Saturday, April 12, 2008

Whoa that was cool (Sorenson Month2)

This month's Sorenson session was held in Richmond and we played the budget game. Our optional session was an awesome tour of the State Police Academy with some training! So many people to thank and much to process and learn from.

Where to start? How about being trained in the "Shoot, Dont Shoot" scenario by a Trooper, who despite being shot multiple times, he did eliminate the threat. Very impressive people are working at with the state police. He suspected immediately I was a lawyer when I asked a question about why he shot in the mock-scenario when the suspect appeared to run away (but subsequently came back). We all had a good laugh. The training gave me some insight about verbal warnings, but um...I am not a good shot (I say somewhat shamefully given my husband's prowess in hunting). In the scenario, my bad shot led both my partner and I to be eliminated by the threat (although I joked that because I was a lawyer the trainers didnt put bullets in the scenario's weapon).

It was all good fun, but so freakin serious too. How is that possible? I am comfortable calling people heros who do things most people wouldnt do to protect other people (did that make sense?), this includes my hero husband who goes into burning buildings to get people out, soldiers (this includes all the services in my shorthand), EMTs and police officers. The low pay, the harassment by some citizen (and some lawyers) and the DANGER, are all reasons to run away from this job. Yet, the officers/deputies/troopers I know are all 'salt of the Earth' people (I dont want to gush too much, but I am not going to qualify my statements either since we all know a few bad apples make the whole basket seem bad). Thank you to all of those who serve, and thank you to all of those who give us regular folks the opportunity to look inside and see your side of the story (which so frequently is not the story printed in the newspaper).

We also met one of the 6 digital forensic specialists at the State Police Academy- thank goodness there are people willing to do this important, meticulous and often disgusting job. The fellow told us if the General Assembly and Governor tripled the staff in his office, they would still be overworked. State employees work hard.

Budget game- we did balance the budget- a budget none of us would ever be re-elected if we it wasnt a game. The game isnt too realistic, but it is enough of a scenario to understand the dynamics at play.

I started with my values to try to frame my revenue and spending priorities. I wont go into everything but my main goal was to extend a hand that people could reach up to get if he/she chooses. One particular interest of mine is community college funding. I worried I would be isolated in my support, it was refreshing how many of us valued the community college system and sought to find ways to fund the needs of the CC system. The taxes were an issue and on this topic I will play the Vegas card, and let what happened at the tax level stay at Sorenson.

We did this exercise for 5 hours, worked through lunch, no breaks just battling and trying to compromise. Politics rarely played a role, pragmatism ruled the day (not to say we agreed by ANY stretch). Generally the chair (shout out) controlled the debate and kept too much emotion/partisianship/politics from creeping into the debate. Yet we struggled a lot. The fatigue, critical analysis, verbal advocacy on the fly, patience (or lack thereof) created a high pressure environment. We had no press, no real constituency, no "no new taxes pledge" and a fake budget to work with, imagine how challenging it is to do the people's business with all the pressures faced by our legislators. (I kept saying- "I have to get to my press conference" whenever I lost a vote-I am hilarious).

I am not a person who bites her tongue (shocking to all of those who know me-I know). I am hoping to learn to be more strategic and pithy with my words and not to undermine myself with my admittedly hilarious comments at the expense of real work getting done. That is my goal for the next couple of months is to measure my comments to what is really important (I hope this will help me be taken more seriously AND give people a reason to listen). Also- I heard a complement someone told a third party (not about me) last week about integrity. I want to be seen as a person with integrity (as this person very clearly is), and when I am joking all the time or commenting rather off-handedly that is not necessarily the hallmark of a person with integrity. Just thoughts I have been having. Sorenson really gives one the opportunity to think about things- which I dont have much time for otherwise. I am privileged for the challenge and opportunity.

1 comment:

Chris said...

I'm going to start using that one around the house: "Did you do the dishes?" "Oooh, I have to get to my press conference."