Sunday, June 18, 2006

by Joanne Lukacher of the NY Roots Project:

My first attempt at contacting Senator's Schumer's office concerning Net Neutrality was on May 2, 2006. I emailed the director of the senator's Hudson Valley office to alert her that this was an important issue which would be coming before Congress soon. I attached some articles, including one explaining the misleading semantics being used to cloud the issue. On June 12th I once again emailed the regional office as follows:

Hello Jean,

I wonder if you could clarify Senator's Schumer's position on a two items which are coming to the Senate floor soon:

1) Will he be supporting the Snowe-Dorgan bill on Net Neutrality?
2) Will he be working to see that the prohibition against permanent bases in Iraq is restored to the appropriations bill?

Although I have emailed Ryan McConaghy
[Foreign Policy Staffer in DC] independently twice since you first passed along my inquiry concerning the Senator's position on Iraq, I have not received a reply. Would he also be the person to tell me the Senator''s reason for voting for General Hayden to head the CIA? [Note: the Iraq question, more fool me, was whether he would support a Senate version of HCR391. I had first posed this question on May 6th and I was told on the phone that he probably knew nothing about it since he "didn't do foreign policy" but the message would be passed to the Washington office]

I would very much appreciate a response to all these questions.

Late the following day ( Tuesday, the 13th), after leaving a phone message, I received this:

In response to your questions, I have checked with our legislative staff and Senator Schumer has not yet taken a position on the Net Neutrality bill. There are hearings tomorrow, and we are getting calls and letters and advising him of the input from New York residents.
Our foreign policy staff member, Ryan, has left the staff and there is no replacement; I have not been able to get an answer to your second question yet.

My response:

I just sent you another article on Net Neutrality which I would appreciate your passing along to whoever in the Washington office will be advising on this. Senator Clinton has signed on as a sponsor of Snowe-Dorgan and last weekend Harry Reid declared that he was a strong supporter of Net Neutrality.

The broad spectrum of public support for Net Neutrality ranges, as you know, from the NRA and the Christian Coalition to MoveOn.org and the National Library Association. Rightly or not this bland "hasn't taken a position" response from your office is being interpreted in the larger world as yet another example of "finger to the wind" politics, which is both ineffectual and embarrassing to the Senator's supporters.

A few weeks ago I was talking with someone involved in a video project relating to specialized cottage industries which have sprung up in the South. These are small businesses which are supplying jobs to former textile workers displaced by NAFTA. The businesses are entirely dependent on the internet to reach their markets. This is just one example of the kinds of enterprise which will be impossible if net neutrality is eliminated and only the large corporations can afford to pay for the competitive advantage of faster rates of service.

Thank you very much for getting this information to the decision makers in Washington.

And the reply:

I sent this with a note to Scott Sroka, Senator Schumer's Judiciary
Committee staff member handling this issue. Thank you for bringing it
to our attention
.

It is now Friday, June 16th. Other members of our Roots-NT group continue to receive the same "has not taken a position" response to their calls. I would encourage everyone to call the senator's DC office on Monday morning and ask when the senator expects to let us know his position. I understand a vote is scheduled for June 22nd.
If you do not receive a definitive answer, ask to speak to Scott Sroka . Ask if the senator favors net neutrality, that is, the free and open internet which we now enjoy or if he prefers limitations in service, the imposition of private tariffs, and a diminution of choice.

And share with us your experience.

2 Comments:

At 1:25 PM, Anonymous Buffalo Gal said...

4:16 EDT. Just called Schumer's DC office. Was told that he's, um, well, he's studying the issue, trying to make up his mind. I expressed shock that he'd have any difficulty deciding whether to support "net neutrality" or the telecoms. I asked WHEN the senator might be making a decision since the issue is supposed to come up in the Senate later this week. She didn't know. But she took my zip code and my opinion and she said that the majority of the calls she'd taken were in support of the Dorgan-Snowe Bill. Keep those calls and letters coming!

 
At 10:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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