Thursday, January 4, 2007

Staying the Same, the More Things Change

I've been watching the change-overs of various governments around the nation this week. There are a couple of things to note.

In Congress
The big story in Congress, of course, is Nancy Pelosi taking over as Speaker of the House. That she is our first woman speaker will be well-covered elsewhere. I like Martha Burke's take on that on TomPaine.com when she writes "This Just In: Pelosi Is A Woman."

I was planning to post about the symbolism of Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) using a Koran once owned by Thomas Jefferson for his swearing-in. Dana, at Delaware Watch, beat me to it.

Dana points to an article on Forbes.com on the use of the Jefferson-owned Koran copy. I saw the story this evening in a news release on the Library of Congress site (Thomas Jefferson's Copy of the Koran To Be Used in Congressional Swearing-in Ceremony). The book, an English translation that dates from 1734, is now part of the Library's collection.

I like this quote from the Librarian of Congress, James H. Billington:
Jefferson believed that there was no subject to which a member of Congress may not have occasion to refer. As the nation's library, and as a symbol of the central role that free access to information plays in a knowledge-based democracy, the Library continues to collect internationally, on all subjects, and in more than 470 languages.
In the States
There were a few notes from the change-overs of Governors that also caught my eye.

In Massachusetts, outgoing Governor Mitt Romney apparently did bit of patronage-packing on his way out of the Governor's Mansion and into the Republican Presidential Primary fray. The Boston Globe reported yesterday:
Governor Mitt Romney, despite his stated opposition to patronage appointments, installed more than 200 Republican activists, current and former state employees, and others to boards and commissions in December, including departing Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey.
Apparently, Romney had complained back in 2002 when his predecessor did much the same thing. He was quoted back then as saying "I will look for people to get jobs based on what they know, not who they know."

Things change.

Meanwhile, down in Florida, new Governor Charlie Crist signed his first Executive Order yesterday. As reported in The Ledger:
Charlie Crist's first move as governor is tackling bureaucratic language and barriers to public information that he criticized Wednesday as an "arrogance" in state government that intentionally distances itself from citizens.

Surrounded by TV cameras and reporters, Crist signed an executive order Wednesday morning that requires each state agency to "adopt a plan to implement Plain Language guidelines" to "communicate in a clear, easily understood manner."
I wish him, and all my friends in Florida state government, the very best of luck with that. Honestly. I know I am a word fan (Lexiphile?), but I do think that, in communication from government agencies, simplicity and clarity are important.

I just don't think they are very likely.

1 comment:

Nancy Willing said...

Awesome post, Mike!!!!
I am going to link to it today.

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