Democracy at Work – the 2012 Nevada Republican Caucus

I love being a part of democracy at work. I just got back from the 2012 Nevada Republican caucus. It was so much fun!

I've been to a caucus and blogged about it twice before. My blog about the 2008 caucus is here and about the 2010 caucus is here. Of the caucuses I've been to this seemed the most organized and the best attended. There were a lot of people there. The caucus was held at our local middle school. 

Photo Feb 04, 9 25 31 AM

Registration didn't take long and then they sent us off to the classroom where our precinct was meeting. In my precinct meeting there were 23 people. We met in an American history classroom. I loved the quotations on the cabinet behind me.

Photo Feb 04, 9 59 09 AM

First we elected a chair person and a secretary. My new neighbor was elected precinct chair person. She was efficient and did a great job. She is the one standing on the left.

Photo Feb 04, 10 29 44 AM

The second order of business was allowing volunteers to speak for each candidate. My neighbor spoke for Romney and was quite convincing. She talked about watching Romney when she lived in Utah and how impressed she was with how he managed the Olympics. Someone else suggested we read Romney's plan for America.

Another woman spoke for Rick Santorum. No one volunteered to speak for Gingrich and when no one volunteered to speak for Ron Paul I said I would.

I am a life long Republican. I believe in small government. I am a fiscal conservative and I believe that usually free enterprise can do things better than government. But I do believe that government has a role to play. I have become convinced that everyone should have health insurance and that Obama care is a step in the right direction. I am pro choice and pro gay marriage.

When I spoke for Ron Paul  I was thinking about foreign policy. I still have not forgiven the Republicans and George Bush for capriciously taking us to war in Iraq and for running up our national debt. Because of George Bush I voted for a democrat for the first time in my life four years ago.

The president can't change fiscal policy without the congress but he can take us to war. After listening to the Republican debates I am afraid that Romney would invade Iran to prevent them from becoming a nuclear country. So I spoke for Ron Paul because even though he is a bit of a wing nut I am confident that he wouldn't start another war.

So anyway, the next step in our precinct caucus was for people to volunteer to be delegates to the county convention. I volunteered.

Next we voted and the chairperson and I counted the votes.The results were

Romney 14

Santorum 4

Gingrich 3

Paul 2

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The whole experience was fun! I got to meet neighbors and as I said enjoy democracy at work. I even got to see Reno's mayor Bob Cashell.

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If you would like to see all my pictures from the caucus you can see them on Flickr here.

I usually avoid talking about politics but you can see all my politics blog posts by clicking on politics in the category list to the right.


I Heard Michelle Obama and Harry Reid Speak Today

My friends Linda, Pat, Beverley and I went to the Women's Summit Reno 2010 this morning. 


The highlight of the summit was seeing and hearing Harry Reid and Michelle Obama. Harry Reid introduced Mrs Obama by talking about the important role his wife has played in his success and how Mrs Obama  plays a similar role for her husband.


Michelle Obama apologized for her hoarse voice which was a result of the cold she caught from her husband. She gave a great speech about the role women have played in our country and continue to play. I found it very inspiring. 



The whole event was fun. I got to shake Harry Reid's hand.

Over the years Beverley has met four Presidents and before today two First Ladies. I should have stayed with Beverley because she was the first one to speak to and shake Michelle Obama's hand as she left the stage.

Washoe County Republican Precinct Meetings

Saturday I attended the Washoe County Republican Precinct Meeting for my precinct. Two years ago when I attended the Republican caucus for the presidential election there were several hundred people and McQueen High School was overflowing. I would guess that 40 to 50 precincts meet at McQueen High School. There are 261 registered Republicans in my precinct and I have no idea how many Republicans in all the precincts that meet at McQueen.


The meeting started out with all the attendees from all the precincts in the entry way of the High School getting instructions. I would estimate that there were about 50 people in total attending. We split up into our precincts and went to separate rooms for the actual precinct meeting. There were two people from my precinct, myself and another woman. So I was the meeting chairman and she was the secretary. We elected ourselves as delegates to the county convention and central committee. Then we voted in the straw poll for our choices for the senatorial and gubernatorial races. Then we adjourned.

You would think that if you were a hard working well organized candidate you would try to attend the these meetings or at least have someone there representing you. It was interesting to note that only two candidates were represented. It makes me wonder if the other candidates even care about the people they would represent if they were elected.

It was quite impressive that Sharron Angle's husband was handing out campaign literature and she was at the meeting. Sharron Angle is running for the U.S. Senate. Angle and her husband live in our general area. She said she was going  to try to attend  all the precinct meetings around Reno. I think the other represented candidate was Brian Sandoval but I'm not sure. I talked to Sharron briefly and had my picture taken with her. I was impressed with her and I liked the fact that she makes her positions very clear on her web site. Many candidates don't. I was a little put off by the fact that another woman I talked to said that Angle is just too much of a right wing fringe candidate. My politics are probably closer to independent than to Republican but I find the whole political process fascinating.


The straw poll ballots were counted later in the afternoon at the Washoe County Republican headquarters. I got  an email with the results.

Jim Gibbons            45.6%
Brian Sandoval       41.4%
Mike Montandon     12.6%
Brian Krolicki             0.4%

Sharron Angle         42.9%
Sue Lowden            18.4%
Danny Tarkanian    15.2%
Mark Amodei           10.0%
Bill Parson                  5.8%
Brian Krolicki              5.5%
Robin Titus                 1.3%
Chuck Kozak              0.3%
Mike Wiley                  0.3%
Brian Sandoval          0.3%

Beverley Bryant – Former Professor, College Dean and Politician, Media Relations Expert, Sailor, Tri-athlete – Episode 8 Marion Vermazen Podcast

In episode 8 of the Marion Vermazen Podcast I talk with my friend
Beverley Bryant.

Beverley has had a long and varied career. She was a university
professor and was the first woman dean at Old Dominion University. She has held various senior positions in industry doing
community and media relations and public affairs. She served as an elected
member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives and has been active in
political campaigns. Beverley has been an avid sailor her whole life and sails
regularly whenever she gets the chance. She is a competitive swimmer and tri-athlete.



I know you will enjoy listening to our conversation.

To listen to the interview run your mouse over the bar below. You will see a play button that you can click on.


You can subscribe to the Marion Vermazen Podcast by clicking on the
link at
the top of the column to the right.

To subscribe in iTunes,
from the iTunes Advanced menu select Subscribe to Podcast and copy the
feed URL.  "

I love feedback so let me know what you think of the show and leave a comment below.

Ronni Bennett – Creator of the Time Goes By Blog – Episode 5

Ronni Bennett creator of the Time Goes By Blog is my guest  for episode 5 of the Marion Vermazen Podcast.

Ronni is the author of one of my favorite blogs Time Goes By – What it's really like to get older. She is retired from a very successful career in journalism and television production. Her blog has a vibrant community of followers and is a constant source of information and insight.

If you would like to listen to the interview you can click on the play button that will show up when you move your mouse over the gray bar below.

Marion Vermazen Podcast – episode 5 – Ronni Bennett

Here are links to two of the subjects we discussed.

 Elders for Healthcare Reform

 Ronni's Photo biography


You can also subscribe to my podcast by clicking on the
link at
the top of the column to the right.

To subscribe in iTunes,
from the iTunes Advanced menu select Subscribe to Podcast and copy the
feed URL.  "

The fun thing about this podcast has been that when I realized I wanted to create a podcast of my  conversations with interesting people I was able to just jump in and do it. I am really enjoying myself and It continues to be a learning experience. This was my first podcast done with both of us using Skype and unfortunately the quality is not as good as I would like it to be. If anyone has expertise in Skype, Podcasting, sound recording, and mixers I would love to pick his or her brain. Drop a comment on this blog or send me an email.

Overheard on the BART Platform

A few days ago I was sitting on the BART platform  waiting for my train and there was a woman sitting next to me talking on her cell phone. I overheard her half of the following conversation:

" She is 17 and pregnant with twins."

pause to listen

"Yep, That means she will be 17 with 4 kids."

more listening

"Right she just got out of jail. That is how she found out that she is pregnant. They do pregnancy tests when you go in."

more listening.

" She was picked up for prostitution that is why she was in."

And then my train came.

The Last one on the Freeway

Sunday night Duke and I saw the Cedar Walton Trio at Yoshi’s. It was a wonderful show.

On the way home the traffic on the 880 freeway came to a complete stop. After we had been waiting a while Duke pointed out that there was no one behind us on the freeway. 880 is 6 lanes wide at that point and there wasn’t a single headlight behind us. It is very weird to be the last person on the freeway.

We saw 4 or 5 ambulances going the other way and then saw a life flight helicopter take off a ways up the road. When we finally got up to the accident you could see a smashed car and a van on its side. There was an article about the accident in the paper this morning. Apparently the accident started on the other side of the freeway, the car went airborne on to our side of the freeway and then hit a van full of people. A four year old little girl was ejected and killed. So very sad.

The HP Soap Opera

I’ve been following the HP board of directors melt down for a while and have formed opinions about the key characters in this drama/tragedy/comedy. There was big article about it in last Sunday’s San Jose Mercury News. I also watched the 60 Minutes interview with Patricia Dunn which helped me clarify my thoughts.

In case you haven’t been following this story. Patricia Dunn was chairman of the HP board of directors. Jay Keyworth a member of the board was leaking secret information from board meetings to the press.Tom Perkins was also on the board and was good friend of Keyworth’s. Dunn commissioned an investigation to find the leaker and unmasked  Keyworth. Perkins quit and stormed off the board. He supposedly quit because he found out that the investigation used shady techniques to get the phone records of board members. Keyworth was voted off the board and Dunn has since been forced to resign from the board. She has been indicted for her roll in the investigation. Here are my caricatures of  Dunn, Keyworth, Perkins, and the lawyers Baskins, Kiernan and Sonsini. My opinions are just that my opinions, so take them with a grain of salt.

Patricia Dunn is an extraordinarily smart and hard working woman who got to her position as chairman of the board of HP through team work, being smart and hard work. She came from a very modest background and has overcome enormous obstacles to get where she is.  I’ve worked with women like her and I have nothing but admiration for her and what she accomplished. Given that she is responsible for some very unethical perhaps even illegal behavior it may be surprising but I admire what I believe is her honesty and work ethic. She was torpedoed and sunk as a result of  scheming and dishonesty led especially by Perkins. She took the bait and the bad guys won. Of course the buck stops with her but she was certainly misserved by her lawyers who should take a lot of the blame for this mess. I think I identify with her. If I worked harder and was more driven I could imagine myself in her shoes. Hopefully I wouldn’t have approved the investigation but she certainly was in a no win situation.

When you’ve got a team like HP’s board where the team members don’t trust each other you have a dysfunctional team. The only way to fix such a team is to get rid of the rotten apples and if you can’t prove who the rotten apples are it is pretty much hopeless. Dunn would have failed is she didn’t identify the leaker and what she did to find him has also destroyed her.

Tom Perkins is the rich venture capitalist who personifies all that is wrong with business. He thinks the rules don’t apply to him. He seems to think he is smarter than everyone else and instead of being forthright and open he enjoyed masterminding the fall of Dunn. Dunn said "He wanted me off the board. This was to get me off the board. I don’t know if he ever thought through the consequences that would go beyond my getting off the board,"  I’ve also worked with people like him. I have an almost visceral reaction to him based on my experiences. Unfortunately being political and underhanded is often a game that works. My impression is that Perkins enjoys the game and he won this game at the expense of HP and its employees and stockholders. Ugh!

Jay Keyworth is another rich old guy who thought the rules didn’t apply to him. I’m sure he would encourage punishing leakers but he thought he knew better than others what the press should know.

Finally the lawyers. I am with Rich Karlgaard, Publisher of Forbes, that the HP lawyers should be fired. They can take a lot of the blame for all this. Dunn depended on them and they didn’t do their job.

Finally I am reminded of something I learned in an ethics class at Sun, If you aren’t sure about whether something is ethical think about whether it would be a problem if it appeared on the front page of the New York Times. Your answer to that question is a great smell test for whether something is OK to do or not. It is too bad Dunn as the captain of the ship didn’t apply this test before she OKed the leak investigation.


As I read about New Orleans and the failure of the evacuation efforts I am reminded of Dunkirk. If you don’t know the story it is an inspiring one. At the beginning of WW II the British and French Armies were  trapped by the Germans at Dunkirk in North-East France. What happened still gives me chills when I think of it. An army of military and civilian boats, many of them small pleasure and fishing boats captained by fishermen and  private citizens evacuated over 330,000 Allied troops across the English Channel. I urge you to read this account.

When our Dunkirk happened and the citizens of New Orleans were trapped by the rising waters or even before that when the poor needed evacuating before the hurricane, imagine if the mayor or the governor had called for a citizen army to help evacuate New Orleans. There is no doubt in my mind that a call for an American Dunkirk response would have resulted in awesome results. We would have risen to the occasion. If the English government had not called for every small boat available to help evacuate Dunkirk, Dunkirk would have been a New Orleans kind of disaster instead of one of Britain’s finest hours.