Friday, January 16, 2009

Your incomplete guide to Oly-speak

Niki Sullivan from TVW has posted a top-three list of what she describes as “ semi-obscure phrases I’ve heard this week that, if you don’t know the inside language, may seem confusing.”

Her top three? Bow wave, entitlement and sacred cow.

That got us thinking about what other words and phrases we throw around here that might make the average person scratch their head in confusion.

There is, of course, the alphabet soup of government acronyms we use all day long.

Acronyms like OFM (Office of Financial Management), LAs (Legislative Assistants), HB or SB (House Bill or Senate Bill), HEC Board (Higher Education Coordinating Board), HDC (that’s us – the House Democratic Caucus!), and on and on and on. Most of us can’t remember what the acronyms stand for because, well, we just can’t. That’s what Google is for.

And what about the odd words and phrases we use?

Ever heard of “Ulcer Gulch?” It’s an actual location in the Legislative Building where the lobbyists hang out and retrieve messages. The name speaks for itself.

There’s lots of news about identifying projects that are “shovel ready.” Why are these projects so important all of a sudden? President-elect Obama wants to send money to the states to use towards “shovel-ready” projects, essentially meaning projects that are planned, permitted and ready to go.

Ever been to a two-corner meeting? What about a three-corner, four-corner or five-corner meeting? A two-corner meeting is a meeting of leaders from the House majority and the Senate majority. A three-corner meeting would include the governor (or her people). Four corners is all four caucuses in the House and Senate -- House D's, House R's, Senate D's and Senate R's. "Five corners" is all four caucuses plus the guv.

Of course, our favorite phrase without question is “sine die.” Pronounced sigh-nee die, it’s Latin for “without day” and is what we call the final adjournment of the legislative session. And in case you’re keeping count, our scheduled sine die is only 100 days out.