Here’s to New Beginnings

The House of Delegates building in Annapolis

Well, the beginning of the semester draws near again and I am gearing up to immerse myself into the stressful yet fulfilling routine of studying, cramming, and binge snacking once again. It sounds like the beginning of any old second-semester for the average sophomore in college, right? Well, this semester is different because this time I will be working two days out of the week at the Maryland General Assembly for the most Honorable Delegate Susan McComas, District 35B.

Although the session has already started and I have been up a few times already, I haven’t gotten the opportunity to fill you all in on the excitement. I know Hillary has told you about her wonderful new job with State Senator J.B. Jennings, so I wanted to inform you that you have another friend working in Annapolis this 2011 session.

This semester, I have the opportunity to not only work with an upstanding Republican lawmaker in Annapolis, but I have the chance to experience possibly the most exciting part of politics – lawmaking on the state level – while receiving credit! I applied for a program with UMBC’s Political Science department that would allow me to work, get a small but decent stipend, and receive upper-level credit, not to mention the fact that it is usually reserved for juniors and seniors! Needless to say, I am completely thrilled to have this opportunity and cannot wait to share more about it with you.

This session is going to be very important. Already dozens and dozens of bills are in the works down in Crabtown (what the natives call the beautiful city of Annapolis), all of which deal with pertinent and life-affecting legislation. Some of the big ones are, as always, the budget, which includes almost $1 billion in cuts and an “Invest Maryland” plan that would invest an estimated $100 million in small business and life sciences. The other prominent issue already introduced in bills is “marriage equality” within Maryland and whether or not it should be recognized.

Working in Annapolis gives both Hillary and I and the countless others the opportunity to see the action unfolding almost immediately. We also have the unique opportunity to share much of that excitement with you all via our blogs. But it does not stop there. Annapolis is a short skip and a hop from Baltimore and the senators and delegates are always happy to communicate with you and hear what you have to say regarding the issues that you are most passionate about.

So as I get ready to head back up to Baltimore after about a month in Southern Maryland, I am also about to dive head first into this internship where I will be learning so much about state level politics. I look forward to sharing with you my experiences as the semester and the session go on. See you all again soon!

Hillary and Betsy Go Viral

Okay, maybe we haven’t hit the big time quite yet, but this article in the Catonsville/Arbutus Times is a good start.  Lauren Fullbright, a journalist for Patuxent Publishing came out and interviewed us in early December, wanting to tell the story of how we went from political activists to business owners.  We were super excited to see it published in today’s paper. 

Betsy and I have been continuously involved in every aspect of the grassroots movement in Baltimore County for the past 18 or so months.  Last July, we started Strategic Victory Consulting in which we offer marketing and event solutions for small businesses and political organizations. 

At the core we’re writers.  Through the Whisler Campaign and efforts within the PVRC, we’ve learned to take our skill sets to the next level by using free media and email marketing to not only promote political candidates but also small businesses and nonprofit organizations. 

We love what we do and feel extremely blessed to be able to assist people and businesses that we’ve come to respect.  We just want to see us all succeed. 

Photo courtesy of Phil Grout.

Legislative Wrap Up: Top Issues in Annapolis

Every week Library and Information Services publishes a Legislative Wrap Up where they cover the major issues on the table in Annapolis.  The first one for the 2011 Session is out and there are some interesting points to note. 

First, guess who was elected President of the Maryland Senate?  Wow, we can’t pull the wool over your eyes, now can we?  Senator Mike Miller began his 25th year as President.  Seriously?  25 years?  And people wonder why we keep finding ourselves in the these budget crisis’.  If you’re never willing to change, how can you possibly expect different results?  Let’s hope Maryland wakes up in 2012 and 2014.  Hey, a girl can dream, right?

Second, let’s take a look at some of the major issues we’re facing this session. 

 civil unions and same sex marriages;
 federal health care reform implementation;
 in-state college tuition for immigrants;
 renewable energy requirements for utility companies;
 slots expansion;
 alcohol and gas tax increases, and
 pension reform.

Does anyone else see a pattern here?  It’s like they just copied the liberal platform and adopted it for the agenda.  You know what frustrates me even more?  There isn’t much we can do about it.  We just don’t have enough votes to make a difference.  As part of the grassroots movement in SW Baltimore County, I’m getting a first hand look at how incredibly important it is to get out there and educate the general population.  We can’t give up.  Now, who’s with me?

Now it’s not just the list that gets to me, it’s what’s lacking from the list as well, redistricting.  We’re not stupid; we knew that they would push off congressional redistricting to a special session in late August or September, but it’s interesting to note that they’re simply choosing the ignore it.  Instead of coming right out and at least warning us that we’re about to get screwed, our elected officials have decided to just pretend the issue doesn’t exist. 

I, for one, don’t think they should get away with this.  We need to call them out at public meetings, make them go on record with a  firm stance.  Use voice recorders and get videos.  If you see an elected official, whether they are from the General Assembly or the County Council, ask them what their plan is for redistricting.  Ask them if they plan to divide neighborhoods and communities.  Ask them why there are 5 congressional districts that come into Baltimore County and City. 

Don’t give up peeps.  There is much work to be done.  Come hang out with us tonight at our monthly Happy Hour.  We’re meeting at Dimitri’s on Frederick Rd in Catonsville between 5 and 8 pm.  Be there or be square.  (Yep, I just wrote that…deal with it).

There’s a First Time for Everything

Here I am sitting in a Starbucks in Annapolis waiting for my first day of work to begin.  It’s nerve racking really.  You’d think a confident woman such as myself would be geared up and raring to go, but walking into a completely new situation has put me a bit off kilter.  Driving down 97, I suddenly realized that I had absolutely no idea where I was going.  I’ve never been to the State House before, except to gather on a lawn with a few thousand fellow Marylanders to voice our concerns for high taxes and forced healthcare. 

So I called Nicole, a fellow Jennings team member, to direct me to a parking garage.  Turns out I’m a little early as no one is scheduled to be in the office until after 10.  Oops.  It’s all good though, I found my way to a Starbucks after driving around Church Circle a few times.  Now I’m settled in jotting down my thoughts before heading to Maryland’s own little Capitol Hill.

To be perfectly honest, I have no idea what to expect.  Nothing like a new situation to stir up all this unsettling emotions.  It’s not the same as walking into a Central Committee  or PVRC, where I know 90% of the people, where I’m familiar with my surroundings, where I know what to expect.  Nope, this is entirely different. 

Granted, I’m totally blessed to be working with the likes of Senator JB Jennings.  Plus the fact that I already know half of his staff, like Rich Reinhardt and Nicole Ossola, is a much appreciated bonus, especially considering I don’t think I know anyone else in Annapolis. 

Here come to the self doubting questions: Am I dressed okay?  Do I stand out like a french fry on dieter’s plate? Am I going to say something completely up surd and become defined by my stupidity?

Give me a week or two and this whole process will become second nature.  I do tend to adapt well to new situations.  Let’s just hope I can fake my way through these first few moments.  You know us women; we’re good at faking things.  Not that we always have to, but it’s nice to know that we have that innate skill. 

Session starts Wednesday, which is my first official day.  This, this is simply orientation, and who’s suppose to know what their doing during orientation, right?  I’m taking this morning to get my bearings straight.  Come Wednesday I plan to be an old pro, or at the least, ready to pretend like I am.

So here goes nothing.  Watch out Annapolis.  Hillary is here and I’ve decided to take you by storm. 

Hillary Goes to Annapolis

As if I don’t do enough, right? Actually it’s quite perfect and fits right into my evil plan to someday conquer the world. I know y’all think I do too much already, but this really does fit into my master plan. That is, it would, if I had one. So I’ll stop beating around the bush and get to the point. I’ve been offered a job working one day a week for State Senator JB Jennings down in Annapolis. I start next week.

I’ll pause for y’all to recover from the shock and awe. This is an amazing opportunity for me to grow professionally, both in experience and contacts. We all know that in politics, it’s not so much about what you know but who you know and their opinion of you. So it’s best to stay on their good side.  And it doesn’t hurt to work your butt off with a sense of excellence.  I don’t make the rules, I just hope to benefit from them.

Of course, taking this job is not without it’s sacrifices. I had to, hold your breath, find childcare. There, I said it. Me, the epitome of a stay at home mom, who, granted, never stays at home, but you get my drift. Even Neil said, “I thought you were dead set against putting the kids in childcare.” I am, and I’m not. What I can say? I’m a conflicted woman. But this situation works out quite perfectly. I was able to find a friend, a fellow mom, who was willing to come up every Wednesday and watch my kids. Here’s hoping we’re still friends after she spends some quality time with my beloved monsters. I’ll be the first to admit that my kiddos can be a handful (or two). Of course, by the time I pay for childcare, gas and taxes, I won’t actually be bringing home much money, but my main purpose is more about building up my knowledge and contact base. And I’m selfishly hoping to bring more exposure to Strategic Victory in the process.

So what will I be doing? I’m not entirely sure, but I know I’ll be opening mail and packages, which freaked my mom after yesterday’s little scare. Speaking of, I love when my Fox News picks up a local story. Between the weather and suspicious packages, my mom must think we live in a war zone up here. But that’s not all I’ll be doing. I’ll have the unique pleasure of handling communication efforts, which is quite perfect because I happen to be an excellent communicator (at least some of the time).  I will also be bringing home much fodder for the blog, so stay tuned.  Christmas break is over and it’s time to get back to work.