April 10, 2005

Cheryl Pflug's selective communication

I'm on an increasing number of mailing lists for organizations which alert me when legislation of interest to me is in need of a push to make it through the process. Back on March 10, I got email from Priorities for a Healthy Washington, a coalition of dozens of groups concerned with environmental issues in Washington state. The issue of interest that day was a bill in our state senate and they gave this background info:

In the U.S., buildings use one-third of our total energy, two-thirds of our electricity, and one-eighth of our water. Our buildings have a significant impact on our natural environment, so building them better can help protect salmon, clean air, and forests.

Senate Bill 5509 requires state agency, higher education, and K-12 school buildings to be built to a national standard for high performance green building, ensuring that these buildings perform better for the people who use them and for the environment.

The bill passed out of the House on a 78 to 18 vote, but faces a tougher fight in the Senate. Many Senators are undecided or wavering. Your email will help generate the "yes" votes we need to pass the bill.

I used their contact tools to send a note to my state senator (Issaquah is in the Fifth Legislative District, so that's Cheryl Pflug). I need to start saving a copy of the messages I send with these tools. I didn't on this one so I can't tell now exactly what my message said. I didn't have much hope that Senator Pflug would pay any attention to me on this issue since her past actions have shown she's not exactly an environmentalist.

Yesterday I got a letter on gold-embossed paper from Senator Pflug. Here's what she said:

April 7, 2005

Dear Jeff:

Thank you for contacting me regarding Senate Bill 5509 which would require public buildings to use high performance standards. I appreciate learning of your support.

You'll be happy to learn that SB 5509 has received the necessary approval in the Senate and House and has been sent to the Governor for her consideration.

Please do not hesitate to contact my office should you have any further questions or concerns. It is an honor and privilege to serve on your behalf.

[machine-printed signature]
Senator Cheryl Pflug
5th Legislative District

For a minute I entertained the possibility that Senator Pflug actually listened to my comment! Then I read what she wrote. Notice what's missing?

She tells me the bill passed out of the Senate, but she says nothing about how she voted. Hmm. Easy question to answer. She voted against it.

I have a hard time interpreting this letter any way other than that Senator Pflug wants me to think that she listened to my input and supported the bill I wrote about. Now I don't expect my representatives to always vote the way I want them to. But when I ask for their support I think they should give me an honest accounting of whether they were able to vote my way, and if not, then why not?

If Senator Pflug had added a paragraph to the letter above stating "I was unable to support SB 5509 for the following reasons..." I would have shrugged my shoulders and gone on with my life. She might have even changed my mind about the issue.

All she did with this lie of omission was make me angry.

Posted by jeffy at April 10, 2005 01:42 PM