Kate Tummarello

Music to Wait By

Hold music. It’s something we would all rather not hear, if only because it means we’re on hold. 

While Congressional offices would probably prefer to not put callers, especially constituents, on hold at all, it is inevitable. And when those callers are on hold, the music they hear can influence their perception of the Member and the office.

Hill Climbers: Unconventional Paths to the Hill

There’s typically an established path for Capitol Hill staffers. Start interning for the office as a bright-eyed college student and get hired as a staff assistant after graduating. Then work on either the policy side by being promoted to legislative assistant or on the communications side by being promoted to press assistant. From there, it’s all about working hard to get to the top, whether that’s as chief of staff, legislative director or communications director.

But some people take less traditional routes to working on the Hill. Of the Hill Climbers whom Roll Call has talked to in the past several months, here are some of the people who made the most interesting professional leaps from seemingly unrelated industries to the Hill, and how they made it work.

Hill Climbers: Staffer Learns All Politics Is Local

For Matthew Hilgart, it’s all about communicating.

Last year, he was teaching in Jordan. Now, Hilgart has returned to Rep. Betty McCollum’s office in St. Paul, Minn., as a part of the Democrat’s communications team.

Hill Climbers: Aide Finds Interests Mesh With Hill

When she started college, Katelynn Anderson saw herself working at the United Nations or an international nongovernmental organization. By the time she graduated in December 2011, her sights had shifted to Capitol Hill.

Rep. Joe Baca’s (D-Calif.) new legislative correspondent studied international relations and Spanish studies at the University of Delaware.

Californian’s Office Speaks in Code
Karen Bass Finding New Ways to Connect With Constituents Through Technology

The office of Rep. Karen Bass was one of the first on the Hill to jump on the bar code bandwagon. 

“They’ve been helpful for us,” said the California Democrat’s director of new media, Paul Bell, who explained that the office tries to place the codes where constituents will see them. “We try to have it on everything from fliers that we use to mailers that we send out,” he said.

GPO Unveils Budget App

Budget day? Yeah, there’s an app for that.

For the first time, the president’s budget proposal is available through a mobile app, courtesy of the Government Printing Office.

Siblings’ Food Network Win Is Icing on the Cake
Capitol Hill Bakers Win ‘Cupcake Wars’ Episode By Tapping Into Imagination, ‘Global Perspective’

Successful Capitol Hill bakery owner? Check. Fellow at the National Institutes of Health? Check. Winner of the Food Network TV show “Cupcake Wars”? Check.

When Winnette McIntosh Ambrose and her brother Timothy McIntosh aren’t using their degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, they’re whipping up cupcakes, Parisian-inspired macarons and loose tea at the Sweet Lobby on Barracks Row.

James Lloyd, Former California House Member, Dies

James Lloyd, who represented the 35th district of California from 1975-1981, died Feb. 2 following a Jan. 22 car accident in Florida.

The Pensacola News Journal reported that while traveling to visit his grandson, who is training at the Naval Air Station Pensacola, the 89-year-old’s car went off the side of the road and fell about 30 feet.

Members Make ’Em Laugh
The Washington Press Club Foundation’s Annual Congressional Dinner Provides A Chance For Lawmakers to Be Funny on Purpose

A l l too often, when politicians are being funny, they’re not trying to be.

So we should treasure those moments when they take being funny very seriously and succeed.

Congress Inches Toward Paperless Solutions
Desire for Transparency And Efficiency, Coupled With Cost Reduction, Fuel Urge to Drop Paper

Every day, Members get thick volumes of the Congressional Record delivered to their offices. Marked-up paper copies of amendments still circulate in committee. 

But some lawmakers, staff and outside entrepreneurs are daring to imagine a Congress where all communication is done electronically, all documents live on iPads and the only scrap paper lying around fell out of a reporter’s notebook.

An Open Process for OPEN Measure
Crowdsourcing Details Of SOPA Alternative

Over the past few weeks, an Internet forum — a platform frequently home to anonymous maliciousness and frivolous videos — has helped shape House legislation to address online piracy.

Internet users have visited KeepTheWebOpen.com, a website run by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), to comment on and suggest edits to a draft of Issa's Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act. The website operates on Madison, a technology developed for this type of crowdsourcing.

Hill Climbers: Better Chemistry Through Football

Growing up in Alabama, Ben Dunham was more into sports than he was into school.

Dunham, now the legislative director for Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), remembers thinking that it would be football rather than physics class that would ultimately pay off.

Reid Recalls Parliamentarian’s Time in Senate

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) addressed the retirement of Senate Parliamentarian Alan Frumin on the Senate floor today.

Frumin, who served as parliamentarian from 1987 to 1995 and took the title again in 2001, will be stepping down today. His replacement, Senior Assistant Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, is the first woman to hold the job, which she will start on Wednesday.

Senate Will See First Female Parliamentarian

Senate Parliamentarian Alan Frumin's retirement today is paving the way for the first woman to hold that post in the history of the chamber.

On Wednesday, Elizabeth MacDonough is expected to take over as parliamentarian, the person responsible for advising the entire Senate on its arcane rules and procedures.

Senate Parliamentarian Retires, Paves Way for First Woman to Hold Post

Longtime Senate Parliamentarian Alan Frumin will retire from his post Tuesday and will be replaced by the first woman to hold the position.

Elizabeth MacDonough will take over Wednesday as Senate parliamentarian. Currently, she is serving as senior assistant parliamentarian, a position she has held since 2002. Before that, she was an assistant parliamentarian since 1999. Although there have been women in those two positions in the past — and are currently — MacDonough will be the first woman to hold the title of parliamentarian.

Hill Climbers: A Communicator From Childhood

Staci Cox has always been a good communicator. 

Growing up, she participated in the debate club and would often do public speaking events through local organizations, such as her church. “I love to talk. I love to write,” said the Michigan native, now a staff assistant and legislative correspondent for Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.). “Communication has always been my thing.”

Members Push Alternate Online Piracy Bills

While websites such as Wikipedia and Reddit were going dark earlier this month to protest online piracy legislation, KeepTheWebOpen.com was lighting up.

There, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is using crowdsourcing to gauge public opinion and gather suggested edits to the text of his online piracy bill that aims to avoid the fate of other recent piracy bills, which powerful Internet companies said would give the government too much power to remove online content.

Tech Firms Target Lawmakers With New Devices

On Wednesday evening, Capitol Hill got its own version of Las Vegas’ annual Consumer Electronics Show, with tech industry leaders on hand not to lobby, they insist, but simply to show off their wares.

“No one is there to lobby for anything,” said Cat Matsuda, director of development for the Advisory Committee to the Congressional Internet Caucus, which organized the show. “They’re there to show their technologies and to talk about the potential impact of the technology on the forecast for the upcoming year.”

Congressional Record Now Available on iPad

In case you were tired of carrying around a document that contains on average 156 pages, the Congressional Record can now be viewed on your iPad.

Last week, the Library of Congress released an app that allows iPad users to view the Congressional Record, which is the official account of Congress’ activities.

Candidates Take Over New Media Platforms

Imagine you’re listening to Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” on Pandora Radio. The only candidates you’re thinking about are the ones referenced in the song. Until the commercial break.

Suddenly, there’s a candidate, asking for your vote in the upcoming election.