ZOOM - To and From Washington DC in 48 hours
Mister Cliffy goes to Washington - a 48 hour adventure.
The Alliance for Main Street put us up at some nice digs -
The Liaison Hotel is just a couple blocks from the Capitol Building.
This was NOT a funsy tourist trip - the schedule was pretty packed.
That being said, I did have a couple hours to wander around when I got there Tuesday afternoon.
Hot and Humid - uhm, I thought I was skilled in humidity being from the Mitten.
Well, DC has us beat. Above you can see one of two worker bees who were restoring/repainting a fountain in the heat.
Anyone with a lick of sense KNOWS the best place to get out of the heat and
humidity is to go into a Botanical Garden, right? Well, I was thinking of
Julie Claire when I went in - she would have loved it. Some of the rooms
were cool -but some of them, like The Jungle and a room full of orchids
were about what you would expect heat wise, but they were gorgeous.
Above is an interactive display in an air conditioned room about
spices from around the world. Each of the metal flowers has a spice in the center
that you can lean over and smell. Cool idea.
I also spent an hour or so in the National Museum of the American Indian - the cool building shape caught my eye.
Plus, our son in law Randall is a Native American, so I felt it was a family thing!
The Museum is part of the Smithsonian. It was really cool (in both senses).
On the main floor there was a display of hand made water craft - from a kayak to an outrigger from Hawaii. Each boat was hand built on site and there was information on the boat builders along with the materials they used.
This guy was bringing his message of love to the masses.
THE WORK - after seeing the gardens and the museum I reported back to the hotel for our dinner/training session. Met up with two other retailers from MI - Bill Golden of Golden Shoes in Traverse City and Joanna from the BookBug in Kalamazoo. We were going to work together to show our elected officials the wisdom of applying the sales tax law evenly! Leading us into the fray was Amy Drumm from the Michigan Retailers Association (who are doing a good job of lobbying in Lansing for measures to be taken on the State level.
We met and strategized over a very nice dinner. Coolest thing at the dinner was a presentation by the founders of Tax Cloud - they have FREE software that calculates the sales tax for every zip code in the US. The program is available for nothing to any e-tailer because Tax Cloud gets their money from the states - 2% to 8% of what they collect. AND they are just one of SIX COMPANIES offering this service.
Tax Cloud and the others completely erase any argument against Tax Fairness that might involve time or expense for etailers to set up a system for collecting and paying taxes. Tax Cloud does it all and sends in the $$ to every state except your home state and takes the money from your bank account in one easy payment.
Next morning I was up a little after 6 am and was downstairs all spiffed up in my sport coat n tie for a few hours of lobbying. We had breakfast and heard from some more folks on how to do our job in an effective manner.
We set off for our first meeting - they were scheduled with four of our Representatives and both Senators. FYI - we met with staffers. The Reps were all busy voting and we are pretty small potatoes to be taking up the time of a Senator (actually I believe Levin was in the hearings about the POW we traded Five Guys From Gitmo for).
We met with staff from Representatives Huizenga, Benishek (Bill's district), Walberg, and Upton (Joanna's district) along with Stabenow and Levin. We were unable to set an appointment with the office of Justin Amash which bummed me out since I am in his turf.
I think we did a good job - between the four of us we covered all the bases and by the second or third meeting we had our rap down pretty tight! We didn't take a lot of time AND we were able to share some things that even these well informed staff people did not know. (TAX CLOUD was news to all of them.) Our main job was to tell our real world stories of how the tax collection, or lack of it, effects our businesses. The three of us spoke from the stand point of books, shoes and jewelry and Amy was able to speak on behalf of an entire organization of retailers who could not be there.
By the time we made it back to The Liaison at a little after 3 pm, I was POOPED and hungry! The timing of our meetings and the fact that they took place in a total of 5 different buildings meant we schlepped all over the place and missed lunch.
I was actually relieved to learn from Amy, who had a pedometer in place, that we had walked over 4.5 miles in our quest to speak on behalf of Main Street. Not bad for an old fart in a coat and tie in mid-80s temp with mucho much moisture in the air!
Then the FUN began - Shandra Martinez from Mlive suggested that I rent a bike at the end of the day on Wednesday. She said I could see a lot in a short amount of time. Pictured above in the kiosk for renting a bike - they are all over and you can turn them in at any one of the stations. Great idea Shandra, but this dude was worn out from his walking. Going to have to wait until next time.
Speaking of wait! I went out to the airport a little early and got on an earlier flight thinking I would get back home BEFORE 10 pm maybe - HA!
As you can see, the plane was sold out. We taxied away from the gate
..........and then proceeded to spend OVER TWO HOURS looking at this view below.
THEN we went back to the gate - there were BAAD storms to the west and lightning flashes everywhere. No flights out to the West.
Blah blah blah - short version is we hit Detroit a little after midnight.
A lady from Delta met us as we deplaned with some Hotel vouchers since ALL of us missed our connecting flights.
ONE LITTLE CATCH - all the rooms were FULL, so the voucher was good for a litter box.
Me - I rented a car and drove home - arriving at 3:45am in time for 4 hours of sleep before reporting to Chimera Design for work AND an interview with TV3.
(But that is another story for another day...)
Thankfully I had my headphones and a fully charged MP3 player to get through the delay.
ON A POSITIVE NOTE - no one on the plane turned into an asshat.
There were several of us making sarcastic comments, but everything was kept light hearted - even when we were forced to wait almost another HOUR after we re-planed.