time hearing the concerns of any constituency.  And this is true regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, political affiliation, or interest group.  When I was hosting tea party meetings, I didn’t want speeches from politicians; I wanted their ears.  I wanted to know they heard our concerns and understood where we were coming from.  THEN I was open to listening to their ideas.  It’s the same with people all over.  They want to know you hear them, and that you care about what they have to say.

2)      You have to build relationships – Democrats have this DOWN.  Every time there is an event in certain communities, Democrats are there.  Thus, they are seen, recognized, and remembered.  If Republicans only show up every two years talking elections, and offering nothing else, there’s no incentive for people to listen to or trust them over the regular workers they see all the time in their neighborhoods.  They need to go there.  Then go again.  And again.  Get to know people, and become familiar to them.  It’s the only way to build trust.

This panel was well attended, and the attendees were anxious to ask more questions than time allowed.  I sincerely hope the RPT starts recording discussions like these and passing them around online.

Robert’s Rules

OF COURSE I attended the Robert’s Rules panel.  People would be looking for the Signs of the End Times if I was not in the room.  I was surprised at the high attendance at this panel as well.  It was a very positive sign to see both a packed room, and an obvious attempt at arming people with information ahead of the general sessions.  Too often newcomers feel lost during the proceedings, and this session was a good start towards helping the delegates familiarize themselves with motions and procedures.

Butch Davis and Richard Hayes divided up the presentation.  Hayes walked through the specific issues that might come up during the convention general sessions, and explained how the convention rules might differ from Robert’s.  But the more entertaining portion was the skit.  Davis passed out scripts to a few of us in attendance (including myself) to read aloud from the microphone as we simulated a portion of a meeting.  The combination of a script and explanation from Davis as he proceeded brought to life some of the basic concepts the delegates would need to understand.  It was the best training I’d ever attended on the subject, and I am going to borrow that script at the first opportunity.

Other delegates did me the huge favor of sharing their notes with me on their sessions, which I will reproduce in full and unedited.  Again, if anyone has notes from another session not covered, please let me know and I will add them.

Social Media Training – Notes by Jen McManus

It was presented by Vincent Harris of Harris Media.  @vincentharris @harrismedia harrismediallc.com

Discussion of how everyone used to watch TV in the afternoon, evening and there were only 3 networks – then cable TV and cable news – now internet and soon TV and internet will be merging with things like Roku, Apple TV, etc.  Talked about how expensive TV media buys are and how much cheaper and effective digital can be.  People used to trust TV, now internet is most trusted source of info, believe it or not.

Mr. Harris did all digital media campaign for Ted Cruz’s senate bid.  Also Discussed how there are 3 screens now

1. TV

2. computer

3. smartphone

Talked about Dewhurt’s Chinese Tire attack ads. Said people see the ad on the TV and then look it up on internet.  Cruz’s campaign knew this and had digital ad buys placed with about the truth on the issue.  They were able effectively diffuse the issue without spending huge amounts.  Also were able to drive traffic to website donation page and received a few million $$ just from small web donations.

Talked about how 50% of US population have facebook page.  About 15-20% have Twitter.  Younger people use Snap Chat, which is worthless as a political tool he said, and Tumblr.  Pinterest also gaining in popularity.  Facebook was more widely accessed by older age groups.

Facebook, he said, was still the leading social media site.  Talked about how Dan Patrick leveraged Facebook and other social media to win Lt. Gov race.  Talked about how it is important to interact with FB so that your will see content from that person’s wall.  That’s why you will see “SHARE” or “LIKE” on posts.  (“Please SHARE this post if you agree” or “Please LIKE this post if you agree” etc) People who have facebook are on facebook just about every day.  If you want to advocate for someone, you should interact with them on their facebook page and share.  Also interact with the friends that you want to reach.

Talked about how we should all set up FB, twitter, youtube, etc accounts to lay claim to our name/brand.  You should post separately to each as “language” is different on each social media site (ex: twitter hash tags and abbreviations may be unknown to FB folks) .  But can utilize social media “organizers” like HootSuite (his fav) or Social Oophm (spelling?) to put all of social stuff in one place.

One participant spoke of how easy it was to create a facebook page and a cheap website (Go Daddy or other) and then drive traffic to the website by targeted block walking and leaving a flyer with website and facebook address – very cheap way to generate website traffic.  Mr. Harris agreed.

Oil and Gas Breakout – Notes by Peggy Lindow

On Thursday afternoon, I attended the Oil & Gas breakout session at the RPT convention.  Moderated by Luke Liggett, from Travis County (?), the panel consisted of:

•             Dr. Ed Ireland, Barnett Shale Education Council

•             Jim Keffer, of Granbury, Chairman of the Texas House Energy Committee

•             Railroad Commissioner David Porter

•             Congressman Pete Olson, District 22, House Energy and Commerce Committee—Energy and Power Subcommittee

We learned that Texas is the 8th largest producer of oil & gas in the world, after Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and 3 more.  Texas has imposed regulations far more stringent than those of any the others.  In 2013, the oil & gas industry poured over “$13.6 billion in the State’s coffers.”  (Taxes or the economy?  Didn’t say.)

The new Carbon Emissions Standard requires 39% decrease in emissions by 2030.  Over 40% of electricity generated in Texas is from coal.  “Two weeks ago, Supreme Court of US sided with EPA 2-6.”  Current focus is on coal, but natural gas will surely be next.  Abbott will file a lawsuit, but we need to act now.  Texas is the country’s largest carbon emitter because we have the greatest number of sources, including industry, but lowest per capita emissions in nation.  Texas has cut emissions more than any other state since 2000.

According to the Washington Times, without hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), there would have been no economic growth in the U.S. in the last 5 years.  Without fracking, Obama would not have been re-elected.  It is a process that takes 1 week or less and enables a well to produce indefinitely.  The #1 word in Google searches, in the oil & gas area, is “fracking.”  (*In case you didn’t know, high pressure jets of water, or a specially blended liquid, “fracture” tight formations that contain natural gas and some clean, but solid substance, such as sand, is also injected to prop open the cracks, allowing the gas to flow through material as fine as, or finer than, the concrete in your driveway, where it is trapped.  That’s all there is to the process.  Ooh, scary.)  Go to www.fracfocus.org for complete disclosure of chemicals being used in any well in this country.

The process was first introduced in 1948, but technology has improved.  George Mitchell, Mitchell Energy, began using it in the Barnett Shale in 1981, but use took off in 2002.

Texas was the first state to mandate disclosure of processes and other information.  Porter said that after 5.5 years, Obama’s new regulations have increased our light bills, just as he promised.  The RRC regulates oil & gas, pipelines, propane, coal, uranium and coal.  The Railroad Commission began this oversight in 1910s.  Last year, they updated Rule 13, the Well Bore Cement Integrity Rule and also addressed recycling water for drilling purposes.

Half of all oil & gas wells in the world are in the U.S. and half of those are in Texas, so one fourth of all wells in the world are in Texas.  If the feds take over regulation, it will devastate the economy.

Pete Olson has served on the Energy Committee for 3 terms.  He supports LNG (liquefied natural gas) from a facility in Sabine Pass, which is supposed to go online in 2015.  He discussed the Endangered Species Act.  Prairie chickens, which are protected in Texas oilfields, are freely hunted in other states.  U.S. power plants produce 6% of the world’s CO2.  We will have to curtail driving from midnight to 2:00 p.m. and outlaw barbecues.

Keffer  told us that propane is now being used as a fracturing agent and three companies, Devon, Apache and Pioneer are now recycling 100% of the water used in their drilling operations.  Texas House Energy Committee is conducting a study of seismic testing.  The “endangered” Dune Sage Brush Lizard, which nearly shut down all activity in the Permian Basin, was previously known as the “common lizard.”

A farmer in the audience pointed out that cows do not produce methane because it is produced in the first two stomachs but absorbed in the third and fourth stomachs.  Horses do produce methane.

*Peggy’s comment