I went to Washington yesterday with five fellow antiwar, mostly Coalition for Peace activists. We met in South Philly at a Code Pink activist's home and departed at 5:15 AM, arriving in the Russell Senate building for a Breakfast with Bob monthly reception that our senator, Bob Casey, holds every month. Since some of my fellow activists had been there before, we knew that breakfast meant donuts, so we stopped for real food before we got there.
I was warned that it's often first come, first served, when Senator Casey enters the room, so I parked myself next to the door, and it worked. When he entered the room, I was the first one to get to talk to him and probably got a total of six or seven minutes. I was talking about the gulf.
- Advertisement -
As a member of the press, I disclosed this to one of his staffers, who really didn't tell me any rules. But later, since I did the same disclosure with all of the staffers I spoke to, one pointed out that the rule was that for press, discussions were not "on the record" but could be used for background, without any attribution.
Bottom line, Casey has a smart team of staffers and he himself is a cordial guy, a good listener who was able to re-state what I said so it was clear he really heard what I had to say.
My goal was to communicate to him what I've been writing in my recent series of articles on the Gulf-- that Obama's response has been inadequate, that secrecy is intolerable-- we are not at war with an enemy so that information should be hidden, that the military should be more involved. I suggested that we should be paying more attention to the Gulf of Mexico than the Persian Gulf.
That's me in the blue shirt. Note Senator Casey
wearingan anti-nuke button.
People in photo, left to right: David Gibson, Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA),Cathy Leary, Buxmont CFPA,Senator Casey,Jane Dugdale, Main Line CFPA, Rob Kall,Debi Richter, Delaware Valley Code Pink,Bill Deckhart, Buxmont CFPA
Pic taken by a congressional staffer.
While at the breakfast, I had chance to speak with four or five staffers on different topics-- Net Neutrality, finance reform, the cultural shift to a bottom up way of seeing and doing, caused by the web, military role in the gulf, the gulf in general. Those conversations were reasonably satisfying.
From the just short of one hour breakfast, we went to meet with a staffer at Arlen Specter's office. A young man, probably the age of my older son-- 26-- spoke to us briefly, listened attentively and I left feeling unsatisfied. My colleagues were okay with it, but I guess I'm accustomed to having more access to actually legislators, not their staffers. I wasn't satisfied. That wasn't the case with Casey's staffers. They were more informed and informative. I'm not blaming Specter's team though. The appointment was last minute and we probably got the junior staffer on Specter's team.
We were back on the road by 10:30 and arrived back in Philly by 1:00 PM-- making amazing time both ways. It sometimes takes six hours to get back from DC if I leave at rush hour.
it would be nice if Casey held these kinds of breakfasts in his own state, including having staffers with him. They could take a big van up to Philly, at least. You might want to check to see if your legislator has similar regularly held events. Some of the folks I traveled with do the trip every month. They've gotten to know the staffers and have learned how to be more effective in working to advocate for specific legislation, projects and issues. The START nuclear treaty was the big emphasis for them on this trip. Seriously. Check out what's available from your legislator.
I asked Casey for a radio interview. I think it will happen.
|The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author
and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.