I take the title for this blog from a conversation that I had with a former boss. In that conversation, he said “Dave, here are the tricks to managing your manager” and then he went on to give me some very good advice about what I should say and do to get the best performance out of my boss and have a positive working relationship with him. I hope to pass along some best practices for managing and working with me and other State Legislators. This information is intended for my constituents and I request that you not pass it on or make it public.
Some of you may have seen the blog from Holly Richardson that gave some really good advice for new legislators, of which I am one. http://hollyonthehill.com/top-22-tips-for-new-legislators/
So here are the best practices so that you can get the best performance out of me and other State Legislators and have a positive working result with me (or them). Utah has a part time legislature which is only in session from the last week in January to the first week in March. This year the session runs January 28th to March 14th. During the legislative session it is 24/7 and I will be very busy, but I still want to be available to those that I represent.
1. Send emails to me with a pre-defined subject line code so that it bubbles to the top of the piles of emails that legislators get. My campaign email address (Dave_Lifferth@yahoo.com) and my new state legislator email address (DLifferth@le.Utah.gov) are both displayed on several public web sites. Because of that and lots of spam that I get, my in box is inundated with all kinds of emails. I have an email rule that prioritizes any email that has the code <code> in it so it is at the top of my in box and I will be sure to see it. If you send me an email without that <code> code in the subject line then I may not read it as quickly as I otherwise would. This code, which I hope won’t make it to the press, lobbyist, spammers, etc is a shortcut to me that is reserved for my constituents.
2. Send emails to me in the following format:
Subject: <code> (Brief Description of email)
Summary: I feel strongly about this issue and want you to vote/take action/respond
Body of Email: Dave, Here is an issue that is important to me.
Let me explain why…
Let me give you additional information, facts, etc…
Please reply to me by (email/phone/text message/Facebook/Twitter/etc). Please include your phone number
3. My personal cell phone number is <phone #>. Please recognize that I may not be able to answer the phone each time that it rings. However, I will get back to you as soon as I can. I will respond to constituent call before other calls, so be sure to clearly state your name and that you are a constituent and the best number that I can call you at.
4. Sending me a text message on my cell phone at <phone #> is probably the best way to contact me. Be sure to put the code <code> at the start of the message so that I can respond with urgency. I can respond to text messages while in committee meetings and when the Legislature is in session.
5. You can always send me a letter in the mail. I get lots of those also. Write <code> on the front lower left of the envelope and I will respond to that letter before I respond to other in the stack.
My mailing address at the State Capital is:
Rep. David Lifferth, House District 2
House of Representatives
350 North State, Suite 350
PO Box 145030
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114
Some best practices when communicating with me or other Legislators
1. I want to make myself available to talk with everyone that I represent to understand them what is important to them. I represent over 36,000 people so I need to maximize the time that I speak with each of them. It would help in our conversations if you could present your concerns or issues in an efficient way. This will be especially true during the legislative session when time will be limited. Be prepared to summarize your objective and what you would like for me to do. I am good at solving problems with creative solutions, but if you already have a proposed solution ready for me, that will streamline our conversations.
2. I am able to have someone sit with me at my desk while the Legislature is in session. I would enjoy having as many people that I can from Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain sit next to me. You won’t be able to speak officially, but you can carry on a whispered conversation with me. You could tell your thoughts and opinions on what is being discussed at that time.
3. I would love to take constituents on tours of the capital buildings. There is a lot of interesting history that you would enjoy learning about. Let me know if you are interested in taking a tour and let’s schedule a time that would work for both of us. I am happy to schedule school groups, Scout Troops, families, or individuals who would like to do that. Send me an email and let’s schedule a time that would work.
4. I am able to recognize groups or individuals that have major accomplishments with a citation from the state legislature. In the past this has gotten out of control and wasted a lot of time. It is important to me to give recognition where it is deserved. There is a group that I have already requested permission to recognize on the floor of the House or Representatives. I need to limit the time for doing this, but I am enthusiastic about recognizing those that I represent. Let me know if you are aware of anyone that has a significant accomplishment and should receive recognition of this type.
5. My votes will be based on Republican Party platform. Here is a link to my blog where I posted the Utah County Republican Party: http://davidlifferth.ning.com/profiles/blogs/utah-county-republican...
6. You will probably hear about proposed laws that are being discussed at the state legislature in the news media. Don’t hesitate to let me know how you feel about an issue. However, be aware that the news media has their agenda and they don’t always represent proposed legislation in an accurate way. I frequently called my state legislators about issues that I was aware of and I wasn’t shy about telling them my opinions.
7. If there is an important issue to you that is being discussed in committee you may want to testify before that committee. I have done some on several occasions in the past decade on issues such as education and transportation. Interestingly enough, those are the committees that I now serve on. I encourage you to stay engaged year round, but especially during the legislative session in January, February, and March. The schedule of committee meetings is on http://le.utah.gov/. You can listen live to the committee meetings and the legislative session. If you enjoy this sort of thing it is more exciting than CSPAN.
8. One final note on communications with me and other legislators. Anything that is written or recorded (letters, emails, text messages, voice mails, etc) can be requested to be made public based on the GRAMA law. This stands for Government Records Access and Management Act. I support GRAMA and am a firm believer that government works for the people and not the other way around. If you have visited with me, you have probably heard me say that. I am supportive of the GRAMA laws and would not have voted to limit them as was done a few years ago. With that being said, you should be careful in what you communicate to me and other legislators. Be aware that what you communicate to me is part of the public record and should someone such as a news agency want to know what you and I talk about, they can request to see or hear it. I hope that doesn’t limit our ability to communicate, but just be aware of that law. I have already spoken to several constituents about issues that are very personal to them and they would not want that to be on the front page of the press. Don’t include anything in an email, letter, text message or voice mail to me that you would not want to be printed on the front page of the Salt Lake Tribune.
9. I have a part time intern that I share with Rep. Kim Christofferson from District 56. I am not sure how much they will be able to help me communicate with my constituents. I plan to continue doing most if not all of my own communication. I am trying to do a good job, but there will be times that my bandwidth and capacity will be maxed out, so please be patient with me.
10. During the legislative session, I anticipate conducting many surveys of the voters that I represent. I hope that doesn’t become a bother and I am not trying to overwhelm anyone with emails. I am just trying to get feedback on pending legislation and I want to know how my constituents feel about daily issues. If you would prefer not be included in these surveys, just let me know. I recommend that you do see the surveys and only respond to the ones that you feel strongly about. At the very least you can see what is being discussed.
11. Please recognize that I may represent the most conservative district in the state. I think that I can represent my district very well as I am outspoken on many of the conservative issues that face. However, you and I won’t always agree on everything. Just so you know, I love my wife very much, but she and I don’t agree on everything. Please respect that you and I and others may disagree from time to time. I mean no disrespect, and I am just recognizing this is a reality in our representative democracy, which is known as a Republic.