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March 15, 2012

The Pre-GAC Reading Round-Up

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It's coming - the Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) kicks off on Sunday, March 18 and everyone is gearing up for a whirlwind week of learning, hill-hiking, happy-houring and hanging out with folks from every side of the credit union sphere. 

The crew here at DigitalMailer always gets excited for GAC because everyone comes to "our neighborhood" (DC and its surrounds) for a few days. Bearing in mind that this might be the first time at GAC for some and the first trip to DC for others, we wanted to pull out a few insightful articles we've seen on Twitter and Facebook this week that are related to GAC.

From CUNAVerse: "Coming to GAC? Get Ready to Work"

The Senate is presently considering a bill that is generously being referred to as a jobs bill. In reality what this legislation does is relax a set of investor protections in the hopes that businesses will use the savings they receive from reduced regulatory compliance to hire new workers.  No one has estimated how many jobs this might create.  Yet, the bill passed the House of Representatives with almost 400 votes, and the Senate is poised to act perhaps as soon as next week.

What better time to have 4,000 credit union advocates in Washington, DC?

For Hill-Hikers, an article from CreditUnions.com: "CEO Interview: Watch For Unintended Consequences"

CEOs can't wait to see what happens. They can't leave it up to the trade associations to handle this with lobbyists. Much of the proposed legislation has good intentions, but lurking is the menace of unintended consequences, which could really hurt credit unions, especially smaller ones.

And again, from CreditUnions.com: "Lobbying Dos And Don'ts"

Even if you are passionate about an issue - and most people who see us are - don't be confrontational. We are dealing with thousands of bills in a short time and sometimes we haven't yet heard of your particular point of view. Expect some back-and-forth, because we want to get to the heart of issues, but don’t be afraid to say you don't know the answer to a question and that you will get back to us about it - you don't want to make up answers or numbers on the spot and end up giving legislators misleading information.

These are all helpful to those brave folks who are determined to go meet their leaders in government and speak on credit unions' behalf. 

For advice a little more on the practical side, keep these tips in mind when in DC: 

  1. COFFEE - An army marches on its caffeine jitters. There's a Starbucks in the Washington Convention Center (where much of GAC takes place) and plenty more coffee shops in Chinatown, which is a short walk away. 
  2. TRANSPORTATION - There are plenty of cabs in DC and they're pretty affordable, but if you want to get adventurous and take the Metro, Gallery Place/Chinatown and Mt. Vernon/7th Street-Convention Center are your stops local to all the action. Go to the Chinatown Metro stop and take the Red Line to Shady Grove, then jump onto the Orange line for the Smithsonian stop if you've got time for sight-seeing. We're assuming you'll be too busy, but if you have an extra day, visiting the Mall and the Smithsonian museums is a great way to spend it.
  3. FOOD - Again, Chinatown has plenty to eat and a little something for every palette, ranging from McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts to La Tasca and Matchbox Pizza (which, for our money, is one of the best pizza/American cuisine restaurants in all of DC). Trust us, you shan't go hungry. 
  4. RUNNING - We know there are a lot of runners in the CU crowd. While DC does have a great many runners in its midst,  the city can be unfriendly to pedestrians of any stripe. Keep your eyes peeled for crabby drivers who wouldn't hit the brakes if their mother was wheeled in front of them in a wheelbarrow full of dynamite. They're out there, so be careful.

    That said, there are some good suggested running routes on WalkJogRun.net. This one, in particular, has some lovely views along the way. If you're up for your morning run, hop on the Metro and head toward Farragut North to give this a shot. 

Have you got a good read for "pre-GAC"? Let us know in the comments. 

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Nice guide and advice, Ron. Besides the Museum of Natural History, my faves are the Natl. Archives and the Spy Museum. Both worth a look if you have the time.

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