Monday, February 6, 2012

KEITH WHITE NEW GRIT ED


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" The ideal candidate must have a post secondary
degree in business/ accounting or equivalent 
experience,a background in campaign 
management, and non-profitmanagement experience.
Technical expertise and policy development 
experience shall be considered an asset."
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The  financially strapped Liberal Party of Newfoundland has hired a new Executive Director.

St. John's South - Mount Pearl Member of Parliament Siobhan Coady staffer Keith White has been selected via a public competition. I had thought about asking Keith about it when I bumped into him at the Second Cup during Saturday's blizzard, but figured I would wait for the official announcement.

It is official. Keith has a great Liberal pedigree as a dedicated volunteer, a staffer, past president of the Liberal Youth Commission, former Secretary of the executive board of the provincial party and was instrumental in helping organize the last provincial campaign. He knows the bits and bolts of the party.

He is going to fill big shoes. The last person to wear the title of Executive Director was current Avalon M.P. Scott Andrews, an organizational wizard and a good fundraiser.

Keiths' open message on day one to Liberals is "open dialogue and listening to others is fundamental to the Party’s future success. So come on and get in touch by phone, (709) 754-1813 or by email, keith@nlliberals.ca. If you’ve got a point to make on a provincial issue, a suggestion for change or improvement in the Party, or merely want to get something off your chest, I look forward to hearing from you."

Hiring an executive director is an important first step for the party. The organizational malaise has  resulted in political entropy that placed the party closer to the grave than the office of the official opposition.

Fundraising, with a $700,000 debt hanging around the party's neck, will be a gigantic challenge. The 2nd annual leader's dinner and auction should provide a good indication of how willing the party faithful are to drop scarce cash into the party's coffers.

I want to wish Keith the best of success in his new job.


16 comments:

Anonymous said...

How long before they hire Keith's former boss, Ms Coady?

Anonymous said...

Keith White is one of the best Liberals I have ever met. Passionate & dedicated.

Hopefully he can shake up the dynamics and get things in motion and help show the Liberals powers-to-be how things are done!

GO KEITH!

David McManus said...

The challenge will be the fundraising.

I doubt he can raise enough money to pay his own salary and the interest on the Liberal debt. The bulk of that debt occurred in 2003, while Scott Andrews was Executive Director and the Grimes government lost the election.

8 years and no real movement to pay down that old debt and the financial interest incurred illustrates how big the challenge will be.

Peter L. Whittle said...

David:

I don't think they even pay the interest on the debt (on a regular basis)...unless that has changed in recent times.

In fact, you are right on the time frame of the debt. The party spent something like a million dollars on the 2003 campaign, exhausting pretty much every penny they had. One might want to consult the Treasurer of the party from that period about the decision making process. I would argue that Andrews hands were tied.

They certainly had cash going into the campaign, but that was quickly exhausted and the party borrowed money that they had no chance of paying off in opposition. OF course many of the debts the party owed were paid to printers, communication and bus companies, but the banks continue to take the hit.

The result was the Provincial Liberal Party Office was closed, furniture sold and there has been very little success since with dealing with the debt. The Ed position ceased and there was some blurring of the lines because Scott went into a research role in the GMO.

I do not understand why they just don't negotiate a write down and commit to pay off that amount. If I recall, the PC's did something like that in the Byrne years, making them competitive in 1999.

I agree, big debt, big hole and I am not sure how they will dig themselves out of it considering sweet frig all has been done with it since 2003....except, in 2006, when Jim Bennett tried to negotiate something with the banks, held a fundraiser in Ontario - providing the money to the banks as prove of his commitment to deal with the debt issue...only to be knifed by the very caucus that refused to deal with the debt issue in the first place. Adding to that, and I was there, was the fact that Bennett had to pay $5,000 (could have been $10,00) for the right to run. They clubbed him over the head and made out like bandits with the money he raised and his nomination fee.
Great bunch of people!

I would argue status quo on the debt.

Anonymous said...

Obviously, this was not a hire based on fundraising ability. You get what you pay for!

A good organizer but a feather weight in the fundraising department, unless his defeated boss is going to help out. This may be a sign that Coady wants to lead the party.

Anonymous said...

This is the problem with politics. People assume that because a person is young they can't fundraise. It's an insult and to those people I say "F*$# YOU!". Any young person has the ability to fundraise and do a hell of a good job of it. I'm sure Mr. White, from what I've seen, has many connections. Hell, he helped fundraise enough to fund a full election campaign for his former boss.

So to all you nay-sayers: be gone. The time for your condescending nonsense is gone. It's people like you who nag and nag and never actually lift a finger to help the Liberal party. Don't underestimate Mr. White and any comments you make here is surely going to fuel his tenacity to fundraise.

Peter L. Whittle said...

Interesting crop of comments today. Keith has been at this a long time.

I can remember the past few EDs. Everyone comes with some comments and concerns.

Poor old Bren Kelly had his detractors, so did Fred Rowe, but they did the job they were paid to do very well. Scott Andrews was a young fella, lots of folks made negative comments when he took over the job as well. I think he did a decent job administratively, organizational and financially, until a few big headed MHAs decided to interfere and make the job impossible to do.

When each of these men (where are the women) was hired for the job, there was a bunch of sore losers who all felt they should have gotten the job. There is but one job, there was a competition and that is it. If Liberals want to continue to tear each other up because they did not get the job than the party is better without them. Anyone who lifts a finger for the party in the hopes of getting a job as a reward is going to be disappointment.

Nepotism and perceived favors has been a significant factor in putting the party where it is. Instead of developing talent,Some MHA's and party members have concentrated on evening the score, or cutting up new comers. If the Liberal Party is to have a future, we need to look at the mess left in the vacuum of the 2001 leadership and the failure of leadership at the provincial, district and Executive Board Level since 2003.

The parliamentary and extra-parliamentary wing have to stop butting heads and work as one. If that can not be done than the party is going to remain where it is, or even find itself in worse shape.

Keith White has been around a lifetime. I have heard people make derogatory, if not defamatory comments about him that I would not dignify with a response. He earned the job. Sure, other people wanted it but in the end he won a competition. How did he win it - he got the job through earning the trust of his past employers, working yeomen hours above and beyond his pay. He is not someones nephew, niece or brother-in-law. He is just a dedicated loyal foot soldier

I would wager that he would admit that he is not a professional fundraiser but that is only one aspect of this job. There is a huge organizational piece that needs to be done, and I am sure he can do it.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 4:29. Lighten-up my son.

The party's executive director should be someone with a proven record of raising money, someone with an entrepreneurial spirit.

That is not your friend Keith.

The fact that he was once a "young Liberal" is not an issue. What is an issue is that this guy has never written a business plan; he has never operated a business; and he has never been in an independent management position. Those are my concerns had he been 55 or 35!

What makes some of us who applied for the job frustrated is the financial bottom line is fundamental to any Liberal revival.

The funds needed to pay a salary are a pittance in comparison with the million dollars the party needs to raise over the next three years to get out of debt and build a war chest.

I have no dislike for Keith. He is a good guy. I just happen to think his strengths would have been much better accommodated working with the leader in the Confederation Building.

Anonymous said...

Executive Director. Their problem is they cannot find a leader. The acting one is not going to do it.

Anonymous said...

How does a bankrupt organization afford an executive director? The title should be funeral director!

If the Liberal Party was a business, they would be out of business. How can anyone take them seriously if they will not, or can not, pay the bills?

Would you get away with not paying a million dollars in loans? Would you have the face on yea to just ignore your obligations in the hopes of a write down?

Peter, the banks can not write down this debt, the Liberals need to pay it off like anyone else would do!

Wm. Murphy said...

Good discussion Peter...it certainily highlights the fact that most of your commenters have no idea what they are talking about! The thread ceratinly highlights that some of these beauts have no idea what an ED is supposed to do.

If you read the release the ED has been tasked on grassroots orginization and not soley focused on fundraising.
I have wrote cheques to Political Party's... all the time and not once did I donate because of the ED. The ED organizes the minutiae of the Office and not out with their cap in hand.
All ED's take their fundraising direction from the Executive and Board of the Party....from my experience there has always been tasked Rain Makers and this will continue. Let the ED focus on organization and the backroom crowd deal with issuing tax receipts

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 6:49 ..... Nay-sayers all around. Typical jealous contenders who think they are the bees knees.

Keith has entrepreneurial spirit. Hell, running a Constituency Office is tough. There are the day to day operations, reaching out, stakeholder relations, and then the Liberal party piece which IS a lot about fundraising. He'll do it better than you any day. Just watch.

Congrats from a sidelines watcher, Keith.

Peter L. Whittle said...

Indeed. The ED is an organizer. They do not raise a lot of cash.They might handle the logistics for a fundraiser Ie (silent auction or a golf game) deposit the money, pay the bills and issue receipts.

The point of my excerpt from the job description is that fundraising is not the job. There was a bunch of people who feel the job should have been a small base salary and the rest came from a percentage of fundraising. I saw that as a recipe for not getting any organizing done.

Getting the party into some manageable shape with actual functioning district associations would be a great step forward.

I can't say I ever cut a check for an ED either, well not really I suppose. Scott was real good at sucking money out of you at strategic times in the year. However, donations have usually gone the route of the future senators!

Peter L. Whittle said...

Last comment of the night, I suspect some of those comments are coming from people who wanted the job and did not get it or just do not like Keith.

I know he is going to have an uphill battle with some of the caucus. Usual jerks that gave Scott such a hard time.

Ryan Lane said...

Gotta love the anonymous posters. LOL I also applied for the position and was obviously unsuccessful but unlike some others I wish Keith the best of luck and I've already offered my help should he or the Party require it.

Keith is a sharp guy and I know he'll work his ass off to get things back in order. That salary is money well spent. An ED is required if the Party is going to pull itself together.

As for the fundraising side of things Keith isn't working alone out there. There are those inside and outside the Party who will help.

My advice to him was simple, be innovative and don't be afraid to challenge the status quo. The Liberal brand has to mean something again.

He'll do great. Period.

Glenn said...

An interesting discussion.

I think about it this way. If the Director position is to organize things politically, get the party in shape, then examine the experience of Mr. White.

List the number of successful campaigns he has been instrutmental in, compared to those campaigns lost under his involvement.

It appears his career is about Ms. Coady, who lost 2 elections, got elected on a fluke, Danny's ABC campaign, only to lose 45% of her support and her seat in the next general election.

In closing, I belive fundraising should be a key part of the job. The Liberals under Kevin Aylward could not even afford radio or televison advertisements. Hard to get your message out without advertisements.