I believe it is my civic duty to let fellow citizens know what their elected officials are up to, even if they aren't your elected official.
I have posted every single exchange in this entry in my journal, and behind the cut is what we've said.
These are LIVEJOURNAL COMMENTS, not emails!! I didn't respond to the first comment because I thought it was innapropriate to respond in my journal and I was waiting for an email. The email never came, just comment #2...
I'm sorry that you still feel that I am not taking you seriously. Just because we don't agree doesn't mean that I don't take you seriously. It's obvious that you are very passionate about your position, but that doesn't mean you should expect me to change mine.
Also, for the record, I did not seek you out specifically by using Google. It's important to know that politicians are people that live in the real world like everyone else. From time to time, those of us in the next generation of leadership will "Google" our names to see what press articles might be out there that we may have missed. On one of those searches, I discovered your blog and the negative comments that you were willing to make in cyberspace, but not in direct contact. I did enjoy your latest email, though, and hope that it is an indication of the discourse we can have in the future.
I am sorry that you feel the need to hide your future comments by "friends-locking" future posts where you will talk about me. In all fairness to the public readers, I've included the last email that I sent you that you did not post.
I hope we can continue to work together to make the Northland a better place, and I hope my willingness to go to these lengths to respond will give you a greater appreciation for the job that I do and that I truly am not blowing you off.
Here is my last email response for the readers:
Thank you once again for your response. I am confident that we will fund those programs this session. Last session, the legislature was criticized for cuts that were made to some of these programs prior to my being sworn in. However, I don't believe that the cuts are nearly as deep or destructive as they were made out to be in the press. At the start of the session, there were over 1.1 million people on medicaid. At the end of the session, after the cuts, there were still over 1 million people on medicaid. To put that in perspective, there are only 5.5 million people in the state. That means that 1 in every 5 Missourians were eligible for some form of state assisted medicaid. Also, it is important to note that we spent more on medicaid last year than we did the year before, even with the cuts.
You are absolutely right. We need to do everything we can as a state to take care of those who have need assistance the most. The only way to ensure that happens is to make sure that we do everything we can to eliminate those who are abusing the system from the rolls.
Now, I would also like to address some things that you have posted on the web about my response. I was particularly disturbed that your response was one of the nicer ones that I received, and one that I had hoped would be constructive, but you chose to use it as a way to berate me on your blog. I don't know what you expected, but I certainly am not going to change a philosophical core belief just because I recieve some form letters from a special interest group.
I certainly realize that I'm not going make everyone happy all the time, but I do my best to find areas of agreement and work together move Missouri forward. I realize that no political party has a monopoly on solutions and work in a bi-partisan fashion to build consensus and get things done. However, there will always be areas of disagreement that cannot be resolved. I would suggest in the future that if you want to be taken seriously by your elected officials you should be a bit more careful about being nice to us in direct contact, but then berating us in a public forum. Google is a powerful tool and those of us that are internet savvy will read what you write sooner or later. We do not live in a vacuum.
Please don't forget to post this response on your blog as well. I sincerely hope that in the future you will decide to keep the entire discourse a bit more civil and constructive for the good of the state.
While I fundamentally disagree with your definition of public record, this will likely be my last post here. I've concluded that there are much more constructive ways for me to serve my constituents than responding to rants on random blogs from Google searches. I thought my input might actually be appreciated since there is a rampant misconception that we don't listen, don't care or are inaccessible. However, it is obvious to me that this community is more concerned with bashing those of us who serve than having meaningful discussion. Incidentally, I find it entertaining that some construe my response as "stalkerish and rude," when I've been nowhere near as rude as the original posts that caught my attention in the first place.
To the owner of this blog: We won't always agree, but I hope this entire exercise has at least proven that I am accessible to my constituents. Please don't hesitate to contact me in the future about issues that concern you. Input from the district is vital for me to do the job I was elected to do.
For the rest of you: Flame on...
Mr Silvey, I sent you an EMAIL and you responded in my JOURNAL. That was entirely inappropriate. If I send you a letter in the mail I would be angry if you showed up at my house to respond; this is the internet equivalent.
I have friends and aquaintances that I share my experiences with. Obviously they will comment on them. I have not only shared these emails on the internet, but with my family, real life friends and fellow activists. I had no idea that expressing opinions on public figures was wrong or not allowed. It's not flaming, it's our thoughts and opinions.
If you think what little my fellow activists and I are saying is bad and negative, you may not be ready for politics. You are an elected official and that makes you the subject of public scrutiny weather you like it or not. Just watch any national news network and see the things people say about Rick Santorum, Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, Trent Lott...it goes beyond criticism of their politics and gets personal. I have not, nor will I ever insult you as a person in public or private. The most I'll ever say is "wing nut" and if you're insulted by that I hope you're never the subject of a political cartoon.
I am not seeking to change your fundamental beliefs. I am looking to show you that many of the things you believe in may be moral but they are hurting the citizens. In my experience elected officials are not always familiar in the ways that their decisions effect the people. Every single vote you cast on the House floor, especially on bills dealing with medical issues, has far-reaching effects. Even if there were only 100,000 people cut from Medicaid, that's still 100,000 people that no longer have insurance. Even if abstinence-only sex education reaches two teens, there are still hundreds of others who are getting diseases and and getting pregnant. You can say that adoption is the better choice until you are blue in the face, but you need to seriously think about who knows what is better for individual women: politicians they have likely never met or the women themselves. I am here to ask you to set moral differences aside and please think about what really helps the people.
I am sure you have all kinds of positive emails and interactions from people who voted for you, but even the ones who volunteered time and money to your opponents deserve an ear and to be seen as YOUR CONSTITUENTS, not brushed off as a buggy special interest group.
You still have not replied to the email I sent you, nor have you commented on any of the issues I said in there. You've just decided to get in my journal and try to make me feel guilty about hurting your feelings. Changing the subject may work with other people but it will not with me. I fought against it twice, but I still got you as my representative, and I won't back down.
Since you haven't addressed the issues I brought up in the email, I am going to assume that you don't care, just like many other politicians. People have a right to know that you don't take us seriously.
I will be at the Capital on March 28th. You can choose to shut your door and ask your secretary to take a message like the others, or you can actually listen to the politics I'm addressing. Or who knows, you could eavesdrop on the conversations we have and comment on them instead of what is being addressed to you, since that seems to be your style.
I am DONE with this drama. I can't believe I have to ask you to respond to the actual issues here, but I'm going to. Could we please have a political conversation instead of a personal one?
This exercise has not proven to me that you are accessable, but that you have personal time. It isn't a misconception on my part that officials don't listen, it's my experience, and you've done nothing but prove it. You haven't responded to what I actually said to you, only to what I've said to others about you.
If you think this is the end you are mistaken. I am not going to back down or stop sending you "special interest" emails because it is your job to listen to me. If you don't like it you should rethink what you are doing. If you continue to ignore me I hope you know that you are misusing your power and not doing your job's duties.