Iowa Capitol by Jeremy Einsweiler

My hopes for the 2014 legislative session

Happy start of session! The halls of the Iowa Capitol are abuzz once again and with this being an election year it’s doubtful lawmakers will want to rock the boat too greatly. Here are some things I’d like to see get done under the dome.

1. Real discussion on medical marijuana

As long as Governor Branstad remains in office there’s no chance Iowans will be able to have access to cannabis for medicinal purposes. Yes, I support full legalization, but I’ll take the half step of medical if it means people like my wife who suffer from chronic pain or cancer patients can have access to effective medication that doesn’t a) cost an arm and a leg and b) have lists of side effects longer than my arm.

I’d celebrate if the Iowa Legislature debated this issue in an adult manner. My Republican State Representative and State Senator have both told me they support medical marijuana. It’s time to start talking.

2. Increased oversight on tax breaks for companies

I’m not alone in thinking this tax credit for big business stuff is getting out of control. It’s quickly becoming a race to the bottom.

I understand the argument that the jobs these companies bring will make up for the loss of tax revenue. I get it. These tax breaks shouldn’t go away, but there needs to be more than a quick “public comment period” that happens during a midweek daytime Iowa Department of Economic Development meeting.

Any proposed tax break over a certain dollar amount should have to be approved by, if not the full legislature, the Economic Growth committees.

3. Ethics reform

I may actually get this one! In the wake of Kent Sorenson’s pay-for-play scandle and the orgy of money and backroom deals that is Citizens United, the Iowa House and Senate need to make crystal clear what legislators can and can’t do with regards to presidential campaigns, super PACs and “social welfare” groups like Americans for Prosperity or Priorities for Iowa.

4. More legislators using video

Governor Branstad usually records an “Ask the Gov” video once a week during the session. Legislators should take a cue from him. Tyler Olson did a great job of this during the 2012 session. (I helped a bit.)

They don’t need to be anything flashy. Look in the camera, answer some questions and/or talk about what you did that week.

5. Fully funding the Iowa Food Bank

Close to one in three Iowans live paycheck to paycheck. They’re one bad bout of flu away from being in financial trouble. Governor Branstad vetoed a $500,000 appropriation for the Iowa Food Bank in 2012 and said the organization should rely on private donations.

I and several others couldn’t possibly disagree more. The Legislature should pass another appropriation and if Governor Branstad knows what’s good for him electorally he’ll sign it, though it’s sad that it takes an election year to give money to the needy.

Iowa Capitol photo by Jeremy Einsweiler (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Frozen Highway by Emily Holley

Taking advantage of bad weather

I’m writing this from the living room of my friend’s Morgan and Tony apartment outside of Chicago. Emily and I were supposed to be back in Des Moines yesterday but the latest snowmageddon waylaid us. Thank goodness for good friends.

You cannot safely door knock in this weather. Don’t be the idiot who tries and certainly don’t call the press if you’re going to be that idiot.

1. Phone calls

Thought you could escape them, eh? Everyone is home. Dust off the call sheets you’ve been ignoring and plow through them. (Pun intended) You’ll thank me when you and your campaign manager speak the next day and asks you what you did.

2. Online town hall

In the last episode of my long neglected podcast I talked about how to use platforms like Spreecast and Google Hangouts to hold town halls online. What better time than when everyone is bored and stuck in the house?

Don’t feel the need to dress up. You’ll score mad “Just Like Me” points if you’re in a hoodie and jeans like everyone else.

3. Work those hashtags

#snowmageddon #snowpocalypse #Chiberia. If these look like a foreign language to you, ask the nearest teenager, 20-something or call your nerdiest campaign intern and find out.

2014 Hercules Snow Storm in Bushwick Brooklyn, New York City | Myrtle Avenue

Snapping a selfie (yes, they’re ok to do in politics) while you’ve been shoveling using one (or more if on the appropriate platform) of these tags and using a caption like “Still easier than fundraising” would be a great way to rack up some likes and shares.

4. Post emergency services contact info

It’s important you don’t neglect that weather conditions like the ones were experiencing today are dangerous. It’s currently -13° F in both Chicago and Des Moines and the windchill at my house is bringing temps down to -37° F. That’s deadly.

Post the contact information for emergency services on your campaign blog. Remind readers to check on their neighbors, especially the elderly and those with young children.

5. Warm beverage recipes

Perfect for Pinterest or Facebook. Snap a photo of your hot chocolate, slap it up there and ask readers for their favorite recipes. Try them and give your real time reviews.

A day stuck in the house, or in my case someone else’s, needn’t be a wasted one. You can safely take advantage of the situation and show the jaded electorate you’re in the same chilly boat they are.

Photos by Emily Holley, Tanya Dawn, Michael Tapp, and Leilani Elderts. CC BY-ND 2.0

NY Senator Chuck Schumer

Photos: 2013 Jefferson Jackson Dinner

“The JJ” is the Iowa Democratic Party’s biggest fundraiser of the year. 2013′s special guest was the senior US Senator from the great state of New York Chuck Schumer.

Here are my favorite shots. Check out the full set on Flickr.

Want to use my photos for something? Go ahead! Just make sure you properly attribute them to me. Use this text:

Photo by Greg Hauenstein. http://greghauenstein.com (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Mary Mathis sings "The Star Spangled Banner"

Mary Mathis sings "The Star Spangled Banner"

State Representative Tyler Olson

State Representative and candidate for Governor Tyler Olson.

From left, Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

From left, Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) signs "I love you" as he approachest the podium

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) signs "I love you" as he approachest the podium

Recording a radio play

Chris Brogan, Gary Vaynerchuk and my platform problem

Forget Cavill and Affleck, THIS is the superhero mashup I’ve been waiting for.

Chris Brogan of the new Owner Magazine and Gary Vaynerchuk of VaynerMedia are two of my favorite authors/speakers/teachers of business, social media and how to make something great when those two things meet. Their emphasis on story telling and maintaining a human voice on these platforms that are so often abused with SELL SELL SELL PUSH PUSH PUSH has really helped shape my philosophy for how to run a political campaign.

Chris interviewed Gary for Owner and released the video yesterday:

The point that hit home with me was Gary talking about knowing your platform.

“Think about how hard it is to come up with new things to say or different angles… you don’t want to become stale or repackage the same thing over and over, right?

“The number one mistake that everyone who’s watching… make[s] is they don’t figure out what medium is right for them.”

Is this blog where I come across the best? Are the (very) few videos I’ve done the answer? How about my short lived podcast?

I just don’t know, man. Where should my focus be?

Mike Montiero – How Designers Destroyed the World

I’ve already watched this video once today. I probably will again. Warning: NSFW language

Money quote:

“Our infrastructure is rotting. The world economy is crap. Major media outlets are flushing entire investigative journalism departments down the drain. Wall St. is awash with criminals and billions of people can’t get basic medical care, food and water and we are building apps to rate our sandwiches, to tell each other where we are, who we’re with and when we’ve gone to bed.

We’re wasting time designing digital farms for our phones. We need real farms in our inner cities… Too much of our knowledge is available only to a few… We have more processing power, affordable tools and combined intelligence this very minute than at any point in the history of design and we are using it to build shit.”

The only area where I really disagreed with him is the ease of just finding a new client or getting a new job. Especially in an economy like this and when you have others depending on your income.

Sometimes I hate being right.

Me a few days ago:

I was partially right. Congress has been above the fray as far as I can see, but there are people out there who are unable to keep partisanship and personal hatred out of this debate over Syria and it’s so sad. What’s sadder is that they own microphones and broadcast studios. I initially wanted to embed his Facebook post but that would give him more publicity than I’d like.

He posted a video of the President, in regards to Assad’s use of chemical weapons, where the President says “I didn’t set a red line [on Syria]. The world set a red line.”

Which is true. Except if you hate a man so much that every bit of information that comes your way is used to feed that hatred. Here’s the part of his post that set me off:

Sorry Libs…your Hero is a coward AND speaks with forked tong. Most Embarrassing.

Typos are his.

Wherever we stand on this issue can we keep that stuff out of it and debate like adults? Innocent people are getting gassed to death. If your hatred of President Obama or John McCain or Rand Paul or whoever is the basis of your position then you need to check to see if your humanity still exists.

Win your election without losing your soul