On Piper and the party problem

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

The party meeting that the Osage County Republican Party Executive Committee held Feb. 21 in Pawhuska utterly failed the fairness test.

The committee members should consider it their duty to try to give other party members and voters generally the opportunity to hear from and evaluate a range of candidates for each elected office.

There are four people interested, so far, in running this year for Osage County District 1 commissioner. All four want to run in the Republican Primary on June 28.

When the Executive Committee on Feb. 21 provided Dr. Everett Piper time to speak, it should also have provided time to John Brazee, Clay Hughs and Randall Jones, or it should have set a date for an additional meeting to make sure all prospective candidates were heard.

No endorsements — to include personal endorsements by party officials — should have been decided upon or publicly announced before all candidates had been heard.

Instead, almost two months before the filing period for candidates for county office, the Executive Committee held a meeting where it gave speaking time only to Piper, and the party chairman then stood in front of the meeting audience and gave Piper his personal endorsement.

The actions of the Executive Committee and Chairman Wayne Hill were blatantly disrespectful toward Brazee, Hughs and Jones, and toward Osage County District 1 residents generally.

The behavior of the Republican Executive Committee appears to substantiate Randall Jones’s claim that the Committee is biased and manipulative,

Additionally, the behavior of the Committee raises a serious question about whether residents of Pawhuska should have anything at all to do with a new Republican group that the Executive Committee would like to start in this community. Doreen Linder seems like a friendly, well-meaning person, but she should be called on to answer for the Committee’s rude behavior before anyone joins anything.

In fact, Pawhuska residents who are Republicans might be better off forming a Republican Club of their own, completely unaffiliated with the county Republican Executive Committee. In that way, Pawhuskans could protect themselves against the presumptuous attitude of this down-county faction.

And one more thing — Wayne Hill expressed an interest in forming small groups of people to go around and observe the activities of public bodies such as school boards and city councils, for the purpose of reporting back to the Committee.

This is an obviously pernicious piece of nonsense. The purpose for sending such groups around would be to put the Committee in a position to pressure school boards and city councils about their discussions and policy choices.

I know from experience how serious and responsible the members of school boards and city councils in Osage County tend to be, and I can imagine how unamused the members of such bodies would be if meddlesome Republican Party Executive Committee members tried to arm-twist them.

The whole idea sounds to me — as someone who grew up during the Cold War — vaguely Soviet. I can hear a voice in my head, speaking English with a bad Russian accent and saying, “The bosses at the Party office do not appreciate your views on the city budget.”

Everett Piper says he values individual liberty and local control. If that’s truly the case, he and Wayne Hill would appear to have different priorities.

The Osage County Republican Executive Committee gives clear evidence of being power hungry and predatory.

Piper has a choice to make between the party bosses and his stated principles. Is he for freedom? Or does he just want so badly to win that he will make common cause with political manipulators?

Additionally, it is worth noting that the door isn't closed on potential candidates. The field doesn't have to be limited to Brazee, Hughs, Jones and Piper, or only to Republicans, or only to men. Perhaps the best candidate has yet to make herself known.