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Report: Vermont doing poor job in informing taxpayers about stimulus spending

first_imgSome states are making dramatic improvements in their Recovery Act websites but others are still failing to make effective use of online technology to educate taxpayers about the impact of the stimulus. Vermont was cited as fifth worst in the nation. So finds Good Jobs First in Show Us the Stimulus (Again), a report released today which updates GJF’s July findings; text plus state appendices at: www.goodjobsfirst.org/stimulusweb.cfm(link is external).”Some states are striving to deliver on President Obama’s promise that the Recovery Act would bring unprecedented transparency and accountability,” said Good Jobs First executive director Greg LeRoy. “Led by Maryland, which again receives our highest score, these states’ Recovery Act websites help taxpayers understand and evaluate how the Recovery Act benefits their state.”On a scale of 0 to 100, the study rates the disclosure on more than $200 billion in ARRA funds flowing through state governments to communities, organizations and individuals. It grades information on programs and on specific grants and contracts, with special emphasis on jobs data and the geographic distribution of spending.  “Cinderella states such as Kentucky and Illinois swept from the bottom in our previous assessment to the top tier in our new ranking,” said Philip Mattera, GJF’s research director and principal author of both reports. “Many others have improved their sites and are effectively incorporating the data states transmit to the federal Recovery.gov website. The state sites and Recovery.gov are both vital to public understanding of the Recovery Act’s performance.”Top-rated states are: Maryland (87), Kentucky (85), Connecticut (80), Colorado (72), Minnesota (72), Wisconsin (72),California (69), Illinois (69), Oregon (67), Massachusetts (65), Georgia (64), West Virginia (64), New Mexico (62), New York(62), Pennsylvania (62), Montana (61) and Arkansas (60).Worst-rated, from the bottom, are: North Dakota (5), District of Columbia (6), Missouri (10), Alaska (13), Vermont (13), Louisiana (16), Mississippi (17), Idaho (18), Oklahoma (18), Texas (18) and South Carolina (19).The biggest Cinderella stories are Kentucky, which soared from 47th place to 2nd; Illinois (50th to 7th); Minnesota (34th to 4th); and Utah (50th to 24th).The study includes state-specific scoring sheets and recommendations for improvement based on best practices. Good Jobs First is a non-profit, non-partisan research center based in Washington, DC.SOURCE: Good Jobs First. WASHINGTON, Jan. 26, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ —last_img read more

Tips for the Young Lawyer

first_img Tips for the Young Lawyer April 15, 2006 Regular News Francisco Ramos, Jr. The key to writing is grabbing the reader’s attention and not letting go. Wander from your message, confuse or obfuscate it, and you run the risk of losing the reader. Make every paragraph, every sentence, every word, every syllable count, pushing the reader to your conclusion, getting him or her to embrace it like it was his or her own. What follows are some tips on how to improve your writing, whether it is addressed to a judge, a client, or opposing counsel. • Brainstorm. Before you write, take a pen and paper and brainstorm your ideas. At this stage, leave the computer off. Just you and a piece of paper, making lists, jotting down ideas, doodling perhaps, figuring out what you are going to write about. Put down whatever idea comes into your head, however foolish it may strike you. You can discard the foolish ideas later. Who knows? That foolish idea may not be so foolish after all. • Prepare an outline. After you have put your thoughts on paper,organize them in the form of an outline. Sort through your ideas, keeping some and discarding others. The outline will serve as a blueprint for your writing. • Know your audience. Remember, you are not writing for you; you are writing for your audience. Forget this and risk alienating and boring the reader. How you write a motion for a judge is different from how you write a letter to a client. • Bam! Hit the reader between the eyes. Hit the ground running with a strong start. You are not working up to a crescendo. You start at the crescendo. The first sentence or two must grab the reader’s attention. In those first sentences, you must let the reader know why he or she should keep reading. Remember, Alice was down the rabbit hole on page two or three. • Just say it. Be direct. If what you have to say is important enough to reduce to writing, just say it. Do not mince words; do not hem or haw. Be bold; blurt the words out and keep moving. • Keep it simple. Limit what you have to say. Say too much and you will lose the reader. If you can make two or three points that stick with the reader, you are better off than making 10 points that do not. • Limit each sentence to one idea. Do not overburden your sentences. Make a single point and put a period down. • Limit each paragraph to one idea. As with sentences, pick an idea and support it throughout the paragraph. If you have another idea that you need to address, start another paragraph. • Speak confidently. Do not be shy or bashful about what you have to say. If you are not confident about your position, do not expect the reader to be. • Tell a story. Make it a good read. Judges and clients read their share of letters and motions. If you want yours to stand out, tell a story. The beginning must captivate; the middle must hold the reader’s attention; and the ending must be strong. • Less is more. Say as much as you can with the fewest words possible. People have less time and shorter attention spans. Make your point in the fewest words and fewest pages possible. • Edit, edit, edit. Do not be happy with your first draft, your second, or perhaps even your third. Edit the excess sentences, phrases, and words. Make sure your argument holds water; the transitions are smooth, and the word choice is proper. • Keep your paragraphs short. Keep your paragraphs to three to five sentences. Longer paragraphs tend to lose the reader. • Keep your sentences short. Keep your sentences at 10 to 20 words. • Keep your words short. Use words that have fewer syllables. • Use the active voice. The subjects of your sentences should not be victims. Things do not happen to them. They make things happen. Speak in the active voice. Active sentences are clearer and get to the point faster. • Keep the subject, verb, and object close together. Keep the subject of the sentence, the verb, and the object close together. keeping them close together, you make your sentences clear, direct, and short. • Start sentences with the subject. starting your sentences with the subject, the reader knows right away who is performing the action. Follow the subject with the verb and object, and you can make strong sentences with very few words. • Make the verbs do the heavy lifting. The most important word in the sentence is the verb. Use strong, active verbs. You do not need adjectives and adverbs to make a sentence. But without a verb all you have is a group or words with nothing to do. • End strong. Just as you start strong, finish strong. You started by punching the reader between the eyes. • Read it out load. Read your writing out loud and listen to how it sounds. Likely, you will make additional changes after doing so. • Take a break. After you have written a draft and revised it, take a break and pick it up at a later time. With a fresh look, you may see errors or lapses of judgment you overlooked before. • Know when to stop. Once you have said everything you need to say, whether in a motion, a letter, or an article such as this one, know when to stop. Francisco Ramos, Jr., is a senior associate with Clarke Silverglate Campbell Williams & Montgomery in Miami, practicing in the areas of commercial and personal injury litigation. He can be reached at (305) 377-0700 or framos@cswm.com. Tips for the Young Lawyer Keys to becoming a better legal writerlast_img read more