Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Political Hurricanes

There has been a denial that Hurricane Dean was in any way meant as a slight against the Democratic National Chairman, Howard Dean, and officials insist that it was purely coincidence that the hurricane had the same name. They also insist that it was purely coincidences that the other hurricanes this year were Hurricane Barack, Hurricane Clinton, and Hurricane Edwards.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Information That May be Too Confusing for Most Republicans


The Center for Connected Health proactively uses varies means of communication systems to enhance delivering health care information to the public. This includes communicating with patients by the Internet and telephone. This is designed to reducing the traditional necessity of patients going to physician offices for health care monitoring. Home care nursing visits are a part of these health care delivery systems. Patients can be provided with information on how to self-manage health concerns. This self-management is aided by such devices as “smart” pill containers that turn colors indicating whether or not a pill has been removed that day. Overall, patients receive physician feedback in less costly and more fashions. Among the Center’s more elaborate ventures include remote electronic monitoring of heart functions that include warning signals that a patient should go to a clinic.

Doug McClure told how Massachusetts General Hospital has 35 people on staff working on telemedicine, an increase from two people 12 years ago. Telemedicine permits physicians to actively consult with patients from remote locations, such as their homes. Telemedicine dates back to the 1960s. Most telemedicine programs end when their funding ceases, be it the end of a grants program or if insurance will not cover it. The program he works with has become self-sufficient with a minimum of grants funding.

Telemedicine is not legal in four states. It is permitted in Pennsylvania. It is often used for second opinion consultations, and it is not that about 90% of second opinions result in some change in the original treatment prescription.

Massachusetts General Hospital has a Telestroke program and programs were patients were medical equipment that transmits medical data back to the hospital. Some programs allow patients to obtain health data on their own and send the information on home computers, supplied for these purposes by the hospital. This reduces the number of times a home nurse needs to visit. The nurse still regularly visits, yet lowering the number of times a nurse need visit will save costs. If the health data indicates a health program, the patient is brought to the hospital. Unfortunately for the hospital, some insurance providers will not pay for the costs of this equipment even though it is saving on insurance costs. Ironically, Blue Cross and Blue Shield will pay for nurse visits, but not for this equipment, which means the hospital would receive more money by not seeking to reduce the number of home nursing visits.

Connecting patients with health care through broadband services reduces the demands for health care and saves patients time and money going to doctor visits.

Among services provided are avatars, which are computer generated cartoon beings that verbally tell patients their health care data. This is found to make patients more attentive and responsive to maintaining their at home health care programs.


Marvin Sirbu, a Carnegie Mellon University Engineering and Public Policy Professor, states his studies indicate that broadband has created several positive effects on the economy. He finds that mass market broadband has increased employment, created new information technology businesses, and has led to overall increases in the number and mix of businesses. Businesses in general that are making larger investments in their broadband operations are yielding higher payouts, such as lower costs of gathering market information and communicating with customers and with suppliers. Home-based broadband access is also found to produce economic impacts. He observes that when broadband is available in residential housing that resulting rents, as a result of this availability, are higher. This also increases property values.

The employment effect is not uniform, Professor Sirbu notes. The relative ease of using broadband in business applications may increase productivity. The reliance on broadband applications may require employees proficient in these applications and could increase incomes. The improved productivity from broadband use could make some employment less necessary and thus may eliminate some jobs. Professor Sirbu’s study concludes more jobs overall are created. He estimates there has been a 1.5% increase in employment due to broadband. He further finds that increased wages in college educated information technology employment.

Marvin Sabu notes that in recent years the number of adults that are online grew until about two thirds of all adults being online, and this percentage then stabilized at this level.

Firms receive economic benefits from broadband services. It changes the entire metabolism of businesses when they may more rapidly gain information, make decisions more quickly, and often connect with customers and suppliers. A study of retail sales found broadband services were positively assisting companies using broadband services. Broadband services have been found to elevate business growth rates, increase the number of new businesses establishing themselves, and to have a negative effect on employee salaries. This last data may be due to allowing more part time employees work from home, which depresses overall wages.

While broadband is causing business growth, it has not yet been determined how much of this growth is actual new growth and how much is a shift of jobs and investment away from areas that do not offer broadband services.


George Ford, Chief Economist for the Center for Advanced Legal and Public Policy Studies, urges that market forces would best allow broadband markets to form. He warns that a policy requiring high speed connectivity would probably stunt increased mobile broadband use. He encourages that state and local government data collection on broadband statistics should be uniform so that proper data comparisons can be constructed. He fears state and local government may collect data in a fashion that makes them look good in order to attract more broadband investment.

George Ford, states it is worthless to compare broadband services between countries. He stated there is no connection between the degree of broadband penetration in a country and the speed of those services. He believes Korean does not do much better than the US, even though many point to Korea as a country that is ahead of us in using broadband services. He notes the email is important to individuals and the high amount of Americans who use email. He believes the priority for broadband growth should be for greater use in businesses. He fears that increased government investment in broadband services will only lead to increased public corruption.

Rob Atkins, President of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, warns that other countries are engaging in unfair trade practices, such as high tariffs and source code abuse, designed to harm American information technology companies. He also notes the United States ranks 12th (according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and 16th according to International Telecommunications Union) among nations in broadband penetration, suggesting we are falling behind others countries in broadband usage. In addition, the United States has been surpassed by additional countries for the past six years. Some countries such as Japan and Korea provide tax incentives that increased broadband participation. France has created an aggressive and competitive broadband market. He recommends that the United States allow broadband investments to be tax deductible the next year instead of requiring the deductions to be spread out over five to ten years. He urges a higher research and development tax credit, noting that Mexico, Japan, and France provided for higher tax credits.

Rob Atkinson, believes national comparisons are useful, noting that the United States has fallen from 4th in around 15th in broadband penetration. The public investments or giving tax incentives in other countries is creating growth in their broadband services. He believes both broadband access and broadband speed are critical issues. He states we need to determine where broadband growth is needed and agrees it may be in business services. He believes that broadband policies will be determined by state governments more so than the Federal government

Rick Cimerman, Vice President of State Government Affairs for the National Cable and Telecommunications, also believes national rankings are not very useful and claims they are often used to advance an agenda. He urges instead that we concentrate on improving broadband services and notes that most Americans have access to broadband services. He argues subsidies may be required to reach communities where broadband services are not currently provided. He states the Federal government has been helpful in providing broadband services to schools and libraries, but has not been very helpful beyond that.


Brian Mefford, President and CEO of Connected Nation, Inc., notes that the “digital divide” that particularly rural areas have less broadband services can be addressed both through making broadband more available and by encouraging the use of broadband. There needs to be a promotion and education of broadband uses in underserved areas in addition to an expansion of broadband markets. Kentucky is aiming to make the entire state with full broadband availability by the end of this year, and broadband is already available to 92% of Kentucky households. In addition, over the past two years, Kentuckians have increased their home computer ownership by 20% while the nation increased its ownership by 4% and Kentuckians have increased their broadband use by 73%. Among the results are increased usages of government services through the Internet. This increased broadband use has assisted Kentucky’s job growth, creating 14,500 new technology jobs, a 3.1% increase in technology jobs in Kentucky over the past two years compared to 0.1% nationally,

Brian Mefford believes that greater broadband availability in Kentucky is encouraging Kentucky college graduates to stay in Kentucky rather than contribute to a “brain drain” of graduates leaving the state. He observes the number of graduates leaving the state has been reduced in half since 2000.

He explains that all Kentucky K through 12 schools, colleges, and libraries have a broadband interconnection. Elementary students can communicate with college researchers. His group is attempting to make broadband services available to everyone in Kentucky. This is allowing sick people to telecommute to work when they can't physically travel to work. It helped a country that had a major plant closing show it had many technologically savvy employees such that is was able to attract to locate some of its services in that county,

His group works with local community people who are excited by broadband prospects, which helps create positive community reactions in working together to allow broadband services to expand to their community.

Brian Mefford states this model is transferable to other states.

Rep. Mark Maddox (Tn.) states Tennessee is adapting the Connect Kentucky model in Tennessee. They feared the Kentucky was gaining economic investments and jobs due to their broadband expansion. Tennessee is getting its providers to tell a public-private venture them where their customers are so they may overlap service information to determine where service is lacking. He believes that this information could be obtained without the venture being a public-private one.


Rep. Warran Kitzmiller (Vt.) claims that the lack of broadband access is the single largest detriment to increased economic development in Vermont. Much of Vermont has only dial-up broadband servcies. Vermont created an authority which will finance offering services to everyone in Vermont by 2010. Meanwhile, they are also financing WiFi hotspots, primarily in areas designed for tourism. This authority has $40 million in revenue bonds available for broadband investments. In addition, Vermont removed local control on situating towers, so that one community can not veto a series of towers across the state.

Rep. Daniel Bosley (Ma.) states Massachusetts is also undertaking the actions being done in other states seeking to create statewide broadband access. He notes that some more local programs have successfully expanded broadband services in their parts of the state. He sees broadband services as an important part of the state's economic development plans.

Lisa Wallmeyer, Executive Director of the Virginia Joint Committee on Technology and Science, explains that Virginia has a 12 member legislative committee that is in the early stages of broadband expansion. The Virginia Resources Authority, which provides for low cost financing, has been given the authority to expand its financial offerings towards broadband expansion.


Douglas Lomax, Substance Abuse Coordinator for the Boston Municipal Court Department, notes that about two thirds of the people he sees being arrested and brought before Boston Municipal Court have a drug addiction. He notes that crack cocaine becomes addictive very quickly and that it is a factor in many crimes.

Henrie Treadwell, of the Morehouse School of Medicine, observes that 650,000 prisoners are annually released from prison into society. This issue of prisoner health and their re-entry into society offers several concerns. Among that is the high rate of communicable diseases found amongst prisoners, the relative lack of health care available in prisons, and the subsequent release of poorly treated prisoners with contagious diseases back into society. The U.S. Justice Department estimates that, among prisoners, 68% are substance abusers, about a third have active tuberculosis, about a fifth have a serious mental illness, 18% have hepatitis C, and 8% have HIV.

Dr. Treadwell tells how of the difficulties when released from prison. Many suffer from physical, mental, and dental health issues that may lose their continuity of care. Since many prisoners have infectious diseases, this lack of care harms both themselves and others in the community to whom they transmit diseases. Many prisoners owe child support and are released into society having amassed great debt. It is hard to be hired as an ex-felon. Many states ban ex-felons from public housing, even if they have family living there that can assist them. Some states prohibit ex-felons from receiving food stamps. Many ex-felons can not get health insurance and must wait until they develop HIV or need to lose a limb before they can receive health care.

David Wohl, Assciate Professor of Medicine at the University of North Carolina notes that many prisoners, when released back into society, fail to have health insurance and access to health care, and often face obstacles obtaining employment and housing. This is especially challenging for people who have health care and often mental health care concerns.

He states that HIV and incarceration are intertwined and they both are epidemic. Incarceration is fueling the spread also of hepatitis C, substance abuse, and mental health problems.

It should be the aim of a good prison inmate discharge program that it link the prisoner to needed health care and services, it improves personal well being, it reduces risks to the community, and it reduces recidivism. This can be successfully accomplished by establishing good programs between prison official and community based organization, by recognizing that the benefits of intervention extend beyond the released prisoner and into the community, finding funding for these programs, developing a proper plan of goals, and following through to see that goals are met. This is especially important when we realize that three million children have an incarcerated parent who needs to successfully return to society.

Dr. Wohl estimates that about one fourth of people with HIV pass through the prison system. Many prisoners have poor HIV health care programs and HIV is spread in prisons, although not to the degree that Dr. Wohl notes is portrayed in some fictitious television programs. He notes many prisons have established good HIV health care programs and that the numbers of prisoners dying from HIV/AIDS has decreased from about one third of all prison deaths at its height to about 2% of all prison deaths today.

It is noted that many prisoners with HIV receive insufficient health care upon release, as most who return to prison are found to be far sicker when incarcerated. He notes that about half of prisoners with HIV also require mental health care and nearly all require substance abuse care. Also, many require job training, parenting classes, and at risk education so HIV is not transmitted.

Dr. Wohl observes that a Massachusetts comprehensive individualized case management program with prisoners and coordinating outside services they will need upon release had reduced recidivism from 72% to 49% in two years. He also notes that emergency use by these ex-prisoners has also been significantly reduced.


Douglas Lomax, a Substance Abuse Treatment Coordinator for the Boston Municipal Court, tells how he was in and out of prison for 20 years for abusing health and cocaine. At age 36, he prayed he would be able to kick his addiction and suffer no withdrawals, and fortunately from that day on, he overcame his addictions and never suffered withdrawal.

He explains the difficulties of the cycle of not being able to get health care and addiction assistance without getting a decent job and not being able to get a decent job while being an addict. He speaks highly of the f9ive (and soon to be seven) drug courts and one mental health courts in Boston where Judges familiar with addiction and mental health issues rapidly hear qualified cases and determine if it may be better to place defendants into treatment programs rather than being imprisoned. He also tells how Boston programs working with ex-offenders attempt to bring their dignity back to them, and insist they register to vote so they feel they're a part of their community. He also urges that legislators provide tax credits to employers who hire ex-offenders.


In a tour of Suffolk County Prison, several Sheriff Deputy Superintendents and Sheriff's aides told how Suffolk County's Sheriff, the first Black female Sheriff, was elected on a platform of prison reforms that she has since implemented. She and her aides studied the best practices of prisons across the country and implemented them.

The Suffolk County Correctional Facility was built for 900 inmates and it holds 1,800, including 200 female inmates. They have had to double and triple bunk rooms and admitted they've had to put beds where beds shouldn't be. About 70% enter the correctional facility with a substance abuse problem. The facility begins to prepare inmates for return upon their entry. They seek to provide a continuity of care for health care and mental health problems by providing specific health care programs that they may use upon release, often even being driven to the health care facility upon release. The facility also provides job training programs and GED classes.

Women have specific needs that are addressed, with the anxiety of mothers being separated from their children being a common difficulty. They offer a one of kind women's re-entry program that has attracted Federal funds and has been in existence for one year and is being evaluated. The staff believes the program seems to operate successfully. In the first week of incarceration, female inmates receive orientations and meet staff, including medical and parole personnel. This is followed by two weeks of services such as life skills, substance abuse counseling, and trauma counseling. Trauma counseling is important as 80% of female inmates report being abused at some point in their lives. If needed, they receive assistance in hosing, including receiving section 8 housing. The women are attempted to be provided with the skills and rebuilt dignity to return to society.

GED classes are provided and job training is available. The job training is available only to male prisoners. Job training consists of five weeks of behavior modification, five weeks of classroom instruction, and then applied experiences in woodworking, landscaping, and other jobs. The Sheriffs attempt to provide job training in occupations where employers are ready to hire inmates upon release.

Housing is the biggest problem the staff has found for people upon release. They have found enough substance abuse, mental health abuse, and employers available to work with released offenders. Housing has been the area where there are shortages for ex-offenders.

The correctional facility has three part-time psychiatrists, three psychologists, four social workers, caseworkers with caseloads of 50 to 60 individuals, round the clock nurses, and other social workers on a per diem basis.


Steve Largent, President and CEO of the Cellular and Internet Association, notes that the commercial wireless services providers invest $24 billion annually into the economy. He notes the use of wireless services, observing that over 80 million people send text messages. He urges President Bush to veto the International Trade Commission’s ban on mobile devices with Qualcomm 3G chipsets. This new model of mobile devices could create from $4 billion to $21 billion in economic activity that would be loss due to the ban, according to Largent. He notes that while the President has the authority to veto International Trade Commission bans, the last time such a Presidential veto was used was over two decades ago.

He warns the overregulation by one state of wireless companies can create higher costs to consumers in all states, He relates some politicians to a quote he heard Walter Payton tell Brian Bosworth after Bosworth threatened to tear Payton's head off and eat in. Payton replied "you bite my head off, and you will have more brains in your stomach than you ever had."

Largent believes broadband needs to reach into more rural and underserved areas. He believes the free market system leads to quality and reliable service to customers. He notes that prices have decreased 85% since 1994 and that broadband services reach over 240 million customers. He states the over $20 billion in investments has all been accomplished without any government mandates that they do this. This is part of his reasoning against government regulations.

93% of wireless customers are satisfied with their services, Largent claims. He states broadband directly or indirectly employs 3.6 million people. He notes wireless composed 59% of all new broadband over the past year.

He believes sales taxes on equipment used for broadband investments should be removed. He argues that state regulations of wireless can confuse customers and decrease industry efficiency. He argues that lower costs to the industry will result in lower costs to customers and increased industry competition. He also states that the need for as many communications towers is decreasing and that the industry is becoming more effective in hiding them. He states he'd rather see one cell tower than a line of poles.

Largent is neutral on the issue of cell phone use while driving a vehicle.


Mike Hunsucker of Embarq states greater funding is needed for telecommunications to reach some rural areas. He states it costs too much money while insufficient likely returns for investments to be made to reach some areas. He argues against legislation that would require companies to make such uneconomical capital development investments.

Daniel Mullin, Executive Director of State Public Policy for Verizon Wireless, states that wireless is growing at a rapid rate. Costs per minute have decreased by 80% since the establishment of a national framework. He believes that taxes and government fees are slowing the rate of industry growth. He also believes there should be standard siting policies.

Jamie Hastings, National Director for State Legislative Affairs for t mobile, states wireless has a 76% penetration nationwide. She finds nearly all customers are satisfied with very few complaints having been received.


U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett (N.J.) criticizes No Child Left Behind (NCLB) for concentrating the educational accountability assessment at the Federal level. He believes that education should be accountable to parents, local school boards, local officials, and local school administrators. He also is critical that teachers are designing their courses to increase test score results than on learning. He proposes allowing schools to opt out of Federal No Child Left Behind requirements and seek a state tax credit that would be equal to the Federal funds lost by opting out. He believes state and local governments should establish school standards and the penalties for failing to meet the standards.

Rep. Garrett tells how New Jersey had a comprehensive school accountability approach before No Child Left Behind was adopted He believes NCLB forced New Jersey to stop using a good approach towards education and instead use NCLB emphases on testing and accountability focused primarily on math and sciences only. Teachers teach to improve NCLB required test scores rather than with the goal of advancing learning. He warns NCLB has taken away the flexibility that schools require to develop school goals that are best for the schools.

Rep. Garrett claims that NCLB has caused school administrative costs to increase by 41%. The costs of the tests required by NCLB are costing states approximately $2 billion.

Rep. Garrett does not see educational improvements due to NCLB. Test scores for 9 year olds, 12 year olds, and 17 year olds have remained consistent with no higher average scores reported. He is proposing that states may opt out of NCLB. He notes there is a proposal in Congress to allow states to opt out and receive their funds in a block grant. He believes, instead of a block grant, that taxpayers never send funds to the Federal government only to have the funds returned to them and that instead taxpayers receive a tax credit instead.

Hanna Skandera, Senior Policy Advisor for the U.S. Education Department, states NCLB is not perfect but it has challenged us to become accountable to every student. We are now concentrating on discovering what works well. Data is being gathered on why students who fall behind do. She states 9 years old have made more advances in reading since NCLB was enacted than they had in the previous 28 years. She sees NCLB as a growth model for all states and that it provides flexibility to schools that show they are making progress on addressing their problems. She notes that the No Child Left Behind law should allow for more flexibility. She notes some states provide credits for improving the academic performance of their lowest achievers, yet the No Child Left Behind law provides for no similar Federal credits.

Rep. Kerry Holdaway (Ut.) warns that No Child Left Behind law conflicts with the Individuals with Disabilities Law. He notes that, since the requirements for disabilities are not consistent, that special education policies should be set at the state level according to local needs rather than be one Federal standard. He states there is a lack of state input into NCLB. He states he and other state legislators tried to provide advice to Federal officials, but that Federal officials are not listening to their advice.

On a taped video, U.S. Rep. Lee Terry (Ne) urged more local control be provided to schools. He states disabled students are being unfairly treated under NCLB, that there are difficulties with teacher requirements and getting enough teachers to meet the requirements, and that funds should be directed more towards schools that need help. He supports the No Child Left Behind law yet believes it should allow for more local control and have more flexibility in its operations

Hank Hager, Counsel for the West Virginal Senate Education Committee, argues that West Virginia is spending more money on complying with NCLB and with efforts to prevent falling out of compliance that the state receives for NCLB.


Rep. Marie St. Fleur (Ma.) has proposed legislation seeking to close the digital divide found within Massachusetts. She tells how students improve their competencies for jobs in the changing economy by using wireless computers in classrooms. $2.5 million has been invested in the Berkshires section of Massachusetts for such a program. She notes how excited children are over the Internet and playing with computers and how this enthusiasm should be placed towards using computers for educational purposes. Teachers are provided instruction on how to use computers as learning tools. This in turns gets students to embrace learning though the use of computers in classrooms. Parents can be involved as well. If parents are willing to receive training in computer usage, the students are then permitted to take their classroom PCs home with them.

Tom Gluck, Pennsylvania Executive Deputy Education Secretary, states Pennsylvania intends to provide a laptop computer to every high school student. This will be part of a three year, $200 million effort to improve core academic courses in Pennsylvania, increase professional development training of teachers, and provide wireless Internet service in classrooms. He states that it is Governor Rendell's proposal that there be a laptop on ever high school desk in English, Social Studies, Math, and Science. The Governor proposed $200 million for this but legislative skepticism scaled this back to a $20 million pilot project for purchasing computer equipment plus $6 million for two day professional development meetings for teachers to learn how to use computers as teaching tools. 16,000 computers have been placed in 1,200 classrooms in 103 schools in 79 districts. Each such classroom has a teacher station with a computer and a computer for every student in the class. A part time computer coach is also involved, although many schools have provided additional funding to hire full time coaches. Some of these courses are developed in conjunction with colleges who provide college credit for these high school courses.

Mr. Gluck claims this program is a result of 100% the Governor’s fortitude while facing legislative reluctance. Schools that receive these computers are inviting their legislators to visit and see how this program works. Penn State University is conducting a review that will be released in next month. A second round of schools to receive computers will be announced after that. Mr. Gluck states the qualitative results the Department has received have been excellent and he believes the quantitative data should be good. Teachers are reporting that students are very engaged in computer learning and that hall passes from classes have disappeared.

Mr. Gluck states the program is for high schools because Pennsylvania elementary schools are achieving above average while high schools were found to be lacking. This is Governor Rendell's attempt to boost high schools. He notes the computers are on carts and they can be used for other classes, such as for Art.


The Financial Policies that Reward Work proposal before the Budgets and Revenue Committee was given joint jurisdiction with the Human Services and Welfare Committee.

The Sales Tax Fairness proposal before the Communications, Financial Services and Interstate Committee was given joint jurisdiction with the Budgets and Revenue Committee.

The Importance of Rail proposal has passed the Agriculture, Environment and Energy Committee and will go forward to the full convention regardless of what the Transportation Committee does with it.

The Renewable Portfolio Standard proposal before the Agriculture, Environment and Energy Committee has been withdrawn.


Eleanor Babco, of the Council of Graduate Schools, notes that computer science is drawing many students who are using what they learn for a variety of new occupations, including architecture design, automobile design, film graphics, and game designing. She states that a masters degree program, first developed in 1997, that combines business skills with technical competencies in Science and Math is attracting students. Most graduates work for non-profits and the government although for-profit firms are seeing value in these graduates. This degree attracts students wishing to further study Math or Science in graduate school yet do not wish to spend several indeterminate years getting a Ph.D. They find employers believe a bachelors degree is insufficient for Science and Math graduates. Thus, only 20% of Math and Science graduates continue on to graduate school in Math and Science. By combining business skills, such as Marketing, Management, and Statistics with further Math and Science studies, graduates are capable both of working on laboratory projects while also understanding how to bring projects in time and on budget. Employers appreciate these combined skills. Students also like that this masters degree takes a known two years, includes real world internships that often lead to jobs, and require a capstone projects instead of a written thesis

There are 110 programs of this nature in 55 institutions in 20 states (including Temple University). These programs graduated 344 in 2006. 47% of graduates are female. 85% are American citizens, which compares to half of Science graduate students being citizens. Starting salaries are mostly in the $45,000 to $62,000 range, with private industry paying higher salaries on average than non-profits or the government. Two thirds of graduates remain in the same state where they received this degree, which compares to one fourth of Science graduates remaining in the same state from where they graduated. The U.S. Senate has approved authorization but not appropriation, of $10 million for 200 institutions offering this degree.

William Detrich, a Biology Professor at Northeastern University, states many students are attracted to Science research as a career and want a degree that adds value to their bachelors degree in the employment world. He led the creation of a Bioinformatics degree at Northeastern University that integrates skills in biotechnology and information sciences. About ten students a year are enrolled.


Marcia Howard of the Federal Funds Information for the States notes that Defense, which was $443 billion in Federal spending in 2005, is $622 billion in Fiscal Year 2007, whereas discretionary spending (which is where most funds to states are located) is $458 billion in Fiscal Year 2007. The rest of the Federal budget is less discretionary spending, with $592 billion committed to social security (which has been growing at the rate of inflation), $367 billion for Medicare (which has been increasing as health care costs have been increasing at rates above the rate of inflation as well as the increased costs of prescription drugs benefits), Medicaid and SCHIP at $198 billion, net interest at $239 billion, and $318 billion for other discretionary spending. The Administration is proposing a 5.8% increase in Defense spending and a 0.4% decrease in domestic discretionary spending. Federal revenues decreased in 2001 and only this year have returned to surpass the amount of revenues collected in 2001. The increased outlays with decreased revenues have greater budget deficits and increased debt.

Many Federal issues that will impact state governments are the reauthorization of SCHIP, reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, and the projections that the Highway Trust Fund will go broke in about two years. With SCHIP, the President proposes a $5 billion increase that will be inadequate to keep current enrollment levels and will require caseload reductions. Congress is debating increasing cigarette taxes and using the funds to increase caseloads. Ms. Howard predicts there will not be a resolution of the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind this year. A gas tax will be needed to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent, but Ms. Howard is uncertain if this will happen. She warns that may lead to cash flow problems to state should highway funds cease being delivered to states in timely fashions. Earmarks is another budget issue before Congress, as a proposal not yet acted upon by the President would require identifying which Senator proposed which earmarked spending project.

Molly Ramsdell of NCSL told how the Real ID will requires states to adopt new drivers license / photo ID programs by May 11, 2008. States will have to verify the identity of all obtaining these IDs. Certain types of printers will be required to be purchased and used. Final regulations have yet to be issued which will give states only a few months to implement the regulations. States will have to begin issuing these new IDs on May 11, 2008 and must enroll all drivers with these IDs by May 11, 2013. NCSL and the National Governors Association estimates this will costs states $11 billion over five years while the Homeland Security Department estimates this will cost states $11 billion over ten years. Congress has approved only $10 million in assisting states in making this transition. A proposed to provide states with $300 million was defeated in Congress. 30 bills have been introduced in state legislatures, with 60% opposing Real ID. Four states have voted not to comply with Real ID.


Gov. Deval Patrick (Ma) tells of the importance of the partnership between a Governor and the legislature. He has worked closely with his legislation on business development, life sciences, education reform, and other areas where cooperation between the two is essential. He states that people want real solutions to real problems. He notes that the bridge collapse in Minnesota, following the levees destruction in New Orleans, are wake-up calls that we have been starving our infrastructure maintenance and repair efforts. He urges NCSL to work with Congress on getting roads, schools, networks, buildings, and similar necessities rebuilt.

Mayor Thomas Menino of Boston tells how the census bureau makes mistakes. He observes that the population of Boston has been increasing with the census count claimed Boston lost population. He successfully sued to show the census numbers were wrong.

Former Gov. Jim Hunt (NC) is critical that our education system is not keeping up with meeting the needs of employment in our changing global economy. He observes that the G.I. Bill produced a generation of college educated graduates who met the needs of our post World War II economy. Yet this growth was not much different than in other growth periods when there were fewer college graduates. It was what people learn, and not the fact that they received a formal education, that matters, according to Governor Hunt. Students today need to learn what is needed in our growing knowledge economy, and this will require more experts in fields such as engineering, science, and mathematics. Yet, these are more demanding fields and college students are tending to choose less challenging fields.

He urges there be a transformation of higher education. He notes that North Carolina recently allocated $100 million in additional college scholarships. States have the primary responsibility for seeing that their colleges produce graduates who will perform well in an economy with increased global competition. America used to be the best country in collegiate performance, yet most of the rest of the world has caught up with us and at least 14 nations have surpassed us in the rate of students graduating from college. China has produced a ten fold increase in college graduates. 80% of newly created jobs are requiring college degrees. He states colleges should inform colleges as to the skills that they will require from graduates. Baby boomers are retiring at rates faster than new graduates are being produced to replace them. Governor Hunt urges legislators to ask higher education system officials to have their colleges become more efficient and that state funding should guide this efficiency. The colleges need to take in more students and retain these students through to graduation. He notes Australia has moved to a three years bachelors degree program with the same amount of learning as four year American colleges. He suggests colleges hold classes in evenings and weekends and online in order to make it easier for more Americans at attend classes. This will make college more efficient and effective, he believes.

Patrick Callen, of the National Center for Policy on Higher Education, believes there is too much failure in our higher education system. We need to measure learning better, both quantitatively and qualitatively. He notes that states have increased financial aid but that inflation has eaten away these increases. He notes how financial aid once covered 98% of college costs in some schools where it now only covers half the costs. He urges colleges to focus more on teaching and less on research. He does not believe that education is improved by having teachers teach less.

Phyllis Eisen, Senior Vice President of the National Association of Manufacturers, states that employers are generally satisfied with recent graduates, but that is not enough. Having adequate employees will not work in our economy. She urges colleges to check with the business community to learn where skills are needed. Everyone will need a job, and colleges should produce students who can fill the jobs that are required. She also urges colleges to focus more on the non-traditional student who may be a parent or wish to return to studies after being away from them for several years.

Former U.S. Sen. Hank Brown, President of the University of Colorado, is critical of the college accreditation system. He believes it does not ensure quality standards. He believes there are students graduating college with severe academic deficiencies from accredited schools. He believes it is costly for schools to complete accreditation reports and that the expenditures are not necessarily ones that improve the educational quality of the college. He urges that colleges focus more on educational quality and learning rather than hours in the classroom. He notes that 27% of the Colorado state budget used to be spent on higher education and now it composes 10% of the state budget. Funding is one part of the equation. He also states colleges need to use their resources more wisely. He states there need to be measurable outcomes of learning. He is critical that many colleges have lowered their standards in allowing students to graduate. He urges students to look at offering weekend classes and at times students are able to attend classes, noting that the University of Phoenix Internet college is the nation's fastest growing college because it offers classes when students want them. He urges legislators to compare higher educational institutional overhead budgets with similar colleges to determine which colleges have too much overhead.


Rep. Pat George (Ks.) tells how he is an alcoholic and former drug addict who last used intoxicants six years ago. He wants people to know that drug treatment works, but it may take several attempts. He finally gave up alcohol and drugs after his third stay in a treatment center. He was given a chance for treatment or being arrested by a Sheriff and took treatment. He does not know exactly what clicked on the third time of treatment. He notes that addiction, which involves changing years of behavior, may also require years of treatment. It is foolish to believe that many people will be changed after a few weeks of treatment.

Dr. Adam Brooks of the Treatment Research Institute states that addiction is a mental illness that is comparable to diabetes, hypertension, and asthma. Treatment can work as he believes the human spirit can overcome deep rooted problems. Dr. Brooks notes that heritability estimates of twins indicates that the odds of both twins becoming an addict are as likely as both developing asthma, diabetes, or hypertension. 19 other studies have found a familial risk factor is alcohol, opiate, and cocaine addiction, especially in males. These studies have included adoption studies of twins who were raised under separate environments where both were prone to addiction.

Studies of asthma, diabetes, hypertension, and addiction all indicate that patients in treatment do as asked, yet when released from treatment all display similar patterns of percent who fail to take their medication, and that the relapse rates of addiction are actually lower than the relapse rates of asthma, diabetes, and hypertension.

Dr. Brooks cites the California Treatment Outcome Project place the average costs of addiction treatment at $1,583 and the average societal costs of addiction (counting criminal justice costs, crime, and earnings losses) at $11,487. He notes that the average cost of treating an addict with methadone is $364 a month whereas someone who develops HIV from sharing a needle with a heroin addict can cost $2,100 a month in HIV treatment. He sees addiction treatment as saving society money.

Former Governor Michael Dukakis (Ma.) calls upon state leaders to provide more leadership in the areas of substance abuse treatment and prevention. He criticizes that many states have decreased their services in mental health, public health, and child welfare that have decreased access to programs that handle substance abuse problems. He is upset that no Governor addressed addiction in a State of the State and that no Presidential candidate has spoken on addiction. He is married to an addict (whose addiction began while a student at Penn State) and is upset than addiction treatment and prevention is not tackled as an issue by politicians. He notes that state will pay more in costs of child welfare, criminal justice, and mental health costs than it would in expanding treatment and getting addicts into treatment. He also notes that treatment saves lives and improves families. He calls upon legislators to show leadership in addiction treatment and prevention. He urges states to develop statewide strategies involving all state agencies that are concern with drug and alcohol issues. He notes only four states have Cabinet level position on addiction and treatment and urges more emphasis be placed on coordinating efforts, getting agencies to work together, and demonstration leadership from the top on preventing and treating addiction. He also urges that this leadership receive advisory assistance from groups that work in this field.


Mary Fairchild of NCSL tells how NCSL has been working with legislative leaders in developing actions that would address a spectrum of issues involving family economic success. She believes a holistic approach is required to look at the various government programs and how several services may best help low income families, including possibly career development, health care, education, job training, and how states may leverage Federal funds with state funds to solve family problems.


David McCullough, an author, states the lessons of history are innumerable and he fears many lessons are not being taught and passed down to future generations. Noting he was once asked "other than John Adams and Harry Truman, what other Presidents have you interviewed?” he warns that many of our young are historically illiterate. Yet, it is not their fault for not knowing what was never taught to them. He believes the only new thing is the history you don't know.

History teaches us how to behave, according to Mr. McCullough. History is about life, changes, consequences, causes and effects, and not memorizing dates and quotes. History is about what happened to whom, and why? It is the study of human nature. He reminds us that history was someone else's present and they did not know what the outcomes of their actions would be. Knowing history prepared us for life. He is upset that many colleges no longer require History courses, as well as not requiring foreign language and Sciences.

Teachers are the most important people in society, Mr. McCullough believes. He states the three essential things to learning are teachers, books, and the midnight oil. We need to teach people to think for themselves. He recalls that John Adams often wrote in his diary that he was "at home, thinking". We also have to do a better job of teaching our teachers on how to teach. Teachers should love what they teach.


Joah Detz, an authory, states that people giving speeches should focus on their topics, streamline remarks, and note they never get a second chance to make a first impression. Don't tell audiences everything you know or they'll remember nothing. Determine what you audiences would like to hear, what they would be suspicious of, and what to address topics to meet audience needs. Learn about and understand your audiences before you address them. Do your right research for the speech. Short sentences and short words are best. Keep your speeches understandable. Pay attention to your body language and do not be dismissive of your audience with your body language. Evaluate each speech as a business decision and determine if you are getting a good return on your investment, and you may decide to give fewer speeches to draw more attention to the ones you do give.


David Wyss, Chief Economist at Standard and Poors, believes our national economy has slowed down after three strong years. In addition, 17 consecutive Federal rate hikes has slowed our economic growth. Almost all of our economic weakness is from one sector: housing. The housing market has been harmed by higher interest rates. He predicts the Federal Reserve will keep interest rates steady for the rest of the year and then reduce them early next year.

Our bond market has become an international market attracting foreign investors who can get better interest rates in our bond market. $1.1 trillion has been invested in our bond markets, with 85% of it being private investments.

Corporate debt has been reduced while household debt has increased. Household debt has become riskier to lenders.

David Wyss warns that state pension funds are seriously under-funded. Some are under-funded by as much as 20%.

He warns that the trade wars are getting financially scary. Our nation cannot absorb too much more debt. Debt service is at a historic high. He does not know how much longer this can economically continue.


Robert Kuttner, an author, observes that progressive state legislators are filling a vacuum created by a lack of leadership on the national level. This is good as legislators and working at and invigorating the grass roots. He believes progressives will do well in the next elections and that the public is more progressive and ahead of the national candidates on desiring progressive leadership. He sees progressives being elected in places others never expected them to win.

The Minnesota bridge collapse came after three decades of Federal government neglect on deferred maintenance. Progressive state legislators are overturning the deregulations that happened at the Federal level and created more responsive and responsible governments. He sees voters being upset over unfair tax systems and over how the money is spent.


Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu (La) states that the wounds inflicted on his state by Katrina and Rita are open wounds that a tale of what ails American in general. The destruction from the hurricanes was seven times the size of Manhattan and that it is an American tragedy that requires an American response. We need to make government work when disasters hit.

In the business meeting, a proposal that would provide for re-regulation of the rails so farmers could be provide more rail service to get their goods failed to receive the required three fourths of state endorsing the policy with 25 states voting in favor of it and 24 states voting against it. Supporters argued the policies are needed by the farmers who face a monopoly that charges high prices to move their goods. Opponents argued against expanding Federal regulations.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff states we need to plan to make our infrastructure more secure. Important, but vulnerable, areas include the Internet, our food and water supple, military establishments, energy systems, financial systems, dams, nuclear plants, national monuments, etc. Developing and implementing reaction plans will prevent, and provide rapid responses, to a variety of possible disasters, from accidents, natural disasters, and terrorism. Planning and actions need to be taken now to keep systems operable if a disaster of any type occurs.

Actions that have been taken or that have begun implementation include improved monitoring of our agriculture systems, increased and improved aerial surveillance, updating fire analysis responses, improving the ability of emergency responders to communicate with each other, and producing decontamination foam that can suppress biological and chemical threats. There is a need for great research and development in means to better protect our various important infrastructures that remain at risk to disasters.

He argues in favor of requiring secure IDs and obtaining IDs with secure documentation. He states that terrorists use fake IDs like a weapon. He claims it is better to pay for secure documents upfront rather than pay higher costs of terrorism in the future. He realizes the difficulties states are having with this process and his Department has lengthened the time that states have to provide secure IDs to all drivers licenses and photo IDs within each state. He has not moved back the starting date, though. He notes that state may use existing data bases and what will be required is for these data bases to be interconnected.

Secretary Cherfott states the immigration bill that Congress recently defeated would have provided $50 million to state for these efforts. He disagrees with NCSL and the National Governor's Association estimates that the states to states of real IDs would be $14 billion. He argues this is not a mandate as states are not required to enter the real ID process. Yet, if they do not, their state IDs will not be allowed to be used for federal purposes (such as boarding airplanes) and residents of their states will be required to use passports or military IDs for federal ID purposes.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi notes that half of the members of Congress used to be state legislators. She believes states are the laboratories serving as models for what the Federal government can proceed to implement.

Speaker Pelosi notes that the first action of Congress this session was to pass the recommendations of the September 11 Commission. This bill would target security efforts at the parts of the country most at risk to terrorist attacks. It will require that all shipping containers be inspected at the port of demarcation. All cargo in passenger planes will be screened. Local police and fire communication systems will be able to communicate with each other.

Speaker Pelosi wants Congress to expand SCHIP and notes that NCSL has been lobbying for this expansion. She seems providing health care to all children are a moral imperative. She also wants Congress to provide more flexibility on No Child Left Behind. She notes some innovative education programs have been implemented in New Mexico and Arkansas that provide more Math and Science classes to more students. She notes that Congress will examine these and other state programs and will be holding hearings on how to reshape the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind.

Speaker Pelosi states Congress is working on infrastructure maintenance and energy independence legislation.


Andrew Reschovsky, Professor of Public Affairs of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, notes research finding that property taxes are less least favorite tax with a widespread perception that they are unfair. This is because the value of assessments and thus the taxes on values of homes has no association with the ability of the taxpayer's income and savings and thus many have difficulties paying property taxes. Homeowners have insecurities over their lifetime abilities to have sufficient income, not lose their jobs, or not have financial setbacks that might cause them to be unable to pay property taxes. $157 billion annually is collected by property taxes.

Some states have responded to these concerns by limiting the rates which home assessments or home property taxes may increase, This often creates intended consequences, as revenues still are required to be obtain, of shifting higher taxes onto businesses or other taxpayers whose assessment or rates are not capped. In low income areas where the tax burdens can not be shifted, services may be reduced in communities that may more require services. Some states are responding by offering loans to distressed homeowners.

Florida House Speaker Mario Rubio notes that in Florida that property taxes increased on average by 83% while personal income increased on average by 38%. This is creating an unfair tax burden on Florida property owners. He believes that shifting more of the burden of raising revenues onto the sales tax may be fairer as changing economic circumstances could cause people to lose their homes.

Rep. Thad Viers (SC) notes that in South Carolina urban areas that 60% of the property tax goes towards education whereas 70% of the property tax goes towards schools in unincorporated areas. In 1995, South Carolina passed a law that exempts the first $100,000 of value from assessments. Local government still found ways to raise taxes. The state increased its sales tax by an additional 1 cent on a dollar of sales. South Carolina has passed a Constitutional amendment that caps the increase in countywide assessments. Assessments may be increase more than an increase in the population plus an increase in the cost of living index. Taxpayers may pay in installments. South Carolina also increased its cigarette tax. South Carolina allows a country referendum to approve a property tax reduction in exchange for an additional county sales tax of an additional 1 cent of a dollar of sales. If revenues are insufficient, the funds will be taken from the General Fund.

Rep. David Steil (Pa) notes the quote of London's Lord Mayor who once proclaimed "politicans can always be counted upon to do the right thing when all else fails."

Pennsylvania funds its school districts with about 35% from state revenues, even though this increased slightly under Governor Rendell. Pennsylvania is thus a state with one of the smallest state percentage of education support in the country. Pennsylvania has attempted to shift property taxes but with very limited success. A proposal to shift property taxes and eliminate nuisance taxes by increased the earned income tax required voter approval and few localities voted to approve this shift. Rep. Steil notes these proposals did not address equity issues and failed to either gain much voter support, especially when many voters were confused over the future impacts of shifting taxes.


A substitute spokesperson for a Boston Globe investigative reporter who was unable to attend the session due to breaking news of an indictment related to the Big Dig was presented, along with a presentation from a representative of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority.

The Big Dig involved about eight miles of road construction in the middle of urban Boston that was met with neighborhood, business, and environmental opposition. The construction caused much disruption to both vehicle and pedestrian traffic. It further required relocating many pipes, some dating back to the early 1800s. Some soundproofing of residents' windows near the construction site was required. The dirt dug up from the Big Dig was used for new landfill. Wetlands concerns needed to be mitigated. The creation of 10,000 jobs, many of which were high paying construction jobs, created support for the project. Inflation drove the price of the project above original estimates. The project had multiple oversights from several agencies but there was no independent oversight that reported to the public from the beginning to the end of the project. Bechtel, Parsons, and Brinckerhoff oversaw its own project which, in retrospect, was a mistake and a lesson to future projects. The tolls are quite high for the Big Dig in order to pay off the bonds.


Robert Black, Dean of the Government Audit Training Instruction within the U.S. Agriculture Department, warns that many public managers not only do not do a good job of planning but they often claim they do not have time to plan. Analysis is more complicated than planning. Managers meanwhile state they most need more decision support. Government managers are generally receiving improved financial information yet there often is a lack of analytical skills to use that information in order to compile it for examining decision alternatives.

What often is needed is a return to common sense, Dean Black suggests. He states that decision support can provide more resources to decision makers so that can make more informed decisions and improve program effectiveness. Improving effectiveness is important when our government has a $8 trillion debt and $4.6 trillion in unfunded liabilities.

In analyzing decision, we need to define the questions that drive the analysis, identify the data, collect the data, analyze the data, and present the results. Defining the questions is the most difficult part for, if the wrong questions are asked, the right answers will not emerge. In asking questions, one should be willing to analyze assumptions and biases, examine the evidence, guard against emotional reasoning, and avoid over generalizations. One should determine what the user needs to know, why that needs to be known, and how the results will be used in decision making.

During the process, one should assess data quality, continually revalidate the questions being asked which will require continuous analysis throughout the process, and guide that the degree of rigor provided towards the analysis should reflect the risk of the potential impact of the decision. There is a growing need for critical thinking skills in public analysis.


The results of the voting at NCSL were as follows. Among Democrats voting for President, it was Clinton 31, Edwards 26, Obama 20, Richardson, 10, Biden 7, Dodd 3, Kucinich 2, and 1 for Gore.

Among Republicans, it was Romney 30, Fred Thompson 23, Rudy Guiliani 16, Huckabee 8, McCain 8, Paul 3, Brownback 3, Tancredo 1, and 1 for Gingrich.

Andrew Card, former Chief of Staff to President George W. Bush, states the qualifications for a President is that the person be tested by the people in the Presidential primary process. This process tests are candidates well, according to Andrew Card. A President needs the courage to be lonely, as the President has to make tough decisions in the best interests of the country rather than for political gains. He states the best President he served with was Reagan and that Reagan did not have much public experience before becoming President. Reagan was able to focus on making tough decisions at the right time without being rushed into making decisions. Andrew Card believes Bush has been a successful President only we haven't realized it yet. He notes Reagan, Truman, and even George Washington were not popular President during their Presidencies.

Andrew Card states there were many debates in the White House under Bush but that once Bush made a decision everyone pulled together and worked as a team. Bush is an optimist with high expectations. He notes the early primaries may decide the nominations early and cause the public to lose interest in the Presidential race. He believes voters may start looking elsewhere, such as at Unity '08. He also believes another possible scenario is there is no clear nominee from the primaries and that we may have a nominee decided at the convention. He states the next President will have to deal with securing American when he have an enemy that wants to attack us, keep the economy strong, and address embedded costs in social security, Medicare, Medicaid, and health care.

Andrew Card does not believe the 2006 elections were a national referendum. He claims the Muslim vote shifted in Virginia from Allen to Webb is what caused the change in Senate leadership.

David Gergen, Professor of Public Service at Harvard University, provides important insights into leadership. He was worked for several Presidents and has observed what creates successful leaders. He lists his observations by President and concludes the following: Leadership is something one finds internally, it is driven by a compelling goal, it is successful when it persuades others, it requires understanding how the involved process works and how goals may be attained, it often uses an atmosphere of assurance from the beginning, it involving choosing and considering advice form good advisors, and it is able to inspire followers to work toward the goals. These are only a foundation of principles which do not assure success yet should be a guide to expand upon.

The manner in which leadership is used does influence outcomes. A good knowledge of past experiences is valuable yet this knowledge must be used appropriately. The early periods of Presidencies often provide opportunities for achievement yet, simultaneously are also when some of the worst mistakes are made. David Gergen argues the Presidency requires someone who has an excellent knowledge of public affairs as well the proper temperament. He rates Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan as two of the best Presidential leaders.

He states the President needs to have a vision of what society should be like, and that this must be a global vision. It is important that the President be a person of characters, be able to bring judgment, preferably seasoned judgment, to the office, and that the President must be a consensus builder. The President will need closer to 60% to 65% in order to govern well.

David Gergen believes that experience matters, and he defines experience where one makes mistakes and learns from those mistakes. He believes the experience of being a Governor of a large state helps one serve as President. He lists Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan as great President who knew how to take command and how to organize. He notes that Governors from smaller states, such as Carter and Clinton, stumbled at first but they learned on the job and got better at the job. He does not believe any of the Democratic candidates have enough Executive experience. He does believe that Obama's secret is his ability to demonstrate empathy with voters. He notes that Guiliani is the one Republican who is not running trying to be the most conservative of the candidates but as one who is arguing he will be the most effective President. He believes family values will be important in the election, and notes that the only major Republican candidate who has had just one wife is the Mormon. The Iraq war is the best question mark in the election.

David Gergen believes the next President will face the toughest problems since 1933. The problems being faced range from global warming to health care. We have been postponing decisions and we can no longer afford to push off these decisions. The Middle East is a major crisis and Gergen argues we are beyond bringing democracy there and need to try and bring stability to the region. A problem he sees is that a candidate who proposes answers to the pressing issues, such as proposing an increase in the gas tax, may not be able to win the nomination.


Dawn Reese and Donald Manning, Chief of Staff of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, posed challenging questions to legislative IT managers.

David McCarty, Director of the North Carolina General Assembly Information Systems Division, states an immediate problem is hackers and spyware. He states his office processes 10 million emails a month and that they capture 92% to 94% of the spam. Viruses are a problem, as once a legislator brought in his own laptop and a virus infection from that computer shut down the entire system. A big fear may be that someone may someday hack into the computer and change language in a legislative proposal, although this will not be a disastrous mistake as the hard copy of the bill is the official document. His system is tested twice a year at a secondary location for business continuity. He supports inviting an outside auditor, and notes the State Auditor has audited his operations and they have made minor suggestions. The Open Records Law requires that any email that has an administrative value be retained.

Tim Rice, Executive Director of the Illinois Legislative Information System, states that hundreds of time every hour illegitimate attempts are made to get into the General Assembly web site. He notes that the cost of maintaining an offsite backup in cause of disaster is enormous. He believes the legislature could continue functioning in the short run should such a disaster occur. He notes that a disgruntled employee can cause much damage, which has been a past problem.


Jimmy Orr, a White House Internet Video Director, tells how he director the first live web broadcast of a Governor in 1996. The show had nine people log in, five of whom were with the Governor's office. Today, he produces videos for the White House website that attracts millions of downloads.

Jimmy Orr states the content of the video is important. He recommends it be interactive. He notes that videos of President Bush giving a tour of the Oval Office, along with other advisors presenting tours of different White House rooms, on the White House website increased hits on the White House website from 7,000 a day to 200,000 a day. He tells of the interest in his Barney can, where the camera follows the President's dog as it runs around the White House and meets various White House aides. Barney cam increased hits on the White House website to 500,000 a day.


Fred Wiseman, a documentary filmmaker, tells about his film "State Legislature" where he filmed the operations of the Idaho legislature. Fred Wiseman makes films of contemporary institutions that define American life, and he notes that state legislatures provide the funds and policy rationales for many of the institutions he has filmed in the past. He is impressed at the seriousness that the legislators put into their jobs and how they are able to deal with mundane issues that only few are attentive about. His film shows the power of a legislative committee chair and of an attempt to usurp that power.

Sen. Denton Darrington (Id), once of the committee chairmen featured in the film, states the scenes presented do show the legislature in its usual manner. He notes that, in Idaho, there has been a long tradition that no committee chair ever runs for leadership and that no leader ever served as a committee chair.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

David Gergen on Presidential Leadership

David Gergen provides important insights into leadership. He was worked for several Presidents and has observed what creates successful leaders. He lists his observations by President and concludes the following: Leadership is something one finds internally, it is driven by a compelling goal, it is successful when it persuades others, it requires understanding how the involved process works and how goals may be attained, it often uses an atmosphere of assurance from the beginning, it involving choosing and considering advice form good advisors, and it is able to inspire followers to work toward the goals. These are only a foundation of principles which do not assure success yet should be a guide to expand upon.

The manner in which leadership is used does influence outcomes. A good knowledge of past experiences is valuable yet this knowledge must be used appropriately. The early periods of Presidencies often provide opportunities for achievement yet, simultaneously are also when some of the worst mistakes are made. David Gergen argues the Presidency requires someone who has an excellent knowledge of public affairs as well the proper temperament. He rates Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan as two of the best Presidential leaders.