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E-M:/ Knollenberg and constituents' views



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Enviro-Mich message from "Liz Godfrey" <lizgodfrey@prodigy.net>
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Hello Enviro-Michers!

I received this message from a constituent of Representative Joe Knollenberg
who tried to contact the Congressman about his concerns about endangered
species.  I think that everyone should be made aware of how he was treated
by the very people who are supposed to be there to listen to him.  A
terrible testament on our democracy.

Liz Godfrey
GREEN Northland Organizer
the GrassRoots Environmental Effectiveness Network
*powering the Endangered Species Coalition*
(608) 294-1338
lgodfrey@stopextinction.org
www.defenders.org/grnhome.html
www.stopextinction.org

_______________________________________________________


Disillusionment knocked me down today.  I had always believed that we live
in a democracy where our views are welcomed and our voices heard.  I thought
that the Members of Congress we elect to serve our districts voice our
opinions
in Washington.  When I vote, I support the candidate who will best represent
my
views.  Even if that individual is not elected, the candidate who is elected
should
be eager to hear from all constituents, including those who do not agree
with their
views.
	I called Congressman Joe Knollenberg’s office today as a constituent from
Michigan’s 11th district to present my views on endangered species issues.
I
asked to speak to the environmental legislative assistant (LA) because they
advise the Congressman on policy and listen to constituent views.  Mr.
Knollenberg’s happens to double as the legislative director (LD). Their job
is to
serve the people, just like Mr. Knollenberg; that is why we pay them.
	Expecting Aloysius Hogan, Congressman Knollenberg’s environmental LA,
to tease out my suggestions, opinions and concerns was clearly a mistake.
Once
he decided to talk to me (it took several attempts), I explained my concerns
about
Rep. Knollenberg’s position on endangered species issues.  Frequently
interrupted by Mr. Hogan, I desperately tried to convey all of my views and
felt
attacked by the time I had finished.  Instead of hearing a thank you for
calling, I
was challenged about my knowledge of the Endangered Species Act of 1973
(ESA) and the revision, The Endangered Species Recovery Act of 1999 (ESRA),
pending approval; further, I was subjected to a tirade on how my view is the
“liberal view” and how the “conservative view” is a more effective way to
protect
endangered species.
	It doesn’t take an environmentalist to debunk this theory.  That is not,
however, the issue at hand.  I simply wanted to express my opinion, but Mr.
Hogan believed that I did not have the right to do so.  I had called once
before
and faxed him some information that he requested regarding the effectiveness
of
the ESA.  Today he claimed that he never saw it.  When I asked him where it
could be, he kindly offered to let me speak with everyone in his office and
ask
them individually.  I simply replied by saying that it is not my duty to
admonish
the workers in his office.  Then Mr. Hogan made me laugh: he hung up on me.
It
reminded me of the childish play and immature antics of elementary school
children.  Now Mr. Hogan is always “busy” when I call.
	I don’t intend to disparage Mr. Hogan, but I think that his actions should
provoke complaints and a broader awareness: is our democracy working and are
we being heard in Washington?  I imagine that my experience is not a rarity.
In
any case, I did not appreciate an employee, if you will, passing judgment on
my
thoughts.  I only intended to convey my fears about endangered species to
the
Congressman.  I wanted my representative to know how I feel.  After all, it
is the
residents of the 11th district for whom Rep. Knollenberg speaks.  Why
shouldn’t
my view count?
	A fitting quote from Congressman Knollenberg’s webpage: “To do my job
effectively, I need to know how you feel.”  Maybe Aloysius Hogan should
check
out the site.

Marc Solomon
Farmington Hills, MI


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