A report on the Libertarian Party's National
A. Bridging the gap between Stuart Reges and Gene Cisewski.
to know Stuart Reges
to make a few points
Status and Plans for Improvement
Who should be the next Director?
A. My Resume
B. Samples of My Work
An LP renewal letter
The first page of the Karl Hess letter
letter for educational choice signed by Charlton Heston
First page of a prospecting letter to computer professionals
An advance copy of our next fundraising letter.
Notes on future membership recruitment plans.
Report of income by Source Code.
My personal 251 item Things‑To‑Do list.
A draft outline of the Procedure Manual that John Famularo and I have
A sample of one of those procedures.
Bridging the Gap Between Stuart Reges and Gene Cisewski
Reges was leaving the office of National Director on October 7, and Gene
Cisewski was scheduled to arrive on about the same date. There was no time for a
transition. Therefore, Stephen Dasbach asked me if I would go to Washington, DC
for a couple of months to serve as a bridge between the outgoing and incoming
Directors. I said that I would.
and I were to have only three weeks together and everybody agreed that that
wasn't enough. But as some transition was better than no transition, we decided
to move forward. Writing a procedure manual was added to my job description as a
potential short term aid to the changeover, and as a definite long term benefit
to future HQ managers.
Getting to know Stuart Reges
our three weeks together I learned more from Stuart Reges about how to think
like a manager than from all the management books I had ever read. His ideas
added much to what my personal experience had already taught me.
impressed me. He was always in motion, always questioning and double checking,
and always planning for what to do if things went wrong, which they always did.
His resignation was a great loss for the Party ‑‑ one we would do
well to learn from.
and I tried valiantly to stuff my head full of all the required National
Director knowledge, but it was too much in too short a time. Still, I learned a
great deal which has aided me in my work since then, and I also arrived at a few
conclusions which I will share later in this report.
this phase there was no time to write procedures; only time for scribbled notes,
and then on to the next task. We were always behind schedule. The computer
network kept crashing, the laser printer broke, and everything that could go
wrong did go wrong. we just laughed and kept on plugging. Morale was good.
came into the office for his first day of work on Stuart's last day
‑‑ October 7. Gene had spent the previous two days driving from
Wisconsin to DC, but he seemed refreshed and ready to go.
by comparison, was a little ragged. I had been sleeping on a flabby futon with
my feet hanging off onto the dirty hard wood floors and taking showers in cold
water (the only option available at our HQ). I was also working 70 to 80 hour
weeks and had only occassionaly managed to take a few hours off to see a movie
or catch up on sleep. In addition, there was no TV available and no newspaper. I
had practically forgotten the rest of the planet and had absorbed myself in the
little world of the LP headquarters.
this period even Stuart put in extra hours, despite his previous claim that he
would only work 34 hours a week (which was all he was being paid for). But on
the night of October 7 we all knew that we would have to work even longer hours
Because John Famularo and I were going to debrief Stuart. It was our last chance
to learn where all the landmines were buried. The process began at 3:00 in the
afternoon. Gene participated for a little while, but his eyes quickly glazed
over and I kept having to bring him back to attention, saying: "Did you get
that Gene? Do you have any questions about what Stuart just said?" Gene
would wake‑up and lean forward for a few minutes, listening to the
debriefing, but before long he was "somewhere else" again.
about 6PM Gene left, but John and Stuart and I kept going, racing against the
clock until 1:30 or 2:00 in the morning. Stuart didn't have to put in that extra
effort and John certainly didn't. But I did and Gene did. It was our
responsibility. Gene didn't seem to realize that.
was the second serious Gene‑problem that had surfaced in the last week.
The first occurred before his arrival when we received a batch of Gene's writing
samples from CUNA Mutual. I had to resist looking at these samples very closely
because I had already seen two of Gene's previous attempts at writing LP
fundraising letters. They had been bad and I was afraid these would be bad too.
I just gave the letters to Bill Winter and hoped for the best.
read them and showed them to Stuart and they both agreed that they were horrible
‑‑ embarassing even. I had to look then, and because I looked I had
to agree. They were embarrassing. ( How a major corporation could have used them
was beyond me, though I subsequently developed a few theories about this.)
that day Gene's third attempt at writing an LP fundraising letter came through
on the fax. It too was horrible ‑‑ too embarassing to mail, and too
far wrong to fix. Bill
Winter captured Gene's strange writing style in one clever phrase: Japanese
English. If you can remember when Japanese manufacturers first started
translating their product manuals into English then you'll have a good idea of
the style. The strategic ideas in the letters were just as bad or worse.
I had just written a fundraising letter of my own praising Gene's talents and
now I knew that we couldn't send it. Steve Dasbach and Sharon Ayres were
consulted and they agreed. I had written the letter thinking it was true, but
now we knew that it wasn't.
we went from being ahead of schedule with our fundraising mailings to being
seriously behind schedule. It was at this point that Bill Winter conceived the
Project Healthy Choice letter. He wrote a great first draft in four hours and
over the next two days Bill and Stuart and I nitpicked it until it was ready to
go to the printer. Bill's letter saved the day ‑‑ it may even set a
the time Gene arrived it was clear to me that his salvation would have to come
from his ability to manage the office (if it was to come at all). Therefore, I
made every effort to steer our attention away from development and toward the
hard task of learning how to run the office.
was pleased to report to the Executive Committee that Gene was learning his
tasks quickly and well, but unfortunately there continued to be problems
relating to his deficient areas. Gene's attention turned again and again to
development, which created many personal difficulties for me. I tried to avoid
the subject because I didn't want to hurt his feelings, but it wasn't always
possible. Steve Dasbach intervened and told him where to focus his attention,
but Gene didn't get the point. Then I too had a firm discussion with Gene, and
once again he didn't seem to understand. He kept producing letters and making
development suggestions that were laughably bad.
this point our working relationship had become so difficult that I tried to
focus on the procedure manual, avoiding Gene as much as I could while still
getting the job done. It didn't matter. The conflict just shifted from me and
Gene to Gene and Bill.
other problems moved to the fore. Gene thought the HQ could be straightened out
in a couple of weeks if we just put our minds to it. He didn't seem to notice
the inhuman hours I was working in a futile attempt to keep all of my many balls
in the air ‑learning new tasks, teaching those I already knew, writing
the procedure manual, keeping projects moving. Meanwhile, the computer network
was crashing constantly and Gene had taken over the Director's work station
(leaving me no place to work) despite my specific request that he do so only on
those occassions when I had something new to teach him. I had one month in which
to train him and finish the procedure manual, and I had to balance those
considerations with the simultaneous need to get the work done. To make that
happen I needed his complete cooperation with my transition program. I didn't
get it. There was no way to get through to him short of a fight, and even when I
told him something in the firmest and clearest possible fashion, it had little
or no effect.
Steve Dasbach and Bill Winter were having similar communications problems with
Gene. Gene just didn't get it. He was oblivious to what was going on around him,
to what people were telling him, and to the nature of the beast that he would
have to tame as National Director. He begrudged his occassional ten hour days
and seemed to take little note of the fact that I was working twelve hours or
more almost every day ‑‑ though I made a point of telling him about
it constantly. He must have thought I was a real sour puss.
Gene was seriously looking forward to working straight 40 hour weeks in the near
future. He always took every weekend off except when he had a call scheduled
with the Chair or the Executive Committee, and even these he grumbled about.
Meanwhile, I was wondering if I would ever have another day off in this
had to give, and it did.
house could not remain divided. Either the Exectuive Committee and the staff
would have to go, or Gene would. Gene did.
I was left with piles of paper and a choking backlog of work. The combination of
the transition, the procedure manual, and "the piece that didn't fit the
machine," had made the un‑doable job that broke Stuart Reges, even
harder. And yours truly was standing amidst the rubble.
must admit that I started to crack a little bit. Steve Dasbach and Hugh Butler
can testify that I wasn't a very pleasant person. Things were so bad that when
Kiana and I finally took the time to go grocery shopping we actually had to
abandon a full cart in the middle of Safeway: the checkout lines had grown too
long and I couldn't take the time to wait. I had to get back to work and Kiana
had to come with me ‑‑ she couldn't go home by herself in the dark
in that neighborhood.
was at this point that a four‑day hold on funds that I hadn't known about
reared its head ‑‑ our bank account was overdrawn. I also discovered
that accounting mistakes made by someone (either me or Gene), and/or our
ignorance of DacEasy, were making it impossible to reconcile our records with
those of the bank. Fortunately, the discrepency was in our favor.
was flowing in and I got the overdraft waved (because we really had several
thousand dollars in the bank if you didn't count the hold). Careful management
of our funds soon put our available balance back in the black, and the Executive
Committee agreed that I could hire a DacEasy expert to straighten out the
things stabilized, I then set about the hard task of discerning how a final cure
might be achieved.
Why Director's fail ‑‑ diagnosis and perscription
were a mess. Could I un‑mess them?
so, but first the problem had to be defined, and to do that I had to find out
what was in those piles of paper on Gene's desk, and in those files in the
Director's drawers. I couldn't get control of the office until I knew where
everything was. So I sorted and filed and made notes and I paid close attention
to how long it took to do certain things and how often things went wrong, and by
doing this I came to a conclusion that should have been obvious to all of us a
long time ago:
Director's Job, as currently structured, is impossible.
about our long list of past National Directors:
O'Keefe was fired. Why? Was he incompetent? It's my understanding that he's
worth quite a bit of money today. Funny that he got so competent all of a
sudden, right after he left us.
Lanham was fired too, and I know she wasn't incompetent. She was just burned
the job burned me out too. I offered my resignation, was talked out of it, and
ended up sick for the better part of two years.
Mitchell didn't make it either.
did Kirk McKee.
Jacob quit too, and now he's doing the same kind of work he did for the LP, and
being paid a tidy sum for it too. Isn't it amazing how smart people get when
they stop working for the LP?
Dunbar made it through four grueling years on sheer determination, but it can't
really be said that he licked the job either. He left these two cartoon's in the
Director's office to remind his successors what he thought of the job.
you think he'll feel quite the same way when he has a private sector job?
Reges was a proven manager. But this job was causing him to lose sleep and his
health was failing. Was Stuart incompetent? I don't think so.
should pay close attention to the accumulated evidence. We've had some pretty
good people as National Director, but they have all failed. And because they
have all failed the Party has also failed, and here we are ‑still small
after all these years.
are two prevailing symptoms by which we can come to better understand our 23
1) Our office is poorly staffed and equipped.
2) The work load increases constantly, without regard to
problem number one.
clear identification of these two symptoms leads us, like a well aimed arrow,
straight to the heart of the disease itself ‑‑ an imbalance between
authority and responsibility.
INC can create new work (new mandates) for the office without providing
increased staffing. If the staff resists the extra burden then they risk being
fired, with all of the attendant problems: loss of reputation, loss of income,
and loss of health insurance, as well as the disruption that comes when the
staffer has to pack up and move back to his or her original home.
are no comparable risks for LNC members.
entire structure of authority and responsibility, and the incentives and
disinsentives that result from that structure, create a profound but perverse
tendancy for the National Director to say yes to things that are positively bad
for him or her.
we have the phenomenon of a Stuart Reges who says again and again, "I think
I can, I think I can, I think I can," in the most confident voice, until
finally he screams at the top of that voice: "No I can't!"
course, this only tells part of the story ‑‑ I'm quite sure that
Stuart, being a human being, gave a great many hints that he was cracking, and
he may even have pled for mercy on occassion, without it being much noticed. But
I'm also certain that he turned down help when it was offered, because that's
the way the incentives work ‑‑ you always want to impress your
bosses, but with so many bosses your reputation lives and dies in the rumour
mill. You don't want anyone to start saying you're a weenie, so you say yes to
all the burdens and sometimes you even say no to the help.
recently learned that for several months John Famularo had wanted to tell the
Executive Committee that the job was too big for Stuart (or anyone) to manage.
it should be clear from what I am saying that we are all in this together. I am
not implying that our Directors have been faultless and the Area Managers and
INC members malicious. Far from it. Some of my best friends are Area managers.
And besides, I too have been an LNC member, and I too have imposed new burdens
on the HQ without providing the resources required for their execution.
if I, with all of my direct and painful experience, could so easily have imposed
new burdens on the HQ, then what brake is there for those who have never been LP
staffers, or who have never worked for any other politically managed
our pattern of failure requires a supreme act of will ‑both good will
and volitional will ‑‑ on all our parts.
believe that Stephen Dasbach, Karen Allard, John Famularo, Hugh Butler, Sharon
Ayres and Tamara Clark understand the problem, and I want to thank each of them
for all that they have done in recent weeks to ease my burden. And I especially
want to thank Stephen Dasbach for his patience and concern.
it will take even more, from all of us, if we are to vanquish this beast. It
will take a new "internal culture" as well as the development of some
new habits. The Chair can lead in this, but it will only work if the rest of us
are committed and participate. If not, then there will be more failed National
Directors and more years of mediocrity. Specifically, we must:
to rest the idea that "Directors should speak at meetings only when spoken
to." No other organization works the way ours has. Quite the contrary.
Executive Directors usually do most of the proposing and the Board passes
judgement on those proposals. As a positive step in the direction of other
successful organizations, our National Director must at least be allowed to
participate in the discussions, as there is NOTHING that the INC will ever
decide for which the Director will not be held personally responsible
‑with his or her reputation, livelyhood, and personal well being at stake.
must prepare our new ventures more carefully. We must anticipate the costs not
only monetarily, but also in staff time. We must test our assumptions. We must
write down procedures in advance and then see if they work. Wherever possible we
should capitalize our projects and define success or failure before we begin. We
must develop an ethos of testing and of caution and careful preparation. Ask the
Director if he or she thinks the staff can do something, but don't necessarily
take his or her word for it. FIND OUT FOR YOURSELF, BEFORE YOU BEGIN THE
PROJECT! TEST IT! DO A TRIAL RUN!
must come to view each other more as partners, and' less as owners versus
employees. I too am a Libertarian. I too care. I too have contributed. And I too
have been a volunteer. Indeed, I have accomplished more and risked more than
most Libertarians. I do not become a slave just because I cease to be a
volunteer. Bill Winter has commented on how surprised he was to find himself
being talked to as if he were the enemy, by the very people who hired him! No
Libertarian employee should ever have to feel that way. Each of us has taken a
heavy risk to work for the Party we love. Having Libertarian employment on one's
resume isn't a help (believe me, I know!). If you want to keep good experienced
people then you will need to treat them well. Treat them the way you would like
to be treated.
careful when you try to help, because your help may actually hurt. Stuart was
relieved of some of his burden when Bill Winter was hired, but this was done in
a way that killed Stuart's interest in the job. All of the things that Stuart
liked about his job were taken and given to Bill. Stuart didn't hold this
against Bill, quite the contrary, he liked Bill very much and was glad to have
him in the office. But he did resent the fact that his interests weren't
if I were to do this job, I would want everyone to understand that my
over‑riding interest is development and membership prospecting. I am
willing to work 70 and 80 hour weeks and eat most of my meals at my desk (as I
have done) for only one reason:
want to get things under control, start living a normal life, and spend the bulk
of my time raising money and recruiting new members. I want to sleep at night
and not worry about the job. Hell, I want to have pleasant dreams about the job.
if I am not going to be allowed to do development then tell me now, because I
won't want any of the long hours and the drudge work either. I won't want the
must remember that not everything can be of equal priority. The Director has 251
items on his things to do list and he can only do what he can do. In the brief
time it takes for you or I to conceive of a project, we can also imagine it
done, but real people can't work as quickly as imaginations do. New projects
will almost always mean more staff.
need excess capacity in our staffing for the same reason that we need excess
cash in the bank ‑‑ things always go wrong (Monday a hard disk
crashed, and Wednesday the phone system started breaking down, and our cager was
sick for two days, and if one of us gets the flu we'll need to hire temps, and
our intern has cut back his hours so we're falling behind anyway) and there are
always emergencies (Bill Winter had to fly to New Hampshire to mediate a dispute
between the Party and the Legislative delegation). My point is this ‑for
the jobs we have to do today we don't have enough staff. And for the new jobs we
envision for tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, we have no staff at all.
Finally, the Director must learn his or her limits early and state them
often. I promise to do that if I become National Director. I am doing it now.
Current Status and Plans for Improvement
a) Physical plant and equipment
bought a new work station and that stopped the network crashes. Then we lost one
of the old work stations to a hard disk failure and one of our machines can't be
used for address corrections, or much of anything else either.
don't have enough phones for every office, so the staff spends a lot of time
running from one room to another or upstairs or downstairs to take calls.
receptionist or Bill or me or someone has to stand at the FAX machine for long
periods because it will only feed one sheet at a time.
of our keyboards have gone bad.
laser printer has gone down twice since I've been here. We've had other problems
with the printer cue on the line printer, and you don't even want to hear about
the ribbon problem we had.
back door to the downstairs apartment won't stay shut even when it's locked. It
has a barred gate in front of it so it's secure for the moment, and Kiana and I
have barricadded the door with boxes.
front door also pushed open when it was locked. I had a carpenter fix the jam.
of the smoke alarms are disabled. Kiana will get them fixed (she's worked 40+
hours a week as a volunteer).
hasn't been any procedure for backing up DacEasy. John and I have just solved
that on a short term basis and will implement a long term fix soon.
"archives" were stacked in crumbling boxes in a fire trap downstairs.
When CNN called and wanted information on our 1980 Presidential campaign we
couldn't provide it because we couldn't get to the archives. In fact, we didn't
even know if we had the stuff. I still can't find financial statements for past
years', or 1099's for certain contractors. We also had hidden inventories of
some items because they were stacked behind boxes of crap. We've had five or six
special trash pick ups to take away mountains of junk, garbage, and obsolete
to refurbish equipment. Replace items as necessary, and always have more
equipment than is needed on a daily basis. Buy the best. Cheap costs more in the
some fire proof file cabinets and treat our historical records with respect.
a lot of thought to the proposed move. Let's look before we leap. We don't want
to move into a place and find out it's too small a year from now, or not shaped
right, or has some other problem.
interns is a bad idea. Their schedules change too often and they leave too
frequently. Just about the time we get them trained they're out the door. You
can't schedule time critical tasks because you don't know if they'll show up.
Those we've had here are very smart and hard working, but the LP isn't their top
priority. We should replace them with real staff.
Director's position is a bottleneck. He's a manager, a clerk, and an accountant
all rolled into one, and he can't do any of these jobs well for trying to do all
of them so‑so. The clerical functions need to be devolved onto a clerk,
and the accounting needs to be done by a bookkeeper.
plan to replace our part‑time and full‑time intern and our campus
contractor (Marti Stoner) with one full‑time person, hopefully Jim Lewis.
A guy like Jim would also be able to take some of the clerical load off the
next step, later in the year, would be to get someone to keep the books. Then
the Director could really be a manager, improve the systems, and increase money
Who should the next National Director be?
should be someone who wants to succeed and who is willing to state clearly what
that success will require. I have stated some of those requirements here. I have
also outlined my strategic and tactical views in a document called "The
Campaign That Never Happened." If you haven't read it and would like to,
I'd be happy to supply a copy.
next National Director should have experience and a solid record of
accomplishment. I'd stack my record against anybody's:
1982 1 wrote a speech for an LP Congressional candidate that consistently
brought both the candidate and his audiences to tears. The candidate was heavily
recruited by the Republican Party on the basis of that speech.
six months as Executive Director of the Libertarian Party of San Diego in 1983,
1 doubled membership, took the party's ranking from number eight in the state to
number two, and built a monthly pledge program that paid back the cost of my
employment many times over.
worked for the Bergland campaign in 1984. When I was sent to troubleshoot the
Oklahoma ballot drive we were only getting 250 signatures a day. I boosted that
to 2,500 signatures on my very first day in the state. Later in the campaign I
drafted my first fundraising letter. It pulled $70,000, kept the campaign going,
paid for TV ads, and allowed us to finish with a surplus. It is still the per
capita record holder for LP Presidential appeals.
Finance Director for the Libertarian Party of California I doubled, in just
three months, a pledge program that it had taken Marshall Fritz over a year to
I was asked to serve as National Director I quickly discovered a $3,500 monthly
operating deficit that no one had known about and corrected it. I also, with the
help of Tom Radloff, made the computer system user friendly (according to the
testimony of the local volunteers), and implemented a debt reduction plan that
was three months ahead of schedule by the time I attended my first INC meeting.
I also drafted a fundraising letter that may still be the per capita record
holder for non‑Presidential appeals ($27,000 raised out of 6,500 members),
and ended our overreliance on telemarketing. The constant phone calls were
disturbing our members. Instead, I began the modern practice of regular direct
was the premier advocate of using direct mail prospecting to increase
membership. I wrote and mailed the LP's first successful prospecting appeal. My
letters have brought in thousands of new members over the years. I am by far the
most successful membership recruiter in LP history.
placed an early focus on building a pledge program to cover the LP's basic
operating expenses, and many of our current pledgers were recruited through my
strong case can be made that more positive media exposure was generated during
my six month tenure as the head of the Marrou/Lord campaign, than in all of the
previous LP Presidential campaigns combined.
I learned that would‑be Libertarian voters would have to ask for our
ballot in the New Hampshire primary I placed the clear focus of that campaign on
Dixville Notch. We used the tactic of repetition to win there, and Tonie Nathan,
in her review of the New Hampshire campaign, made note of a letter I wrote to
the citizens of Dixville Notch as a determining factor in our victory.
all aspects of the Marrou/Lord campaign were ahead of expectations during my
time at the helm, including revenues.
have also written numerous other successful fundraising and prospecting appeals
for other organizations, including one signed by Charlton Heston for the
California educational choice initiative (attached).
have been a full‑time Libertarian activist for eleven years. I have been
National Director, a Presidential Campaign Manager, an INC member, a state
Chair, a local Chair, and everything in between. Few can match my years of
service, and no one can match the depth and breadth of my experience, or my
record of consistent success in the areas that matter most to us at this stage
in our development ‑fundraising and membership recruitment.
next National Director should be someone exactly like me, but I will only do it
if I see a committment on the part of all INC members to avoid the mistakes of
the past, and to treat me as a full and respected partner in the work ahead. I
must feel certain that the work environment is conducive to success, or I will
accept no offer of employment, should it be made.