Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Power of Participation

“Why?” My roommate asked me when I told her I was going to Harrisburg the next day to lobby on behalf of the Healthy Youth Act and Notice Home Act.
“Why? Because lobbying is what you do when you want government change?” was my uncommitted response.

The next day, sitting in from of my Representative, offering data and statistics about how much money is wasted on abstinence-only-until-marriage ($6.7 million) and the number of teen pregnancies that occur in the Commonwealth (about 19,000), I realized something: I have so much power right now. This man has so many people telling him about different issues everyday that he likely has no time to research any of the topics himself. He depends on advocates like me and those who joined me to tell him about these issues.

This is not even the first time I have lobbied! But for some reason, it is the first time the message was clear to me about how important each citizen is to lawmaking. The Framers drafted the Constitution to include this aspect of government. They ensured that the people had a voice in how law was created and that no branch of government could silence it. No matter what form of lobbying you employ (visiting legislators, writing letters or emails, or calling their offices), you are contributing to change.

My lobbying partner and I were able to secure an immediate co-sponsor for the Notice Home Act as well as full support for both bills from a second legislator. The words we spoke compelled them to help initiate a change that will benefit thousands of students in Pennsylvania and that is a powerful thought. If (when!) these two pieces of legislation get signed into law, I believe a little piece of me will be in that signature, as well has the numerous other advocates that lobbied that day.

So that night, when I finally got home after the four hour bus ride, I was able to answer my roommate why I lobby. Why I requested off work to travel 200 miles to spend 15 minutes talking with a man I have never met before. Why I called my sister and my dad to tell them to write letters to their legislators.


Because it’s my right. Because it’s my duty. Because it’s what this country is about. You can’t get any more patriotic than that!

Shannon in Pittsburgh

*Note: The PARSE Coalition’s March 31st Lobby Day was an enormous success.
There were a total of 45 actual visits and 135 additional offices received hand-delivered packets of information from lobby day participants.

Since the lobby day 13 legislators have signed on as co-sponsors to the Healthy Youth Act. (Brown, Haluska, Harkins, Manderino, Moul, Mundy, Parker, Roebuck, Ross, Sabatina, Santoni, Walko, Wheatley)

We have had 6 legislators sign on as co-sponsors of the Notice Home Act. (Manderino, McIlvaine-Smith, Ross, Sabatina, Shapiro, and Walko)

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Anonymous Pete said...

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1:12 PM  
Blogger Vic Livingston said...

At the annual meeting of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania last night in Philadelphia, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero, the featured speaker, took some questions.

This “UTV” — unjustly “targeted” victim — raised the issue of the extrajudicial punishment network that has enlisted a citizen army of vigilante stalkers fronted by federally-funded community watch, policing and anti-terrorism volunteer programs.

I identified myself as the former business reporter for Fox 29 TV news in Philadelphia, but said I was attending the meeting to represent the victims of what is common known as “gang stalking.”

Romero was dismissive and somewhat condescending, seeming to imply that my account was an isolated case.

Was this an indication that someone had disparaged me to him even before I asked the question?

I interjected, saying that “This isn’t just me — this affects thousands, if not a few million Americans.”

At that point, a man standing to my left grabbed my arm, and a woman (undercover agent, perhaps?) closed in on my right side. I said to Romero, “Will you please tell this guy to stop touching me?”

Welcome to the ACLU.

At the end of the Q and A, I moved to the aisle so that I could give Romero the URL to my web site.

I noticed that two cameras on ceiling swivel mounts were trained on the audience throughout the program. As I changed position, I noticed that one of the camera heads rotated in my direction.

From the podium, Romero said something like this:

“I see you’re moving over to grab me as I go out. I’m trying to catch a train, so I’m going to walk right by you. I’ll take your business card, but I have to leave.”

I felt humiliated by a civil libertarian who seemed to have been preconditioned to reject my entreaties. As an openly gay man, Romero should know better than to be an accomplice to disparagement.

This is the American Civil Liberties Union. Disturbingly, it seems to confirm the belief that ACLU is meekly compliant to the Big Lie. Is this why torture always seems to be a foreign affair on their blog entries, with credible reports of domestic torture of U.S. citizens falling on deaf ears?

This blog is carefully monitored by the tormentors of “unjustly targeted victims” and their surrogates. I will be curious to read any responses to my comments, from fellow “unjustly targeted victims,” disinfo agents and ACLU officials alike.

And feel free to forward this post to Mr. Romero (

I mentioned during last night’s QW and A that I have tried to tell my story to national ACLU officials in person, but that I was twice turned away at the door by men in suits wearing interesting label pins.

His response: that he receives threats to his personal safety, and relies on his lobby guards to keep him safe.

I felt slandered by inference, Mr. Romero, and I believe you owe me an apology.

Or at least the personal meeting with ACLU officials that I have sought unsuccessfully for at least two years.

-- Vic Livingston, journalist/extrajudicial targeting victim

3:27 PM  

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