Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Interesting word gratitude.

If you look it up in Roget's Thesaurus, you find synomyms that carry both a sense of blessing and an implied quid pro quo.

Benediction, grace, tribute, appreciation and, perhaps, recognition ... things given without expectation.

Acknowledgement, thanks, response, obligation, requital ... offered in return for a thing received or expected.

As I count my blessings tomorrow and think about what it means to be grateful ... to give thanks ... to express gratitude ... I'll be thinking about when and why I've been thankful without expectation or without receiving something ...

when gratitude has been a benediction or grace...

offered freely ...

without gain expected or received.

And, if I can find an image/memory/feeling of that time, I hope that I can hold on to it and find ways to connect with it again and again ... living in gratitude for its own sake without obligation or requital.

Happy Thanksgiving

Friday, November 18, 2005

So you want to run for office

This month RichmondWOMAN magazine goes from print to ezine. The new edition just hit the electronic news stand. My Government Matters column this month is titled, "So You Want to Run for Office: 5 Questions Every Woman Must Ask Herself Before She Runs for Office." Find out about the rule of 75, the torque factor, and the "buy me, buy me" test ... all important considerations for any woman thinking about elective office.

And, do think seriously about running. Virginia has stayed too long in the bottom ten of all states in the number of women in our state legislature. You can be a part of moving us from follower to leader. Women who run can and do win!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

McDonnell's Transition Team

Following up on my post about Kilgore's failure to lead with inclusion during his 4 years as Attorney General, the announcement of McDonnell's transition team doesn't inspire confidence that he will do better.

Here's the list:

Steve Rosenthal (AG in the year following Terry's resignation to run for Governor)

Richard Cullen (AG in the year following Gilmore's resignation to run for Governor; former Assistant US Attorney)

Frank Atkinson (Counsel to Governor Allen)

Randy Beales (AG in the year following Earley's resignation to run for Governor)

Paul Harris (former member House of Delegates)

Ken Stolle (current Senator from Virginia Beach; chair of Senate Courts)

Dave Albo (current member House of Delegates from Springfield; likely new chair of House Courts)

Eileen Addison (York County Commonwealth's Attorney)

One African American, one woman. This even though nearly half of all law students (from whence future office recruits will come) are women.

One hopes that the leadership and senior staff who McDonnell chooses to run the AG's office, if he is confirmed as the winning candidate following a recount, will be more diverse and look more like Virginia and the make up of the available lawyers and public administrators from which he could choose.

Disclosure: As reflected in my profile, I have been a consultant to the Deeds campaign and I am serving on his recount team. I was also Steve Rosenthal's chief deputy AG.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

"Time and the Art of Living"

"Time and the Art of Living" by Robert Grudin is a book that I turn to periodically for inspiration/meditation/humility. Called a "modern classic" by Richard Selzer, the book is about time in many dimensions, including the politics of time and growth and age. Whether I'm moved to pick up the book by sadness (as in the death of my mother or life threatening illness of a friend) or by frustration with events or the challenges of daily life, I always find something to think about ... an insight to savor ... a challenge to live "better."

Today I awoke thinking about the "lessons" in this election, and the book opened to this entry:

XII.16 In the heat of action, the mere ability to remember our principles, our goals and the specific reasoning behind the course we have taken is an element of courage. Memory is fear's first victim.

"Memory" took some serious hits in this campaign cycle. One hopes that those we have elected will have "courage" as they move from campaigning to governing.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Is it too early for New Year's Resolutions?

Certainly not if Christmas decorations are up before Halloween, and definitely not if you're asked by INC. magazine if you have any you'd like to submit for possible publication in their January issue.

So, I was asked, and here's what I said my resolutions are for this year:

"To get the hundreds of business cards sitting in a box in my office scanned into my contact manager."

"To synchronize my passions and my pocketbook."

"To teach my 5 nieces about the time value of money."

"To live the reality that time, like money, must be budgeted."

"To blog daily."

"To truly live each day as if it were my last."

At least as to one of these, you'll be able to judge how I do.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Reading the Cross Tabs; Survey USA Updated Tonight Prior to Bush Visit

There's an interesting picture that emerges from the cross tabs of the surveys conducted by SurveyUSA since August. Each of the polls reflects different projections about the makeup of the electorate, reports data based on widely varying numbers of likely voters (568 to 804), and estimates the margin of error differently (from a high of 4.2% down to 3.5%). The increase in the number of "likely" voters in the sample reflects the fact that as the election gets closer more registered voters called by the firm identify themselves as "likely" voters.

In August, the SurveyUSA poll projected that African American voters would make up 17% of the electorate -- a wildly optimistic assumption given the fact that only Doug Wilder has generated that kind of turnout among African American voters (he got 17% to Warner's 15%). By this past weekend's poll, the portion of the turnout projected to be made up of African Americans had fallen to 13%.

The good news for Kaine is that, from the poll conducted August 6-8 to the poll conducted November 04-06, his winning margin went up even as the projected proportion of black voters fell -- from 5 points behind in the first week in August to 9 points ahead in the calls made November 04-06. Kilgore's support among African American voters, consistent with that garnered by Gilmore and Allen -- in the range of 16-18%, remained static while Kaine's rose from a low of 70% to a high of 79%.

The bad news for Kaine in the updated SurveyUSA numbers published tonight is that the momentum seems to be moving in Kilgore's direction. Averaging calls made Saturday, Sunday and Monday, SurveyUSA now projects Kaine as having a lead of only 5%. Here's what SurveyUSA reported tonight about the polling trends over the weekend:

Interviews in the Virginia governor's race conducted by SurveyUSA tonight Monday 11/7 (but before President Bush appeared in Richmond) show a swing back towards Republican candidate Jerry Kilgore, causing SurveyUSA to now update its final projection in the Virginia Governor's Contest. This morning, based on interviews conducted Friday, Saturday and Sunday (11/4/05 through 11/6/05), SurveyUSA released data that showed Democrat Tim Kaine 9 points ahead of Kilgore. However, because of intra-day volatility in that data, SurveyUSA continued to poll throughout the afternoon and evening today Monday 11/7. When interviews from the most recent 3 days -- Saturday, Sunday and today Monday -- are averaged, Kaine's lead shrinks now to 5 points. When interviews from just the past two days -- Sunday and today Monday -- are averaged, the contest is closer yet. When interviews from Monday only are considered, the contest is tied, but the Margin of Sampling error from just the one day of interviewing is high enough, and the results aberrant enough, that SurveyUSA is uncomfortable reporting just Monday-only data. For the record, SurveyUSA goes into the clubhouse with its final projection (based on Saturday, Sunday and Monday polling): Kaine 50%, Kilgore 45%. A closer outcome still is possible.

Turnout clearly remains key, and the SurveyUSA data reveal three key issues that, in addition to the pro-Kilgore momentum, could render Kaine's projected margin illusory.

First, there appears to be a general lack of enthusiasm in the African American community for Kaine's candidacy. African American voters could make up as little as 10% of the electorate.

Second, to ensure victory, Kaine needs to get closer to the 90% of the African American vote that Warner received.

Third, much of Kaine's projected lead is reflected in the rising gender gap. In August, Kaine held a lead among women of only 3%. In the most recent poll, his lead among women had risen to 16%. But, turnout rates for women voters in Virginia are notoriously low -- 33rd out of the 50 states. It's not clear that Kaine's candidacy has the emotional torque necessary to get women to the polls tomorrow, particularly in NOVA, where multi-tasking women need a compelling reason to get them to the polls.

With Republicans using dirty tricks to depress turnout, particularly among Democratic women (e.g., calls using Kaine's voice and negative literature made to look like it came from Potts), Kaine will need the best GOTV program ever mounted by a Democratic candidate in Virginia to win tomorrow.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Evaluating The Governor's Race Using Sabato's Ten Keys to the Mansion

Writing for the Cooper Center in February 2002 about Governor Warner’s election, Professor Larry Sabato wrote, “Since 1969, the party with the advantage on the 'Ten Keys to the Governor’s Mansion' has invariably captured the governorship.”

I don’t know how Professor Sabato is calling the race this year, but here’s my take on his “Ten Keys” applied to this year’s Governor’s race:

1) Economy: Advantage N
While gas prices are high and folks are concerned about how they’ll heat their homes this winter, taxes in Virginia remain lower than in other states; per capita income is still up and unemployment is still down (except in rural parts of the state where dissatisfaction may help Kilgore).

2) Party Unity: Advantage (D)
This is the first time in years Republican candidates have run from the party “brand” failing to include it in advertisements. Why? The Party has been injured by scandal (the eavesdropping case), and the primary season was bitter.

Democrats are united behind Kaine, albeit with less enthusiasm than he would want.

3) Scandal: Advantage (D)
The eavesdropping case…the resignation of a Congressman…the link between Bolling and a failed insurance company… none of this helps the R’s.

4) Campaign Operations and Technology: Advantage (R)
It will take the D’s in Virginia years to make up for the Party’s failure to enter the technology age sooner.

5) Campaign Money: Advantage (R)
Kilgore has shown, once again, that unless a Democratic candidate is a millionaire, Republicans will out raise Democrats (especially when they get to hide the names of their contributors)

6) Candidate Personality and Appeal: Advantage N
Kilgore seems brittle; Kaine seems elastic. Kaine’s natural charm isn’t translating in the media.

7) Prior Office Experience: Advantage (R)
Kilgore’s experience as Attorney General and Secretary of Public Safety has given him a solid record to run on. Kaine’s tenure in the “weak mayor” job and on City Council, left him fighting the negative perceptions of the City without marginal success.

8) Retrospective judgment of previous governor: Advantage (D)
Governor Warner’s popularity is a huge asset but difficult to leverage. Kilgore can hardly tout Gilmore.

9) Presidential popularity: Advantage (D)
Bush is down, but not out in Virginia, but he won’t help Kilgore with independent voters who are the key to this election.

10) Special issues and dominant circumstances: Advantage (R)
Like it or not (and I don’t), the immigration issue provides Kilgore’s campaign with some momentum going into election day.

Net Advantage: 4(D), 4 (R), 2 (N)

Guess we know why the race is a “dead heat,” with the deciding factor out of the candidates control…it’s what Sabato calls the “prevailing conditions.” This year the voters have a very positive view of the direction in which Virginia is headed and a pretty negative view of Bush and the federal government. Clearly, this factor favors Kaine.

But, there’s one thing that Sabato’s “Keys” don’t address, which is voter intensity about the candidates and about the election itself. Although articles in the MSM today quote insiders as saying that voter interest is picking up, it is still likely that “I don’t give a darn” may be the spoiler candidate this year rather than the independent candidate Potts.

If turnout meets Sabato’s projected 2 million voters (slightly higher than in 2001), I think Kaine will win. If turnout is below 2001’s 46.2%, and especially if turnout among African American voters is less than 15% of the total, I think that Kilgore wins.

We’ll all know Tuesday (or maybe later if the election is as close as many predict). Who knows? If it’s a close as some think it will be, we may not know who won until after all provisional ballots are counted and the final count is certified by the State Board of Elections. And, even then, we might be headed for a recount.

At least we won't have butterfly ballots.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Traditionalist Arguments for Gay Marriage

The Volokh Conspiracy guest blogger Professor Dale Carpenter is devoting this week to the traditionalist arguments for gay marriage. Carpenter isn't spending time on the rights arguments. He's focusing instead on the reasons why those who believe in marriage should believe in gay marriage. It's an interesting series that has provoked an interesting and (mostly) informed debate, including a really great post by Eugene Volokh himself on preserving the quality and civility of the exchange. Here's the permalink to the first post.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

After A Promising Start, Kilgore Fails to Lead With Inclusion

Four years ago, Jerry Kilgore began his tenure as Attorney General by appointing women to serve both as his chief deputy and his chief of staff. This was a refreshing change from the administrations of the previous two Attorneys General, (see, Kilgore Making A Place At the Table for Women, Virginian Pilot, December 12,2001), and his choices held the promise of inclusive leadership.

This November Jerry Kilgore is asking us to hire him as Virginia’s chief executive and chief state personnel officer. Accordingly, it is appropriate to review his record as Attorney General to see if, in fact, his leadership lived up to the promise of inclusion suggested by first two appointments.

Sadly, the record shows that it did not.

When Kilgore took office in January 2002, the Office of the Attorney General ("the Office") was one in which the positions carrying higher ranks and higher salaries were dominated by white men. After four years of Kilgore’s leadership (and that of his handpicked successor), the profile of the Office remains largely unchanged, with some indicators actually moving backward.

According to that EEO-4 reports filed by the Office in 2001, 2003 and 2005:

 The percentage of women working in the Office fell from 61% in 2001 to 57% in 2003 and 53% in 2005.

 Despite being a majority of the employees in the Office in all three reporting periods, women were only 23% of the full time employees making more than $70,000 in 2001, 23% in 2003 and 28% in 2005.

 The percentage of African Americans working in the Office fell from 17% of the full time employees in 2001, to 15% in 2003 and 13% in 2005.

 Like the women employees, in 2001 African American employees were concentrated in the lower salary ranks making up only 2.53% of the employees making $70,000 or more (2 men). In 2003, the percentage of $70,000 plus earners fell to .02% (1 man). In 2005 it rose to 4.5% (2 women, 2 men).

 There was one Hispanic employee in the Office in 2001 and 2003, a woman in a para-professional job making between $33,000 and $42,900; and three Hispanic employees in the Office in 2005 (5%), making between $55,000 and $70,000.

 There were 3 Asian and Pacific Islanders in the Office in 2001 -- two were men making over $70,000 in administrative or professional positions and one was a woman making between $33,000 and $42,900 as a technician. By 2003 the number had fallen to one woman in the same salary grade. In 2005, the number rose to four, three women and one man, none making over $70,000.

The reason for the lack of progress in increasing the diversity of the Office, in general, and, particularly, at the higher ranks, can be explained by the disproportionate impact on women and minorities of layoffs made by Kilgore in October 2002, and Kilgore’s failure to make diversity a priority when making new hires.

According to the complaint filed in Huang v. Kilgore, a case challenging the 2002 layoffs (on which I was co-counsel), among the fifty one (51) employees terminated by Kilgore in October 2002, 80% (41) were women, 88% (45) were over 40 years old, at least three (5%) of the terminated employees had physical or medical disabilities that were being accommodated by the Office and at least eight of those terminated (16%) were people of color.

The Office’s EEO-4 report covering 21 new hires during fiscal year 2003 shows that Kilgore hired no African American men, no Hispanics, no Asian and Pacific Islanders and only two African American women during this period. The new hire report filed in 2005 shows that among 39 new hires between July 1, 2004 and June 30, 2005, none were African American men, three were African American women, one was a Hispanic woman and one was a male Asian or Pacific Islander.

Some might ask why we should care that Kilgore failed to lead with inclusion as Attorney General. This is not a concern framed by ideology or party.

Kilgore’s failure to include all Virginians equitably among the employees and, particularly, the leadership in the Office of the Attorney General, meant that, when important legal and policy questions were being decided, women and minorities had no more than token representation in the discussions and in most cases no representation at all.

No one doubts that diversity improves decision-making. According to the authors of Understanding the Dynamics of Diversity in Decision-Making Teams, diversity has moved from a social issue to “a strategic business imperative” in the workplace. The same authors cite senior managers at one Fortune 500 company who say that “managing diversity effectively leads to such consequences as a solid reputation as one of the best places to work, an empowered workforce, greater innovation, increased productivity and a competitive advantage in global competition.”

As taxpayers, wouldn't we want to gain the benefit of these kinds of “consequences” in our state workplaces?

As voters, shouldn't we demand that the person who wants the job as chief executive and chief personnel officer of Virginia demonstrate a basic understanding of and commitment to the benefits of diversity?

As citizens, can’t we agree that Virginia’s women and minorities deserve some assurance that they will be “at the table” when important issues like transportation, public safety, education or health care are discussed?

The full record of Kilgore’s tenure as head of the Office of the Attorney General gives no such assurance.

For me, that’s a sad conclusion to an administration that started with such promise.