The musings of one Andrew Langer - defender of liberty, passionate protector of individual rights, foodie. (Note: Said Musings of Andrew Langer are his own, and the views represented herein are likewise his views, and not the views of any other people, entities, foodstuffs, etc [unless otherwise specifically and explicitly noted].)

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Good Luck and Godspeed....

Today I had the fortune of attending a going-away party for a good friend and colleague. Michael Barrera, who starting on Tuesday will be the President and CEO of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, has for the last four years served in one of the most important, and under-recognized positions in the United States government. Mike has been one of this nation's most steadfast defenders of small business, serving as the National Ombudsman for Small Business at the Small Business Administration.

What the heck is an ombudsman, you might ask? Well, so did Michael, after SBA Administrator Hector Barreto offered him the job. The Office of the National Ombudsman (or ONO) serves as a mediating and investigating agency for small businesses who believe themselves unfairly targeted or being abused be federal regulatory agencies. It is an office few people know about (but I've been publicizing time and again because it's a program that really works).

Mike has also served in other capacities while at the SBA, including a stint working to ensure that agency contractural obligations to small businesses are bieng met - but the ONO under his leadership has been exemplary. They have produced real results for the folks doing the real work of keeping this economy going, America's small business.

But what's always amazed me about Mike is that he's always brought to the job this well-grounded earnestness. As I was recounting to the Administrator today, my first interaction with Mike was when I had to call him as a follow up to some questions that were raised at an NFIB event. I dialed his office, expecting like so many other federal offices to either find myself in voicemail hell or pawned off to a listless assistant.

But Mike answered the phone. Let me repeat that: Michael Barrera, the National Ombudsman for Small Business answered his own phone!!!

In a city where it can take hours upon hours to find a live person answering a phone at a regulatory agency, this is truly a mark of distinction. It impressed the hell out of me - and I knew that this was someone I wanted to make sure I supported.

Mike's departure from the SBA is a big loss for small businesses generally (though Peter Sorum, who will be the Acting ONO, will do an excellent job in the interim), but the hispanic small business community is gaining a tremendous advocate.

Buena suerte, Miguel. I look forward to continuing our work together in your new job.

1 Comments:

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October 26, 2005 12:36 AM

 

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