(Editor’s note: Several Insider Louisville contributors collected information for this post including Terry Boyd, who did the majority of the writing.)
This is a story with a back story.
We’ve been trying for weeks to get documents related to chronic absenteeism by a small minority of Jefferson District Court judges.
Insiders told Insider Louisville Chief Judge Angela McCormick Bisig is one of a group of female judges frequently absent from the court, a group that includes fellow judges Katie King and Michele Stengel.
Neither King nor Stengel replied to written requests for interviews left with court officials.
Bisig’s and others’ absences caused log jams, confusion and unreasonable workloads for the judges who do show up, say those sources, whose identities we agreed to keep confidential, because they have to appear before these judges, or work beside them as colleagues.
These particular judges are the judges who sort through the jammed criminal dockets in a court system that attorneys say is broken.
For two weeks, we tried to find out, and we know now this is a story that will have to be teased out over time.
Multiple sources told Insider Louisville that Bisig, among others, had extensive absences from her courtroom during 2012.
In an interview Thursday, Bisig told Insider Louisville that she hadn’t “taken a single day of vacation this year.”
However, the judge posted photos on her Facebook page of an April trip to New York City.
Bisig then confirmed she took “a long weekend” to go with her sons, adding that “any allegations of excessive absences are not true.”
What’s the truth?
We don’t know.
It’s nearly impossible to document the workings of the court, especially which of the 14 district court judges actually earn their paychecks, about $113,000 annually. (By comparison, Gov. Steve Beshear is paid $127,885 annually.)
Insider Louisville was denied documents, or told documents didn’t exist, only to find out they were public domain.
Beyond the stonewalling, documenting those absences and the additional strains they place on colleagues is difficult, because judges have virtually no obligation beyond personal scruples to show up.
We also came away with the feeling that at least one judge wants to tell the whole story, but can’t quite bring himself to do it.
District Judge Sean Delahanty doesn’t deny some Jefferson County District courtrooms aren’t in disarray.
But Delahanty won’t discuss the situation beyond vague assertions of lack of work ethic by other judges.
This very problem – backed up courts – was the driving force for a reorganization of Jefferson District Court last August.
Before that reorganization, judges were too frequently combining dockets, Delahanty said. That is, one judge doesn’t show up, so another judge has to fold that additional case load into his or her docket.
That’s still going on now, he said.
“The only reasons judges are supposed to combine dockets is vacations or emergencies, and dockets are getting combined way too often for other things,” Delahanty said.
Which could be interpreted as a shot at Bisig, who appears frequently at social events featured in the Voice-Tribune newspaper, the Bible of Louisville’s social scene.
Pressed to address the major problems in the courts, Delahanty said, “There are things that will come out in time.”
“What he’s talking about is the lack of accountability the judges have in the way they spend their time,” said attorney Thomas Clay, a partner at Clay Frederick Adams, PLC.
Clay and other attorneys say there are two ways judges hand off their dockets – by calling a colleague and asking that judge to take their cases, or to call into clerks of the court, who would assign the absent judge’s docket to another judge.
Which is what causes delays and confusion, with judges not in their assigned courtrooms when defendants, witnesses and judges show up for trials and hearings, say our sources.
The system leads to a core of judges picking up the slack including Delahanty, our sources said.
“I defy you to find one attorney anywhere out there who will say my courtroom is broken,” Delahanty said. “You can come to my courtroom anytime you want. Courtroom 204. You come any day, and you can see how a court should be run.”
Asked to talk about the workings of the court or attorneys who don’t run their courtrooms as they should be run, he demurred.
Most elected officials have some mechanism that can be used for accountability whether it be records of votes, legislation or roads paved.
But not judges.
Delahanty told Insider Louisville that he doesn’t believe there are any documents that have data documenting the time judges are in the courtroom or the volume of cases they hear: “We don’t keep a record of attendance.”
“It’s an issue that needs to be addressed. And this is not an issue that just cropped up recently. There have been questions about this topic for years,” Clay said.
Jacob Conway, whose Website Mentors consults with local judicial campaigns and frequent Insider Louisville contributor, said he finds ridiculous allegations that Bisig is a chronic no-show.
Bisig, a former prosecutor, “had a stellar record” in that job, Conway said. “She was one of the people who was always there, later than her job required, longer than any other judges … a workhorse. It’s why no one ever ran against her before.”
Conway says he believes allegations that Bisig and other female judges are devoting less than their all to their positions connect back to possible resentment about more women winning judicial elections.
“A majority of women on the court are women who beat incumbent men,” he said. “These men pointing fingers may be upset about the number of women judges (winning) just in the last few years.
“This is the last ‘old boys club’ left in (Kentucky) politics.”
Two weeks ago, legal insiders told us about a survey of attorneys coming out Tuesday, August 21 that would expose the Jefferson District Court system as a system in chaos.
We went to Bisig to request a copy. Bisig was non-committal, telling us she didn’t know anything about any survey, and wasn’t sure if it would be public record if there was such a document.
We persisted. We asked who paid for the survey, aguing if it was paid with taxpayers’ dollars, it’s a public document. Bisig said she didn’t know.
We asked state officials, including Leigh Anne Hiatt, public information officer for the Administrative Office of the Courts in Frankfort, for the document. Hiatt never followed up on our request.
We asked local employees at the Administrators of the Court, and they claimed the survey didn’t exist, or referred us to state officials.
Wednesday night, Riley posted a story on the survey, a story that stated 53 percent of 164 lawyers responding disagreed or strongly disagreed the reorganization had enhanced administration of justice, with 10 percent agreeing. (Thirty-seven percent had no opinion.)
From Riley’s story:
Among the biggest problems cited in the survey are that the changes have led to too many combined dockets – those in which a judge took on their own cases as well as the cases of another judge who was either not in court that day or unavailable, backing up the process.
We tried to quantify attendance rates and workloads through the court dockets, which our sources told us judges must sign off on daily.
However, in an email response, Hiatt stated that’s not true (emphasis ours):
You … requested information about when individual judges are on the bench. The court system does not have any one document to provide that information. In addition, docket information does not provide a complete picture of when judges are working. When outside of the courtroom, judges may be preparing paperwork, reviewing probate files, ruling on default judgment motions and taking 24-hour calls regarding bond reviews, search warrants, emergency protective orders and mental inquest warrants. Judges can also have dockets on evenings and weekends.It is also important to note that judges determine their own schedules to meet the needs in their jurisdictions.
There are two custom services running on the deployed machines that are essential for the solution to function properly. These services are gcs-sync (running on WordPress instances – both Admin and Content) and cloudsql-proxy (running on the SQL Proxy instances).
The gcs-sync service runs a script /opt/c2d/downloads/gcs-sync that, depending on the role the VM is assigned (Content or Admin), will check in with the GCS bucket tied to the deployment and determine if content needs to be pushed to or pulled from GCS. If you need to interact with the service, you can do so via systemctl. For example:
systemctl stop gcs-sync
will kill the script checking GCS, and the node will not receive any updates that come from the Administrator Node. Conversely, if the service needs to be started you can do so with the following command:
systemctl start gcs-sync
The cloudsql-proxy service makes use of the Cloud SQL Proxy binary so you can connect to your Cloud SQL instance without having to whitelist IP addresses, which can change when instances are deleted and recreated in a Managed Instance Group. The Cloud SQL binary is located at /opt/c2d/downloads/cloud_sql_proxy and the script that executes the binary is located at /opt/c2d/downloads/cloudsql-proxy. Like the service that runs gcs-sync, it can be interacted with using systemctl. Stopping the service can be done with:
systemctl stop cloudsql-proxy
At this point your instance will not be able to communicate with the Cloud SQL instance, and the application will not function. If you needed to manually start the service for any reason you can do so with the following command:
Hindsight is 20/20 and given the findings of the report below every campaign in 2016’s house races in the study, who relied solely on Facebook pages to represent their campaign’s online presence, would likely build a WordPress site now. No one who had just a Facebook presence won in 2016.
There are a lot of reasons this could be true, but one fact remains … Do you want to replicate the losers in the last cycle? Visit my Political SEO site to learn more about what I have done for campaigns and candidates in 2018.
Reposted Article, original source at bottom of article.
Every year I analyze the use of websites in political races across the country. This year there were more candidates with websites than I’d noticed in the past. That’s a good thing, in my opinion – the web is an ever-increasing way to reach your audience at a much lower cost base than sending mailers or printing signs and flyers. And while those other methods shouldn’t be ignored, the web is, in my opinion, the way forward!
What follows is my analysis of websites used by candidates in various races across Pennsylvania – mostly from the race for Governor and the various races for US House of Representatives. I analyzed 40 websites in total, through which I found candidates employing 5 major web platforms, in order of the most prevalent.
Data was taken from the PA Secretary of state an is the official posted election result counts. Additionally, the websites listed here were those registered when the candidate applied to run for office. Of course, there are many more candidates who did not declare his or her website to the Secretary of State, and those websites were not included in this analysis.
WordPress was the most prevalent website system used among the sites analyzed making up 42.5% of all websites, followed by regular HTML sites at 37.5%. The remaining 20% were composed of NationBuilder sites, Facebook, and Twitter. I think it’s important to note that while Facebook and Twitter aren’t actually full websites, the candidates in those cases, 4 in total, decided to forego a traditional website in favor of marketing the campaign only through social media networks. In a moment, I’ll discuss how those campaigns fared.
There are literally dozens of ways to rate the effectiveness of a website. You can look at length and type of content on the website, format and structure, or even a more subjective analysis like colors used or artistic flair. I was more interested in the bottom line – the win!
So the next analysis I ran was a win/loss ratio by website type being used in the races. As you can see in the chart below, WordPress has the highest win / loss ratio with 11 wins to only 5 losses. HTML is close behind with 9 wins and 5 losses. These two website types make up all the wins, while the candidates who used other website types, namely NationBuilder, Facebook, and Twitter, experienced only losses.
You’ll notice that the WordPress website count for the purposes of this analysis drops from 17 to 16. This is due to one candidate dropping from the race, so for purposes of wins/losses it does not factor in.
Website Type Match-Ups
It is also helpful to note here that in some cases, candidate websites analyzed were used in races running against each other. For example, the 15 HTML sites were used across 10 races. That means, in some cases, a candidate with an HTML site was running off against another candidate with an HTML site. Of course, in political races there can be only one winner, with the other (or others) being the losers. Among the 17 WordPress sites, there were 4 common races – one of those races had 3 or more candidates – all with WordPress sites. What’s interesting to note here is that the only time a WordPress site associated with a losing candidate is when it ran against another candidate using a WordPress site also.
When candidates using a WordPress site ran against a candidate using any other type of website, the WordPress site was associated with the winner 100% of the time.
There were two instances of a direct match up between HTML sites and WordPress sites running against each other, and in each case the WordPress site was associated with the winning candidate.
A Closer Look at WordPress in Political Websites
With WordPress being used in such a high percentage of winning races I took a closer look at the types of WordPress websites being used by the candidates. The advantage of using a system like WordPress is its high extensibility, modular plugin-in features, and ease-of-use. It also offers the ability to quickly switch between free and stock templates and custom frameworks.
We saw two different types of frameworks being used:
Full custom builds
A full custom build is one where the website is built from scratch. No stock template is employed, or if a template was employed it was modified to such an extent the website no longer looks reasonably like the original template. These are more complex websites with additional features added in, and likely done at a higher price point than the premium template scenario discussed below.
A premium template is a website that is created using a starter template that has the basic features already installed and styled. The candidate, or his/her developer, then went through the process of slightly modifying the template to the candidate’s needs. In these cases, the sites were not modified extensively and the original framework template would clearly be visible in the website structure.
In my analysis, candidates using WordPress chose to use full custom WordPress websites 56% of the time and premium templates 44% of the time. In terms of usage, the numbers are fairly close. But the results are not.
As you can see from the table above and the charts below, candidates using full custom websites experienced a much higher winning percentage. When full custom websites were employed, candidates won 78% of the time, whereas candidates using stock templates won only 57% of the time, a margin of more than 21%.
Political Candidate Websites Listing
The websites considered in this analysis are listed in the table below, along with the name of the candidate running and type of race. This list is accurate of 11/5/2015 while all the analyzed sites are still live and valid. They may at some point in the future come down. If the link doesn’t work that is likely the reason.
It’s well-known that WordPress accounts for nearly 1 in 5 of every new website created around the world, but I was surprised to see that WordPress was being used in more than 40% of the open races analyzed here in Pennsylvania. I have no doubt the WordPress ratio will continue to climb in future elections as the platform becomes even more prevalent, and even easier to use.
It Takes About 3 Months To 6 Months To Rank #1 On Google
In the world of politics everything seems to be able the last week of an election, after that its over. In the business world you have to keep going after a certain defined date to remain in business. Political SEO requires keeping in mind the business world because in Googleranking they are your biggest competitors and the other candidate is likely just as I was talking with a politico kind of friend in the last two days about the need in getting in contact with any campaigns for November now … he seemed puzzled and said we had three months and most campaigns are just starting. That may be fine and dandy for yard signs and television commercials but online everything needs to be in place before you want it. That means now.
I will grant you that Jefferson County Judge Executive isn’t a highly sought after keyword. But then who is going to Google that keyword closer to the election? If you thought that was the keyword for that office, you’d be wrong. You need to stop thinking of proper nouns as good Google keywords. I’ll pin a conversation about keywords at another time but for now focus on timing.
Its not too late to invest in search engine optimization and building an engaging site for voters. It will be too late in October when you will wish you had.
I say be “Trumped” because for all that he did wrong in tarditional campaigning, he did Political SEO better than anyone had before.
I’ve always been a political guy. I love using technology to those political ends. Earlier this year I was able to leverage my experience in SEO, Adwords, cloud computing, data analysis and web design for a political candidate. It’s why these unique products are bundled into what I offer through Upwork. Today there is no excuse for a candidate to neglect digital media needs. Local candidates can easily benefit from a solid online presence for much less than they might think. The past experience with Brent Ackerson’s campaign was very encouraging.
I’ve started to reposition satellite sites made in March for a new project I’ll mention below. VoteLouisville.com for instance is intended to be a voter education site for anyone who wants to post I just so happen to post all of the stuff there. I have some further plans for louisvilleelection.com but those are all in my head.
All of these sites are hosted by my Google and Amazon cloud accounts, so that stuff has come in handy. I hope to attract additional campaign work if not in 2018 by 2020. I figured this new niche deserved a site so I’m working on candidateseo.com with a handful of .net names also headed there just for ease of use.
I said at the a campaign meeting that I felt radio and TV ads were as effective as yelling out a window. I still feel that way, even more so each day. In these meetings people point out I’m tech savy but others still watch TV … then I think of my 88 and 92 yr old grandparents who recently decided Netflix, Amazon and Hulu were all they needed.
My Grandmother is the idea focus for a campaign, everyone knows older people vote much more regularly and reliably than younger people. She has 29 children, grand children and great grand children. Living in half a dozen states I think now. Guess what that means…she’s on Digital mediums 29 times the amount you’d probably expect.
I’ve also explained to candidates that it is a growing trend for a voter to arrive on election day with one or two races already decided. This voter is now faced with several other races on the same ballot and will likely reach for their phone and decide who to vote for with only minutes of searching for the office or candidates. The results of these searches will ultimately decide these votes. Interestingly the money needed for Political SEO and Campaign Site Digital Marketing, creating content with the candidate amounts to a fraction of what campaigns will spend on radio.
I’ve added Candidate SEO to my domain family because I figured I needed a site as unique as this niche.
Real estate brokers say location, location, location. Did you know that first position in Google search results gets about 35% of users focus but 3rd gets some where around 7%? If one candidate SEOs their site and a negative site against the other unprepared candidate that could be the election.
I’ll be focused these next months on politics and SEO again. I’m excited that Judge Sean Delahanty has signed on board with me to help him get out his digital message. I’ve only had a couple weeks to put into this but check out his new campaign site. There is method to the madness, Ive also create a sister site that serves as a funnel or over flow thats officially the campaign committee‘s site.
Social Media – Candidate SEO – “You’re going to be popularrr”
Most of you will look at this wall of profiles and think to yourself who is ever going to go to these? If you did and you’re running for office send me an email…you need me. These sites aren’t REALLY there to be read by people. All of these sites are visited by search engines and these sites frame an image of a candidate to Google. All of these social media accounts ultimately end up at the campaign site, there is value in reaching voters … but you’ll reach voters if you are at the top of their searches.
I’ll post shortly about the positioning the sites are reaching. If you are running for office in Louisville Kentucky and looking for what you dont know you need reach out to me. Not convinced you need me? What would you say is the least important phrase for me to ranking these pages for on Google? If you aren’t thinking the candidates name you should email me. I’ll explain after the election or ya best ask in person.
Future post I’ll explain why IP based Digital Marketing is so 2001! Don’t do it…its technically and human behaviorally flawed.
Just in case anyone was worried I have not disclosed anything that someone can learn within a little bit of research concerning my candidate’s sites. All the secret sauce is still in the bottle.
Today, most people are searching on Google using a mobile device. However, our ranking systems still typically look at the desktop version of a page’s content to evaluate its relevance to the user. This can cause issues when the mobile page has less content than the desktop page because our algorithms are not evaluating the actual page that is seen by a mobile searcher.
Let me summarize this for you in plain English:
Most people are using Google on a mobile device.
Conducting mobile searches is more common than ever. Yet Google was still ranking search results by desktop page content and experience.
The disconnect here is that most are on mobile yet website owners are designing for an audience viewing desktop.
This results in bad experiences for users on unoptimized mobile pages.
And Google is all about providing the best search engine to its user base. Which is the majority of the world:
If Google didn’t make the change to rank mobile pages, there would likely be a drop in mobile users not searching with Google due to slow sites and unoptimized mobile pages.
So, they started testing the mobile-first index in 2016, where Google planned to shift its indexing to mobile pages before desktop, providing better browsing for the majority of users.
As you can imagine, this was a pretty significant shift. And, it left the industry with a lot of unanswered questions.
If your website is not optimized for mobile, you could see a drop in traffic and rankings.
Over a few days that the update was pushed live, Glenn Gabe from GSQIS started to notice fluctuations in rankings, rich snippets, and more:
This prompted tweets from Google’s Search Liaison account, confirming the updates:
So, what exactly happened here?
Websites with little content relevance were primarily affected, sending rankings for companies to either jump high or fall heavily.
Many SEO marketers suspected this update was targeted at low-quality websites.
As Glenn speculates on the “brackets” update:
“This was one of the biggest updates I’ve seen in a while. It seems Google once again improved how it assesses quality, and with Google always looking to surface the highest quality content for users, that’s a really big deal.”
However, John Mueller cleared things up during a Google Webmaster Hangout on April 6th.
He went on to explain that if your site was affected by the March 7 update, it is not an indication of a low-quality site, but more about content relevance.
Meaning your website is attempting to rank for specific queries that might not be relevant to the user clicking through to read them.
Your content has to connect the dots to search queries. Bounce rates must be reduced. Anything and everything you write and publish should be relevant to the reader.
Keyword Ranking is ultimately the goal of every SEO and Adword campaign. I was invited to an Upwork project this past week, I always like being invited and generally I try to make the project work. Someone out there noticed my efforts and wants to hear from me. It is unfortunate though when I feel I have no other choice but to decline the invite and not submit a winning contract.
A new site was seeking proposals for ranking at the top of search results using only organic search. I love a challenge but this search term was epic … Big Data. Initially I thought sure you can do it with six months to a years worth of work, a dedicated staff and a budget to grease the wheels of backlinking.
Maybe a personal interest story that resonated with the public at large concerning your keyword and how you would change society would muster up some viral shares that network news might pick up. The budget allocated was one hundred dollars.
Take a few moments before determining a keyword and check out Google Trends. You’ll gain insight into the keywords popularity. In these Google Trends graphs keep in mind 100 does not mean it was searched a hundred times, but on a scale of 0 to 100 how many people are searching for that keyword.
I realized at that moment this client hadn’t taken the time to research the current state of that keyword. Big Data is a buzz today and everyone wants to claim authority of that phrase. Even though we’re looking at Organic Search it can be useful to turn to Adwords and see what people are paying for regarding your keyword. Knowing what others are already doing is essential to understanding keyword ranking.
While Google Adwords Keyword Plan suggests the keyword has “low” competition a simple search of the keyword shows seven companies advertising under that keyword. SAS, Oracle, and Amazon are just a few actively paying for that keyword. Organic search results show IBM and Forbes ranking on the first page. These would be our competitors, I hadn’t even looked on page two. In my previous time with HP I knew they sought that keyword ranking as well…any computing company would.
Its competitive…consider the “low range” cost of that search term is $7 a click with up too a million searches a month in the United States alone. Now at $7 a click the earnings are likely much greater but how many clicks will turn into sales, and for a generic brand? Keyword Plan forecasts about 190 clicks for $110 dollars.
The client wasn’t ranking at all for this keyword, a lot of effort would be required to attain top keyword ranking. I knew that the likelihood of failure was high, the reward was low and so I declined to submit a proposal for that project. I want to maintain a high feedback score and I could see the client likely needing more resources to achieve their goal than they were willing to invest. I was surprised when I saw the project already had 15 proposals from other freelancers.
Advice I’d offer Upwork clients…It’s important to set attainable SMART goals and the best way to determine if a goal is attainable is to research it for a few minutes. There are free tools out there that can help draw the geography ahead.
Advice I’d offer to freelancers…pass on the deals that are unlikely to satisfy the client. If you do submit a proposal to a deal like the one I noted, be frank and honest about the prospect of attaining the goal. Possibly suggest an alternative keyword with similar relevance.
I’ll be watching “Big Data” and I wish the project luck.
On going collection of SEO Links including Free Tools and strategy guides. They come from a varied amount of external sources but together create an essential full picture of a site’s presence. Duplicate content, missing title tags and 404 errors beware.
If you are not already using this tool you’ve missed the first step to understanding your sites SEO status. Its essential to have this product setup. You will see what Google is pulling from your site and you can interact with the search environment by adding sitemaps as well as diagnose search issues.
Frank Abagnale depicted by Leonardo deCaprio in Catch Me If You Can speaks at Google about his life and cyber crime.
We’ve all seen the movie or at least we all should have the teen who runs away and becomes everything from an airline pilot to an ER doctor to an Asst. District Attorney all before he turns 21. He’s a cyber crime expert these days and his experience in forgery and documents is fascinatingly from the other side of most experts.