First, I want to give folks a heads up on a three-week project I”m working on. It’ll be an insight as to what I’m learning as a newly-minted supervisor in Fluvanna County, Virginia and what the process entails, how the major players interact, and what problems localities face from both a general perspective and how those issues play out in Fluvanna itself. For those in Virginia you’ll get one man’s perspective, and for those inside Fluvanna you’ll get my first impressions of county government. A preview of the topics so far:
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(2) Staff Orientation
(3) County Budgets and the Economic Crisis
(4) Constitutional Offices
(5) The Perks of an Elected Official in Virginia
(6) Communication, Social Media, and Transparency
(7) Town of Columbia
(8) Politicizing the Budget Process
I’ll be honest — I’m nearly encouraged to podcast this series (and may do so if readers think the experiment is worthwhile). I’ll be posting and regularly updating as the dates get closer to my first meeting on 06 January 2010. In the meantime, I’d like to introduce you to a stack of my closest friends since my staff orientation in mid-November:
This is the massive stack of policies, law, procedures, introductory materials, the comprehensive plan, audits, budgets and departmental material a new supervisor is issued. I’ll admit, it’s all tremendously informative. This is the side of government that most bloggers (and reporters for that matter) crawl through the trenches to get their hands upon. It’s the information that pejoratively is offered the epithet “byzantine” along with a series of other choice words.
I’ll give you first impressions, because for all the strum und drang local government appears to be, it’s not glass-half-empty. It’s simply a lot of work, and a lot of folks carry the load together.
This will be the first in a series of observations I will offer for my friends and readers as I start explaining my personal observations during the orientation process. It’s an education, and it hasn’t been without it’s political lessons. Like anything, there are honest brokers and turf-seekers, there are folks with whom you agree and folks whom you disagree. The two sets often mix and match… and naturally the omnipresent factors of miscommunication, laziness, and old fashioned human nature conspire to create the bureaucratic haze so common in any large organization.
Second, this marks a noted departure from what I had been doing on SK.com for some time. When this blog first started, it was more web journal than anything else. As time progressed, opinions started leaking out and the website began taking shape as my own expression on “politics and religion in Virginia’s public square” — a mission I have no intent on diverting from, and will from time to time continue to reveal my thoughts. After the Allen-Webb campaign of 2006, the blog entered a sort of middling state that I am confident I have not totally emerged from. As I moved from party politics to my current employment in the non-profit sector, my voice still represents other organizations and people, whether that is a politician, a cause, or a community.
There’s another half to this too. Blogs have moved into that amorphous neutral ground of “new media” into the more direct and marketable concept of social media. As Blogger gave way to WordPress, as complete thoughts moved towards tweets and as the vibrant Virginia blogosphere championed by many great people evolved into the post-macaca “splash and trash” era, what was a community of ideas and thoughts debated at length through a series of 20 well-positioned and intelligent sources has turned into 24,000 Twitter friends. The old days where Commonwealth Conservative could post a link to something with no more than a “heh” a la Instapundit is long gone. The medium has evolved as the cloud has become thicker, more direct, and more accessible to millions.
Of course, quality still trumps quantity. Readers are demanding transparency (who is writing?) and authenticity (why is this being written?), while containment (given the first two, how should one accept the viewpoint in context?) is starting to develop a much more savvy electorate. In essence, the principles of ethical blogging I endorsed back in 2005 (and have been trumpeting for a long, long time).
It goes without saying that this will be an interesting four years. Frankly, the focus will be much less on popularity with the Virginia political bloggers and much more focused on what this blog originally was designed to be — a catalog of my thoughts on topics of import.