Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
My Dearest XXXX,
You were such a brave girl today when you lost your front tooth. I heard all about how your mommy pulled it out – Wow!
I am so proud of how you take care of your teeth, especially this one that I found under your pillow. I left something under your pillow in exchange for your tooth. Thank you!!! I can’t wait to add it to my collection. I heard you are also learning about counting money, so I left some change for you to count.
I also understand that you think I am your father. I get that a lot, so I included a picture of me – It is a drawing because fairies don’t take good pictures.
The Tooth Fairy
P.S. I am pleased to see that you enjoy brushing and flossing your teeth. Keep up the good work!
Thursday, December 10, 2009
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC) -- Expect the FTC to get more involved in consumer financial protection. Under new proposed regulations, the FTC will be given more authority to levy fines and investigate firms doing with others know to violate FTC rules. Privacy will also be an issue, in terms of how media companies, retailers, advertisers and others collect and use consumer information. THOUGHTS??? Contact your Member of Congress.
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA) -- Next year Congress also will look at our nation's food safety laws.
- Transportation -- Congress will look at two major bills next year, including the new proposed "Jobs" bill and the re-authorization of the Transportation Equity Act which expired this past September but was extended into next year. Another issue however, will be an issue that a number states have already considered -- TXTing while driving. But these regulations will be geared toward truck drivers.
- Environment -- Congress will continue their debate on climate change and air emissions while also looking at our nation's fresh water system.
- Taxes -- Congress will also address tax issues that are set to sunset in the coming year.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
*Story Originally Posted in the American Bar Association's Law Trends and News, Fall 2009, Vol. 6, No. 1.
Today’s legal market demands a broad range of business solutions lawyers can provide their clients. A strategic communications plan can prove to be an extremely helpful tool law firms can provide their clients. For example, in today’s 24/7 media culture, companies lack access to and control over the media who cover their industry and to the people that talk about them online.
In addition, businesses often find themselves navigating a complex environment that requires dealing simultaneously with litigation, governmental and regulatory actions, media scrutiny, and public perception. Oftentimes business strategy demands a multidisciplinary approach of legal action, public relations, and government relations. Knowing where these issues converge can help protect your reputation and enhance your position in the marketplace.
For example, new court rules were recently unveiled in Michigan directing jurors not to Twitter about the case before them or to turn to the Internet for information beyond that which was presented to them in the court. Social media is becoming more than a tool for us to use to stay in touch with friends: it is becoming a new area to look out for our clients' interests and/or a new medium to promote our practice.
Also, in just seven months, Congress has passed a number of key bills that have been enacted by the president, including the economic stimulus package, expansion of SCHIP, Pentagon acquisition reforms, and other key reforms. Congress is in the midst of tackling a number of difficult issues, including energy and climate legislation, health care reform, FY 2010 appropriations, the reauthorization of the transportation bill, financial regulation, food safety, and immigration reform—all of which will affect our legal practice.
As a result, attorneys should extend their services beyond the courtroom and into the court of public opinion or legislature. If attorneys will not provide such services, then they should build strategic partnerships with public relations firms and/or lobbyists. To meet the needs of today’s businesses, lawyers will need skilled advice regarding how to position their clients before the media or in front of the legislature, while legally protecting their clients.
For example, seeking PR counsel is an important aspect of representing clients in high-profile cases. Even if the issue is a small matter, there is no way we can tell how public opinion can or will shape the outcome of a case. Therefore, in engaging PR counsel:
- Have the lawyer retain the PR firm as opposed to your client directly, to try to preserve attorney-client privilege;
- The PR counsel should consult with the client only in the presence of an attorney and first talk things over with the attorney to seek their support and buy-in for the PR strategy.
Once a PR firm is engaged, they will (depending on the strategy):
- Asses the situation, review any media to date;
- Create key messages;
- Create talking points for key audiences including, staff, vendors, clients, and the media;
- Using the key messages, educate and sensitize the media to mitigate damage or control the story;
- Facilitate interviews; and
- Diligently work to preserve and protect your client’s image in the public eye.
“An attorney’s duties do not begin inside the courtroom door. He or she cannot ignore the practical implications of a legal proceeding for the client.” SeeGentile v. State Bar of Nevada (Kennedy opinion) 510 U.S. 1030, 1043 (1991). Just as an attorney may recommend a plea bargain or civil settlement to avoid the adverse consequences of a possible loss after trial, so too an attorney may take reasonable steps to defend a client’s reputation in the court of public opinion
In today’s fast-paced environment, where it may take years to build up one’s reputation and only seconds to destroy it, a lawyer’s role as advocate extends to managing his or her clients’ reputations inside and out of the courtroom.
Daniel Cherrin, an attorney, is the former communications director/press secretary for Detroit and to Detroit Mayor Kenneth V. Cockrel Jr. He is now president of North Coast Strategies, which provides cutting-edge practical advice where government action or inaction, litigation vulnerability, or complex regulatory requirements will impact your reputation and bottom line. You can reach Cherrin at dcherrin@NorthCoastStrategies.com or 313-300-0932.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Each year, the federal government allocates a significant portion of the overall Federal Budget to expenditures that have a direct impact on the states. This includes monies to support programs such as Medicare, food stamps, unemployment compensation, transportation and infrastructure, Medicaid support, job training and education amongst others.
According to the (Michigan) State Fiscal Agency, “Michigan’s share of Federal expenditures has lagged behind the amount of most other states.” (See State Fiscal Report, May/June 2009). The report finds that “Michigan’s total per-capita expenditures ranked 45th among the states and 41st among the states in grants to state and local governments.” Id. This means that Michigan is receiving less than its fair share of Federal expenditures
In terms of transit/transportation dollars, Michigan taxpayers lose about $100 million a year in federal transit aid because the state and its major cities have failed to plan for and invest in world-class bus and train service. In fact, 34 counties in Michigan with little public transit service.
Given the current economic climate in Lansing, there are a number of opportunities for Michigan businesses, organizations and institutions to secure support from Congress and the federal government. For example: States are hoping that a new jobs bill outlined by the President will include money for infrastructure projects.
Despite the possibility of having these funds available, Michigan may be ineligible for $475 million in federal highway money next year because it can’t find $84 million in matching state funds. This means that the state may lose out on nearly have a billion dollars in federal highway money in 2010 and even m ore through 2014.
Despite Michigan's potential shortfall, there is time to advocate for change in Congress and find the resources to fund shovel-ready projects, to help create jobs, boost our state's infrastructure and jump-start our ailing economy.
While Congress chose to delay reauthorizing the Transportation Equity Act, they are allowing authorities and road commission’s time to shape the debate and the outcome of the legislation, including positioning such entities to secure federal funding through the reauthorization. With a lack of funding coming from the state, now is the perfect opportunity to turn to Washington for federal support and seek modifications to exist laws and regulations that would prevent Michigan from capturing additional federal support.
For example, the current surface transportation law, the Safe, Affordable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act (SAFETEA-LU, P.L. 109-53), was adopted in 2005 and expired on September 30, 2009. To give you some idea of how political this bill was -- When Congress finally passed the last transportation bill in 2005, it took two years and 12 extensions to complete it.
At stake is the dwindling Highway Trust Fund, financed by a federal gas tax that pays for repairs to the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. At issue is an effort by Congress and the President to set the nation’s transportation policy for the rest of the decade and perhaps for decades to come. The outcome will be critical to state and local governments that depend on federal assistance to maintain and improve their transportation systems.
The end game will be the creation of a funding mechanism that will ensure the national transportation system will meet the demands of an expanding population while also accommodating the environmental priorities of those who want to see less road congestion, less accidents and more transit options.
For transportation planning organizations it could mean a modern, sustainable and seamless surface transportation network, that fully integrates and connects the nation’s small urban and rural regions with global, metropolitan and neighboring markets. It could also mean increased federal investments in existing and new rural public transportation system, with an emphasis on establishing stronger incentives and program flexibility across the spectrum.
While we will wait almost a year before Congress will most likely pass a transportation bill, Congress continues to debate issues of transit and transportation and will soon debate a “jobs” bill that will contain federal funding for local infrastructure projects. For example, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the “American Clean Energy and Security Act” (H.R. 2454) in June, and the Senate is still debating their bill. Both bills contain provisions affecting transit, transportation, infrastructure projects and jobs.
Although Congress will not pass a transportation bill until next year, there are still opportunities for transit agencies and organizations to secure resources for a variety of projects through existing bills, and help shape funding for future projects by taking a proactive role in advising Congress on what is important to your agency and community. We need advocates in Washington to support projects in the State of Michigan. We need effective leadership to create a collaborative group of like-minded agencies to support what is necessary to bring the requisite resources to re-build Michigan and create opportunities for us to get back to work.
Therefore, if you have certain projects that need to be funded or policy related issues that can benefit your program, it is important that you meet with your planning organizations; MDOT, the Governor and your Congressional Delegation to ensure their priorities are your priorities. Then it is important to work with your chambers and other community organizations to build a solid base of support for your projects. Despite a full agenda, Congress needs to hear from you and what you need to provide valuable resources to your community. With limited funds from the state and dwindling budgets all around, it seems that Congress is our only option.