Senator Wayne Fontana Reads His Mail.


I had posted the following on my Facebook page and PittsburghBeat.com while ago, and wasn’t really sure if I’d get a response. Enough people seemed to be entertained by it, that I thought it did its job. Today, I got a letter in the mail from Senator Wayne Fontana. It’s also following the following.


So, tonight the doorbell rings… Bethany answers, and it’s a young woman from Clean Water Action. The girl at the door proceeds tell Bethany that she’s out raising support to clean up our waterways, and that if we like clean drinking water we ought to sign this petition.

Bethany signed after the girl at the door pointed to some bulleted talking points on her clipboard saying pollution is bad, and she then asked for a donation. Bethany, agreeing that clean water is good (and just wanting the girl to go away) gave her a check for $5.

The young lady at the door was very polite, and probably out for a good cause that she believes in wholeheartedly. I applaud her conviction and dedication.

Then, Bethany was given the following pamphlet and asked to write a letter to PA State Senator Wayne Fontana and leave it out on the porch for the young woman to pick up on her way back through in about a half hour.

The young political activist even handed Bethany a blank sheet of paper on which to write the letter. I found this very considerate.

Bethany sat down, perplexed at what to write. It’s hard to write a letter about an issue that you’ve just learned of minutes ago, mere seconds of those minutes being devoted to actually explaining the issue. She considered aloud just copying the text outlined in the “Tell Them” section of the handout and singing her name, and laughed.

You all know I like to write letters, so I happily offered to write in her stead.

I wrote:
Dear Senator Fontana,

My wife was asked to write this letter by a door-to-door political solicitor about an issue that was explained to her in less than 30 seconds with talking points laid out that (of course) over-simplify some situation about clean water initiatives.

She was asked to donate money to their cause, which she did, under duress.

I do not support their cause, and most likely their proposed bill includes some kind of legislation that will take property out of private hands for government use, or raise our taxes.

I’m sure there’s something that we’re not being told, or some sort of political affiliation or philosophy that’s not anything like mine behind this agenda.

Do I want clean water? Of course I do. Do I want anything else these people are pushing for? Probably not.

Perhaps a bigger issue to tackle would be to pass laws saying that people can’t solicit political issues door to door.

So, in closing, I apologize for wasting your time, my time, this envelope, a stamp, this ink, and this paper. I’m sure a Prius-driving sandal & socks wearing liberal is crying somewhere at my waste of precious resources.

Don’t you guys have e-mail addresses? I would love to hear your thoughts on the issue, and these “Clean Water Action” people. You can waste more ink, paper, stamps, & time by contacting me at the address above, or via email at my_email@ddre.ss.

Annoyed,
-(mE.)

We addressed it to Sen. Fontana, placed it in a sealed envelope, stamped it, and placed it on the porch for pickup by the young activist.

I do hope to get some sort of reply. Thanks to that woman for prompting this action, and for delivering my important message to the senator.

And, as promised, the response…

Yours is not the first story I've heard about the organizations's tactics in garnering support for their efforts.

Yours is not the first story I've heard about the organizations's tactics in garnering support for their efforts.

I think it’s awesome that the senator took the time to not only read my letter, but also to form a well-thought-out response.  This certainly does not appear to be a standard reply letter, and it’s good to know that others feel the same way.  Maybe something does get done by writing to your local politicians.

The last paragraph may not be what I needed to hear.

9 responses to “Senator Wayne Fontana Reads His Mail.

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  5. A few responses to your post, if I may:

    1. Talking points are intentionally simplified, sometimes overly so. Public policy is a complicated area with a lot of dimensions to the issues. No group would have time to sit down with citizens and explain the issues fully, so they all rely on talking points. Needless to say, groups on the other side of an issue will analyze those talking points for accuracy. If someone’s saying something that’s patently false, you can bet they’d get called out on it. If you haven’t heard that about Clean Water Action, it’s probably because their talking points are fairly accurate.
    2. Monetary donations are, axiomatically, support. You may not agree with their cause, but you did support it. Or, at least, Bethany did.
    3. Rather than make assumptions about “what these people stand for” or the contents of proposed legislation, or the political ideology underpinning a given group, why not these things up? I noticed you found Clean Water Action’s state website. You even put a link to it on your blog. I followed that link and found their mission statement, along with a list of the things they’re currently working on. Perhaps you could have done the same, rather than guessing what they believe in? They also gave you the name and bill number of the proposed legislation. Might I recommend Google?
    4. Considering that state and federal attorneys general have deemed door-to-door political organizing to be covered under the First Amendment, it would indeed be a bigger political issue to pass laws preventing the practice. Specifically, one that would require a constitutional amendment repealing the First Amendment.
    5. Rather than apologizing to the Senator for wasting his time (then further wasting it by taunting “Prius-driving sandal & socks wearing liberal[s]”), you might consider educating yourself on the issue about which you’re writing to him. You seem to have some questions about the bill in question. The Senator would probably be a great resource for answering those questions. Perhaps you could use the paper, ink, envelope, and stamp for that purpose instead?

    One final, general observation: learn to say “no.” If you don’t agree with a cause, don’t support it monetarily. If you don’t know enough about an issue to write intelligently about it, don’t agree to. Apparently, the presence of a young, polite, female political activist whose conviction and dedication you “applaud” at your doorstep qualifies as “duress” in your household. I wish I had so few problems to count that as “duress.” Rather than agree to do things you don’t want to do or don’t feel qualified to do, maybe try this on for size: “I’m not comfortable getting involved politically on an issue until I’m more familiar with it. If you have any literature I can read, I’ll happily take it, but I’m sorry, I can’t help out with a contribution or a letter at this time.” If that’s too verbose and you really just want them to go away, this old stand-by tends to work, too: “go away.”

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