MARC CHASE: Leadership is antidote for local GOP disorder

2014-04-10T00:00:00Z MARC CHASE: Leadership is antidote for local GOP disorderMarc Chase marc.chase@nwi.com, (219) 662-5330 nwitimes.com
April 10, 2014 12:00 am  • 

It's clear the Lake County GOP needs some serious counseling for an acute case of split personality disorder.

On one hand, you have the polished, pragmatic and effective pros — statesmen like Indiana Rep. Hal Slager, R-Schererville, who has become a voice of fiscal conservatism that both downstate party leadership and locals respect. Slager and the no-nonsense Griffith Republicans successfully held the feet of wasteful Calumet Township officials to the fire by pushing spending reforms through the Legislature last year.

They represent the county GOP on its good days.

But then there are the bad days, and boy are those doozies.

Past and present party leaders are duking it out over who's responsible for past debts accrued by the party.

A south county township trustee is whining to state and local party leadership that his primary opponent supported an evil Democrat via mouse-click on Facebook.

And a three-person panel of local GOP peers is handing out a censure — essentially a stern finger wag — to the Facebook transgressor, Winfield Township Trustee candidate Paulette Skinner, when it should be spurning incumbent Trustee Roland Brauer for ever making an issue of a harmless social media expression to begin with.

You might recall Brauer took issue with Skinner when she clicked "going" on a local Democrat's Facebook invitation to "vote" in the May 6 primary. Naughty, naughty, naughty.

In short, the homestretch of the 2014 primary election season hasn't exactly resembled national brotherhood/sisterhood month for Lake County Republicans.

It was a bit more like national Mental Health Awareness Month, which fittingly is observed in May. The local Republican Party will need more than just a month — following the May 6 primary election — to sift through its plethora of identity issues.

I'm sure Lake County Democratic Party Chairman Thomas McDermott Jr. is rubbing his hands together all the way to the November general election polls. Who could blame him?

McDermott's job of attacking the politics and policies of local Republicans becomes infinitely easier when the GOP spends its time casting aspersions on itself.

So what is the therapy for this type of self-destructive nonsense? What kind of treatment plan can be pursued?

For starters, past and present Lake County GOP leaders need to work out their differences and move forward. The current administration should take responsibility for past party debts, pay those debts and move on.

I also suspect the party placated incumbent Brauer's complaint against Skinner, who also serves as a Winfield councilwoman and GOP precinct committeewoman, by issuing Skinner a "censure" in the Facebook-liking scandal earlier this week.

Frivolous complaints leading to party divisions — and frankly public GOP embarrassment — should be scorned before they ever reach the cutting-room floor.

In short, the real treatment plan for this conflicted local party is unwavering leadership. County GOP Chairman Dan Dernulc has an opportunity to define a new chapter in leading by example.

He should take it.

Investigative Editor Marc Chase can be reached at (219) 662-5330 or marc.chase@nwi.com. The opinions are the writer's.

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