28 Sep 2009

Weekend Discussion: Political Influence

NOTE: This post will stay here until Sunday night. Posts for Saturday and Sunday morning go below this post.

Dear Aguanauts,

Discussion posts allow you to discuss a topic among yourselves -- exchanging views, learning and teaching. (I only read the comments.)

If you are interested, take a moment to check out (and add to!) the last week's discussion on a new constitution for California. After that, please give us your thoughts on...

Political influence/constituent services. Have you ever contacted your representative? Have they responded? Have they addressed your concern? Tell us about success and failure.


  1. New Mexico has two Senator's and three Congressmen.

    I have contacted all of them. They have responded quickly and well.

    In the beginning of my contacts, fifteen years ago, I determined what constituent services could and could not do for me. Sometimes I wanted more than they could provide.

    Now I only ask for things that they can provide. Since the Senators and Congressmen's staffs are always overworked, I offer expert input when appropriate.

    I do the same behaviors with my state representative.

    I do not always get what I want but I always get quick and appropriate responses. In contrast to others calling their representatives, I never yell at the person on the other end.

  2. WaterSource/WaterBank27 Sep 2009, 13:12:00

    Sorry this input is under the wrong discussion location ...

    Remember the discussion a few weeks ago regarding stream gaging and my recommendation that locals be hired to monitor ?

    The flooding in Georgia is an additional reason for these key people as evidenced by the critical situation now present due to flooding at all of the stations at the same time ...

    "In Georgia, there are about 300 USGS-operated streamgauges that measure water levels, streamflow and rainfall. The information is used for numerous purposes, including public safety and flood forecasting by the National Weather Service. More than 50 streamgauge stations have measurements above flood stage.

    "These are historic floods and we know that people's lives are at risk, so we burn the candle at both ends to try to keep our real-time gauges running," said Brian McCallum, USGS Supervisory Hydrologist, who oversees the streamgage operations and the field crews. "Because many of the gages have been destroyed, we are attempting to install as many temporary gauges as possible to ensure that real-time data is available to emergency managers."

  3. I am SO glad you asked that question because I am the constituent services director for a Texas senator. Our policy is to respond within 24 hours to a phone call and one week to respond to a written inquiry.

    One of the biggest difficulties I encounter in dealing with constituents is their lack of education. They call our office wanting assistance on federal issues or local government issues, which we have no influence over. And we can't fix traffic tickets, either.

    Another big problem is the way constituents talk to us on the telephone. They call with an attitude and then expect us to be kind and sweet and understanding toward them. I do my best, but sometimes after I've been called every name in the book and cussed out four times in the last hour, my patience has worn a little thin. Even though I am aware that the constituents are my employers, I still deserve basic respect and sometimes, they seem to forget that. Besides, you do catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

    And finally, I am a highly educated and experienced professional, not "the girl who answers the phone." Without the assistance I provide, my boss wouldn't be able to do his job as well as he does.


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