Thursday, June 20, 2013

Scandal no. 3 Michele Bachmann ethics' slip

Not that she's not enough of a scandal all on her own. Her speech patterns would scandalize any high school English teacher in the nation, but now she's in the thick of it with ethics allegations that have caused her to pull out of seeking re-election.

Oh, don't listen to those naysayers, she whines, or, to be precise, “I fully anticipate the mainstream liberal media to put a detrimental spin on my decision not to seek a fifth term,” she said in a gauzy network-television quality video posted on her campaign Web site. “They always seemed to attempt to find a dishonest way to disparage me. But I take being the focus of their attention and disparagement as a true compliment of my public service effectiveness.”(New York Times, May 29)

But with an alphabet soup of Federal agencies looking up her nighty, she can't get out of town fast enough. And to add insult to injury, the allegations come from the poor woman's own campaign team. What happened to old fashioned GOP loyalty? or is that not a word the Tea Party is familiar with?

Yes, it's fun to watch these clowns flounder in their own brew, as they try to swim out of the rapids created by their own backwash. But I'd rather they performed their sleazy antics on a daytime TV show instead of in the United States Congress where no matter how corrupt their morals or bad their grammar, they still have power to do serious damage to small children and other living things.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

You May be a Winner!

Yes, you may be a winner, but not if you don't run. Women, I'm talking to you.  With such dismal statistics on women in office (see Campaign Slut June 5, 2013), it's time more of you ran.

Because when women run,women win! (See Campaign Slut March 26, 2013). So, you're wondering, moi? Yes, You, chickie.  Think about it.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to find out just how ready you might be:

Before you can make a successful bid for public office, you have to ask yourself several key questions.  Among them are the ones below, complied from my experience running local campaigns for the past 12 years. Having the answers to these questions early as well as having some good backing among your friends, colleagues and “movers and shakers” in the District, will give you a good foundation and head start on the November election.

1. What office do I want to run for?

2. Why do I want that office?

3. Am I prepared to spend the amount of money time to mount a serious campaign?

4. Why would I be better than the other candidates or the incumbent?

5. Do I have the time and the interest to do the job once I am elected?

            If you can’t answer these questions to your satisfaction, you may not be ready for a campaign just yet.

            So let’s go over them one at a time:

1.  What office do I want to run for?

            If you have done your homework, you know which offices in your community are coming up for election in the near future.  Some of the offices like County Supervisor, State Assembly or Senate, pay a salary, differing by locality. Others like City Council (except for very large municipalities like Los Angeles , New York or Chicago) may pay a small stipend and that’s all. Some pay nothing at all and you are expected to bear your own costs for attending conference and so forth.

            If this is your first run, you may want to start small, at the local level, running for a school board, if that is your interest, or maybe a local water or sanitary district.  There are often issues involving these kinds of entities that can be quite interesting and challenging.  For instance, a local sanitary district turned over their operations to a giant private corporation, a move that attracted both a number of new candidates and a referendum to undue the turnover.

2. Why do I want to run for this office?

            This question is obviously related to the first one.  Most people get into public life because of a pressing issue in their community that they want to change or help succeed.  If you have kids in school, you will naturally care about decisions made by the local school board.   Is the City Council too lenient with development or does it ignore the needs of the neighborhoods?  That might spur you to run for office, to try to make a difference that will affect your life.

3. Am I prepared to spend the amount of money and time it will take to mount a serious campaign?

            This is a key question in deciding to run for any public office. No matter how lowly the position or how small the District you are running in, you will need to raise and spend some funds for printing, mail, party supplies for your kick off, pizza for the phone volunteers.  And it will take time.  If you plan on a grassroots campaign, be prepared to knock on a lot of doors, make a lot of phone calls, and maybe even spend some time standing at the local supermarkets and farmer’s markets, meeting and greeting voters.

            And depending on how competitive the race is, be ready to polish up your public speaking skills when you address various interest groups, the local Rotary Clubs or even give your pitch on the radio or community TV station. 

4. Why would I be better than the other candidates or the incumbent?

            You will need a persuasive message and part of that message is why the voter should vote for you instead of the other person.  If you are running against an incumbent, this is the most crucial question you need to answer.  If you can’t tell the voters what the incumbent is doing wrong and why you are the one who can do it right, you might as well stop right now before wasting any time or money. 

            Many first time candidates are nervous about seeming to be “negative.” They want the campaign to be all about the issues and can talk endlessly about their vision for the town, or the district.  But you must convince the voters not only that your vision is the right one but that the incumbent does not share it.

            It helps if there is a big issue connected to the race.  In a local race for County Supervisor in coastlaw California, the development of a tract of land between the freeway and the Bay was at issue.  Developers were salivating over it, while the populace wanted to preserve it for open space, and to keep the already horrific traffic manageable.

            One candidate received a good portion of his campaign funds from developers and real estate interests and appeared somewhat ambivalent on the issue. The other one took a decisive stand against the development. Although she started out as a complete unknown, that issue carried the day and she won. 
            One tactic she used was to send a piece of mail that simply listed all the contributions the other candidate received, alongside a graphic depiction of the proposed development.  That mail, a TV spot showing traffic congestion and a lot of shoe leather carried the day.

            In a neighboring county, the challenger to an incumbent supervisor uncovered misuse of funds, as well as a neglect of serious problems the county was facing. She sent a comparison piece showing the different approach she would take to these matters, and won easily on Election Day. 

5. Do I have the time and the interest to do the job once I am elected?

            Make sure you really want this job and are not just interested in making a point.  You will give up quiet evenings at home with the family to attend meetings, review documents, attend conferences and meet the public.  A lot of the work is routine, no matter how lofty the office, and you, and your family, must be ready to make sacrifices.

            Many citizens get all fired up when they are running, with great plans to change the way business is done or bring in innovative policies and find they can’t get it all done at once, or that much more of the job than they realized consists of approving minor remodels, or discussing personnel issue than it does championing good government and sweeping reforms.  They get discouraged and end up one term legislators disappointing the public and their volunteers who worked so hard to get them elected in the first place.

            Of course, life is not predictable and there are many legitimate reasons for deciding not to run again, ranging from health issues, family necessity, change in job to a genuine dislike of being in the public eye.  

OK, you made the decision, now the work begins.

            Congratulations, you made the decision to run; now the work begins.  Make sure you know when the filing deadline is, usually 90 days before the election. Are there contribution limits in your race?  Your first task will be to file some forms, get a treasurer on board, and then start thinking about your campaign statement for the ballot.
            You might start attending meetings of the Board you are running for if you haven’t already.  Watch how they do things, what alliances exist, who you might count on as an ally. 

            Scope out the field to determine who else might be running in your race.  Ask people you trust who are involved in local politics what they think of you running. Will they support you?  Give money, actively volunteer? Start calling your friends and family for important early financial support.  Get your Facebook page up to date and send out that first press release announcing your run.  

            Then, win or lose, you can be sure you will have an interesting, challenging but ultimately rewarding experience.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Women's Power - Use it or Lose it!

There was nothing slutty about the Women's Power Strategy Conference, just classy women and some good men with a lot to say about women getting things done in the world.  The keynote speaker was an amazing woman working with the Girls Inc. organization in Alameda County, helping girls with college and career who otherwise might not have a chance to achieve in this world.  

I met a woman from my hometown (Kalamazoo Michigan, can you believe it!), and heard some amazing talks that I will find useful in my field, like You Tube innovations and power blogging.  

And how to protect yourself online. Like "It's 2 AM, do you know who your computer is talking to?"

My talk on Women in Politics was well received and there may a budding politician or two coming out of this conference!  The whole event was inspirational and the women were all feisty, the men honest (!), and Patricia Davis, the founder, must have cloned herself a dozen times in order to be in so many places at one time.

I didn't get a prize and I didn't take any photos. Drats. But I will remember to do both next year!