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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/11/11

Adding Insult to Injury, in My Senator's Office

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Recently, I received a call from the Director of Constituent Services in U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson's Atlanta, Georgia office.   The first thing I said was that I preferred email, so that there would be a record (at my end -- they probably recorded the call) of the conversation.   I had criticized the way many issues I had raised with the United States Postal Service -- starting with their first mishandling a minor matter, followed by their refusal to investigate the issue in house, followed by other abuses of the public trust including the failure of their Postmaster General and Inspector General to even respond -- had been ignored by the USPS.   My criticism was directed to one of the Senator's constituent services staffers, whose handling of the matter had been lethargic, at best.   This staffer then ran whining to her boss over my requests that she pursue these matters.   In most operations, carrying out that request would simply be called "doing your job professionally."   But apparently, meeting such a standard was too much to expect.


Cutting to the chase, the Director of Constituent Services was quite polite and patient, hearing me out, but it was obvious that his role was to tell me politely to get lost.   The Senator's office would do nothing further while the USPS closes hundreds or thousands of smaller post offices and lays off so many postal workers, while running meaningless ads to promote priority mailing of packages because it is so inexpensive, a lie if there ever was one.   The last one of these ads has a mock-postman telling us how the USPS now has smaller flat-rate packages so you can ship priority for just five bucks.   Perhaps the Postal Service is planning a sequel to that movie about shrinking the kids, now titled; "Honey, I shrank the packages" -- as the USPS now boasts of charging more for less.


What was particularly galling was that, when I responded to the Director's saying several times that he had no idea what else could be done about my issues, and I told him that the good senator could and should refer those issues to the Senate oversight committee for the USPS, the Director made no good-faith offer to take that action.   Nor would he agree to refer the matter to some policy staffer in the Senator's office who might actually deal with the issue substantively.   One would think that the USPS continuation of costly and ineffective television ads while running a large deficit, closing small post offices, and laying off so many loyal employees, would resonate with my Senator's staff, but so far that appears not to be the case. From my contacts to date, they just couldn't care any less.  I gave them some more time to follow up on these suggestions, but that hasn't happened, either.


When I taught Public Finance for decades,we had a name for this type of official conduct: malfeasance.   America needs members of Congress whose staff really respond to citizen concerns, and not just when the Senators or Representatives are running for office, either. And America needs an enlightened citizenry whose expectations of real Congressional action on real issues are fulfilled.  Real service to constituents is an essential part of democratic government, as it should be -- but apparently, not in this Senator's office.

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Author's Biography Eugene Elander has been a progressive social and political activist for decades. As an author, he won the Young Poets Award at 16 from the Dayton Poets Guild for his poem, The Vision. He was chosen Poet Laureate of (more...)

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