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Government relations 101


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Government relations 101

  1. 1. CorridorKeepers Connecting Corridor CommunitiesGovernment Relations 101: It Really Works For You! A Presentation by Rene M. Lafayette And Matthew R. Chamberlin April 2007
  2. 2. The Instructors:Rene M. Lafayette • Former state legislator • Former county sheriff • Former local official • BNE-OC, Citizens Bank – Govt. Banking • Writer • Local historian • Life long Blackstone River Valley resident
  3. 3. The Instructors:Matthew R. Chamberlin • Class of 2007, BMR High School. • 2006 John H. Chafee Heritage Award winner. • Student representative on BMRSC. • Helped with reauthorization of BRVNH Corridor. • BVLA alumnus. • Slated to attend Suffolk University.
  4. 4. “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” -John F. KennedySpeech prepared for delivery, November 22, 1963
  5. 5. Who Needs This Information? (How to Communicate With Government?)• Individuals.• Small Businesses.• Nonprofit organizations.
  6. 6. Government Relations DefinitionsGovernment: Organized civil authority responsible foradministration of the internal and external relations of a unit thereof.“governing, the system or method of governing.”Relations: Interaction and exchange of ideas, thoughts, goods orservices between two or more persons. “Dealing with others.”Source: Oxford American Dictionary ©1980, Oxford University Press.
  7. 7. The Subject:Government Relations-Government Defined• Local Government – Mayors/Town Administrators – Town Managers/Executive Secretaries – City/Town Councils/Selectboards• State Government – Governors/Executive Departments/Agencies – State Legislatures – Commissions & Authorities• Federal Government – Executive Branch (departments/agencies) – Congress – Regulators
  8. 8. Federal Government• Executive Branch – Departments – Agencies• Congress – Senate – House of Representatives – Agencies (Library of Congress, etc.)• Independent Agencies
  9. 9. The White House. Home to every President except Washington.Among the most instantly recognized buildings in the world. Ultimate symbol of the Presidency.
  10. 10. Executive Branch Departments and Agencies• The uber staff meeting is the President’s Cabinet. – Vice President – 15 department heads – those specifically designated by the President• The Cabinet’s role is advisory rather than statutory. Each occupant of the Oval Office determines what role the Cabinet will play in an administration.
  11. 11. Executive Branch Departments and Agencies• 15 Executive Departments• Vice President• 22 Independent Agencies – Stand alone – Regulatory
  12. 12. Federal Regulatory Agencies• Sometimes referred to as the “fourth branch” of government. But really are not.• These are autonomous from the Federal Departments and Congress but still have reporting and oversight responsibilities to both branches.• Examples are the SEC, Atomic Energy Commission, FCC, NLRB
  13. 13. United States Capitol BuildingHome to: 100 Senators, 435 Representatives, 5 Delegates. All are elected by the people.
  14. 14. The Congress of the United StatesAdmired or belittled, a great Americancontribution to the governing of a freepeople.“Congress- the engine of democracy” David McCullough“Where ordinary mortals go about thebusiness of government, the art ofcompromise” Charles McDowall“Congress, the great commanding theatre” Thomas Jefferson“There is no native criminal class exceptCongress” Mark Twain
  15. 15. The Congress of the United States• Senate – 100 members – 2 senators per state• House of Representatives – 435 Members of Congress – Minimum of 1 per state, otherwise by census (population) – 5 Delegates (DC, PR, GM, VI, AS)
  16. 16. The Right to Lobby• Article [ ] states:• This is the basis for lobbying government, not just the legislative branch, for “redress of grievances.”
  17. 17. State Government •Governors •Executive Departments •Agencies, Commissions •State Legislatures •Judiciary “Communicating With Your State Legislators”Colorado State Capital, Denver
  18. 18. State Legislative Data (SOURCE: National Conference of State Legislatures 2007)• In 38 States both houses are controlled by same party – 23 Democrats – 15 Republicans – 11 Split• In 1 State, the unicameral legislature is nonpartisan• Of 50 Senates – 25 controlled by Democrats – 22 controlled by Republicans – 2 tied between Democrats and Republicans – 1 is nonpartisan• Of 49 House of Representatives/Delegates/Assemblies – 29 controlled by Democrats – 20 controlled by Republicans
  19. 19. State Legislators at A Glance• According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, as of the 2006 session there were 7318 state legislators in the United States.• More statistical data: – 3941 Democrats – 3310 Republicans – 67 Independents• Average age is 53.
  20. 20. The United States of America:50 State Senates + 49 State Assemblies
  21. 21. State Legislative Data (SOURCE: National Conference of State Legislatures 2006)• In 37 States both houses are controlled by same party – 22 Democrats – 15 Republicans• In 1 State, the unicameral legislature is nonpartisan• Of 50 Senates – 25 controlled by Democrats – 22 controlled by Republicans – 2 tied between Democrats and Republicans – 1 is nonpartisan• Of 49 House of Representatives/Delegates/Assemblies – 29 controlled by Democrats – 20 controlled by Republicans
  22. 22. Legislative Control by Party (SOURCE: National Conference of State Legislatures 2006) 115 Nonpartisan Democrat Republican 22
  23. 23. State Senates by Party Affiliation (SOURCE: National Conference of State Legislatures 2006) 2 1 Nonpartisan Democrat22 Republican 25 Tied
  24. 24. House of Representatives/Delegates Control by Party Affiliation (SOURCE: National Conference of State Legislatures 2006) 20 Democrat 29 Republican
  25. 25. Local Government: Municipal, not minimal• Closest to the people, most common form of government encountered.• Generally part time occupants.• Includes cities, towns, villages, and other subdivisions according to a given state’s laws.
  26. 26. From urban city hall to rural town office, America’s municipalities are governed by several models including the “strong mayor,”council-mayor, town manager, representative financial town meeting, and town meeting forms of government.Unlike federal and state government, usually there is either one branch – legislative Or at the most two branches of government on the local level.
  27. 27. Forms of Municipal Governance• Range from the New England contribution to municipal government, the Financial Town Meeting.• Urban communities are typically governed by elected mayors and city councils. The mayor is a full time office, councilors are as well (Boston model).• In many instances communities have part time government with both elected and appointed officials.
  28. 28. Variables in Municipal Governance• Variables include professional administrators/managers to volunteers or purely part-time officeholders.• The structure of municipal government also varies greatly depending largely on a municipality’s population. The question of “practicality” often the impetus in having a community adopt one form over another.
  29. 29. Contemporary Trends• Due to internal and external factors, there is a growing trend in favor of better educated, professional administration and management of government including on the local level.• Among these factors are demographic trends, scandals and higher expectations by the public.
  30. 30. Methods Used to Communicate• Person to person.• Telephone calls/trees/banks.• Letter individual/campaigns/preprinted.• Email.• Internet.• Public Forums.• Accidental.
  31. 31. Person to Person• Increasingly rare.• May be planned or accidental.• Be prepared to wait. Once in a meeting be as brief as possible while still staying on task.• The key elements are follow up (in writing and email) and the prospect of future meetings.
  32. 32. Telephone Contacts• With the Official/Legislator vs. Staff.• Remember to clearly state your name and contact information for follow up.• Remember to get the name/title of the staffer with along with date & time.• Telephone “trees” are when one person calls and then contacts two other people to also call on the subject and then the calls expand proportionately.
  33. 33. Telephone Contacts, cont.• Telephone “banks” like minded people assembled at a “bank” of telephones, usually with a prepared text who call the same number i.e., decision maker or legislator or a pre-selected list of people to contact and ask them to contact a decision maker/legislator in favor or against a proposal.
  34. 34. Remember: They Work For You!
  35. 35. Letter Contacts• Still, in 2007, the method with the most impact. It represents “real” effort to communicate.• Security concerns may impact the deliverability of letters (post 9/11/01).• With sufficient volume, easy to overwhelm the recipient into believing that public opinion is tilted one way or another (even if it isn’t).
  36. 36. After the attacks of 9-11-2001, mail delivery to the Congress and indeed the entire Federal branch was stopped for weeksas a security measure. The sense of alarm was exacerbated in light of subsequent actual and fake Anthrax scares. Although security screening has become a given, communicating to your government continues to take the form of a “hard copy” letter.
  37. 37. Letter Contacts, cont.• Letter “campaigns” provide for personalized letters written by individuals who are provided with “talking points” to be included in the letter to the legislator. They require more coordination/education so that the message is clear and consistent.• Preprinted letters usually provide for the inclusion of sender’s name and address. Otherwise, they convey the same message. Least effective of the 3 types mentioned.
  38. 38. Holding Public Office is theirPrivilege, Not their Hereditary Right! We still settled that one in 1776. Period. Don’t undo what was paid for with the blood of heroes.
  39. 39. Holding Public Office is aPrivilege, Not a Hereditary Right! We settled that one in 1776. Period.
  40. 40. Email Contact• Increasingly email is replacing traditional ink and paper or snail mail as the mode of communication.• Although there is a greater chance that your email may not be read by the legislator (spam filters, staff, technology) it is vastly superior because it offers instant communication with hard copy capabilities.
  41. 41. Internet Contact• Many websites have contact pages that can be filled out and then sent electronically.• While you have the instant ability to contact, the negatives remain…specifically whether or not the legislator will personally see your comment.
  42. 42. Results of Internet Search for Government Related Sites According to the internet search engine, a recent search(3/2007) resulted in Federal government 116,000,000 hits State government 303,000,000 hits Municipal government 25,900,000 hits
  43. 43. Internet Contact Offers Contact Made Easy“For a small fee, have your letters printed and hand-delivered to the CapitolHill office of your Representative and/or Senators.”SOURCE: 3/19/2007
  44. 44. Public Forum Contact• This occurs when you attend a public forum in person where the legislator is a participant.• You either ask a question, thereby becoming part of the forum itself or else see the legislator before, during or after the event and get “their ear.”• Remember to follow up and get their card or the staffer’s card who may be with them.
  45. 45. Accidental Contact• Accidents do happen…they don’t live in isolation• Church• Shopping• Restaurants• Daily Life• Community events (sports, theater)
  46. 46. Points to Remember• They (Public Servants) work for you.• Be brief.• Be polite or at least civil.• Be precise in what you want of them.• Give them a timeline/deadline when it is needed.• Provide them with multiple methods of contacting you (mail, email, telephone).
  47. 47. Not satisfied: Remembersomething called elections?
  48. 48. ResourcesSelected websites dealing with Federal, State and Local government• General US government portal site:• US House of Representatives:• US Senate:• National Governors Association:• National Conference of State Legislatures:• Council of State Governments:• US Conference of Mayors:• National League of Cities:• Urban Institute:• Citizen Advocacy website:• State & Local Government on the Net:• Government Finance Officers Association:
  49. 49. Despite our many differences. Blue states vs. red states. Political party or philosophy. We believe in the promise that is America…
  50. 50. We believe in the promise that is America. When, on April 19, 1775, a ragtag group of farmers, smallbusiness owners and others stared down the greatest army ofthe world; refused to surrender their arms; and, fired “the shot heard around the world.”
  51. 51. We believe in the promise that is America. We embrace the steel of character that brought forth a new nation.
  52. 52. Freedom Isn’t Free!