21 April, 2011

What Doesn't Work In Network Marketing Doesn't Work In Activism

One of my Linkedin group members asked a good discussion question. I'll paraphrase it. She asked "Are you actually doing anything or do you just join stuff?

I've long been bothered by this question or variants of it. Nancy Lublin failed to convince me when she wrote about the virtues and value of "slacktivism" for Fast Company. Wear a button. Sign a petition. "Like" this or that on Facebook. Nothing wrong with any of that - and I especially respect people who are willing to be visibly linked to something unpopular like being a liberal or a Pitt fan in West Virginia but I think that this sort of wholesale distribution approach to activism doesn't work for changing your community or your world any more than it works for network marketing. They use different terms but too many of the well-intentioned people I know are spending way too much time sucking up to their "uplines" and trying to acquire a "downline" and not enough time selling some soap or some vitamins or some whatever to actual, retail consumers, too much time trying to become known as leaders without ever noticing that nobody's following.

if you've ever been in or knew anybody who was into network marketing you know that the guys at the top of the pyramid - the only ones who ever make any money from the scheme - lure people into their "downlines" with promises of a lot of money for very little work. At every level of the pyramid, there's a guy with a "downline" of distributors who assumes the guys below him will actually sell the skin cream or the soap or the nutritional supplements but, of course, everybody was lured into the scheme with unspoken dreams of just sitting back and getting rich off the work of others.

Trouble is, most of the people in your downline and most of the people in their downlines are spending more time trying to get a downline than they're spending actually selling something. Sooner or later, somebody has to sell some soap but almost nobody wants to do that. It looks too much like work.

And it doesn't make the person doing the work feel like a big deal.

Activism is that way. Many of the people in my world have fancy titles in orgs that don't actually do what they purport to do or hold poorly-attended meetings of the usual suspects at the Roosevelt Center or sponsor speakers that only the Already Converted want to hear. The expression "preaching to the choir" applies.

You don't change your community or your world by preaching to the converted.

Speaking of choirs, sometimes real leadership means telling the choir not to come to practice. I know a Georgetown, KY preacher who built his church by telling choir members to skip choir and do something else instead. Yes, really. Here's what happened: Georgetown became a boom town when the Toyota assembly plant opened and suddenly thousands of new people were moving into Georgetown. My preacher friend tried to visit them all and invite them all to church but there were so many of them he couldn't keep up. Every day he drove around looking for moving vans and "sold" signs and making his list of newcomers but his list got longer because he simply couldn't visit them all.

Every week my preacher friend asked for help with visitation and every week he found himself all alone on visitation night.

Then it hit him: most of the people he hoped would help him visit new residents were already at the church several nights each week for choir practice and Wednesday evening Bible study and so on so he decided to ask some people to quit choir.

"You sing off-key anyway" he told one man, "so I want you to give me Tuesday night instead of Thursday night choir practice." So, each Tuesday night, the preacher and the sour singer met at McDonalds, divided up the list and went off to sell soap, er, invite people to church.

The church started getting new visitors on Sunday morning.

Pretty soon, other members of the choir asked the preacher if he would make them the same offer he made the first guy. Before long several of the choir's worst singers were visiting Georgetown's newest residents on Tuesday nights instead of making the choir director cry on Thursday nights - and church attendance exploded.

Those of us who are politically active expend too much effort lobbying to the upline (elected officials) and not enough time actually making converts to our political views. At election time we set up phone banks to "get out the base" but we do almost nothing to actually expand the base.

I've known a lot of people in network marketing but I never knew anybody who actually made any money at it because I never knew anybody who actually sold some soap. Everybody assumed the next guy would sell some soap and that guy was looking for somebody in his downline who would sell some soap.

Just as network marketing only works if somebody sells some soap, do-gooderism only works if somebody gets their hands dirty selling the soap.

I recently joined an org whose stated mission I agree with. I looked on their website and they listed local chapters all across the nation and there was a button I could click if I wanted to start a local chapter so I clicked it. To say that my interest in forming a local chapter of their org was met with a total lack of support would be an understatement. When I looked further into the org I found that most of the "chapters" listed at the org's website don't exist. I sent emails to all of them and most of those email addresses were duds. Even do-gooders can be guilty of false advertising, fundraising by deception, and a failure to actually sell some soap and get their hands dirty at the local level.
Higginbotham At Large no longer wastes time explaining to "Anonymous" that Higginbotham At Large publishes no anonymous comments.
Higginbotham At Large is not affiliated with the website Dan Cain doesn't want you to see (refer to my April 10 post) or with any other anonymous website - even if that anonymous website quotes my blog or links to my blog.
Higginbotham At Large is not a candidate for any elected office.

20 April, 2011

If A Council Or Mayoral Candidate Stammers and Gets The Deer-In-Headlights Look When You Ask This Question, Don't Vote For Him

Now that St. Albans city council has denied a rezoning request that would have allowed a builder to put townhouses in an area not zoned for townhouses, I hope they will turn their attention to a long range strategy for how to get more businesses, not more residential housing, within the city limits. Real estate brokers' argument that St. Albans needs more residential housing just doesn't hold water. St. Albans dramatic population loss has created a huge inventory of empty houses all over town as anyone who walks the wards with me would soon see for themselves.

No, a city whose population has declined dramatically since I was growing up here in the 60s and 70s doesn't need more housing, it needs a plan to get St. Albans on the grow.

Unlike its neighbors - Nitro, South Charleston, Dunbar - St. Albans doesn't really have much of a business tax base. Many of the businesses with a 25177 address aren't in the city limits of St. Albans which means they aren't putting money in the city coffers. STARDA - St. Albans Regional Development Authority - was formed in April of 1990, in part, to find solutions to this problem but a succession of mayors who saw STARDA as a competitor de-funded STARDA so none of STARDA's "infill" and annexation plans have been accomplished.

No, with a declining population and a glut of empty houses, St. Albans won't need more residential housing until people are trying to move into St. Albans instead of away from it and for that to happen, St. Albans needs a strategic plan. That plan should include:

1. Main Street -  St. Albans doesn't really have one. The newly-remodeled Alban Arts and Conference Center is a step in the right direction but that alone doesn't make St. Albans' Main Street a destination.

2. The approaches to the city - Every time there's a crime committed in "West St. Albans", Chemical City, Amandaville, Jefferson or Green Valley Drive, St. Albans' gets a black eye. We probably can't break lazy reporters from saying "St. Albans" when the meth house was really in one of the unincorporated approaches to St. Albans, so St. Albans should take a serious look at annexing these crime-ridden eyesores so we can tax the legitimate, desirable businesses, shut down the rest and clean up these filthy gateways to the city. If we can't bring business to St. Albans maybe we have to take St. Albans to the business.

In 2 years when mayoral and council candidates ask you for your vote, ask them how they plan to get more businesses within the city limits of St. Albans. Don't vote for any candidate who stutters and stammers and gets a deer-in-the-headlights look in his eyes when you ask that question. This question should be St. Albans' voters equivalent of the famous "Roger Mudd Moment" when the veteran newsman asked Senator Edward Kennedy why he wanted to be president and Kennedy's eyes glazed over as he stammered his way through the unpresidential answer that some say sealed his defeat.

Attention 20-somethings and 30-somethings: St. Albans' leadership vacuum is an opportunity for you to lead. If you have a plan, run for office. 2013 will be here before you know it.

Now that St. Albans city council has dispensed with the distraction over the townhouses, I hope the "No Rezoning" signs I see all over ward 6 will be replaced by a citywide discussion about St. Albans' future and a strategic plan to realize that future.
You can start that discussion at LinkedSt.Albans on Linkedin.
Higginbotham At Large doesn't accept reader comments for publication but you can email me at JosephHigginbotham@gmail.com.
Higginbotham At Large is not a candidate for any elected office.

19 April, 2011

How The St. Albans Peoples Party Should Differentiate Themselves From The Citizens Party

In yesterday's post I said that the St. Albans Peoples Party is back from the dead.

But how will the new, resurrected St. Albans Peoples Party differentiate themselves from the incumbent Citizens Party?

I encourage the St. Albans People Party to start by being more transparent than the Callagarchy has been. Don't conduct secret executive committee meetings at which you hand pick candidates before you have considered the entire universe of possible candidates.

Yesterday I received pseudonymous hate mail from a reader who said I should run for office if I think I can do better than the Callagarchy has done. The hate mailer obviously hadn't read my blog. Had she read it, she would have known that I have consistently said St. Albans needs Gen X and Gen Y leaders who can attract and retain a younger demographic to the city. I'm a baby boomer. It would be hypocritical of me to run.

But I'll gladly and enthusiastically campaign for visionary Gen X and Gen Y candidates who want to make St. Albans city government more transparent and more accountable.

If the newly resurrected Peoples Party wants to send a clear message that they are not the Callagarchy, not the business-as-usual, private club party, they will put up a website, post the names and the contact info for their executive committee, and announce public meetings at which voters can ask questions and even offer to run for office as Peoples Party candidates.

Much of the new Peoples Party executive team has education or law enforcement ties so they will be tempted to go behind closed doors and select candidates from the law enforcement and education arenas without really considering other capable, eligible people. That would be a mistake.

The best way for the newly-alive St. Albans Peoples Party to demonstrate that they are not just Callagarchy Lite is for them to be very public and inclusive about what they do, to reach out to the entire city, beyond their own social circles and beyond their comfort zones. St. Albans is full of capable people who have never been allowed to serve, never been asked to serve. Reach out to them.

While you're at it, reach out to the many people in St. Albans whose contributions to the city have never really been acknowledged.

Don't be like the Callagarchy which, in the April St. Albans Monthly, spends several self-congratulatory pages crowing about its management of the St. Albans water company. Did they give credit to the technicians and the staff who did the work? No, but Callagarchy members Tim Sheldon, Mayor Callaway, Jerry Cogar, Ron Colby and Frank Offutt were prominently photographed.

So, Peoples Party, now that you have been born again, eschew the ways of the past and the ways of the Callagarchy. Give credit where credit is due. Be transparent. Reach out to the entire town, beyond your own friends and family.

Put up a website and fill it with the kind of information prospective voters will want. After you get the website up, don't just send the link to your friends, buy an ad in the St. Albans Monthly and tell everybody where to read about the re-born Peoples Party and how it differs from the Callagarchy. In your ad, print the names of your executives. Print email addresses and/or phone numbers and encourage potential candidates to contact you. Be accountable and transparent to the people from the start.
Higginbotham At Large doesn't publish reader comments because most readers want to comment anonymously. Higginbotham At Large publishes no anonymous comments. Send comments, news or hate mail to JosephHigginbotham@Gmail.com. 
Higginbotham At Large is not a candidate for any elected office.
Higginbotham At Large is not affiliated with any anonymous blogs or websites - even the ones that quote from or link to my blog.

18 April, 2011

Once Left For Dead By Its Own Executive Committee, Has The St. Albans Peoples Party Risen From The Grave?

A 2009 news article that started with the words "St. Albans Peoples Party is in need of a few good people to run for office" went on to say that the Peoples Party didn't field candidates in several city council wards and that the Peoples Party executive committee had resigned.

Had that been the last news I received about the St. Albans Peoples Party I would have had the impression that the St. Albans Peoples Party was dead.

There's been a resurrection. The St. Albans Peoples Party is back. Sort of. They have an executive committee. They don't have a website or even a Facebook page but over the weekend I spoke to members of their executive committee and am happy to report that, on paper, St. Albans now has 2 political parties again.

This is important because, in St. Albans, you have to be a nominee of either the Citizens Party or the Peoples Party in order to run for Mayor or Council.

I know that the Peoples Party has already identified a potential mayoral candidate and I've spoken to a Peoples Party candidate who says he's running for council. That's good. If the Peoples Party hopes to become a factor in St. Albans again they need to start thinking about 2013 right now, but I am disappointed that they haven't held any public events or meetings at which voters can find out how Peoples Party candidates would differ from Citizens Party candidates.

I'm also sorry that, as far as I can tell, the Peoples Party executive committee has no Gen X or Gen Y members.

In a previous post I said that St. Albans' crime and drugs problem is an opportunity for Gen X and Gen Y to provide leadership. Let me add that the absence of Gen X and Gen Y voices in St. Albans city government is an opportunity for the St. Albans Peoples Party to reach out to generations of voters who have felt ignored and rejected by the current mayor and council.

I'll have more People Party news in future posts. Stay tuned.

Higginbotham At Large is not a candidate for any elected office.

Higginbotham At Large stopped publishing reader comments because nearly all comments were from "Anonymous" - and Higginbotham At Large absolutely will not publish anonymous comments but send your news, suggestions, comments and hate mail to JosephHigginbotham@gmail.com.

Higginbotham At Large is not affiliated with any anonymously-published websites or blogs - even the ones that have linked to or quoted from my blog.

12 April, 2011

New Words For Old Problems In St. Albans, WV: Apathariat, Apathocracy, Callagarchy, Opaqracy

Here are some new words for some old problems in St. Albans, WV:

Apathariat - Those ruled by a government whose power is dependent on the apathy of the governed.

Apathocracy - The government that results from an apathetic citizenry. An apathocracy is arrogant, unaccountable, opaque, unresponsive and perpetuates itself by restricting the flow of information in the well-founded belief that the apathariat won't notice or won't care.

Callagarchy - Rule by the few St. Albans residents who agree with or fear Mayor Dick Callaway. This includes council members who think they work for Dick Callaway and not for the people.

Opaqracy - The opposite of a transparent government. In an opaqracy, such basic information as which ward you're in, who your council person is, what's going on in your ward, how to participate in your city's war on crime, where your neighborhood watch meets,  audio and video (or at least minutes) of the last city council meeting, and an org chart of who does what in city government are not made available on the taxpayer supported website.
In my weekend posts I called upon St. Albans city council members to insist that the Callagarchy upload the ward map to the city website so residents can figure out which ward they're in and who their council members is. I'm happy to report that one city council member emailed me to say he supports my "suggestion". We'll see. If he's willing to go on the record as a supporter of uploading a ward map to the city website, I'll publish his name so that voters who Google him in the next election year will find that he is a transparent government man, not an advocate of opaqracy 
HigginbothamAtLarge reads all submitted comments but only PUBLISHES comments from identified submitters. No Ring of Gyges for you. Frankly, HigginbothamAtLarge has no respect for people who won't sign their name to their opinions.

10 April, 2011

A Website Dan Cain Doesn't Want You To See And Other Observations About St. Albans' Opaque Government

In my 14 December 2010 post I said that any product is the result of a system that is designed to produce that product and that if you want to change the product you have to change the system that produced it.

If your product is opaque, incompetent, unresponsive and unaccountable government - like we have in St. Albans, WV - you have to change the system that keeps producing that undesirable political product.

But before you can re-engineer the system that keeps producing bad government you have to identify the system that is doing the producing, you have to figure out how it works. In St. Albans, WV, the system is designed to control the flow of information citizens need by restricting the flow of information. Instead of putting out information where all citizens can get it - that's called "transparent government" - our system perpetuates opacity in government and has done so for decades.

Our elected leaders get away with this opacity because the voters let them.

It's time we demand accountability, opacity and responsiveness from our council members and our mayor and if they won't accede to our demands, it's time we elect people who will.

I want to recant something I said about Mayor Callaway in a previous blog post. In my 8 April post I said that Mayor Callaway is "bad at communication". That's not true. While Mayor Callaway is very bad at "transparency", he's very good at keeping his friends close and his enemies uninformed.

Council members, too, want to deprive you of information. In a recent neighborhood watch meeting Ward 5 council member and Callaway ally, Dan Cain, stood up to ask attendees not to view an anonymous website (with a URL very similar to the city's website) that is critical of the mayor. Since I don't promote anonymous blogs or websites, I won't give you the URL here, but Dan Cain did and I hope every person in that room fired up their smart phone or went home to their computer and looked at the site Dan Cain doesn't want you to see.

By the way, I call once again upon the anonymous owner of that website to identify himself so I can promote his site. As a matter of principle, I will not reward anonymity.

"Boys club", opaque politics depends upon voter apathy for its perpetuation. Mayor Callaway was re-elected with only 829 votes. According to the 2010 census, St. Albans has about 11,000 residents. If that number is correct, Mayor Callaway was re-elected by about 8% of the electorate. Callaway and his opponent combined got fewer than 1300 votes meaning that only about 11% of St. Albans residents bothered to vote in the mayoral race.

In that same election, Xris Hess (who has since resigned) won the Ward 2 race with only 4 votes. She ran unopposed and could have been beaten by anybody who was able to get even 5 votes. If that Ward 2 race isn't emblematic of the kind of voter apathy and disengagement that keeps producing the only kind of government it can, an opaque, unresponsive, unaccountable and incompetent government, then I don't know where we'd have to look for a better emblem of a bad system producing a bad product.

I've been exchanging emails with a guy who says he's going to run against Dick Callaway in the next mayoral race. "Your opponent is not Dick Callaway", I told him, "your opponent is voter apathy, voter disengagement."

If the voters of St. Albans don't start demanding more from their government and aren't willing to go to the polls and elect a new government, then no matter who's in office we'll continue to get the only kind of government that can be produced by the apathetic, disengaged system we have in St. Albans.
Higginbotham At Large is not a candidate for any office but if you know a Gen X or Gen Y thought leader who believes in transparent government and wants to run for office in St. Albans, put them in touch with me at JosephHigginbotham@gmail.com.
Higginbotham At Large no longer publishes reader comments. Send comments, questions and hate mail to JosephHigginbotham@gmail.com.
If you live in St. Albans, do you know which ward you're in? Do you know who represents your ward in council? Shouldn't this information be on the www.stalbanswv.com website along with locations and dates of neighborhood watch meetings, minutes of city council meetings,  an org chart of who does what at city government and other basic transparent government info? Your tax dollars pay for that website. Call your council member and demand that your government become more transparent. See yesterday's Higginbotham At Large for phone numbers of the mayor and all council members.

09 April, 2011

Why Don't St. Albans Council Members And Voters Demand That Mayor Callaway Post Basic Info at City Website?

Attention WSAZ TV, WOWK TV, WCHS TV, Charleston Gazette, Charleston Daily Mail and St. Albans Monthly: The next time you report on drugs and crime in St. Albans, please tell us where and when St. Albans' residents can attend a neighborhood watch meeting. This information isn't posted on the City of St. Albans website.

As of this writing, Mayor Callaway still isn't posting the times and dates of neighborhood watch meetings on the City's website. He also hasn't posted a map of the city's wards so St. Albans can go to the city website and find out which ward they're in and who their council representative is.

The April issue of  St. Albans Monthly contains a spring clean up schedule for each ward but no information whatsoever on how citizens can find out which ward they're in without calling the sanitation department between the hours of 8 to 4 Monday through Friday. Why not just post the ward map on the city website? 

If Mayor Callaway is sincere about his war on drugs, he'll arm citizens with what they need to be foot soldiers in this war. The citizens of St. Albans need to know which ward they're in, when and where  that ward's neighborhood watch is meeting and who their council representative is. Since this is the Information Age and, though many St. Albans council members want to deny it, it's natural for citizens to expect to find basic information like this at their city's website. The internet is not a fad and it's not going away so stop pretending that if you just ignore the internet it will go away.

Since the City of St. Albans already operates a rudimentary website, St. Albans will incur no additional costs of operations by simply uploading a ward map to the site.

And isn't there anybody on your staff who can extract neighborhood watch information from members of city council? Hey, I have an idea: instead of issuing council members a check, issue them a memo that says they'll get their check when they submit neighborhood watch info for publication on the City website. Remind them that we're in a war on drugs and the foot soldiers don't know where to go to get their orders.

Members of council should be INSISTING that this ward information be posted at the City website.

I recently attended the Ward 7 neighborhood watch meeting where I raised these concerns. I had to work way too hard to find out where that meeting was held and, no, I didn't find the info at the first place people expect to find it - the www.stalbanswv.com website. I found the date and half a location on the WSAZ website. I say "half a location" because Kallie Cart's story said only that the meeting would take place at "the United Methodist Church" but she didn't say which one so I had to call the only Methodist  church in Ward 7 to confirm that the meeting was, in fact, at the St. Peter's United Methodist Church. Citizens shouldn't have to Google and make phone calls to find out where to go to get their orders in the drug war.

So, members of the media, since The City of St. Albans doesn't post the information its citizens need on the city website, would you start reporting this information in your news reports when there's another cop shooting or drug bust in St. Albans?

Below, find a list of St. Albans council members (from the www.stalbanswv.com website) . Call each council member and ask them about neighborhood watch meetings in their wards. Be the first to report it.

St. Albans, WV Mayor and Council

Dick Callaway
722-1273 (home)
727-2971 (work)

Vice Mayor / Council At Large:
Helen Warren
727-7456 (home)

Council At Large:
John Boles, Jr.
722-3612 (home)

Council At Large:
Jerry C. Cogar
727-6785 (home)

Ward 1:
Robert J. Keiffer
722-6473 (home)

Ward 2:
JD Adkins
727-0817 (home)

Ward 3:
Ronald K. Colby
727-2667 (home)

Ward 4:
Cheryl Thomas
727-8429 (home)

Ward 5:
Dan Cain, Sr.
722-2576 (home)

Ward 6:
Loretta Griffith
727-9153 (home)

Ward 7:
Desper Lemon
727-5344 (home)

Ward 8:
Kevin Pennington
727-5790 (home)

Ward 9:
Stephen Donelson
727-8690 (home)
Higginbotham At Large is not a candidate for any elected office. I call my blog Higginbotham At Large because it is the name an editor once gave to a column I wrote for his paper.
If you are a St. Albans resident, you believe in competent, transparent government, you believe the internet is not a fad, you are a member of Gen X or Gen Y, and you plan to run for St. Albans Council or Mayor, please send me an email.

Higginbotham At Large no longer publishes reader comments because nearly all of them were from "Anonymous" and Higginbotham At Large simply will not publish anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Send your comments, questions and hate mail to JosephHigginbotham@gmail.com.

08 April, 2011

Why Do I Have To Explain To St. Albans' Titular Leaders Why Basic Information Should Be Posted On The City Website?

Attention Generation X and Generation Y: Half your city's titular leaders go to bed every night hoping that when they awake in the morning it will be 1955 again; the other half just go about their business pretending that it's still 1955.  As one 28-year-old man said to me after the meeting, "St. Albans has gone backwards."

As Albert Einstein said, "No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." So it's time that we elect new leadership in St. Albans. The people we have in office do not have the imagination, motivation or creativity to make St. Albans a city where people want to buy houses and start businesses.

No, I'm not running because my generation and my parents' generation have had their shot and we failed. It's time for a new generation to step up and lead and instead of running for office myself, I am looking for Gen X and Gen Y candidates I can back.

I'll confess, this is not the blog post I thought I was going to write today. As my regular readers know, after being forced to search way too hard for the time and location of the meeting because Mayor Callaway and Ward 7 Council member, Desper Lemon don't think there are enough internet savvy people in St. Albans to merit posting such info on the city website, I attended the Ward 7 Neighborhood Crime Watch meeting where St. Albans' lack of leadership was on display. Prior to the meeting, I thought I would hear a lot about what Councilman Lemon and Mayor Callaway are doing to organize and mobilize St. Albans' citizenry to fight crime. Indeed, I did hear a helpful presentation from a fellow named Tim Akers - the only bright spot in that meeting - about how to recognize the telltale signs that your neighbor is making meth.

For example, when I asked why I had to Google for 10 minutes and make a phone call to find out where the Ward 7 meeting was being held, and when I asked why the residents of St. Albans can't go to the city website to find out which ward they're in, who their council member is and where and when their neighborhood watch is meeting, there was a lot of shoulder-shrugging and a lot of  council members and the mayor looking at each other. Desper Lemon finally told me that if I wanted a map of the city with ward numbers and boundaries I could go to the city building to get a piece of paper containing that information.

As one man told me after the meeting, going to city hall for information won't work for him because he's on the road to his job in another county before dawn and he's not back home until after sundown. The city building is closed weekends so he can't go to the city building for a piece of paper on the weekend.

Why isn't such basic information posted on the city website where citizens can look it up and print it out at their leisure? Since the city already operates a website posting such basic info won't add to their costs so why not post that info on the website? Do they think the internet is a passing fad and that if they just ignore it it will go away?

Frankly, I am shocked and disappointed that a mayor who used to run radio stations and has an entire radio studio in his home is so bad at communication. 

I have to go now. I'm going the the city building for that piece of paper with ward numbers on it.
For more on why St. Albans' lack of leadership is an opportunity for Gen X and Gen Y to become leaders, see  my 20 March post at :: http://higginbothamatlarge.blogspot.com/2011/03/st-albans-doesnt-have-crime-problem-as.html

07 April, 2011

Put On Your Heisenberg Hats, Your Gas Masks And Your "Breaking Bad" T-Shirts, We're Headed For Ordnance Park

Put on your Heisenberg hats, your gas masks and your "Breaking Bad" t-shirts, we're headed for St. Albans' Ordnance Park tonight. Yep, we're gathering at the St. Peter's United Methodist Church in Ordnance Park at 7PM to take a bite out of crime and it's nursery, citizen apathy.

By the way, I ran into the busiest man in St. Albans, Adam Bryan, today and I have an idea for him: On Free Movie Night at the Alban Arts and Conference Center, show encore presentations of the best show on TV, Breaking Bad". If you haven't seen "Breaking Bad" and its cast of award winning actors, it's about a mild-mannered high school science teacher who finds out he has only a few months to live so he starts cooking the purest, best meth in town and makes a lot of money to leave for his family when he's dead.

Yeah, I like that idea, Bryan. Thursday night showings of "Breaking Bad." Seasons one and two are on DVD now. Season three goes on sale June 7.

Tomorrow I'll report on tonight's meeting.

In the meantime, read  my 20 March post, "Why St. Albans' Crime Problem Is A Leadership Opportunity For Generation X and Generation Y"


Why Linkedin Should Eliminate The "Open" Groups Option

Yesterday I left 4 Linkedin groups because their owners made the irreversible mistake of switching from "members only" to "open". In "members only" groups, only members can post and read discussions. In "open" groups, only members can post but anybody with an internet connection can read and follow discussions.

Being in an open group is a little like installing one way glass throughout your house so that outsiders can look in but you can't see who's looking at you.

I think open groups is one of the stupidest things Linkedin has ever done. I love the power of LInkedin. There are things you can do with Linkedin that Facebook doesn't even know you need to do but sometimes I think the suits who run Linkedin have never used it themselves. If they did, they would realize that "open" groups are an attack on group member privacy and that the only people who benefit from "open" groups are the exhibitionists who try to fill the new discussions carousels of every group they belong to and update their status every 5 minutes. (By the way, I have recently removed connections who constantly update their status and I have ejected or changed the posting permissions of group members who lack the empathy, consideration and impulse control to exercise posting restraint. I warn them first, refer them to group rules, then eject them if they persist in making a nuisance of themselves.)

When Linkedin first announced that groups could switch from "members only" to "open" I announced to my groups that I would never betray them by making my Linkedin groups "open" and that my 3 Linkedin groups would only go "open" when Linkedin pried the  "members only" option from my cold, dead hands. They thanked me for it. Except for the exhibitionists, Linkedin users don't like "open" groups.

I've done my part to prevent group owners from switching to "open". I've sent other group owners personal messages in which I predicted that switching from "members only" to "open" would have a chilling effect on discussion. Several group owners who already made the switch and regretted it have asked me how to switch back to "members only". As far as I can tell, the door from "members only" to "open" swings only one way; once you've gone open the only way to go back to "members only" is to delete the group and start a new one.

If you own a Linkedin group and you've already made the mistake of switching from "members only" to "open", I suggest you go ahead and bite the bullet and delete your group. It's easier if your group is small because you'll inconvenience fewer members. The group owners with a really big problem are the  ones with really big groups - unless those groups are full of exhibitionists who want as many people as possible to see their mug shots and read their spammy discussions.

I don't have any data to support this but I suspect there are two reasons group owners make the mistake of switching from "members only" to "open". The first reason is laziness. I suspect that some group owners, upon discovering that there's actual work involved in owning a Linkedin group, make their groups "open" because they think they'll have to act upon fewer membership requests.

The second reason some group owners switch their groups from "members only" to "open" is lack of empathy, inability to imagine how naked and invaded and betrayed members will feel when they find out anybody with an internet connection can spy on their group discussions.

It's because of these lazy and unempathetic group owners that Linkedin should do away with the "open" groups option and switch all groups back to "members only".

06 April, 2011

Rick Thompson's People Giving Me The Love of Jeeeeezzussss Because I Criticized Their TV Ad

Some of Rick Thompson's people have been giving me the love of Jeeeezzzzus  because of what I said about their TV ad. One of Rick Thompson's northern WV operatives told me that unless I have ever won an elected office myself, I am not entitled to an opinion about the TV ad. The Thompson operative isn't at all concerned that a Democratic voter is turned off by the Thompson ad and there's a simple reason for that: the Thompson ad isn't aimed at Democrats - at least not at the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. No, the Thompson ad is a cynical appeal to the kind of right wing religious voters who get all their news from Fox and might be persuaded to vote for a guy who plays gospel songs in his TV ad.

The Thompson campaign doesn't know and doesn't care about the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.

They would never admit it, of course, but I suspect they've heard a lot of criticism about the ad. Last night I happened to be in the home of a Democrat when the ad came on TV and my Democratic host - totally unsolicited - commented that the ad didn't contain one reason for voting for Rick Thompson.

To be fair, my Democratic Host went on to say that none of the Democratic gubernatorial candidates have given a reason to vote for them yet.

Moments later, "Big John Perdue'" ad came on TV causing my host and I to wonder aloud which ad was more insulting to us, the Thompson ad in which Thompson sings "I Saw The Light" or the Perdue ad with it's almost tourettic repetition of the word "big".

My voting strategy is simple: I vote for the most progressive, electable candidate in any race. So far, West Virginia's Democratic gubernatorial primary is giving candidates who are electable but none who are progressive as far as I can tell so in the interest of full disclosure, Higginbotham At Large isn't endorsing any candidate at the moment.

There are, however, Democratic gubernatorial candidates who definitely won't get my vote or my volunteering efforts.

I can't vote for Earl Ray Tomblin because he's a conservative and he tried to deprive West Virginians of the opportunity to elect a new governor.

I can't vote for "Big John Perdue" because his obsession with the word "big" reminds me too much of Mr. Wilder's 12th grade psychology class. Yeah, I'm sure Mr. Wilder would have a field day with the Perdue ad.

I can't vote for Rick Thompson because his TV ad makes it clear that he's trying to appeal to the same demographic and psychographic group conservatives will be trying to reach in the General Election.

05 April, 2011

What Rick Thompson's TV Ad Says About The Effectiveness Of West Virginia's Liberal Elite

Rick Thompson's first TV ad of his gubernatorial campaign is a testament to the utter failure of West Virginia's liberals and progressives to influence Democratic politics in any way. So indifferent is Thompson to what Howard Dean called "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party" that Thompson feels free to skip the primaries altogether and just go ahead and run a general election campaign now.

For the sake of West Virginia's liberal enclave on Charleston's East End, I'll describe Thompson's TV ad so they won't have to admit that they watch TV to know what's in it. Thompson's ad opens with him clawing at a red acoustic guitar singing "I Saw The Light" while a narrator tells us that Thompson was raised by his grandparents in a house without running water. Later, the narrator tells us, Thompson used his first Army paycheck to buy his grandparents their first telephone. The Thompson ad is all conservative dog whistles. Perhaps for his follow up ad he'll hire Delaware's unsuccessful Tea Party Senate candidate, Christine O'Donnell, to look into the camera and say "Rick Thompson's not one of those East End Unitarians, atheists or Chris Hedges Protestants, he's you."

If Rick Thompson had already won the Democratic nomination and were running against liberals in the general election, nobody would think much of it, but the fact that Thompson is running against us in April and that none of the so-called Democrats are courting us means only one thing: it means that what West Virginia's liberal elite have been doing isn't working. Yeah, it turns out that just as a "network marketing" company doesn't make money unless somebody actually meets a customer and sells some soap, liberals can't win any elections by adding other liberals to their "downline". 

West Virginia liberals aren't even very good at inviting other lefties to their "rallies", "protests" and boring meetings. West Virginia liberals are good at starting "organizations" that don't actually do anything but nobody's selling any soap. 

When Dr. Clotaire Rapaille (The Culture Code) wants to "decode" a culture, he imagines what an impartial "little green man" might conclude about Earthlings from the rites, ceremonies and customs of human beings. What conclusions would an impartial little green man draw about the effectiveness of West Virginia's liberal leadership and liberal organizations when he sees Democratic candidates running general election campaigns in April?