Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Then he said to me, "Welcome to the Jungle"

I am currently at the Budget Planning and Management Committee meeting in one of the Senate Chambers. I'm sitting in the back, on a straight back wood bench, close to a plug so my little-white-Mac-that-can will function properly as I take notes and tweet on what's happening today in this meeting at the Statehouse.

The room is full of people in suits. I am wearing a salmon-colored oxford with my blue dress, so I feel properly attired. I am on the floor of the chamber; I wonder if I should be in the gallery, but I don't really care. I'm curious who the people next to me are. They keep taking notes too, but less formally and have a copy of the slides. I'm going to need to obtain one of those. I'll probably call Sen. Jones office after this.

This is a good little nook for me. Laura is in Dublin, doing interviews for her big story on Bri-High, a new shopping complex in Dublin that is way over-budget and over-due. Also, it has no parking. It does have a lovely fountain, though. Next meeting, though, she should come with our new camera and film this. Technically, I am sure I could watch it on the Ohio Statehouse website, but being here is much better.

Brief update from the federal Senate: "Senate Armed Services Committee has approved Petraeus nomination by Voice Vote."

The amount of money being dealt with boggles me. Our current budget is $50.5 billion dollars, but that's not enough. We have a deficit of $8 billion. To date, Ohio has received $2.14 billion dollars from the federal government. The first interest payment is due September 30, 2010 and is estimated at $110.5 million dollars. The state-funded pensions are seriously underfunded, upwards of $40 million. Is this fascinating? I feel like the famous line from Animal House would be a good slogan for the next budget year and election cycle, with an add-on: "Don't Get Mad, Get Even--Balance the Budget!"

Being a reporter is an interesting profession. I know I'm a cub reporter in the real world, but I've got 8 years of experience behind me. I started writing for a paper when I was a freshman in high school. I've got the look down:
--casual with an attempt to be dressed up (hence the oxford shirt)
--comfortable shoes/ ballet flats (I wore heels to an interview once and it was the one time the person wanted to be interviewed standing up: never, ever again.)
--ink stain on my right hand from where my pen exploded on me during a phone interview
--smirk while listening to the proceedings as I type away.

One reason I say it's interesting is because there are some dualistic qualities a person has to have: you have to listen to what people say, but not always believe them. You have to accept their love as much as you accept their hatred. Remain impartial while keeping convictions. Always curious without being nosy. Write fast, concise, succinct without getting sloppy and keeping your facts straight. Look people in the eye and shake their hand firmly. Show no fear even when you're terrified. And while so many journalists cannot say this: Don't lose the optimism. I know way too many cynical journalists and I think it springs from a disbelief that their work is making a difference. I think that changing or enlightening even one mind is worth the work, and I am sure more than one mind is touched in this social media environment.

Finally the transcript of Rep. Sessions' opening statement today during the Kagan hearings. My friend Andrew and I threw a party when Roberts and Alito got confirmed. I would throw a party for Kagan not to get elected. As Sessions says, no individual nominated by any party of her background should be elected to the Supreme Court.

Meeting adjourned. Gavel pounded. People leaving and drifting and talking.

Keep it real, folks. I'm going to go pop by offices now and write a follow-up story now before hopping on my bike back home. Ah, the good life!

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