Tuesday, October 27, 2009

With funding diminishing from the State of Michigan for local governments, including school districts, municipalities, townships, school districts and other authorities should focus their attention in securing federal funds for their programs, projects and services, instead of wasting their time in Lansing.

For example, federal funds are available for local governments for a variety of programs ranging from new buildings to communications equipment for first responders. In FY 2009, the following communities received federal funding:
  • Negaunee, MI for the Croix Street Reconstruction and completion of Phase I.
  • Park City, UT for a Feasibility Study that would bring water from Reclamation facilities.
  • Boise, ID, for design and construction of Boise's geothermal system expansion.
  • Jackson, MS for a Transitional Job Project for job training and employment programs for the Homeless.
  • Oakland, CA for a Green Jobs Initiative.
  • Baltimore, MD, for construction for Healthcare for the Homeless center.
  • Miami, FL for the Miami Green Initiative, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption in the city.
  • Milwaukee, WI to improve access to and utilization of primary and preventive health care among low-income residents.
  • The City of Beech Grove, IN, to enhance public safety with in-car cameras and at hot spots in the City to provide real-time feeds to the police command center.
  • Holyoke, MA, to develop a full-service community school pilot project.
  • The City of Shelbyville, IN, to complete the interoperable wireless public safety communications system for first responders.
  • Medford, OR, to provide for the merging of two existing 9-1-1 dispatch centers for police officers.
  • City of Sioux City, Sioux City, IA for meth related training.
  • Moultrie, GA, for technology upgrades, including purchase of equipment and professional development
  • City of Haverhill, MA for various Downtown Streetscape Improvements.
  • Stamford, CT, Waste-to-Energy Project, to convert dried sludge into clean, renewable energy.
  • City of Yonkers, NY Police Department, to reduce non-emergency 9-1-1 calls through the creation of a new public hotline.
  • Albuquerque, NM for their Transit Facility Rehabilitation.
  • City of Ashland, MO Main Street Redevelopment Project.
  • Crystal City, VA Bus Rapid Transit.
  • City of Tuscaloosa, AL Downtown Revitalization Project University Blvd. and Greensboro Avenue.
  • Trenton, NJ for a Renewable Energy Feasibility Study, to examine possible renewable energy sources.
  • Quincy, IL for Hydroelectric Power Generation, and their city's efforts to install hydroelectric plants at locks and dams.
  • Oklahoma City, OK, to continue replacement of Oklahoma's aging communication system.
  • Cincinnati, OH for the complete property acquisition, demolition, and remediation to create an urban industrial park.
  • Craig, AK for the redevelopment of the abandoned cannery property.
  • Milwaukee, WI for the development of supportive housing units for homeless.

In addition, the following school districts will receive federal funding through appropriations: The School District of Lancaster (PA) and Philadelphia School District each received $100,000 Project IMPACT, for abstinence education and related services. Troy High School (PA) received $247,000 for removal and/or replacement of non historic windows, infill, louvers, windows, and fan lights. The Logan Elm School District will receive $48,000 for water infrastructure improvements in Circleville, Ohio. The Hesperia Unified School District, Hesperia, CA, received $98,000 for an after school program for middle school students. The Independence School District, Independence, MO, received $347,000 for before- and after-school programs. The Washoe County School District, NV, received $248,000 for an online assessment and accountability instructional programs and an additional $248,000 for an English Instructional program. The Springfield School District, Springfield, IL, received $94,000 for a middle school history experience. And the City School District of New Rochelle, New Rochelle, NY, received $422,000 for after school and summer school programs, faculty professional development, and parent education workshops. These are just some examples of how local governments and local schools benefited from Congressional appropriations and governmental advocacy in securing additional funds for their community. With limited funding from the state and a declining tax base, the federal government has funding available. It just needs to be identified and advocated for. In fact, cities throughout the country have been receiving federal funds, through grants and earmarks, to help offset the lack of funding from their state. While a number of communities here in Michigan have retained lobbyists to fight for a limited amount of money from the state government, only a few have recognized that more money exists from Washington. To help off set costs associated with retaining a lobbyist, communities can pool their resources, work through their chambers or local economic development organizations and find other creative ways to secure the funding they are no longer receiving from Lansing.

While we sit here in Michigan, trying to convince legislators that one program is more worthy of funding at the sacrifice of another, local government leaders should retain a lobbyist to secure federal funding from Congress. Now is the time to start planning for the next fiscal year and secure the funding necessary to govern. If we do shift our focus to Washington, other communities in other states will.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Congress to debate energy reform this week

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, today released the text of the Chairman's Mark of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (S. 1733), this past Friday.

New and revised language in the Chairman's Mark released include:

• Specifies distribution of emissions allowances;
• Ensures that the majority of investments in the bill are for consumer protection;
• Includes new provisions to address clean coal technology;
• Increases investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy;
• Reduces greenhouse gas emissions and increases investments in the transportation sector;
• Enhances agriculture and forestry provisions;
• Directs assistance to rural communities;
• Includes greater assistance for small and medium refineries;
• Enhances the role of tribes;
• Increases the size of the market stability reserve; and
• Promotes advanced renewable fuels.

To see a copy of the bill, find it here. To find the differences between the earlier version? For more information on the bill and hearings scheduled for this week, beginning, contact dcherrin@cherrinlawgroup.com.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Communications gap between lawyers and the media

Earlier this week, Montieth & Co., a special situations management advisory and communications consultancy released the results from their 2009 "Media and the Law Survey."

The results show, that reporters are trying to cover more litigation than ever (60% of reporters polled), and the need help understanding the core issues of the cases, especially in securities actions."

In today's litigious environment, journalists need to be able to explain complex legal matters to audiences outside the courtroom. Lawyers have a real opportunity, not to affect a legal outcome, but to help protect their clients reputation in the court of public opinion.

However, the survey also found that only 31% of the respondents said that lawyers were effective in helping them understand the cases and the legal issues involved -- and most found plaintiff's attorney were more helpful.

Reporters surveyed also said they "wish lawyers were more open to talking to reporters about their cases." And others would like more background on cases.

Lawyers have an important role in protecting their clients. At the same time, that should not come as a sacrifice to protecting their client's reputation in the public eye. In some cases, one's reputation is more important than any legal outcome.

As a result, lawyers should either become more media savvy or retain a public relations firm that is, because the chances are, if you are not talking to the media ... your opponent is.

*For the record, only half of those surveyed found PR firms to be helpful. So we all have to step-up our game.