Disrespect for military and public service has no place in American leadership. And it’s time we resoundingly said so at the ballot box.

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John William May’s grave-site, Highland Cemetery, Stonewall, Oklahoma.

Hey there. Have a seat. I want to show you something special.

These are photos of my grandfathers, Bob and Bill. Both of them World War II veterans. My paternal grandpa, Robert Francis (Bob) Pickens, and my maternal grandpa, John William (Bill) May, fought in the European theater.

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by Rusty D. Pickens

I had the privilege of helping elect a U.S. president and serving my country over eight years of some of the hardest but most fulfilling work I’ve ever done. Through an economic recovery effort, the passage and implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and unprecedented expansion of LGBTQ+ rights, I was able to serve alongside some of the most brilliant and good-hearted public servants I’ll likely ever have the opportunity to work with. There is a camaraderie born only out of serving together on the front lines of democracy that can never be replaced.

Through that work, I saw firsthand how the choice of whom we elect to the presidency is so much more than just the person themself. While the buck always stops with the president, in some ways it is more important to select someone who has the wisdom and values to exercise sound judgement when hiring the team that will lead the government for four years. Every day across the political appointee ecosystem and the White House complex, there are thousands of decisions made which advance a president’s vision for America and our place in the world. And while the toughest decisions are reserved solely for the occupant of the Oval Office, it is important not to overlook those who are empowered and delegated the trust of the president, and, by extension, the trust of the American people. …


We are Urging a “Yes” Vote on State Question 802

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(Photo: Paul Sableman via Flickr)

All Oklahomans deserve affordable healthcare. The COVID-19 pandemic is shining a spotlight on a problem we’ve been experiencing for a while in rural America: lack of health insurance and underinsurance are difficult for rural facilities to overcome. Since 2010, rural hospitals have been hit hard with seven of the 113 shuttered hospitals across the country being right here in Oklahomaan estimated 430 more are at risk unless we take action.

Hardworking Oklahomans deserve access to comprehensive and affordable healthcare in their own communities regardless of where they live — particularly during a pandemic. Voting yes on State Question 802 would enable that by taking advantage of already paid-for Medicaid funds. This would ensure 200,000 rural Oklahomans aren’t penalized for living too far from major metropolitan areas just because it’s “unprofitable” to get them the healthcare they deserve — and in the case of Medicaid, that they’ve already paid for. …


No one is coming to save our country — it’s up to us — together.

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Dear friends, family, and colleagues,

All of you know me as someone who values public service and believes that government can be a positive impact in people’s live if that government is in the hands of people who share these values. I will testify that we did our dead-level best to deliver that kind of government over the eight years we had the privilege of serving under President Obama. Those times were tough and that work was hard, but it is nothing compared to what we have to do now.

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I captured this photo the day after the election in 2016 — let’s not repeat that.

The damage done by the Trump cartel to our public institutions and our standing as a country around the world will have dire consequences for decades if we don’t put and end to it and restore honest and accountable leadership back to our government. Each day I’ve watched the news (or avoided the news) for the last four years I’ve relived the hurt and disappointment and frustration of losing a presidential election by a razor-thin 70,000 votes in three key states. Every day I’ve second guessed that, “What if I had knocked on a few more doors?” “What if I had pestered more friends to join me for GOTV in Philly?” …


Government options to help small businesses keep America running during COVID-19 slowdowns.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

As a proud alum of the U.S. Small Business Administration, I got to see up close and personal the direct impact that a small but mighty government agency can have advocating for and supporting American small business during tough economic times. The recession of 2009 and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act were unprecedented at the time — but that all looks quaint now in the face of a global COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic slowdown we’re all experiencing together.

I wanted to share what I’m learning about the CARES Act and all the stimulus activity that’s resulted on Capitol Hill as a response to the pandemic. Please keep in mind: I am not an attorney or financial counselor and a lot of this is still in flux, so be sure to consult your tax folks, lenders, and attorneys where needed, but it seems there are lots of new options a small business owner and/or sole proprietors can take advantage of to ease or offset monthly bill payments, keep people (including yourself!) …


How to be productive when social distancing is imperative

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Photo by Grovemade on Unsplash

With the widespread quarantining and need for social distancing due to COVID-19, telework systems and virtual teams are facing their largest stress-test in a long time. Here’s my tips on how to embrace the remote worker lifestyle and be just as productive as ever.

Working in technology — especially working in technology at the State Department — has meant years of working from remote offices, in airport lounges, and from my home office when needed. And now in my role as a small business owner managing 100% virtual teams, I’ve made the jump to largely working from home or remote offices on a daily basis. …


A Primer on the Presidential Records Act

President Barack Obama takes notes during a video conference with President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan in the Situation Room
President Barack Obama takes notes during a video conference with President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan in the Situation Room
President Barack Obama takes notes during a video conference with President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan in the Situation Room of the White House, Oct. 22, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

As the country grapples with the hyperpartisan struggle over the impeachment and acquittal of Donald J. Trump, it’s worth reflecting on an arcane bit of legal history that could have wide-ranging implications that continue to echo long after these current questions are decided: the Presidential Records Act of 1978 (PRA).

The law, passed as part of the Watergate Reforms in the aftermath of Richard Nixon’s assault on our country’s institutions, sought to ensure that hard-copy — and now digital — records generated by the President, Vice President and their respective staffs are preserved for the historical record. …


It’s a marathon, not a sprint — prepare now for a great experience.

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2019 is our 7th Dreamforce! It is an amazing time of camaraderie with thousands of other Salesforce geeks, valuable time interacting with clients and stakeholders, an exciting look ahead at what Salesforce is planning for the upcoming year, and a fun time with crazy side-quests like Dreamfest and keynotes by powerhouse personalities.

But it’s also a jam-packed week of back-to-back sessions, coffee meetings, client dinners, certification tests, keynote address, and general adventures in San Francisco — you should not underestimate the need for being prepared for an optimal Dreamforce experience. …


As we celebrate Pride 2019 and the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall, the importance of being visible advocates and allies for our communities matters now more than ever.

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We just didn’t know Ernie was a gay role model in the 80s! PS-Sorry for embarrassing my brother with this ancient photo.

As you can probably imagine, growing up in rural Southeastern Oklahoma in the 1980’s — even with an amazing, loving family — I lacked any strong gay male role models. I vividly remember stories, jokes, asides, and exclamations from my childhood that established a strong sense of other, of difference, of wrong, bad, lesser-than nature that was to be associated with being LGBTQ+. “That’s gay,” childhood friends would say when something made them uncomfortable. “That guy? Oh, he’s queer,” a classmate said with dripping disdain during school lunch hour. “If I had a gay son, I’d take him out back and shoot him.” These were all things I heard from friends, others boys at school, friends of my parents, or others in public — even around church — during those formative years. …


Domestic Terrorism in the Heartland

It was early morning, April 19, 1995, in Oklahoma. I was a sophomore at Stonewall High School and that day would have been much like any other crisp spring Wednesday morning — except we were a bit distracted and filled with anticipation because our local Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter was making final preparations to travel to the annual State Convention next week.

If you’re unfamiliar with the FFA, it’s a way of life all on its own. Country kids growing up on farms and ranches all across the nation spend their high school years in shop and agriculture “ag” class learning about everything from land and soil to trades like welding and carpentry, with a good bit of animal husbandry as well. “Show animals” are a fierce competition in Oklahoma for FFA members. If you grew up in a family grounded in FFA and 4H traditions, it was expected of you to join the chapter and work as hard as you could for four years to certify as a State Farmer, the highest award the state-level organization can bestow on a student. …

About

Rusty D. Pickens

#Geek using my powers of technology for better government. Founder of @580Strategies - Former @ObamaWhiteHouse and @StateDept

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