The General Services Administration (GSA) has been getting rammed with negative publicity around the country. It isn’t the kind of publicity that any agency wants and, not surprising since this is an election year, a few senior officials have resigned or been fired.
We can surmise it must be a significant political problem when the White House blames George Bush for the problems associated with the GSA conference. The administration argued on national television that the cost of the conference only went up 28 percent under the Obama Administration. The rate of increase for expenses on the conference had been more than that under the previous administration. A former GSA administrator under President Bush suggested that the current White House was engaging in political spin to lessen the political impact.
But there could eventually be some good news out of the entire GSA fiasco for one of the main participants in the affair.
Hank Terlaje is a GS 9 who works for the Public Buildings Service in Honolulu, Hawaii and listed in the recent past as a business and industry student trainee. He has become famous, or perhaps infamous, in the space of a week. Google his name and, so far, you will find, as of today, more than 5000 results popping up.
And, while the video that made fun of the conference, mocked GSA officials and the lavish spending to improve employee morale has gone viral, someone has been working hard to delete personal references to the 28-year old rapper. But the internet is vast and some of the references to the GSA rap singer have nothing to do with a federal agency. The reality is that the video shows this guy has a lot of talent. He has a good voice, the video looks more professional than some that become wildly popular on TV, and it is entertaining with a variety of backgrounds and numerous “real government people” involved in the production and having fun.
A government video, even one produced for this conference, isn’t going to get anywhere near as sexy as MTV. But, put matching black tops on a cute couple with good music, add sunglasses and a pretty blonde, outgoing woman who likes to dance, has a nice figure, takes down her hair and enthusiastically dances down the aisle in a GSA building, and the result is one of the sexiest federal government videos one is likely to see. (To see a more typical government video, which tries to be entertaining but falls short, check out this other GSA video entitled “Ready to be Green”)
I watched it several times before doing the article and found it funny and enjoyable. My only regret: He should have referenced FedSmith instead of the Federal Times in his act. Perhaps we will get to take the top media billing at the next conference.
I can’t say that I have a full appreciation for the rap music genre but as a former federal employee I can appreciate the humor, innuendo and the talent on display in this amateur video. The guy is a good singer and whoever wrote the lyrics for the song did a good job. Admittedly, it was embarrassing to the agency, cost the jobs of at least a few high level officials, embarrassed the administration during an election year, and apparently resulted in someone or some agency trying hard to eliminate personal references to the singer and his background anywhere these references may exist, and may have destroyed the budget for the Public Buildings Service for the next year or two.
On the other hand, the guy can sing. And, it appears from a comment from one of his friends, he was a singer with talent and a band but never came close to matching his current publicity.
Hank Terlaje and the TradeRoots is on the internet with a song called “Wind Girl Wind.” You can watch it (the video quality isn’t that good) and decide for yourself what kind of future he may have as an entertainer.
And, when you do a Google search, you will find that the song already has quite a following. One quick search turned up 1,320 hits referencing the song (at the time of this writing). The singer apparently went to Father Duenas High School in Guam and has a following of friends, relatives and others there who just like to hear him sing.
The real embarrassment for the agency comes at the end of the video at the presentations. High level officials were aware of what went on at the conference and were celebrating it. Hank Terlaje was a good sport. He came across as a popular young guy with a sense of humor and a bright future. Having worked at numerous federal agencies, I doubt someone in his position had anything to do with the decision-making process for the conference that makes government employees look like free-wheeling spendthrifts with their hand in the federal Treasury while enjoying fine wine and gourmet meals in Las Vegas. While that may be okay for an elected official or the wife of the president, it isn’t going to go over well with the public or the elected officials to have this kind of expenditures for run-of-the-mill federal employees.
It would seem unlikely that Mr. Terlaje will be singled out as a fall guy in this entire embarrassing episode. On the other hand, if I were a 28 year old singer with talent and ambition, perhaps I would see some good coming out of the whole affair and try to get a new recording contract with a big recording label. He now has a recognizable name, his video has been watched by tens of thousands of people already, and he has talent.
I hope he does well and look forward to seeing his next video which, no doubt, will not be highlighting any federal agency.