Wednesday, December 29, 2010

iVote, eGovt, and all that mobile stuff

The social media enthusiast that I am, I started wondering about how to continue improving constituent connections over the next five years here in wild, wonderful West Virginia. Yes, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare, MeetUp, etc... all play a significant role, but there is something even bigger I believe we need to focus more efforts on: mobile government.

Also called mGovernment, mobile government is an extension of online government connections to mobile platforms and the tactical use of these applications which are only possible using mobile phones, iPads, laptops, and any other devices that utilize wireless infrastructure. mGovernment can assist with making public information and other governmental services available to citizens anytime, any place, and the ubiquity of mobile devices mandates their employment in government functions, e.g. a mass text in an emergency, like a gas leak. However, several government agencies and public sector organizations are hesitant to adopt mGovernment. Why? Because experimenting with these technologies in the public sector is far more risky than the private sector.

mGovernment’s main benefit is how the immediacy and convenience reduce the bureaucratic red tape and other public service barriers, therefore motivating more citizens to connect with their elected officials and other government agencies. Several additional benefits of mGovernment include; overall cost reduction in communications, improved efficiency, the modernization of public sector organizations, and the general improvement in citizen services. For example, the Bangladesh government text messages warning to its citizens in regard to natural disasters. Parking systems and improved communications between homes and the school systems are being utilized in Estonia.

Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker is the number one politician, in my opinion, who takes advantage of mGovernment. In a TIME magazine article today, “Booker’s twitter feed reads like an action novel.”

When Booker first started tweeting a few years ago, some older Newark residents complained that his online obsession was a narcissistic waste of time. And while it's fair to wonder if all those unplowed Newark streets serve as an indictment of his administration, it's hard to knock his Twitter habit now. The media-savvy Booker knows his Twitter transparency is winning political points.”

So where do we stand in West Virginia in regard to mGovernment?

We have 5 iPhone Apps, including; WV Newsline, WV Political Contributions, WV Legislative Live Bills Feed, WV Business Records, and LegislateWV. And one iPad App, Mobile. Politicians and public sector organizations are increasing their use on social media vehicles that can be accessed through mobile devices. The Kanawha County Commission is becoming increasingly more visible on two mobile platforms: Twitter and Facebook.

But what’s to come? I spoke with Senator Truman Chafin’s secretary (and amazing fashionista), Kayla Brown, who had the most brilliant idea thus far. When legislators open their laptops (which the Senate still desperately needs in my opinion), when they clicked on the internet, their home screen would be an aggregate of all online media and social tools: a Twitter stream of constituents they could communicate with, an RSS feed reader of local, state, and national news headlines of interest, their schedule that day, Facebook feed, etc... Now I know that’s pretty forward thinking, but this Politico in Stilettos loved the idea, especially since broadband infrastructure accessed is increasing across the state more rapidly than ever. What do you think?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Top 10 People to Watch in West Virginia Politics

The votes are in! Thank you to everyone who emailed, commented, direct messaged, Facebook messaged, and texted me your top ten list! The following list is ordered by the number of votes received.

Here is the Top 10 People to Watch In West Virginia Politics:
10. Betty Ireland
9. Truman Chafin
8. John Raese
7. John Perdue
6. Robin Davis
5. Brooks McCabe
4. Rick Thompson
3. Jeff Kessler
2. Natalie Tennant
1. Earl Ray Tomblin

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Vote for the Top Ten People to Watch in West Virginia Politics

After several people contributed to this list of 50, I’m asking you to vote from the following list for the Top Ten People to Watch in WV Politics!

Here's the list of 50 West Virginians involved in politics whose names were mentioned as people to watch over the next two years, in no particular order. Vote for your top ten!

  1. Carte Goodwin
  2. Robin Davis
  3. Joe Manchin
  4. Earl Ray Tomblin
  5. Truman Chafin
  6. Jeff Kessler
  7. Joe Minard
  8. Natalie Tennant
  9. Kent Carper
  10. Rick Thompson
  11. Doug Reynolds
  12. Harry Keith White
  13. John Perdue
  14. Betty Ireland
  15. Evan Jenkins
  16. Jim Justice
  17. Brooks McCabe
  18. Deborah Linz
  19. Kenny Perdue
  20. John Raese
  21. Richard Browning
  22. Larry Puccio
  23. Don Blankenship
  24. Oliver Luck
  25. WV Tea Party
  26. Matt Woelfel
  27. Chris Doddril
  28. Doug Skaff
  29. Tom Cambell
  30. Dave Hardy
  31. Daniel Hall
  32. Ryan White
  33. Jason Pizatella
  34. Andy Richardson
  35. Tish Chafin
  36. Larry LaCorte
  37. Danielle Waltz
  38. Ryan White
  39. Brian Powell
  40. Jennifer Sayre
  41. Ry Rivard
  42. Carrie Clendening
  43. Rachelle Beckner
  44. Tiffany Lawrence
  45. Meshea Poore
  46. Suzette Raines
  47. Conrad Lucas
  48. Stephen Skinner
  49. Steve McElroy
  50. Steven Adams
  51. _______________(write in)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Joe, Washington is no West Virginia

By now we all know that newly elected Senator Manchin skipped out on two key votes, DADT and the DREAM Act. As a former Secretary of State, Manchin was the Chief Elections Officer of West Virginia. In that role, one of his duties was to increase voter turnout. Imagine if we all decided to do something else this past Election Day and skip out on the very special senate election!

We’re told Manchin had an extremely important family Christmas party to attend to that had been planned for over a year. Why couldn’t he have just voted and flown himself home? Maybe he was scared his plane would have another tire blow out on the runway. Other options? As Ben Smith from Politico and Brandon Kiser from the Daily Caller point out, “the vote was held at 3:00 pm, and Manchin could have taken a United Airlines flight at 5:40 and been in Charleston before 7:30.” (Although, the party was supposed to be at the home of his daughter in Pittsburgh.)

Some have mentioned that the way he would have voted on these two issues would not have been favorable with his constituents and fellow senators, so skipping out was the best option. But I disagree. Not voting and giving a party as an excuse is unacceptable, unsenatorial-like behavior. It shows lack of respect for his constituents and his position in my opinion.

While the press, blogs, and constituents in West Virginia have been pretty easy on Manchin, he needs to realize that Washington is a horse of quite a different color.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

When the Senate Chamber Doors Finally Opened...

...To what did everyones’ wondering eyes did appear, but an empty chamber and two senators with apparently nothing to fear.

In what seemed to be the longest Democratic Party caucus yesterday, the results are still up in the air. According to this morning’s Charleston Gazette, Senator Evan Jenkins, D-Cabell, said, “This is a race to Jan. 12 - to see who can get 18 votes.”

When the Chamber doors finally opened, we learned that Kessler had the votes for needed to adopt a rule change in regards to the Senate Presidency that would then allow him to fill the position. This issue divided the Senate Democrats, and the vote ended up being 16-12 in Kessler’s favor. Kessler commented to me on Sunday he felt confident he had the votes he needed, and he was right.

Questions linger as to who will take leadership positions in the Senate if, indeed, Kessler becomes acting Senate President. Overall, my predictions are that Senator Browning, D-Wyoming, will be Senate Majority Leader, the Senate Judiciary Chairmanship, formerly held by Kessler, will go to Senator Palumbo, D-Kanawha, and the Finance Chair will most likely be Senator Prezioso, D-Marion. I’m dismissing thoughts that Senator McCabe, D-Kanawha, would become Finance Chair, because that would mean two leadership positions in the Senate would belong to senators representing the same district.

So what would happen to those currently holding leadership positions in the Senate? It’s not too hard to figure out. But that’s only if Kessler gets a majority, (meaning there are 6 Republican votes in question.) With the current 12 opposition votes facing Kessler, the addition of the 6 Republican votes would mean Kessler wouldn’t end up as acting Senate President pro tem. (Although I did hear one of the 12 switched to Kessler’s side yesterday later afternoon.)

...So January 12th we'll see what the 12 (or 11) Democrats might just dare, but we know Kessler's counting on all his votes being there.