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GOP Chairman Defends Caucus Notice

Republican Town Chairman Bob Bewkes says there's no secret about the rules changes for Tuesday night's GOP caucus, which will elect members of the Republican Town Committee, and the changes are on the town GOP website.

Republican Town Chairman Bob Bewkes, responding to some recent letters to the editor in local publications, says there's no big secret about the rules changes proposed for .

The caucus takes place starting at 7 p.m. in the Auditorium, 2 Renshaw Rd.

Bewkes says the proposed rules changes, which have been vetted by the Republican Town Committee's rules committee, are not very important. Bewkes said the two biggest changes are, first, to establish that the permanent chairman of the caucus will determine various details about how the caucus is set up (such as designating the area outside the caucus room where eligible candidates can distribute resumes or campaign material to caucus-goers. The second biggest change is to specify the latest version of Robert's Rules of Order be used by the caucus.

The new caucus rules also allow the temporary chairman to break a tie vote for the election of the permanent chairman without having to rely on a coin toss or drawing of straws.

The Republican Town Committee has been criticized for not publishing the proposed change in the rules. dated Jan. 10, for instance, Ronnie Carey wrote that although a notice of the meeting appeared in a newspaper last week, "The text of the amendment to be voted upon is MISSING.  In fact, I could not find the text of the proposed amendment to the rules anywhere [...]"

Bewkes said there is no requirement for rules changes to be published. He also said there wasn't time for the Republican Town Committee to have approved the proposed changes, and, "I don't know if any paper is going to want to print the three pages of caucus rules [...] you'd have to print to make sense of them." The rules changes essentially amount to a long list of removed words and added words.

But in order to be transparent, Bewkes said, after the critical letters were published a documents detailing the rules changes (together with a clean copy of the proposed new rules) was posted on the Darien GOP website.

"We want everyone to make copies (of the rules changes) and bring them to the caucus and participate," Bewkes said.

"The reality is that the changes are very minor," Bewkes said in an interview Friday. "They all have to do with things that the State Central Committee staff said we are somewhat out of compliance with [regarding GOP state rules] in terms of our structure."

New rules for the Republican Town Committee itself (not for the caucus) now allow candidates to petition for more than one municipal office. RTC rules changes are also posted as a PDF on the town Republican Party website.

In what appeared to be criticism of the 7 p.m. caucus, Finance Board Chairman Liz Mao that the event takes place on the same night as meetings of the Board of Finance, the Representative Town Meeting's Finance & Budget Committee (both at 7:30 p.m.), and the Planning & Zoning Commission (at 8 p.m.), so many Republicans will not be able to make the caucus.

Mao later commented (below) that her statement was not meant to be criticism.

Editor's note: The second-to-last paragraph, the words "what appeared to be" have been added, and the last sentence has been added to reflect Liz Mao's comments, below.

Debra Ritchie January 17, 2012 at 01:11 PM
The RTM's Finance and Budget committee meeting for this evening has been moved to a later start time at 8:15 pm
Joseph Pizzarelli January 17, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Liz Mao's comment regarding the timing of the caucus is not a "criticism" as the author incorrectly states.
Liz Mao January 17, 2012 at 03:41 PM
David, I did not mean to leave the impression I was criticizing the RTC. I know how hard it is to plan when there are so many meetings and obligations. I merely stated I was sorry to miss the voting! For the record, I think Bob Bewkes is doing a fine job leading local Republicans! I apologize if folks are reading my comment the wrong way.
David Gurliacci January 17, 2012 at 06:11 PM
I've now changed the article to reflect your clarification.

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