Elevating with the human voice:
One of WVFC’s own voices, poet Elizabeth Alexander, will present an original poem at the Presidential Inauguration next month. Alexander, who attended the 1963 March on Washington in a stroller, is only the fourth poet to read at an inauguration, continuing an on-and-off tradition established by Robert Frost’s appearance at the inauguration of John F. Kennedy. The Atlantic‘s Ta-Nahesi Coates thinks Alexander is more than just an inspired choice, she’s an emblem of the return to competence and diligence the new administration represents.


Elizabeth Alexander is a student, and dare I say, master of the craft.
Her work is inspirational in a way that the Great Gatsby, or Mad Men is
inspirational, in that it just says so much about who we are. When
Clinton picked Maya Angelou it was revolutionary for a lot of young
black kids in schools across the country–we had to study that poem in
English class. Picking Alexander is a much more subtle move which I
hope folks won’t miss. Put bluntly, the whole “competence aesthetic”
has been extended to the poets also. I’m not dissing Clinton here, or
giving undue credit to Obama–this is about the moment in history. So
much has changed since then.

Dr. Alexander’s poem “Ars Poetica #100: I Believe” was one of WVFC’s Voices in Verse two years ago. Above, she reads the poem at the ceremony where she received the Jackson Poetry Prize from Poets & Writers magazine.

Wary eyes upon a wary eye:
Mary L. Schapiro, who for twelve years has haired the Financial Industry Regulatory Agency–the in-house regulators of the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ–has been chosen to head the Securities and Exchange Commission in the new administration. Ms. Schapiro has spent her entire career in financial industry regulation since graduating from GWU Law School, and her appointment is greeted with a mixture of relief and skepticism by the financial press and editorial pages.

  • Palm Beach Post: “On Thursday, President-elect Obama nominated Mary
    Schapiro, a proven financial regulator, to succeed Mr. Cox at the SEC.
    He had no background in regulation when President Bush picked him in
    2005. The choice of Ms. Schapiro is another example of change for the
    better under Mr. Obama.”
  • Business Week: “While Schapiro has won praise in many quarters — including at various
    times from consumer watchdogs, Republican and Democratic predecessors
    in the SEC’s top job, lawmakers and the financial-services industry —
    she’s not seen as someone likely to make Wall Street quake with fear.
    Given the anger of lawmakers, and the public, over the financial
    industry’s failures, that could prove significant.”
  • Wall Street Journal: “Out of the gate, Ms. Schapiro faces potential controversy. In 2001 she
    appointed Mark Madoff, son of disgraced financier Bernard Madoff, to
    the board of the National Adjudicatory Council, the national committee
    that reviews initial decisions rendered in Finra disciplinary and
    membership proceedings. Both sons of Mr. Madoff have denied any
    involvement in the massive Ponzi scheme their father has been accused
    of running.”
  • Bloomberg News:”Schapiro, in an Oct. 28 interview, endorsed a “twin
    peaks” approach to oversight. Such a system includes two
    regulators: one to focus on potential shocks to the financial
    system, such as the failure of a massive bank, and one to
    enforce compliance with rules.She also said the Fed should be given broader authority to
    oversee entities such as hedge funds, which remain outside
    federal regulation.”
  • New York Times: “Ms. Schapiro’s years of experience may cut both ways: In her various
    roles, she has presided over and sometimes championed the current
    regulatory system, which critics say failed to avert the recent market
  • TheStreet.com: “In light of the situation, Schapiro will almost certainly err
    on the side of investor safety. Irving Straus, who has worked in public
    and investor relations with financial firms for several decades, says
    he dealt with Schapiro as an executive of a mutual-fund company, when
    she was at the NASD. He calls her a ‘great choice’ and a ‘fair,
    knowledgeable, no-nonsense, administrator.’

    “‘Recent shenanigans will not happen again under her watch,’ Straus asserts in an email message.”

Solis to promote equality and environment:
Labor Secretary designate Hilda Solis, currently a five-term congresswoman from Los Angeles, has a 100% voting record rating from the AFL-CIO, but her efforts on behalf of the environment and gender equality should make her tenure more interesting. “Rep.
Solis’ signature legislative achievement was the 2007 ‘Green Jobs Act,'” reports the Wall Street Journal’s “Environmental Capital” blog.

That bill,
signed into law as part of the broader 2007 energy act, provides
federal money for “green collar” job training, “such as energy
efficiency retrofit and service, green building construction, and solar
panel installation.” Rep. Solis figures green-job training could create
as many as 3 million new jobs in the next decade. Other studies touted
by the Obama administration talk of up to 5 million green-collar jobs.

Below, watch Solis’ speech on the Paycheck Fairness Act:

Back in operation:
Betty Currie, former secretary to Bill Clinton, has also joined the Obama administration, as secretary to transition team co-chair John Podesta. Currie, 69, was a Hillary contributor during the primary and came out of retirement to volunteer for the Obama campaign during the general election. She has been living in suburban Maryland with her husband and Socks Clinton, the retired First Cat who turned 19 earlier this year.

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