Monday, February 7, 2011

Top strategists for Liberals and NDP share the same roof

The relationship hit a bump when Zubyk decided to switch sides. He quit the NDP and started working with the federal Liberals, then joined the provincial party to help Christy Clark as a backroom strategist.
"It wasn't easy at first," said Munro, who is Mike Farnworth's volunteer communications chairwoman. "But when you're in love with someone, you know all aspects of their personality. I know where his heart is, and we agree on more things than we disagree. It was more difficult for some of our mutual friends."
That external tension caused them some recent trouble, when rumours circulated Zubyk was helping Munro on the Farnworth campaign. Zubyk thinks the rumours were deliberately spread by supporters of NDP leadership rival Adrian Dix.
"I have tons of NDP friends, but some people in the party think I'm a traitor, so these kind of tricks are played sometimes, which can be frustrating" he said.
Friends in the rival camps tease them about how much "pillow talk" is traded in the downtown condo.
"The rules are fairly simple -- I don't tell Brad anything I wouldn't say to a journalist," said Munro. And Zubyk reassures his team that even an inadvertent slip-of-the-lip is not a problem.
"We trust each other implicitly," he said. "If I do happen to blurt something out, I don't think Marcella is going to Twitter it."
They both think their relationship is a timely example of how civility, respect and kindness can be embraced in the bare-knuckle culture of politics.
"I grew up in a family where there was lots of respectful disagreement," said Munro.
"My grandfather was a Saskatchewan farmer and diehard NDPer. My grandmother was a Conservative. Every election, they would drive together to the polling station and happily cancel out each other's votes. They did that for 50 years."
"It makes for interesting parties at our place," Zubyk said. "Our friends see we're helpful and loving with each other, even if we are working for different sides. Couldn't we all use a little more of that?"
Hard to disagree. In a province of deep-seated political anger and division -- and at a time when the Arizona shootings have heightened tensions everywhere -- Munro and Zubyk are proof that love is the most powerful force of all.

Politics makes strange bedfellows

At a time when Barack Obama is pleading for civility in public discourse, Marcella Munro and Brad Zubyk are living proof that you can disagree about politics and still be friends.
You can also live together, sleep together, forget to put the toilet seat down, squeeze the toothpaste tube the wrong way -- and still argue about who should be premier without getting angry.
Meet British Columbia's most contrarian political power couple -- two veterans of the war rooms who are now, quite literally, sleeping with the enemy.
He is a B.C. Liberal, working with leadership candidate Christy Clark. She is a New Democrat, working with leadership hopeful Mike Farnworth.
And their five-year-old common-law marriage is as strong as ever -- even if there is a little friendly bickering in the breakfast nook once in a while.
"Our friends do find it a little unusual and we hear a lot of jokes about it," said Munro, who works for a Vancouver government-relations company when she's not coaching NDP politicians about sound bites and policy points.
"Every couple have arguments -- ours just sometimes happen to be about political strategy. But if we have a little momentary tension, we always laugh it off."
Zubyk agrees -- and says their fiercest disagreements aren't about politics anyway.
"We probably have more friction about how much football I watch on Sundays than we do about politics," said Zubyk, also a longtime political and government-relations consultant.
That could change. It's the sport of politics that consumes their lives now. And with Farnworth and Clark both considered front-runners for the leaderships of their parties, Zubyk and Munro are on opposite sides of a political battle for the ages.
"They could both win -- we could be in competing war rooms for a while," Munro said. "Luckily, we have two bedrooms in our condo."
No, not a separate sleeping area in case one combatant gets banished from the master bed. The second bedroom is used as a home office -- or "the cone of silence" as Zubyk calls it.
"If we're at home, and one of us gets a political phone call, you simply get up and go into the separate room for a private talk," Zubyk explains. "The walls are well-insulated -- I can't hear her secrets and she can't hear mine."
Munro calls it the "firewall" in their home. "We know when to take a time out," she said. "And if there is sometimes a little tension, we defuse things with humour. No one can make me laugh like Brad."
Just call them B.C.'s version of James Carville and Mary Matalin. (He was Bill Clinton's political mastermind. She worked for George Bush and Dick Cheney. And their marriage survived it all.)
How did these strange political bedfellows hook up? It started in the 2005 election, when both worked for the same team.
"We met in the NDP war room," said Munro. "I was the head of client services for Carole James, he was head of media liaison and sat five seats away. There was chemistry right away."

Politicians giving only 30 % developmental politics: Kalam

"Politics should be a mixture of political politics and developmental politics where the former should comprise 30 per cent and the latter 70 per cent. However, today, our politicians are giving us only 30 per cent developmental politics. The day we are able to make our politicians work for developmental politics, our nation will definitely get on the right track and move towards becoming becoming a super power," said former president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam.
He was in the city to address the 1st Parliament of Indian Student Council Leaders jointly organised by MIT School of Governance and Ministry of Higher and Technical Education, Government of Maharashtra.
As many as 7000 student leaders from across the country are attending this three day parliament. Apart from Kalam, some of the other people who interacted with the students was Shri Shri Ravishankar, noted ecologist, Vandana Shiva, and filmmaker Ashutosh Gowarikar. Founder chairman of Infosys, N R Narayana Murthy also interacted with the students through video conferencing.
Sri Sri Ravishankar spoke about India vs Bharat: The urban rural divide and its spiritual contribution. "We should learn to take in things from each and every culture across the globe. We should learn teamwork from Japan, precision from the Germans, etiquette and decency from the Britons, marketing skills from the USA and duplication from China. Where we as a country score is on humanity. We should try never to lose that," said he.
Ecologist Vandana Shiva also inspired all present by her fiery speech about the need for the youth to take up the challenge of preserving nature. She said, "We cannot call ourselves a superpower when more than 2 lakh of our fellow farmers are committing suicide. Those who are providing us with food are having to go hungry and give up their lives. We need to take justice to the rural India. The problem of depleting ozone layer is a 100 per cent rich people's pollution problem. Simple steps like using earthen pots can help solve this problem."
Narayana Murthy, who spoke on the topic opportunity for the youth in a globalised era, stressed the need for increasing employment opportunities for the rural poor. "China has moved about 170 million people from agriculture to low technology manufacturing in the last 15 years. Today, we need to make bureaucrats, academicians and government come together to set up huge factories to rope in the rural poor. It is extreamely important for the government to become welcoming to foreign direct investment," said Murthy via video conferencing.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

'ART OF WAR' INVADES TODAY'S BUSINESS Sales jumped 400 percent.

"It may be the best book ever written about marketing and advertising,"
Coughter said.
Sun Tzu is required reading in "Great Books in Management," a popular elective for second-year students at the University of Virginia's Darden School.
Though modern best-selling business gurus such as Tom Peters and Lee Iacocca dominate the reading list, "The Art of War" is consistently among the most popular books, according to John L. Colley Jr., who teaches the course.
Colley learned about the book a decade ago when the president of a company in Cleveland sent him a copy.
While many current management guides "are sort of self-serving," books such as "The Art of War" and Machiavelli's "The Prince" offer eternal truths, Colley said.
"These books are about leadership and human nature."
Sun Tzu teaches careful planning, knowing one's terrain before beginning a campaign and "knowing the most you can about your competition," said Colley, Almand R. Coleman professor of business administration.
"There are many combative situations in business."
Brian Cors, who took the course this fall, said he thought many strategies in the book would be outdated.
But he was so impressed that he wrote his final paper comparing the book with two '80s management guides, Tom Peters' "Thriving on Chaos" and Peter Drucker's "Innovation and Entrepreneurship."
Cors, 27, plans to become a management consultant or general manager of a firm. He said "The Art of War" will have a prominent place on his bookshelf throughout his career.
"It's sort of like the Bible. It's the bible of business."
The book has become a fixture in the American military and is required reading for officers in the Marine Corps. Marine officers discovered Sun Tzu while stationed in China during the 1930s, according to Col. Michael Wyly in Quantico.
Wyly came across the book as a young first lieutenant in 1964, assigned to teach counterguerrilla warfare to Americans fighting the growing conflict in Vietnam. The Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese, like the Chinese Communist leader Mao Tse-tung, were students of "The Art of War," Wyly said.
In the post-Vietnam era, Marines have begun to take the book much more seriously.
"We refer to it in every one of our courses that teaches tactics," said Wyly, vice president of the Marine Corps University at Quantico.
The book has become so influential that when the Marines issued their "War Fighting" handbook last spring, the first handbook of military philosophy produced by the corps in decades, the handbook was heavily influenced by Sun Tzu, Wyly said.
"The memory of Vietnam and the lessons of Vietnam drive our thinking.
What did we do wrong? What could we have done better?"
Dr. Edwards said he believes the Western infatuation with Sun Tzu stems from recent business successes of Japan and other nations of the Pacific Rim.
"My guess is people are saying, 'Gosh, these Asians are doing so well.
They must be doing something we don't know about.'
"It's 'instant Asia,' without having to spend all that time learning how Chinese and Japanese thought developed."
He also cautioned against applying much Chinese thought to the way Japanese business leaders operate. "You have to remember that the Japanese are as different from the Chinese as we are."
He suggested Western leaders might do better to find inspiration in their own cultural back yard.
"Read Emerson, Thoreau, maybe even Henry Ford."


Peter Coughter stood on a stage in a Northern Virginia auditorium, surveying a group of serious men and women in dark suits.
His mission: land a $1 million advertising account from Planning Research Corp., a high-tech consulting firm based in McLean.
The PRC representatives had already listened to pitches from several slogan-spouting agencies:
"PRC, Where People Really Count."
"Turning Vision Into Reality."
"We Do Surprising Things."
Coughter, of Richmond's Siddall, Matus and Coughter agency, gazed at the audience with the serenity of a Tibetan monk. He offered no slogans, just this:
"The art of war is of vital importance to the state. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or ruin. Hence under no circumstances can it be neglected."
Substitute "advertising" for "war" and "corporation" for "state,"
Coughter told them, and you have an indispensable truth for modern business.
The quote comes from a book called "The Art of War," written more than
2,000 years ago by a Chinese military philosopher named Sun Tzu.
"The Art of War" reduces human conflict to a neat set of aphorisms, which can themselves be reduced to the idea that "to win without fighting is best."
Already on the Marine Corps required reading list, "The Art of War" has become the Bible of yuppie ninjas in business and politics seeking to gain an edge on the competition.
Lee Atwater, the controversial Republican Party chairman, says he's read the book at least 20 times. He told an interviewer recently that the book helped guide him through the Bush campaign.
James Clavell, the best-selling author, suggested in an introduction to one recent translation that World Wars I and II, Korea and Vietnam might have been avoided if Western military leaders had read "The Art of War."
The book got a major push in 1987 with the movie "Wall Street." Gordon Gekko, the financial greed-wizard played by Michael Douglas, tells his neophyte colleague to "Read Sun Tzu, 'The Art of War.' Every battle is won before it's fought. Think about it."
Sun Tzu himself remains a mysterious figure. Some say he wrote the 13- chapter volume in the seventh century B.C. Others insist it was the third.
Translations of the slim handbook, even padded with long analyses, can easily be read in one sitting, no doubt contributing to its popularity. And there's the undeniable cachet of quoting a 2,000-year-old book, especially one that feeds the West's perpetual fascination with ancient Chinese secrets.
Still, some scholars wonder what all the fuss is about.
Cliff Edwards is a professor of philosophy and religion at Virginia Commonwealth University and an expert on Chinese history and philosophy. He said "The Art of War" is of little importance in relation to the long tradition of Chinese philosophy.
"This isn't any Chinese classic. It's not included in any respectable collection of Chinese philosophy."
He cites "A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy" by a noted Chinese philosopher named Wing Tsit-Chan, which doesn't mention "The Art of War" or Sun Tzu. "Not even in a footnote."
That hasn't stopped a steady stream of readers from keeping the downtown library's two translations on the borrowed list week after week.
Freeman Turley, co-owner of Books First on East Grace Street, carries three translations and sells a copy a week. Customers range from students to politicians to business executives, Turley said.
Coughter insists the book does more than help him and partner John Siddall land advertising accounts (yes, Grasshopper, PRC went with Siddall, Matus and Coughter).
He said the agency applies Sun Tzu's philosophy to its day-to-day operations. One client, Riggs National Bank of Washington, found itself besieged by out-of-town banks trying to cut into its market share.
Sun Tzu: "When under attack, defend the high ground."
New Slogan: "Riggs: The most important bank in the most important city in the world."
When devising a campaign for a small-time maker of contact lens solution, the agency followed Sun Tzu's advice that "when you have inferior resources, make an indirect attack."
Instead of marketing the solution directly to users, the agency targeted ophthalmologists, who then suggested the solution to their patients.

Joyce Dinkins: New 1st Lady In Spotlight

When Joyce and David N. Dinkins went on vacation to Puerto Rico over Thanksgiving, she had two suitcases and her husband had four. "He always has more than I do," Joyce Dinkins said with a laugh in an interview at the borough president's office yesterday afternoon.
The city's new first lady is unpretentious, soft-spoken, down-to-earth and a bit shy. Unlike her fashion-conscious husband, who has his suits custom-made, she buys most of her clothes off the rack. She doesn't dye her hair, and is happy to have streaks of gray mixed in with the black. "I like things the way they're supposed to be," she said. Her few concessions to fashion include a bit of lipstick and red fingernail polish.
A private person, who stayed out of the public eye during her husband's grueling 11-month campaign for mayor, Joyce Dinkins is trying to get used to the spotlight as she moves into Gracie Mansion.
"I haven't done a lot of interviews," she said as she smoothed her navy blue pleated skirt and posed for a photographer yesterday. "I haven't been newsworthy up until now. You're asking me if I'm going to change? I don't plan to. I probably will be less private but aside from that I'll basically be the same person."
She quit her $57,453-a-year job as coordinator of the city office of the State Department of Taxation on Dec. 14 to work as the city's official hostess and to organize special projects at Gracie Mansion.
"I thought being first lady would be a full-time job and I thought that the demands of my new career would really not allow me to work full time," she said. "I think I'm going to enjoy doing it."
Being first lady is an unpaid position, but Joyce Dinkins clearly considers it a real job. She will be taking over some of the tasks performed by Diane Coffey, Mayor Edward I. Koch's chief of staff, during the bachelor mayor's 12-year tenure.
Coffey, who earned $110,000 a year, greeted visitors, helped oversee the restoration of Gracie Mansion, kept track of the comings and goings of dignitaries staying at the mansion, and made sure the rugs got cleaned, the chairs were upholstered and flowers were on the tables for important dinners.
Friends and co-workers say the new first lady has a knack for diplomacy and for smoothing over differences between people.
"She's always careful not to hurt anyone. She has the ability to make someone feel comfortable, as if you've known her for 20 years," said Monica Guglielmo, secretary to state Tax Commissioner James W. Wetzler, who worked with Joyce Dinkins. "When she said, `Hello, how are you?' she'd really be interested in how you were."
Her sister, Gloria Sparks, who lives in Los Angeles, said Dinkins is sweet-tempered, but determined and independent.
"With David's life-style in politics, you have to learn to stand on your own two feet," Sparks said at a dinner to honor Joyce Dinkins earlier this month. "She steps back and lets him enjoy what he enjoys, but when it gets beyond what she wants she stops. You can't push her beyond a certain point. She's determined, you can't budge her."
Born in Manhattan on Dec. 14, 1930, the former Joyce Burrows moved to Yonkers with her parents and older sister while in elementary school. Her father, former state Assemb. Daniel L. Burrows, who also worked in real estate and insurance, hoped that life in suburbia would give the children an advantage.
But Joyce and her sister were the only black children in the school and were teased and subjected to racist taunts. The family moved back to Harlem within a year. Her sister recalled that they were called "the little chocolate bars" at the school.
"It makes you aware that racism exists," Joyce Dinkins said. "Prior to that, we had never encountered anything to that degree."
She met her husband when they were both students at Howard University. They married in 1953, the same year she graduated with a degree in sociology.
She abandoned plans to work as a social worker to care for her children, David, now 35, and Donnaz, 32; to keep the books for her mother's Harlem liquor store, and to help care for her mother after she was stricken with multiple sclerosis. In 1978, she took a job running the day-to-day operation of the New York City office of the State Taxation Department.
She and her husband plan to move into Gracie Mansion in mid-January, two weeks after the inauguration and the traditional moving-in day for new mayors. Koch wanted to stay on to give one last bash, a New Year's Eve party.
"We have four years there," Joyce Dinkins said with her characteristic diplomacy. "We don't have to move in January 1."

What the Statement Said

The statement said that she had "decided to continue in politics because of pressure from her party workers. The note that she was returning to party to prevent suicide attempts by party youths.
Behind the apparent well-planned melodrama lay a shrewd political gambit. The party rank and file is in disarray with their hopes of "capturing power" in the state having been aborted by the defeat of AIADMK's ally, the Congress Party, at the Center in the recent general elections. The party cadre had been reportedly promised during the elections that "as soon as Rajiv Gandhi government is returned at the Center, the DMK government in Tamil Nadu would be dismissed and fresh elections held enabling the AIADMK-Congress combine to ascend the throne in Madras."
But the defeat of the Congress in the national elections has upset AIADMK's apple cart. Party workers are becoming increasingly impatient now that they have to wait in the wings for another four years before hoping to "capture power". A section of the party is also said to be demanding snapping of connections with the Congress.
Jayalalitha's resignation episode was obviously aimed at the telling the party-men that she will stay in the organization on her terms. She gambled, as she had done once earlier, threatening to "quit" with predictable results.
Ever since the demise of the party founder and Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran, Jayalalitha has time and again demonstrated that she is the "boss" of the organization.

Jayalalitha's Political Theater

It had all the elements of a Tamil box-office hit: sobbing men, wailing women, lungi-clad youths consuming bug poison and a "heroine" afflicted with arthritis.
The sequence of events unfolded along very predictable lines. The "heroine" does the "disappearing act" at dusk. Crowds gather under a star-lit sky seeking her "return". The heroine responds. The following evening she is back on the stage. And with it the curtain came down on yet another act of what could be termed as childish prank that has now become part of Tamil Nadu politics, according to observes.
All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam General Secretary Jayalalitha has a natural talent for acting, matched only by her alleged insatiable appetite for power. Whenever she finds herself in a politically uncomfortable situation she seems to simply "quit public life," but make a gallant comeback the very next day "under pressure from party workers."
This time around Jayalalitha did it on Dec. 18. She summoned the press to her residence in the evening and read out a prepared statement announcing her "retirement from public life." Citing her bone ailment as the "reason" for her decision, the AIADMK leader said that she had resigned from the position of the party's General Secretary and was "leaving station immediately" for an undisclosed destination.
Far from leaving Madras, Jayalalitha reportedly spent the night in the cozy comforts of her air-conditioned bedroom while crowds gathered outside demanding her "return to public life". Party stalwarts, including several former ministers, arrived at her residence late in the night only to be chased away by the watchmen who had been given "strict instructions not to allow anyone inside the house."
The following morning, hundreds of party faithfuls assembled at her house and began a "hunger strike" seeking her "return to politics." There were reports of youths consuming bug poison "unable to bear the shocking news" of her departure from public life. One youth attempted to set fire to himself outside her residence while another emptied a bottle of "bug poison." For some strange reason the youth who consumed the bug poison was said to have been found soon in an inebriated state and was taken to hospital.
Party "stalwarts," led by Deputy General Secretary S.D. Somasundaram, pleaded with a defiant watchman to let them in. Eventually Jayalalitha "relented." The party leaders were allowed to have a "darshan" of her late in the afternoon and were told that she had "agreed" to reverse her decision. It was nearing dusk when newsmen were again summoned to her house and a statement signed by her was read out to the press by Somasundaram.

MLAs to star in Nova Scotia television

Traditionally the dog days of summer mark the silly season in politics. But thanks to a long-running debate here on whether to allow TV in the provincial legislature Nova Scotians have been entertained this holiday season by new twists and turns in the saga. To outsiders it may seem like a simple problem. Ottawa and several other provinces have already proven that television coverage of debates can easily be arranged.
Premier John Buchanan, however, remains opposed. He's often gone on record with worries that hot lights and cameras would somehow alter the cherished nature of Province House, a Nova Scotian heritage building. That argument has lost effectiveness with the advent of smaller video cameras that utilize existing light sources.
So now the government has turned to new tactics - cost and decorum.
Though the issue has been studied to death the legislature's rules committee looked at it again this month. After some thought the government majority on the committee decided that yes, TV was possible, but it would cost $1.5 million.
Driven by a sudden reluctance to spend taxpayers' money the speaker, Arthur Donahoe, announced the government would ask local TV stations to help pay the cost.
That's a doubly ironic twist because two of the stations, CBC and the Irving family-owned MITV, launched a suit in November to gain access for their cameras. Named as defendants were all 52 members of the legislature.
As to the issue of spending taxpayers' money, few MLAs seemed concerned when the rules committee jetted off to London to study the new TV system in the British House of Commons earlier in the month. That junket, costing close to $35,000, drew angry reaction in the letters section of newspapers.
It's no wonder. The MLAs were hard-pressed to defend a trip to one of the world's most expensive cities when a trip to Ottawa would have accomplished the same.
Perhaps the government's reluctance for TV was most honestly expressed with a bit of candor from a backbencher with a propensity for quotable quotes.
Al Mosher, a Tory from the province's south shore, said allowing TV stations free rein in the legislature would only embarrass the members.
He said camera operators might zoom in on some member "dozing off in one of the seats."
Most members of the legislative press gallery would probably agree that, on many days, such events would be more newsworthy than the debates.
Three weeks ago in this space, I wrote about a proposal being studied that would have seen the Technical University of Nova Scotia move its campus adjacent to Dalhousie University in Halifax.
The cost of the move, which would have eliminated the 15 minutes to 20 minutes it now takes to walk from one school to another, was priced at $150 million. That figure was expected to be reduced, however, by the sale of the existing TUNS campus.
After a week of almost universal condemnation of the proposal from commentators, municipal politicians and residents who faced possible expropriation of their homes, Technical University President Peter Adams killed the study.
He said the proposal needed community support to be feasible, something it obviously wasn't going to get.