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Posts by Rebecca Gale
January 26, 2015
Even for Congress’ most ardent supporters of paid maternity and paternity leave, there is wide variance in their own office policies.
The ink is drying on the Jan. 15 presidential memorandum that allows executive branch employees six weeks of sick leave upon the birth or adoption of a child. But many federal workers — including congressional staff — await a legislative fix to make paid maternity and paternity leave guaranteed. Full story
January 22, 2015
Paid maternity and paternity leave could be coming soon for most federal employees.
In a recent statement posted on LinkedIn, Senior White House Adviser Valerie Jarrett outlined President Barack Obama’s call for more paid family leave and sick days for workers, writing, “The President will sign a Presidential Memorandum that will ensure federal employees have access to at least 6 weeks of paid sick leave when a new child arrives and propose that Congress offer 6 weeks of paid administrative leave as well.”
January 21, 2015
Washington would be a less exciting place without its out-of-town visitors. And “fly-ins” — when interest groups bring their members to town to lobby legislators and agency officials — do more than just keep the hotels full and the Metro lines long. They can draw attention to an issue, rally stakeholders and even move the dial on legislative priorities.
Take Jake Weatherly as an example. The software company CEO had seen patent trolls — people who snap up obscure patents to claim a cut from successful enterprises — wreak havoc on small businesses, particularly software and app developers. So he cashed in his frequent-flyer miles and came to D.C. from Oregon for one of the Association for Competitive Technology’s annual fly-ins. Full story
January 17, 2015
Updated Jan. 19 | Bayard Winslow “Chip” Kennett II, a former Capitol Hill staffer whose personal battle with lung cancer helped push Congress to take action, died Saturday. He was 34.
On Jan. 12, Kennett went to the hospital with shortness of breath. He had been scheduled to travel to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston to complete the screening process for an experimental treatment. The Kennetts remained optimistic, keeping their friends and family apprised of their progress on Facebook and their blog, Team Kennett.
But on Saturday morning, his wife Sheila posted on Facebook:
“At 4:22 AM, Chip received a brand new body up in heaven that is free of cancer and simply full of everlasting life. The kids and I sure are going to miss him down here on earth with us but, boy, did he teach us all how to live and love. May you enjoy your rest in eternal peace, my darling Chip.”
January 16, 2015
Nothing says January like the State of the Union.
Every year, the nation tunes in to watch the House floor as members, senators, Supreme Court justices, Cabinet secretaries, dignitaries and VIPs fill the House chamber to listen (perhaps even interrupt) the president’s annual address to Congress. But with so many members (and VIPs and dignitaries) gallivanting under the Dome and vying for media attention, how can you make your boss stand out? This year’s Staffer Guide to State of the Union 2015 has several updates to help you make this most chaotic of nights a bit smoother for everyone involved. Full story
January 14, 2015
Updated, Jan. 17. | Chip Kennett had never been a smoker.
The seemingly healthy former Capitol Hill staffer went for a routine eye exam in October 2012 that revealed a suspected melanoma. A positron emission tomography scan and subsequent biopsy diagnosed 31-year-old Kennett with Stage IV lung cancer. The disease was incurable. His prognosis: one to two years to live.
January 13, 2015
Forget the sunrise diner special, or candlelit, white tablecloth dinners. If you’re going to eat one meal properly in Washington, D.C., it should be the power lunch. The power lunch is the ideal midday break, a mini-vacation to the day, a chance to hear the lobby pitches while nibbling on veal tagliatelle or steak frites, perhaps eyeing the room to see nearby diners who would warrant a quick tip to Heard on the Hill.
Even the hard-work, long-hours culture of Capitol Hill is willing to take a brief midday break for a meal, albeit often to Dirksen or Longworth. But on the the occasion that a lunch invitation arrives, and ethics rules are cleared, it’s an opportunity to network, build a relationship, and likely enjoy some delicious food. But even the best of us can falter over an intimidating wine list, mispronounce a multisyllabic entree or feel an afternoon deadline loom before the coffee has been served. So, if you’re fortunate to be on the receiving (or inviting) end to a power lunch, what can you do to ensure smooth sailing?
January 8, 2015
Workplace advocacy groups are ringing in the New Year with new family friendly workplace laws, some of which take effect in this month. Among these changes are several in the District of Columbia, including: Full story
January 7, 2015
Are you reading this while at your desk? On your smartphone on the Metro? Maybe you get Hill Navigator delivered directly to your inbox. But how do you know if you’re reading the best news sources to do your job effectively? Hill Navigator discusses.
Q. Every morning I start checking my phone for news alerts and daily clips. When I get into the office I’m still sorting through news clips from my boss’s committees, our office press team, and trade groups, on top of the various Beltway news outlets. I know Roll Call is the best source for all news, but I sometimes question how much news I really need to do my legislative job. As I prepare for a new Congress and a new year, what are some tips to get my media consumption under control? Full story
December 24, 2014
It’s been another year of advice giving, observing staffers and commenting on the workplace. The Senate changed hands. Staffers were fired. Campaigns were won (and lost) and fresh faces are beginning to arrive on Capitol Hill in time for a January swearing-in.
But some things never change. Interns still work for free, aspiring staffers still want to work on Capitol Hill and existing staffers want promotions (and raises!) too. Hill Navigator would be nothing without staffer gripes and looks forward to another year of writing about the intricacies of the Capitol Hill workplace. But some columns are worth an extra mention, perhaps another read. Here are some of my personal favorites from the past year. Full story
December 17, 2014
The “cromnibus” is done! Holidays are here! Tax extenders are done! Sine Die! There are a couple weeks of recess in front of you, with time to tap out some constituent mail and take long lunches, perhaps even a take few days off to spend with family. But not everyone is as happy about their job prospects this holiday season, and lots of transition affects people in different ways. So before you head out, Hill Navigator has a short list of recommended to-do items. Full story
December 10, 2014
Good news for early childhood education.
At Wednesday’s White House Summit on Early Childhood Education, President Barack Obama announced a $1 billion investment in education for children under five years old. The new funds will be split, with approximately $330 million coming from private investments from businesses and philanthropic contributions and the remaining roughly $700 million coming from releasing federal spending first appropriated in January 2014. Full story
December 9, 2014
There’s a myth on Capitol Hill that there is no such thing as too many holiday parties.
Hill Navigator is here to debunk it. There may be a time when holiday party fatigue sets in (says someone writing a third column on the topic). But we hope it hasn’t hit yet for the energetic staffer in you. Full story
December 3, 2014
By now your inbox should be full of brightly colored invites for holiday parties, open houses, receptions, dinners and cocktails. If it’s December, the holiday party season is in full swing.
December 1, 2014
Another Capitol Hill staffer learns the rough lesson of the power of words and social media.
It’s a tough ending for Lauten, but it’s not the first time a staffer has lost a position over social media blunders.
We don’t know the behind-the-scenes of Lauten, her office and their decision. But there are some handy rules that are worth repeating, lest others fall to the same fate.
Privacy settings does not equal privacy. Even the best privacy settings don’t mean much in the insta-age of Twitter, screen grabs and 1000-plus Facebook “friends.” If you don’t want to be associated with your words, don’t write them.
Scrutiny is greater for press secretaries/communications directors. All of us make mistakes, but the spokesperson, more than any other position, must understand the power of words — especially harsh words. A good spokesperson knows his or her comments and actions are attached to someone else, and if that’s a member of Congress, to act accordingly.
Kids are off limits. It’s not just that these are the first daughters, these are kids. Democrat or Republican, high-ranking or low, kids are usually trotted out for the campaign photo and Christmas card, then tucked away in private lives. Sling mud all you like between parties and opponents, but political courtesy (if such exists) deems insults to kids off limits.