The Bully Pulpit is named and based on Theodore Roosevelt's successful approach to Trust Busting and engagement of the Banks. Like Roosevelt, I speak softly, but I don't carry a large stick. Rather, I engage political / corporate power's hidden side: its Achilles Heel.
I will be showing you how to engage power effectively for results. I know this side well. I was raised in a (non political) power oriented family. I led that life unaware for many decades. After my second divorce, I started examining my use of power.
Protestors often use blame instead of solution to promote their cause. Blaming tells us how unhappy you are. It fails to tell us what you actually want and the action the City should take.
The City Manager has the laws to deal with all blighting and fraud within the City. The City Council is the City Manager's boss and are the right people to engage managerial inaction.
Your City is a Municipal Corporation. It has rules that govern it. You are a shareholder and are allowed to: speak about policies; question why policies are not being enforced; propose policy changes. Additionally, the City Manager's tenure is a policy decision, which is open to public discussion.
I am talking to the Council, but my message is directed to the voters – the final arbiters. I always avoid blame so that I don't polarize the community. Each of my presentations used loss of net worth as a common denominator. I then showed how these losses impacted businesses, jobs, house values, opportunities, and even the City finances.
In each presentation I ask for a specific action step from the City to resolve the issue.
This approach resonates with voters because it shows both the impact and a straightforward solution. It takes more time than carrying placards and time is your friend in a campaign like this. Each presentation is about two weeks apart – just enough time for the previous message to settle in and create a conversation about change.
I stitched together a wide range of issues, beyond vacant Bank owned properties – known as real estate owned (REO), that were impacting the City and neighborhoods. I showed how all of these problems intersected at the office of the City Manager. This inclusive approach is a powerful motivator to get unresponsive politicians to clean up problems or face the wrath of the voters.
Speaking effectively, involves more than just words. Boundaries, strategies, and even adrenaline play a key role in delivering an effective speech that gets results.
Boundaries are often sources of conflict. They are places where we fight or engage. The choices are not nasty revenge or walking on eggshells. Rather, an effective boundary with City Hall is where I share: what I see happening, the consequences of the inaction, and request an action step that moves towards solution, all without blaming.
Political power that is unresponsive to the community won't like this approach. It calls into question their governance. A reactive response is likely. How that response is handled, defines the campaign and shapes the conversation. I will be sharing more on escalation, as the City responds to my allegations.
I have a tab called REACTIVITY to help you better understand and deal with this issue. There are 11 other highlighted tabs on this site at strategic locations to give you a greater understanding of the topic being discussed. I will be referring to the information they contain throughout The Bully Pulpit. I request that you read them as they appear in the text. They will help you make an effective case for change in your City.
The Artist Way by Julia Cameron is a great book to learn how to engage boundaries effectively. My favorite chapter dealt with crazy makers and the way we appease them, and harm ourselves in the process.
If you're thinking, I am not an artist!, and how does this relate to me? I propose that you think about: John Steinbeck, Martin Luther King, and Leonardo da Vinci. All of them have one thing in common. They were communicating an idea, a belief, or vision they held to be true. The Artist Way will bring you to a more grounded place of passion, energy and conviction. You will be able to engage even the most stubborn City Council.
Strategies require that I am aware of my intent when I speak. My overarching intent is always to move the situation towards solution. From this context, I write and speak my material congruently. At the beginning of each presentation, I have included a brief note to help you understand my intent.
After intent comes aim. How am I going to deliver this material? My aim frequently used a velvet glove and an occasional dagger. The velvet glove is particularly unpleasant. If you have ever seen someone dressed down in public, where the speaker is choosing their words carefully and not raising their voice, that is the velvet glove in action. The dagger should be used sparingly. I use it only as an exclamation point to reinforce my message about egregious inaction.
Presentation courses are widely available throughout the United States. They are especially helpful for those who have never spoken before a City Council. In 1997, I took a three weekend class on presentation dynamics. These courses are designed to desensitize the fear of speaking in public. I became more accustomed to speaking before an audience. My presenting style also became clearer; I have an edge, and I own it.
Organizations like Toastmasters will be able to help you find your voice. (See the TOASTMASTER tab) They are committed to making people effective at speaking. They will help you understand the dynamics of presenting; from preparing your material through the presentation. You will receive feedback and support to make you effective as a speaker.
After my training, I only spoke in public six times over the course of one year. Now, fifteen years later, I would discover that the knowledge does not go away, nor does the adrenaline.
Adrenaline is a high octane stimulant that comes from making a stand for my ideas. It fuels the presentation. I magnify and sharpen my edge by burnishing my presentation materials. Every word is purposeful. Essentially what I am doing is tightening my words so that they become infused with the energy I am experiencing. There is no need to raise my voice or slam fists to be heard.
The Pen Commandments by Steven Frank gives great insights into writing succinctly. His chapter on writing short essays, will give you the guidance necessary to polish your words. The chapter on writing persuasively will give you insights into the construction of your campaign. (See the CAMPAIGN tab for my insights and the Table of Contents). Like the Toastmasters, he counsels against attack and revenge. I am confident you will turn that mountain of problems into three minutes of energy filled reasons why change is necessary.
There are four basic rules of speaking from the podium. All cities require them:
- Address the Council
- Address the office, not the person
- Don't attack staff
- Be respectful
These rules were not put in place to shield City Hall. They are there to keep things from devolving into a nasty personal attack. Staying away from blame, will make you an effective communicator. If you are saying something like, but my City isn't listening!, then the 5th (unwritten) rule is to offer solution.
This site is about the 5th rule. Its about creating and shaping a conversation to get results. Throughout my campaign I observed both the letter and spirit of the four rules. Making it personal, and engaging in blame and revenge will disconnect you from your audience. People don't want to be talked down to, hear your bile or be manipulated. People do want to know how things can be turned around.
I had no idea how dysfunctional a City could be until my neighborhood was annexed. My initial attempt to turn things around involved providing a news tip. After the newspaper story was published about the abandoned bank REO's, nothing happened.
The real eye opener occurred four months later. I thought two presentations about the lack of code enforcement and its costs would get the Council's attention. Again, nothing happened. The problem was clearly structural in nature.
The City Manager is the CEO of the City. Just like their counterparts on Wall Street or in business, some are effective and others less so. The situation in my City wasn't about lazy City employees. It was about the City Manager not doing his job as specified by law. The cost of inaction was killing the City.
At this juncture, I chose to use timing to my advantage; it was an election year. Instead of running for Council, I chose to speak about the cost of the status quo. I proceeded to lay out a campaign to make a case for turning the City around through hiring a better City Manager.
A campaign like this requires only an hour a day for researching and writing my materials which was less than the amount of time I spent complaining about the inaction.
The Bully Pulpit articulates a National problem and how it showed up in my City. Then comes the presentation. After that, I will be talking about how cleaning up our Cities will move the Country forward by increasing both net worth and opportunities.
This site is designed to give you a basic template for this this kind of campaign if monied interests are destroying your City. City Hall does not arise out of some sort of Quantum Flux, rather it was incorporated by residents to serve residents. Egregious action on the part of Banks is most effectively dealt with by City Hall, not Congress.