Sunday Editorial

As many of you know I’ve been pretty vocal about the CRA. Well in August Glynn agreed to do an interview with me but when I submitted the questions he wasn’t too happy with them so he offered to write an editorial instead. That editorial never came.

In the mean time a reader of this website submitted this for you to read and I personally agreed with his points. In all fairness if someone from the CRA wants to submit a response I will gladly give them the floor.

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Dear Fellow Brothers and Sisters of the Leaf,

Hello All. These are just some thoughts of mine. Some talking points for the next time you and your buddy sit down to smoke. The next time you’re on some internet forum and you see a thread come up. The next time you decide to vote. It’s no secret, cigar rights are decreasing by the hour, but it’s time we do something about it, and I mean actually do something.

Your first thought? We have the CRA! You’re right, we have the CRA. For those of you who haven’t seen the patriot holding a cigar, which I highly doubt given the site you’re reading currently, here’s what the CRA says about itself:

CRA’s MISSION

Cigar Rights of America (CRA) was founded on the principle of fighting for the freedom to enjoy cigars.

CRA is a consumer-based, non-profit public advocacy organization that works at the local, state, and federal level of government to protect the freedoms of cigar enthusiasts.

Together, with our constituency of nationwide members, we focus our fight for freedom in two main areas:
-Oppose Restrictive Smoking Bans
-Oppose Taxation of Cigars

The group is led by Glynn Loope, whose bio is below

An avid cigar enthusiast, Glynn brings over twenty years of government relations and public arena involvement
to CRA.

Prior to assuming his role as CRA’s executive director, Glynn was the founder and president of Commonwealth Advance, LLC in Virginia – a leading government relations and business development consulting firm.

Although Glynn had carved out a niche in raising government funds for worthwhile public and private sector projects, it was working for the Cigar Association of Virginia that brought him to the world of “the politics of cigars.” Since 2006, Glynn has represented the Cigar Association of Virginia, working with the state’s professional tobacconists in amassing a pro-business coalition to fight intrusive smoking ban legislation.

Glynn also worked as a Legislative Assistant to former members of the Virginia House and Senate, for the University of Virginia’s Center for Public Service, as well as, local and regional government organizations.
So. It looks like we have a pretty basic mission led by a guy who has experience. Everything should be going fine, right? Not really. In the past month we’ve seen Santa Monica ban smoking on porches, New York City attempt to ban smoking in parks and beaches, amongst a host of other attempts to limit our use of tobacco.

Your first thought? Defend the CRA! We need more members. We need more influence! They need our support!

Perhaps. But, perhaps the CRA doesn’t need anymore support? Perhaps the CRA doesn’t need anymore members? Perhaps, they don’t need more money? What if the CRA needed to change?

The CRA is like a cult. It has cool t-shirts, nice looking badges and members that believe that you aren’t a smoker, until you’ve got your CRA badge. What a crock of shit. I have yet to see anything the CRA has done outside of a couple of nice sampler packs, and don’t worry, the CRA Sampler 3 is on its way. The organization’s motto through e-mails, social media and amongst its members in cigar shops seems to be, “we need more members.” In fact, that’s the last thing the CRA needs. The CRA needs transparency of what it does with the money it gets from members, a proactive approach via its ambassadors and to get off its ass and do something.

The cesspool that is the CRA could be the death of smokers. What occurs if the group that we expect to protect our rights, doesn’t do anything? What happens if New York City continues its campaign to making cigar smoking on par with crack-use and the CRA just issues Call to Actions? What happens if the CRA fails to inform its members about politicians who do support cigar smoking? What happens if the CRA continues at its status quo? And what happens when it’s too late?

Story time. Back in 2008 when SCHIP was again being voted on. Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-FL), who represents a large part of the cigar industry in his consistency and is an avid smoker, managed to get a meeting between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Jorge Padrón. Meek was featured in Cigar Aficionado, not only for his efforts to set up the meeting, but also because of his love for cigars. When SCHIP passed a second time, it included a tax raise of forty cent cap per cigar, an eight time jump from the original five cents. While the cigar industry went up in arms about this, few remembered that the forty cents (as a cap), was a hell of a lot less than the three dollars originally proposed under the first SCHIP bill.

Meek is now running for one of Florida’s Senate seats. In the Democratic primary, he was attacked by his opponent for ties to the cigar industry. Did the CRA stand up for him? No. Señor Padrón thought what Meek was doing was important, he was quoted saying, “We can’t afford lobbyists, so we do our own talking… We explained to them that we weren’t opposed to contributing to the legislation, but cigars were bearing the brunt of it. We’re not big tobacco. A tax like that would decimate our industry.” Meek ultimately voted for the forty cent increase, but still was tied to big tobacco.

Recently the CRA, published their “Smoke the Vote” campaign (ironically, also used by a pro-marijuana group) and listed a group of politicians it suggested it members to support. Was Meek on there? Nope. No, the guy that said of the first SCHIP, “I thought that the tax increase on the handmade cigar industry went a little bit too far… Well, not a little bit too far, it went too far. This would have hurt not only a lot of businesses in South Florida but also those countries where the tobacco comes from.” Yeah, that guy, not someone we should support? Instead, listed are people like Meg Whitman, who hasn’t said a word about smoking rights in her campaign for California governor, other than talking about marijuana. So what if people are pro-business, I’ll take someone that is pro-cigar and someone that understands what the cigar industry is any day of the week over generic pro-business.

I’m a realist. What politicians say and what they do are two very different things. And that extends to the CRA. Despite spending hours over the past year on their website, I’m still left with one question: what has the CRA done? Sure, it united smokers. It made some hats. It sent out some e-mails. But, I’m not sure what the CRA has done in New York, what it has done in Pennsylvania, in Florida, in D.C., and most importantly in your town and my town.

Most of the new smoking legislation is not on a federal level, it’s a local thing and as such the space for the CRA to be effective is very much real. There are plenty of mics at council meetings for people to stand up and oppose new regulations and taxes like Jeff Borysiewicz did in Florida. There are plenty of smoke shops willing to host people like the NYTDA. Most importantly, there’s plenty of room to do something.

I’m not really sure what the CRA intends to do, but it seems like sitting on its ass and asking for money is a large part of the current strategy. I don’t know who the CRA has met with on the political level (because they don’t have it listed) and finding what they do outside of promotion on cigar forums and its own website is difficult. Even a quick glance at their own media appearances page shows that they’ve only appeared in two non-cigar related media outlets, that’s not good.

I once got very close to sending my $35 to the CRA. This was long before I did my research. I didn’t know about the Pelosi-Padrón, didn’t know about the differences between SCHIP I and SCHIP II and I had no clue what the CRA had done. I listened to my fellow smokers who told me I needed to join. But then I thought for myself… What I found was aggravating and disappointing. For a community that talks about rights, it seems we do little other than complain. (I know, pot meet kettle.)

I fear that our blind support for the CRA as a community may cost us. Until we demand the CRA (or someone else) to be a proactive and transparent group focused on results, I believe our rights will continue to disappear. We need to stop sending donations for someone else to do the work and actually do our parts as a grassroots community.

I’d like to know a lot about the CRA. I’d like to know which politicians they’ve met with. I’d like some clue as to where the money goes besides the web designer and Mr. Loope. It’d be nice to see a concrete example of what the CRA has done, whether it result in a victory or defeat. I’d like to know the CRA’s plan for being proactive to prevent future legislation. When I read stories about a local ban, I’d like to see CRA being mentioned in the story. The whole idea of being like the NRA is missing a lot, but ultimately, the largest difference currently is that no non-smokers and tons of smokers have no clue who the CRA is.

To call the CRA a grassroots organization would be a straight-up lie. It’s not entirely the CRA’s fault, but who am I trying to fool, they aren’t getting a cookie. It’s a paradox. The group is supposed to be a consumer-based group, yet Mr. Loope states himself that a collection of thirty or so manufacturers are the main supporters. It’s not a group that was started by consumers, it was the manufacturers. It’s not a group whose leadership was chosen by consumers or even its members. Simply, it is everything but grassroots. I don’t know what the CRA’s main purpose is now, but supplementing the manufacturer’s efforts to fight bans and taxes wouldn’t be out of the question. I’m not stating that’s my true belief, nor am I suggesting that what the manufacturer’s are doing to fight legislation is a bad thing. But, if that’s the case, the CRA must tell its members and start over, as a real consumer group.

Smokers need a grassroots organization. We need something that we start, that we control and that we can trust. We need a group that focuses on results and uses the power of its members effectively. We need an organization with transparency and goals. None of these are things we have in the CRA and for that things need to change. I’m not sure if starting a new group is the solution, but ultimately, the CRA in its current form cannot and will not work at protecting our rights. At the end of the day, sampler packs, reposting links from local newspapers and sending out Call to Actions won’t do anything but waste bandwidth.

Rather than responding to posts like this one, send an e-mail to your congressman, better yet, pick up the phone and call your mayor. Tell them about your local tobacconist, tell them about the people you smoke with on Saturdays. Tell them about your hobby and its history. Remind them, we aren’t big tobacco; we don’t have three lobbying firms on retainer; we’re just regular people desirous of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, one puff at a time.




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  • http://cigarfriendly.us Stephen Boyajian

    Just a few things to point out.

    Everyone’s gripe seems to be that the CRA isn’t doing enough. You aren’t supposed to “blindly follow the CRA”, you are supposed to be an active member. The goal is not to give the CRA $35 and then wash your hands of it and expect great results.

    I live in Northern Virginia. When New York was being threatened with higher taxes and new bans, I emailed every possible person in New York. When San Antonio, TX and Savannah, GA introduced new bans, I emailed every possible politician.

    Why did I do this? I’ve never been to San Antonio or Savannah and I visit New York about once a decade. I did this because I am a member of CRA. It is my duty as a member to do what I can to defend the rights of other smokers. Sadly, I would be willing to bet only about 10% of my fellow members did this. They did not speak out. They sat at home and complained about what was going on.

    I know Barry says he made numerous calls to New York people when the tax was introduced, but I need to ask Barry. Did you ever make a call, send a letter or an email to Georgia? Texas? Florida?

    Which leads me to my main point and arguement, the article above says: “Smokers need a grassroots organization. We need something that we start, that we control and that we can trust.”

    Feel free to start something. However, if the member involvement is as lax in that group as in the CRA, you’ll be making the same gripes in less than a year.

    When gun control is introduced, the NRA goes crazy and I’m not just talking about the people in the NRA office 10 miles from my house, I’m referring to the millions of members across the country.

    I do agree CRA needs to weed out the Ambassadors who are doing nothing and more things need to be done. However 2 people (Glynn and Brian) can not coordinate events all around the country on a weekly basis. This is what the ambassadors are supposed to be doing.

    As for transparency, take this from a government employee. If I start telling you everything I am doing, I’m not going to be doing it for very long. Sometimes the best results are the quiet results. Like it or not, the average American citizen does not realize there is a difference between Big Tobacco and small family owned cigar manufacturers. They don’t see the difference between a wall full of cigarettes at the local convenience store and the local cigar shop that has been passed down from 4 generations. Many politicians tread lightly with tobacco because it’s a hot topic.

    I spoke with Glynn on Friday and there are some interesting things coming down the pipeline here which I think will really make a big different as far as consumer and member interest goes. That being said, it’s still going to require the action of it’s members.

    A baseball team has 9 people on the field. If the entire infield sits down during the game, you probably aren’t going to win. Did the team fail the players or did the players fail the team? You can’t sit on your hands and expect great results. Be Active. Be Pro-Active. Otherwise CRA didn’t fail you as a member, you failed the CRA.

  • http://www.puffingcigars.com cliff bigsmokin

    Wow, great story Barry. Definitely going to stir up some thought. I can’t say that I don’t disagree with you here. Thanks for Sharing.

  • http://www.tikibaronline.com dmjones1009

    I agree with many sentiments, but disagree strongly with one: “I’d rather have a ‘pro-cigar’ candidate than a general ‘pro-business’ one.” Honestly, this election (or any other) is not just about our freedom to smoke or our freedom from high taxation on cigars, but about our freedoms in general and freedom from inordinately high taxes. In my opinion, someone who understands business, freedoms and our Constitution will not say “SCHIP went too far,” but will instead say “SCHIP was simply bad policy from the beginning and never should have been implemented.” Therefore, I have to agree that Meeks, although an avid cigar smoker, is no friend of the cigar industry; he simply wants to tax it to the extent he can get away with, like any Progressive or Democrat. Not to say that every Republican is much better, but I would go so far as to say there is not a single Democrat running for office in this land who could be a true “friend of business,” “friend of the taxpayer,” or “friend of the cigar smoker.” It’s simply not in their political DNA. Look around–most legislation designed to increase taxes on businesses and individuals or designed to make it hard to for smokers of tobacco (a legal substance) to find places to legally enjoy are introduced and backed by the more liberal of our two parties.

    I personally am for the more libertarian approach to federal government in general…get them out of our lives in all areas except for defense of life, liberty and property. Doing that alone would be good for business and good for individuals…which in and of itself is good for cigar smokers.

    As far as the CRA goes, sure I would like to see it have more clout and juice, but those things come in time. The NRA did not open its doors with millions of members and the ability to open doors instantly on Capitol Hill, and I think it’s unrealistic to think that cigar smokers are going to do any better. For them to be successful, they will need time, persistence, more members, and a strong internal structure with more full-time employees. Presently it is not the perfect situation, but it is better than what we saw previous to the CRA’s inception and I haven’t seen anyone offering their own alternative.

    That all being said, Barry, maybe the criticism that you and your guest editorialist offered–while sharp–may be just what is needed to spur the CRA on to being a better organization. It is not good for a leader or an organization to surround itself with “Yes-Men,” so perhaps your words will serve as the sand in the oyster and someday this organization will be a beautiful and valuable thing. It’s always good to keep the conversation stirred up.

  • Mike Cmeyla

    I tend to agree with dmjones1009. My wife and I had the idea of opening up our own cigar bar/cafe but the recent smoking ban in our state of Wisconsin put the brakes on that due to the fact that it prevents any new establishments like this from opening.
    Once the election here is over we plan on writing our new governor, provided the right one gets in, as well as state representatives and various cigar smokers organizations and try to get the ball rolling in regards to getting this ban either repealed or amended.
    I’ve been tossing around the idea of joining CRA and have had some reservations. But, an organization isn’t just a catchy logo and some freebies. It takes members who are going to become active and make their cause a cause that they and others want to fight for. To tell you the truth while doing some research here in Wisconsin, I really didn’t notice the CRA mentioned at all in any articles. I read plenty about the Tavern League of Wisconsin, but not the CRA. While most of the blame could rest with the local membership, the national leaders need to do what they can to get it’s national support behind the local organizations.

  • http://cigarcoop.blogspot.com Cigar Coop

    Ok, there are some very good points in this article. No doubt, I’m not doing handstands with the progress being made by the CRA. Particularly the part of “what politicians have the CRA have met with?” I do think the premise of why the CRA has been established is the right one. I’m just not sure I’m seeing the action plan. I plan on following more closely with my local CRA Ambassador and see what comes of that before I make a final stance.

    I do think the Cigar Bloggers would be a good starting point for a grass roots movement.

    I encourage all the Cigar Bloggers to post information on what tobacco legislation is passing, pending, and rescinding. Its important we inform our readers of the issues.

  • http://twitter.com/tx_tuff tx_tuff

    My first thought is what are the questions submitted to Glynn? Being that this wasn’t going to be a face to face interview or even a phone interview I can see why anybody would have a problem with a list of questions. Berry why not post the questions that you had for Glynn?

    Second thought, who was this guest writer? Doesn’t really matter if I know the person or not but when I see something like this written and not who the person is then it takes a lot of credibility out of what I read. So I have 2 major faults with this entry. Nothing against you of course Berry.

    Reading the responses, Stephen makes some great points, you can’t just give your money and expect the organization to do all of the work for you. Yes that is the easy way out and that is what most of us want to do. Maybe that is why some are mad at CRA? I have done some of the emailing etc here in Texas but I have done nothing as far as any other state or city, Stephen has opened my eyes on that. I’m not sitting here saying I am now going to spend every day on the phone or internet hitting up every smoking ban that is going around, should I? Yes I probably should, but that is just not something that I will do. I know myself and I know that just won’t happen. Well I do more, I plan on it and hope to follow through with it.

    I just took a fast look at the CRA website, it has alerts to tell members about impending laws, or laws trying to be changed. Included in these alerts are all the people to contact with emails and phone numbers. This is something that I think every blogger should include whenever they do a write up on these items as well. I have read many blogs about new smoking bans or laws trying to be created. If your going to write about this the include a link or links to the emails/phone numbers of the people that need to be contacted. This would be a first step into getting everybody involved.

    If you as a cigar smoker or blogger and see or hear of something new coming down the pipe go to the CRA website and see if they have the info on it, if they don’t then be sure to let them know what is going on. Pretty much just help them out, make sure they are on top of everything.

    What CRA needs to add to their site, and it would be hard work but it could be done is to add to the group’s map all the contact info to the states capitals and large cities in that state. When there is any kind of smoking ban trying to be added to any city big or small that cities info can be added to the map. Make it easy for the members to do something. If need be draft a letter that the member can add their name and send along. True that is not as good as each member drafting their own but if it gets people to do something vs not doing something it will help.

    Anyway thats my 2 cents.

  • http://www.acigarsmoker.com Barry

    Here is my two cents on the matter…

    1) The person who sent me the article for posting did so at the request of remaining anonymous. I respect that. I caught a lot of slack aboutmy statements about the CRA in the past including being set up at IPCPR at night by some members of the group. They tried to bait me into bad mouthing Glynn and what have you. I did not bite. I like Glynn as a person, and think he is a great person to smoke with I just do not agree with the direction of the group. On twitter I have distanced myself from people who do not think I should be questioning the CRA and I have lost some relationships over the matter.

    2) Transparency is needed. After all the CRA wants us to spread the word, and recruit more members and get the word out. Well if this much is entrusted in the constituency then shouldn’t I have the right to question it. The CRA is a great concept I am just not sure if it is headed down the right path.

    3) I’m not going to publicly post the questions. I shared them with a fellow cigar blogger and he thought they were fair.

    4) When smoking bans are mentioned for other states and cities and municipalities I get involved. I make phone calls, and write letters. In Savannah I wrote a letter with the help of a lawyer friend where I spoke of the city and the history and how I enjoyed visiting the city 10 years ago. How I enjoyed smoking cigars with some new found friends on the back deck of one of their homes. I wrote how I would never spend a money as a tourist again if the ban was put in place.

    The problem is this… Even cigar smokers aren’t fighting bans. A person I speak to on Twitter who is an avid cigar smoker stated he voted in favor of the ban in Santa Monica. How can we win if people who smoke vote in favor of a bans that prevents smoking.

  • http://thecigarfeed.com Charlie

    I agree with Stephen in some regards. I guess I side with the school of thought that believes regardless of what their members do, the CRA will not work in its current form without structural changes.

  • http://www.fumeecigars.com Heather Haddad

    All I can contribute is what I know. Glenn has personally called me and offered his help with our state-wide smoking ban in Texas, whatever I needed. Just a perspective from a retailer…

  • http://finetobacconyc.wordpress.com Matthias Clock

    Hey all,

    This is a great and very critical discussion to have. I have a few thoughts.

    I think that part of our problem as a group of passionate cigar smokers online is that we are caught in a vicious cycle that discourages the very community that we need to have the solidarity to fight cigar taxes and regulations. The regulations in NYC make it more difficult to smoke, and so make smoking in groups even more of a hassle. And so less cigar smokers smoke, and even less smoke together.

    I think that one way that we as a group of cigar smokers can make ourselves more able to stand up against the tide of tyranny in this area is by 1) continuing to call our representatives, show up to city council meetings, etc., but also 2) put some real effort into creating the kind of real life cigar smoking community that can stand as a unit and wield clout. I’d wager to guess that most occasional cigar smokers aren’t even aware of online groups like this. Part of what we can do is set up social cigar events and/or engage others about it. Yes, regulations are tough, but it isn’t impossible.

    A social cigar community doesn’t just “happen.” How can we expect it to when there is a focused group advocating against us? I think part of the key is getting cigar smokers together so that they can talk, relate to each other, and get excited about being active in the fight. That’s essentially what I am trying to accomplish in the New York City area, and I’m seeing a very good response.

    It just seems to be something that we need to apply ourselves to on a larger basis. The cigar culture isn’t just about smoking cigars – it is about meeting and relating to others over the activity, and that seems like it would be key to ‘grassroots’ efforts.

    That’s my two cents. If anyone in the New York City area is interested in talking over strategy in this area, I’m definitely up for it.

    Matthias
    ftnyc

  • Mike Cmeyla

    Matthias,
    I couldn’t agree with you more. We can join all the “clubs” and organizations that we want but if we cannot literally stand together for the hobby/passion that we all enjoy, then it’s all for naught. I’m looking for such camaraderie here in WI. I try to get to my local B&M as much as time and funds will allow. I’m in the People’s Republic of Wisconsin and I want to get the local cigar community revved up and start a ground swell of opposition to the liberty killing ban that recently passed in this state. I’m trying to organize some meetings with the local CRA ambassador so that we can possibly start some kind of local movement. This is a passion and we need to do something before their strangle hold on our liberties becomes more overbearing than it already has.

  • http://CigarMedia.tv Bob McDuffee

    And so you all sit back in your comfortable anonymity griping about what if and what about this but none of you (except Barry) have the courage to stand behind your opinion. How sad, you are probably the same ones not getting involved or working to make CRA more effective. Instead you sit back, sling a little mud and wait for someone else to do what needs to be done to protect our right to choose to smoke cigars. If the questions are so fair pist them and have an open discussion, if you believe strongly enough to put your opinion up here then be courageous enough to use yor real name. Cowards have never made a difference or changed the direction of even a row boat. do the rest of a favor and get out of the way while we work to keep the right to smoke cigars.

  • Robert

    By all means, start a grassroots organization. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it seems like it would be a good idea. People need to meet actual, real cigar smokers and see that we’re not all evil billionaires or dictators blowing smoke in children’s faces for the fun of it. Grassroots efforts can help break stereotypes and bring education and awareness to large numbers of people, which can help turn public opinion.

    But, I can’t see why it has to be either/or. Why a grassroots organization OR the CRA? I may misunderstand what the CRA is, but based on the bios on its website, and the vague and cryptic language it uses to describe its mission, I’d say it IS a lobbying firm. If that is the case, which seems almost certain given Glynn’s background, then of course it cannot provide lists of what it has done, who it has spoken with, etc. If it were to do that, those people (representatives, senators, governors, etc.) would cut the CRA out of the loop for fear of being exposed politically and the CRA would thus have no job left to do at all. My guess is that the CRA folks are doing the back room dirty work that the rest of us never see occurring. Unfortunately, it’s very often the way that things get done, and it’s a necessary complement to grassroots efforts. If they’re not doing it, someone ought to be. But whoever is doing it would never list their activities and would never be transparent in what they’re doing. That would rapidly end their careers and would ultimately hurt our cause.

  • Mark Brownlee

    My name is Mark Brownlee CRA Ambassador #11.

    Barry,

    I am addressing this to you and the person who allegedly requested an anonymous post. This sounds A LOT like the vitriol that has come from your keyboard in the past. By allowing the post you condone it!

    First, your story about being baited in New Orleans is pure fiction.I was there and we tried in earnest to find out what your concerns were with CRA. Second, we listended and tried to find out how we could work with you to help in our efforts to get everyone pulling in an effective direction. We extended a hand in friendship and in an attempt to further our efforts despite the uninformed and nasty comments you had posted about Glynn, Brian, and CRA a week earlier.

    I did notice however you seemed to like the attention.

    I began reading your blog in hopes of finding another good blog by an informed and insightful cigar enthusiast. My experience has been that it is neither. Just lots of complaining and ass kissing in hopes of making yourself another cigar industry wannabe by finding a keyboard and proclaiming yourself a cigar expert.
    I reluctantly am acknowledging your blog by posting but have had grown tired of your anonymous posts and the drivel about CRA.

    Enough!

    The decision to allow the anonymous post not only shows bad judgement on your part it also lacks insight into the political system. It confirms if anything that there is a level of ignorance among the “cult of sitting on it’s ass” and pontificating about a system it knows little about. Yes this means you.

    I have spent the last 16 months supporting CRA with monetary donations and thousands of my own dollars spent traveling to events to meet and talk to the many thousands of supportive members we have.I joined and I fight. I haven’t been spending my time asking them for free cigars and lots of attention like you have.I have been to events in over 10 states and have an understanding of the cigar smoker’s collective opinion of CRA and the many battles we are up against.

    Our membership as a collective understands one thing. It takes funding to support a political action! Action is best when pursued with passion and an unwavering dedication. Not finding fault with every little thing that isn’t perfectly handled. We are a grass roots organization. I have met and talked with many Ambassadors who have done selfless and time consuming tasks to align political leaders with Glynn, Brian, and our board of directors. At least those you malign have donated and don’t bitch. That to my count that places their support of the industry two levels of commitment above yours.Not every soldier is a war hero but ALL of them are important and ALL of our Ambassadors bring something to the table. This is a fight not a war room chat. Yes we have made mistakes but in every war not every battle goes as planned.

    Do you have any idea how late we are to the party as cigar enthusiasts? Do you know that by the time you make your next mindless complaint the FDA can declare the game over!

    It is crucial that we have a mechanism to consult with those that can help protect our rights. CRA does that.It angers me that we have to take time to defend our efforts from those who do nothing but bitch that we haven’t done enough for them. This includes you Barry and your anonymous poster. If you care about the industry, our rights as smokers and are so informed and have such conviction I am suprised you allowed the anonymous post. This is no place for cowards.

    The cigar manufacturers that you lavish with well deserved praise about their latest cigars stand with us. They know we aren’t perfect but we offer much more than “hats and tshirts” which by the way is a juvenille dig. The people that do part with $35 to help instead of complaining deserve something for their support. The NRA was not the force it is in 18 months. It takes time and it takes money.

    I also take great exception to the inference that the money CRA takes in is somehow inappropriately being used. I have seen how closely the budget is handled from using makeshift business tools, staying in budget hotels, and flying on ruthless schedules to save money on airplane tickets.
    If your poster really knew how the organization was handling day to day operations you would find them to be extremely frugal to say the least and all expenses are reported to its board. I find it amusing that you think it should be reported to someone who won’t part with $35 dollars! Get your head out of your ass and do something. Offer an alternative, get involved or at least get out of the way. WE (you and me)are fighting for our ability to smoke, your retailers ability to sell to you, the manufactures ability to create a wonderful product, and we don’t have time to listen to those who want it all handled to their unrealistic and unreasonable demands.
    I also want to disagree with your duplicitous comments that you like Glynn as a person. If you knew the countless hours, thousands of conversations, political headaches and networking this man does to further our cause you would be a bit more judicous with your rhetoric. You can’t proclaim your admiration for someone in one sentence and slander him in another. Also the time and effort that Brian Berman has spent would consume the efforts of several staff members that CRA simply doesn’t have the funds to provide. The website and updates you see are the work one one very dedicated man that is doing yeomans work on a very tight budget.
    I know if you look at who is involved in CRA you will find a group of people who understand this is a work in progress. You also can find out the many battles that have been won in a very short time by asking and reading the website. But what can we expect as those fighting for you…. you guys are spending your time organizing your next list of complaints.
    I’m done listening.

  • http://www.acigarsmoker.com Barry

    As far as the article that was submitted by the anonymous person, perhaps he doesn’t want to have to deal with the BS I have had to deal with. You see my thoughts while not alone are not popular. A lot of people who back the CRA want me to fall in line. But I refuse to be just a simple backer.

    You can look at the comments on this post and the last post. There are others who think like me. All I ask is is to be put in the loop as a member. All I ask is for emails to be returned. Hell I was willing to become an ambassador because I am so passionate about our rights yet countless emails went unanswered.

    As far as New Orleans, I felt set up. I still feel set up. You guys got me talking about my gripes and what was wrong and all that. However after 20 mins of prodding Glynn put his hand on my shoulder as he was standing behind me. To be that is being set up.

    What battles has the CRA won, please dont tell my NY going from the proposed 90% tax to 75% is considered a victory because it is not.

    As far as slandering Glynn, my comments are about the CRA, Glynn is not the CRA. I admire that fact that he took on such a huge battle. So you see, you are at fault here. My issue is with the CRA not with Glynn Loope.

    As far as me, all I want is some answers. I want more then a call to action. Is it so hard to ask for a monthly newsletter something along the lines off…

    New York: On 9/23 we went before the city council in a meeting open to the public to defend the right to smoke in city parks and beaches.

    Savannah: We continue to work diligently with the city on the proposed smoking ban by meeting with local politicians and shop owners.

    The CRA needs to be more then a call to action. The CRA needs to be able to vocalize via email to its member base and let them know the status of ongoing fights.

    If you look at one of the comments, some thought the CRA was a lobbying group. Well last I heard it is not. In fact that had to hire lobbyist to fight the cause in New York.

    Communication is key.

    As far as the anonymous poster, the local papers, and national rags often have comments from readers that are signed anonymous, why am I not allowed that same avenue. And to think I wrote this letter is ludicrous. I do not write that well.

    There are two sides to every story and if anyone wants to submit a formal response from the CRA I will gladly post it.

    Lastly, your calling my first post on the CRA as nasty comments maybe should be looked at again. I said what needed to change with CRA and why it has failed to date. Constructive criticism. That is far from nasty.

    Seeing how it has bothered you so much maybe the nail was hit on the head.

  • http://www.acigarsmoker.com Barry

    Lastly I know the CRA is new, but look at the NRA website and how they relay the news and information to the members.

    Something like that is needed with the CRA.

    Not a new iPhone app.

  • Mark Brownlee

    No Barry. You didn’t hit the nail on the head.

    Once again you are finding fault while we work hard.

    Best of luck to you.

  • http://www.acigarsmoker.com Barry

    working hard doesnt always resiut in a passing grade.

    but I guess questions shouldnt be asked and I should just fall In line.

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