Saturday, February 28, 2015

What Am I Reading? February Edition

In an effort to get my blogging back into a regular cycle, I'm going to squeeze this in during February.  I am introducing what I hope will become a monthly feature - What Am I Reading?

Each month I pick five or six articles or blogs that I found interesting over the last month.  While most will be related to state and local government, startups or entrepreneurship, you might get a random post about Ireland, beer, sports or music.

First up ...

1984 with ... (in this case it was Whitney Rhodes, Pierce County, Assistant to the Auditor)
A series of blogs on by Emerging Local Government Leaders (ELGL)
Author (and subjects) - varied (@elgl50)

This series was born from ELGL's Webinar: Women in Local Government, which examined how and why the percentage of women in leadership positions in local government has held at 13% since 1984. ELGL surveyed those who registered, and published the responses to four questions.

I'm highlighting this because the 13% issue deserves more attention and discussion, and ELGL is becoming THE leader on this issue.  It's just one of the reasons I'm proud to be affiliated with such a great organization.

Please check out ELGL for more information on how you can join and get involved in helping local government break that 13% ceiling.

Tesla’s Forgotten Co-founder Wants to Electrify America’s Garbage Trucks
Posted on Government Executive February 25, 2015
Originally published on Quartz
Author - John McDuling (@jmcduling)

"Ian Wright was one of the five original founders of Tesla Motors, so he knows a thing or two about electric vehicles."

If you know me, you might know that I am fascinated by electric vehicles - though sadly don't own one yet myself.  I love e-bikes and Tesla.  I have a client trying to launch a startup e-bike share company.  

So when I read electric garbage trucks (and I presume for other heavy equipment), I was intrigued.  It is an idea who's time has come.  Certainly a cost savings to state and local governments.  Huge reduction in both emissions and noise pollution.  So... probably one of those ideas that make too much sense for government.  I hope I'm wrong.

I liked it because it is the kind of idea that MOB Advocacy was founded for.  A startup, new to market with an innovative idea that can change the world, or just help the city.  All they need is some local government to take a chance on them -- and someone to help them get there.

Posted on CNBC on February 25, 2015
Commentary by Brandi Travis, chief marketing officer of Aristotle (@bntravis)

"With scarcely a declared candidate, the 2016 election cycle is nonetheless in swing. Unsurprisingly, presidential contracts top PredictIt's 'most predicted' list."

I picked this article because I am a political junkie and I love the new PredictIt site.  For those not familiar with PredictIt, it is a platform that allows users to trade futures on political outcomes, essentially becoming a poll of the market.  Will DHS be forced to shutdown?  Who will be the next governor of Louisiana?  Who will be each party's 2016 nominee?  If you think you know?  Check it out.

I think it is a fun idea.  I hope it takes off.

Posted on the Congressional Management Foundation on February 25, 2015
Author - Lauren Williams

"The beginning part of each year means one thing for many on Capitol Hill – fly-ins. From the largest corporations to the smallest non-profits, civic groups and grassroots advocates flood the steps of Congress." 

I am always interested in got my start in government relations in grassroots advocacy, organizing advocates across the country and I am always interested in reading about ways to do it better.  While this article is not groundbreaking, it based on survey data from actual Congressional office staff and it is very applicable for grassroots lobbying at the state and local level.  It is a great reminder as grassroots activities are going in state houses from coast to coast. What are their four tips to put you on your way to a good meeting? They are:
  • Include constituents
  • Know the schedule
  • Be Flexible
  • Keep the group small  
I'll add my own advice on what to do once you are there - keep it simple, stay on message, make one ask, and don't forget to follow up.  Do that and you will be fine.

Students lobby in Annapolis for bill to prevent fracking policy across Maryland
Posted on The Diamondback Online, February 24, 2015
Author - Grace Toohey (@grace_2e)

"College students across the state convened in Annapolis yesterday afternoon to fight for stricter state environmental regulations."

I know, two grassroots articles ... but ...  whether I agree with the issue or not, I can read student advocacy articles all day.  Some of my earliest experiences with advocacy involve bus trips to Albany, NY to talk to law makers or administrators about issues like budget cuts, tuition hikes, and campus safety.  

I think it is important for students to be active.  It is a sign that these students understand how our government works.  They understand the power of the people.  And they are willing to take a stand for what the believe.  Good for them!

That's my five for February.  What are you reading?