Contact your Reps, but be smart about it

Please exercise your first amendment right to a) to petition the Government for a redress of grievances by contacting your representatives in governmental office, as well as exercise b)to the freedom of speech, as well as how it can be applicable to c) the right of the people peaceably to assemble.

This includes your elected officials at the local jursidictional level (such as your town Mayor and local legislative representatives), the State level (like your Governor, and statehouse legislators), and at the Federal Level (the President and your House and Senate members) as well as non-elected officials who are part of your local or the national Executive branch agencies (think your local Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and national Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Don’t forget you can also petition the courts as well at both the local and Federal level when cases you are interested in the outcomes of reach a certain level of appeals where “friend of the court” briefs can be filed.

Furthermore, there’s nothing to say you cannot utilize these rights outside of your elected jurisdiction. Your opinion may mean less on face value because an elected official may not feel as beholden to take your opinion into account because you can’t immediately vote them out of office, but it’s important to remind elected officials that the current American citizenry is one of the most jurisdictional mobile in history and especially if you are contacting an adjacent electoral jurisdiction your opinion holds weight, as you could be a voter there at any point in the near future as well.

Two quick pieces of advice …

First: PLEASE don’t spam the hotlines, inboxes or otherwise become annoying noise in the decision making process. The original public comment methods are spammed the shit out of and reps are becoming smart to advocacy tools in the tech era.

Some estimates on some recent public comment websites have less than 2/3 of the comments were unique entries, the rest were spam based duplicates or dead inputs. FYI: Your IP is most likely being recorded when you are inputting through a default comment form. Your phone numbers is likely being recording through a voice mail system. Your name and address information is being recorded through petitions. And, so on and so forth.

When you make the same canned comment through several different contact points to the exact same person or agency you might think you’re being passionate, but what you inevitably are creating is noise in the reporting due to the duplication and watering down your opinion over time. Do it enough redundantly enough and you’re potentially undermining the cause as reps tend to discredit redundancy as being spam rather than being passion.

Furthermore, that redundancy is rarely driven by unique points of view, which brings us to number two…

Second: is be unique in your pitch. Don’t read off a script directly. Don’t use canned talking points without making them personal first. Something like half of the public comments could be easily tracked back to a handful of scripts that were distributed on both sides. Meaning the language used for the majority of the comments reflected “talking point” duplication where it wasn’t direct copy and past but heavily inspired by the equivalent of a form letter service in order to circumvent software designed to disregard exact duplicates and the similarities are still caught. You HAVE to sound original and sincere in your concern. Don’t create unnecessary noise by producing duplicate arguments, especially if those ideas are securely rooted in the language used by

The single best way to be on record with the Government is to physically be there in person. Show up, sign in with a legal ID and state your piece in person. Come prepared to state your claim, answer pointed questions about it and maintain your decorum. If you can go in person, it’s best to document everything along the way. If you are legally able to record the account do so. If you can, follow up your meeting with a detailed recap to the person you met with restating your point, as well as what you perceived the outcome of the meeting to be. Make sure you are explicit in stating this is a follow up contact so it’s not treated as spam but as legal documentation of the communication.

When showing up in person, it’s usually best to do it by a prescheduled meeting. Being there is an established track record of politicians denying personal meetings with constituents of the opposing viewpoint, particularly lately of Republicans denying these kinds of meetings, then take full advantage of sanctioned public assembly meetings like town halls. If town halls are not honored, which is also recent recurring trend among Republicans than produce assembly and petition opportunities legally by using other ways to bring together the community. If you are thwarted by no-shows or by threats of legal repercussion don’t be stymied, and take advantage of your Constitutional rights and your representative’s legal obligations by contacting your local ALCU and related organizations and gaining their assitance.

If you cannot arrange to meet your rep in person, write them a letter. No joke, old fashioned, legibly hand written letters show you take a special interest in what you are contacting them for. Be sure to send it registered mail with a signature delivery required in order to ensure there’s a record of its receipt by your reps office. You can type it if you’d like, but if you do do this, make sure it is on personal letterhead, addressed personally to the rep and don’t use a form letter introductory paragraph or a form letter closing statement as those are giveaways you are more likely. Regardless of hand written or printed, mail separately a separate CC to someone else on staff so there is a paper trail and ensure in your enclosure you are explicit in stating this is a follow up contact so it’s not treated as spam but as legal documentation of the communication.

If you must rely on electronic communication use a unique address approach that allows you to CC the entire staff of the person you are trying to contact and not a preexisting form. When you draft the email make sure you address everyone in CC and produce a body copy to the letter that is unique rather than relying on some prewritten form letter.

Be an advocate for what you believe. Don’t be a tool. One of the reasons many fights, from the FCC to the DEP to the FTC-DCPA/CAA to the DOE, etc, are so frustrating is because all the research shows both sides leveraged shady tactics but the current Administration is ignoring the abhorrent bullshit and blatant manipulation of the comment structure to defend their terrible approach.

The are not only allowing the robocommenting to influence them but enabling it further through the changes … if we want to have a real effect we have to play by a better set of standards or we potentially set up a situation where public comment is eliminated completely.


About thedoormouse

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