[Vision2020] Moscow may lose GOP convention

Tom Hansen thansen at moscow.com
Fri Nov 1 06:32:48 PDT 2013

" . . . Steed became confrontational and 'made a complete fool out of himself.'"

Doesn't Moscow have city council minutes with that exact phrase pre-printed on the form?

Courtesy of today's (November 1, 2013) Moscow-Pullman Daily News.

Moscow may lose GOP convention
State committee to discuss location after Steed clashes with state Republican official
Conflicts between the Idaho Republican Party executive committee and Latah County Republican Party Chairman Walter Steed could lead to the 2014 state convention being moved out of Moscow.
The state convention, held every two years, is to take place in June at the Kibbie Dome on the University of Idaho campus. The location was voted on in January by the state GOP central committee, but recent tension between state Chairman Barry Peterson and Steed could change that.
On Tuesday, Peterson, elected as state chairman more than a year ago, drove more than six hours from his home in Mountain Home south of Boise to attend the Latah County GOP's meeting in Moscow, introduce himself and answer any questions.
"I just wanted to make myself available to them with the intent of trying to have a smooth working relationship regarding the upcoming convention to be held next summer," Peterson said.
Peterson said when he got there, Steed would not allow him time on the agenda, even though Peterson had called a week prior to let him know he'd be attending. Things went downhill from there, according to Steed, Peterson and LeeAnn Callear, state executive committee member.
Peterson said based on Steed's behavior Tuesday and prior issues with the convention's organization, the Idaho GOP executive committee is holding a teleconference meeting next week to discuss the location.
Callear, who was at the meeting, said she is going to push to pull the convention from Moscow and move it to Lewiston.
Steed said the agenda had already been set when Peterson called, and he didn't ask to be included on it.
"I was frankly surprised," Steed said. "We already had a full agenda and although we could have changed it, he needed to let me know that he wanted an amount of time."
At one point in a discussion of the convention, Steed said he asked Peterson to talk to the group about the possibility of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaking at the event. Peterson said he told the group there was a tentative commitment, but nothing official.
Steed said Peterson then brought up a state GOP convention held in Sun Valley many years ago that had ended up $10,000 over budget and required the chairman to raise the extra money.
"I can only guess that that is his issue. He is afraid that this convention will go into the red even though we've shown him that it won't," Steed said, adding the current budget shows an $8,000 profit.
Callear, chairwoman of region II, which includes Latah, Nez Perce, Clearwater and Idaho counties, said that's when communication got dicey between the two men.
Callear said Steed became confrontational with Peterson and "made a complete fool out of himself."
"I was very angry when Barry was treated so embarrassingly," Callear said. "This is about the Republican Party, this is not about Walter. We like our (state) chairman. One of the reasons he won is because of his personality and ease to get along with. I don't know why Walter has chosen to go after him with such a vendetta."
Peterson described it like trying to mix water and gasoline and said it was clear the two men wouldn't be able to work together. He said he'd never come across a situation like that before.
"On any given issue, if two people at the table are probably going to have two different opinions, that's just part of life, but even if you can't get along with the individual, you have to have some type of respect for the office and that didn't happen," Peterson said.
Steed declined to comment on that conversation between him and Peterson at the meeting. The two men said they have not contacted each other since, and Peterson said it's not likely to happen.
"For some time, the executive committee had struggled with some of the characteristics of the convention being in Moscow, but because we voted on it, I've been very determined that we were going to have the meeting in Moscow," Peterson said. "Well, because of the treatment that I received, well maybe they've swayed me over. We're going to see."
Rod Beck, Idaho GOP Region IV chairman, which includes only Ada County, said after talking with Callear and Peterson, he would support a recommendation from the chairman to move the convention to a different city.
"We're interested in having a convention, a unified convention, a unified party, unified in all aspects, and again from the reports that I have heard, we haven't been getting that," Beck said.
Steed said he has decided to step down as chairman of the convention, and Latah County GOP Vice Chairman Thomas Lawford has agreed to take his place.
"If chairman Peterson has a problem with me, then I will step away from it," he said of being convention chair, adding he would step down even if there wasn't an issue between the two.
"It's a lot of tension that isn't necessary," he said, though he declined to comment on the reasons for the tension.
Steed said the Latah County GOP and several other Moscow groups have been working hard since January to put together a convention desired by the state committee. Out of three Idaho cities vying for the opportunity to host, Moscow won, largely because of a well put-together presentation by Gina Taruscio of the Moscow Chamber of Commerce, Melanie Zimmer with Best Western Plus University Inn and the UI, he said.
"The university went a long way to reduce costs for the state party," Steed said.
In addition to projecting a profit, Steed said the Latah County Republicans were also able to keep registration fees at $75 as requested.
"As best I can tell, the problem is that the price of holding it in Moscow - the only place to hold it is in the Kibbie Dome- is just terrifying some people in the state party," Steed said.
Steed said the state committee has signed a contract with the UI to hold the convention in the dome. Hotel rooms in Pullman and Moscow, including the Best Western Plus University Inn, have been set aside for months.
Zimmer said she has turned away other groups because rooms at her hotel were already reserved for the convention.
"It's been a huge effort, on so many people's parts," Zimmer said. "The UI conferencing program has worked hours upon hours to make sure that this happens, and Walter has put in so much time on this. I would be really disappointed if they moved it."


Seeya at the polls, Moscow, because . . .

"Moscow Cares" (the most fun you can have with your pants on)
Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho
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