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May 2002 Rant

"Where Are The Responses?"

I always read the letters to the editor of the Richmond newspaper. I just read one where a guy wrote in and asked what’s wrong with his Chesterfield County Supervisor because the politician hasn’t answered the three letters he wrote him. This guy isn’t alone.

If you contacted members of the General Assembly during the last session you may be wondering why you didn’t get a response to your letter, fax, email or phone call.

I can remember past assembly sessions when I would call members of committees and ask them to vote for or against certain legislation. I would almost always be asked my name and address. I’d get a thank you letter within a few days. I had many legislative aides thank me for calling because they said they got so little input from citizens. This is now history.

During the past session I received 4 or 5 emails from the many legislators I contacted. I wrote my delegate and senator about HB 570. My senator called me and left a message that he agreed with me and that he shouldn’t have voted for 570. My delegate has yet to respond. Governor Warner’s web site states that you will get a reply to any letter, fax or email you send him. The person that does the web site needs to correct that statement. I sent two emails and faxed a letter about HB 570 to the governor. One of the emails was sent through Channel 12 for a town meeting with the governor. I never received a response.

I know you remember the car clunker program that was part of a bill in the US Senate this winter. I received two letters in reply to my letters and emails to Senator Warner. I never got a reply form Senator Allen. I haven’t talked to anyone who received a response from Allen.

Here’s a story I heard about a former US Senator from Georgia, now deceased. Senator Herman Talmadge chewed out an aide for not keeping up with responses to letters sent to the senator from his constituents. His aide stated “Senator, the letters still on my desk really should not be answered at all. Each is from a nut.” The senator replied, “Every constituent, including those you think of as nuts, expects and deserves a response from his United States Senator. Just remember, nuts vote. And if you lose the nut vote, you’ll lose the election.”

I think its time politicians that don’t believe in responding to our correspondence lost an election.

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