Friday, May 8, 2015

Advise for the newly elected:

I see from the poll results that a lot more people voted for Rachel Notley than the local candidate. It's pretty standard stuff that people vote for the leader, then the party and finally the local candidate. This explains why we have elected the Hugo Chavez fan club, a member of the hard core 420, A forklift driver, a barista and such. Individually we might not have elected these people but just like the NDP cocktail waitress in Quebec who got elected while on vacation in Las Vegas, if you put your name on the ballot you have to plan for success.
Here are my tip for success:  
1) Remember the legislature is a big building with weird staircases and an elevator with a bullet hole in it. If you are on the stairs by the elevator with the bullet hole, you are going to your office in the Annex, not the cafeteria because you can't get there from there.
2) The doors to the chamber were made of Belizean hardwood and have good karma. Once you are sitting inside you would have to be stoned out of your mind not to get a chill of excitement when the Sargent at Arms opens them and you stand up. The first time this happens you will realize just how amazing and important your role is to the peoples business.
3) Learn the Standing Orders: These are the rules of play in the legislature and cover everything for hurtling insults to being expelled, to being out of your place when a vote is called. This chamber is no place for rebels. Democracy rules the day and has for about 1,000 years. So your weirdo ideas do not matter.
4) Do not dress like your old life. Ties are mandatory, as are jackets and cleanliness. if you ride your bike to the assembly, have a shower before you go into the chamber.
5) Anything goes in a members statement. I gave more of them than anyone else in my time in the building, you can say what you want so long as your do not name a member. Give as much recognition to your constituents as you can, introduce some group every day.
6) Seniors vote: buy  carrot cake on special holidays, do not be cheap and buy the white death cakes at Safeway, Find a good bakery and use them, seniors, especially those living in facilities get death cake and vanilla ice cream all the time, go carrot and Neapolitan.
7) A classy touch is to print your MLA business cards in braille. 
8) Perform lots of weddings,  nobody is mad at a wedding.
9) When you attend an event and are given complementary tickets, try to spend the value of the tickets at the silent auction.  That way you don't look like a deadbeat.
10) Serve coffee to your table, pour the wine too and learn how to do it right.
 11) Avoid buffet lines, limit yourself to two drinks, smile every damn time you walk into a room even if a dog just crapped on our shoe.  The MLA sets the tone for most events so be happy to be there, appreciate the effort people put into things and the fuss they make over you.
I have to admit that until the day I got elected I had never been in the legislature building. I learned this stuff from the caucus Yoda and pass it on to you because being pleasant and in the moment make the role you have very rewarding. You got elected because of the leader, this time. Next time you could very well lose it all by yourself.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Ten tips for those about to get fired

I have no idea how many MLA's are going to lose their jobs Tuesday night but I suspect it will be more than a few. And while there is no solace in unemployment there are a few tips I'd like to share about the art of the successful firing.
1) It isn't about you personally but you ran on  party banner and in some way you did contribute to the situation that led to the firing. You are personally responsible for your own results.
2) Don't be an ass, if you lose, do it with grace and accept the result of the electorate.  Don't go on a Facebook rant or social media frenzy about how bad the new guy will be, what you say about them in those critical hours of May 5th will haunt you for a long time to come.
3) Decompress, let your team do their job and get all your lawn signs picked up by Saturday.
4) If you were elected prior to 2012, you get a hefty transition allowance so your financial landing will be soft.
5) Your constituency manager does not get a transition allowance so don't bitch too loud. That person put up with a lot of crap, worked a lot of unpaid hours and deserves your thanks.
6) Being a former MLA is a nice thing in the private sector, but it's not a qualification for anything.
7) Consulting gigs are rare and hard to come by, the value your influence or experience is higher  in your mind than in the anyone else's.
8) Your phone will go silent, you will get a consolation call or two, but otherwise no one really wants to talk to the former MLA. You will discover that people called you when you were MLA to get something, now that you are not an MLA the only people who will call are those who called you before you got elected.
9) Pick carefully the memento's you keep, don't let this losing spoil what was, until this election, a great experience.
10) Don't blame the voters.