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Altoona Mirror Newspaper Archive: February 15, 2001 - Page 10

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Location: Altoona, Pennsylvania

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   Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - February 15, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania                                Page A10 Altoona Mirror 9TH DISTRICT RACE Thursday, February 15, 2001 RACE Bylaw ambiguity (Continued from Page Al) Some observers have said he did Jt to give his, son Bill an edge in becoming his successor. Shuster said no, and other observers agree that getting the nomination through the party rather than a regular primary is actually harder for Bill, who has never run for office. Earlier, Geist called for Shuster to rescind his resignation, but Shuster ignored the suggestion. 1 Whatever the reasons the con- gressman touched off the turmoil to replace him, people need to get past the acrimony, said Geist, who'd like to be peacemaker. The Republican nominee to be named Saturday will need all the Republican help he can get, includ- ing the help of those who support his rivals, Geist believes. I And candidates for a variety of Other offices, including City Council, will need help winning their elections, he said. "All I want to do is make sure all the people in my district get back he said. "You don't win elections without a strong commit- tee, at least in Blair County." People need to keep in mind an old Pennsylvania Dutch adage: Make sure you keep your words warm and soft because someday you may have to eat them, he said. But even with the cold and harsh words spoken recently, there's hope for reconciliation, he thinks. "There's always room for reason- able people to get Geist said. The politicians will need to get over the bitterness for the good of the community, said Wade Kagarise, an Eichelberger support- er and a member of the Blair County Republican Executive Committee. He's only 28, but he's been in pol- itics long enough to realize that sometimes you have to work along- side people you don't necessarily hit it off with, he said. One potential gesture of peace is the plan by Eichelberger support- ers not to pursue a resolution to the court case, now moot, after the Shuster supporters won a prelimi- nary injunction forcing the pro- Eichelberger Executive Committee to defer delegate selec- tion to the full County Committee.' It's in nobody's interest to resolve that case now, Kagarise said. On Wednesday, Mike Long, an aide to Shuster supporter Jubelirer, said Eichelberger tried to exploit his role as chairman of Blair County's Republican Executive Committee to stack the county delegation, but it backfired. Eichelberger and Vice Chairman Dan Beck denied in court Tuesday that they stacked the deck to Eichelberger's advantage. Nevertheless, Long said the alleged failed attempt alienated many of the people on the overall committee, helping to contribute to his losing to Shuster 18 of 28 dele- gates that once seemed a lock, Long said. It was almost as if he was tak- ing advice especially designed to sabotage his chances, Long said. "He used a heavy hand and dic- tator-like practices to control the Long said. "There was clearly a backlash among his own committee members." There was no manipulation, countered Wade Kagarise, Executive Committee member and Eichelberger supporter. Eichelberger wasn't manipulat- ing the Executive Committee and the committee wasn't manipulat- ing the selection of delegates to fayor Eichelberger who laid aside his chairmanship for dele- gate selection, Kagarise said. Rather, Executive Committee members were acting on their own and trying to do the right thing, yKagarise said. fEEichelbergernot only tried to jswnmandeer all the county's votes iOy using the Executive Committee, 3je tried to keep reporters out of the peeling Tuesday, fought in court She attempt to open the voting to the committee and tried to get executive committee installed ias delegates in a block even after 'losing the court case, Long said. t, "It's hard to imagine a chain of ievents that could do more harm that he himself 3Long said. "Bill Shuster couldn't Slave planned to hurt him more." 2 Eichelberger didn't help himself couple of months ago by criticiz- ing Shuster on "60 Minutes." rtommittee members would have understood his personal problems 'with Shuster but not sharing them %ith a national audience when he ids chairman of the congressman's ibarty back in the home district, "Long said. Eichelberger also did himself no favors by criticizing rShuster's obtaining of money for ghe Bedford County Airport, espe- cially when that airport has helped that county a state leader in foidustrial job growth, Long said. 5 The Executive Committee was 'acting according to its understand- ing of the legalities of the case for Delegate selection, Kagarise said Blair County Republican Party ivlaws are ambiguous and unreli- ible on delegate selection because hey use imported language from ,te State Committee bylaws that Slon't make sense in a county con- text, Kagarise said. The relevant passage says: "In the event of a vacancy occurring on the Republican ballot in any electoral district composed of more than one county, but less than state-wide, the vacancy shall be tilled by con- ferees selected by the County Committees of the respective coun- ties." It doesn't make sense to talk about multiple counties when the application only is to Blair, said Kagarise, Blair County assistant district attorney. Asked what's the big deal about a simple plural, he said lots of little things cause big problems in legal documents. Because of the county bylaw ambiguity, the Executive Committee consulted the State Committee bylaws, which state: "The vacancy shall be filled by con- ferees selected by the County Committees of the representative counties or their duly accredited representative." The state bylaws don't specify how the county committees are to select those conferees, and the county bylaws don't specify either, which runs counter to typical legal language in which the higher body authorizes and the lower one lays out how to do it, Kagarise said. Therefore, the Executive Committee discarded the clauses about the committee as a whole choosing the delegates and seized upon the second clause in the state bylaws, the one about selection by the "duly accredited representative." That would be the chairman, Eichelberger, he said. But as a can- didate, Eichelberger had a conflict of interest and besides, he had promised to step aside. So the com- mittee went the next logical step, choosing Vice Chair Dan Beck who happens to be an Eichelberger supporter. "I think we felt we were con- strained by the rules to make the decision we Kagarise said. "We never meant to disenfranchise any county committee people." Still, not all the rank-and-file com- mittee people understood, he said. Tuesday's vote showed that Subtract the 17 votes for the pro-Eichelberger Executive Committee and only five rank-and-file committee members supported Eichelberger's candidacy. The Executive Committee might not have done a good enough job explaining its rationale for taking on delegate selection, Kagarise said. "I know they [the rank and file] didn't feel comfortable in the deci- sion we Kagarise said. "They wanted to have a say in what happened." And after all, he doesn't blame them for wanting that say, he said. Despite the court loss, Kagarise believes that the Executive Committee's interpretation of the rules was correct. But he conceded it was a close issue all along. "1 never said the plaintiffs were off their he said. In a day of victory, Shuster opted not to press his luck and annihilate Eichelberger's candidacy by press- ing for a winner-take-all vote, even after he found he had the backing of the majority on a vote to make the whole Executive Committee part of the delegation. Rather, his support- ers went for the proportional vote that led to the split delegation. Shuster had been urging fair, democratic selection of delegates to the mini-convention and a propor- tional split fit the bill nicely, Long said. It meant that every committee person's vote would count, being reflected in the delegation the county would send to Huntingdon, Long said. That was enough. Shuster had fought the party chair, got what he wanted, but after getting it, he didn't overreach, Long said. In the long run, that will help him, Long thinks. Maybe it was just sensible cau- tion because the anti-Executive Committee vote might not have translated one-for-one into overall support for Shuster, Kagarise said. And maybe committee members would have been less willing to vote for Shuster if they'd known that even with a bare majority, he'd have all the delegates, Kagarise said. _____ Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler can be reached at 949-7038 or PRESIDENTS BUCKS UMIT1 COUPON PER ITEM GUARANTEED SAVINGS FROM OUR EVERYDAY LOW PRICES IN EVERY DEPT. JUST CLIP COUPONS SAVE I I I I DVD WTTM TV PMKHAM OF OM OVUI I Mot to Prior Only Oiw Cwpofi POT HI-FI VCR or DVD PLAYER WITO PURCHASE OF ANY Ma SCREEN COLOR TV OH vdt WITH TV H COUPONS VAUD NOW THRU SAT., FEB. 17, 2001 PRESIDENTS' BUCKS PRESIDENTS' BUCK PRESIDENTS1 BUCKS OFF ALL OTHER ITEMS IN OUR STORE THAT ARE NOT REDUCED BY COUPONS COUPON EXPIRES (PRESIDENTS' BUCKS L LAYAWAY AVAILABLE I 4 JOHNSTOWN BEL AIR PLAZA PHONE 266-7727 OnCHAHD PLAZA (BesWe Bi-Lo) PHONE 942-2600 CONHUCTOm MICHOOU 1-M0.73MU1 t NO INTEREST UNTIL AUGUST 2001 OUR RAMCHECK RHJCY: OccMhHwtty DM To Ow Mew Ot MftyM Ufftttc MpniMU, Rwt Of MvwtlMd Should TMs Occur, Upon RtquMt WHI QUHfly Ism YM A tWnttwch. No Dwlcn Plono. Tin Rtfht To UmK QMrtltlw. Not For Nottoi for hi TMs MrMtlMnwnt Will ft Pottwl In Ow MvcrtlMmtnt InelHdoi Many FIND ANY OTHER LOCAL STORE XTOCKING AND OFFERttM TO SELL FOR LESS THE IDENTICAL ITEM IN A FACTORY SEALED BOX WITHIN N DAYS AFTER MX PURCHASE, WE'LL REFVrW THE DIFFER. 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