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September 27, 2005

Unimportant, but fun

OK, this is hardly Really Important, but, well, it's fun.

A women who recently sent a letter to Illinois' senators suggesting that the federal budget be reviewed with an eye toward cutting pork projects to help pay hurricane recovery costs got an email back from Sen. Barack Obama thanking her for her concern about "rescue operations for the pets of evacuees" and describing federal efforts to care for the pets.

Hmmm .... constituent sends mail discussing budget issues; gets response about pet care. What's up with that?

Maybe there's a hint in the P.S. at the bottom of the senator's email: "P.S. Our system does not allow direct response to this email. However, if you would like to contact me again, please use the form on the website: http://obama.senate.gov/contact/."

Hmmm ... system. Wonder if the "system" it automated? Maybe uses key words to select a form letter to spit back?

So I went to http://obama.senate.gov/contact/ and sent the following:

To whoever can answer,

A woman recently wrote to Sen. Obama's office suggesting that "pork" projects recently approved might be cut to help pay Hurricane Katrina recovery costs. The response she received was what appeared to be a form letter about federal efforts to care for the pets of evacuees.

How does this sort of mix-up occur?

Thank you,

John Beydler
News editor
Quad-Cities Online

The form required me to pick a topic, among which "got wrong form letter" wasn't an option. I picked "budget" -- will let you know what, if anything, I get back.

Posted by jcb at September 27, 2005 01:27 PM


I would be interested to see the original letter sent by the constituent. I looked at the link and didn't see it. I'm betting the phrase "pet project" was somewhere in the original letter. That and the reference to cutting pork to pay for Katrina probably flagged it as a Katrina pet letter.

I emailed Senators Harkin, Grassley and McCain during the whole nuclear option nonsense earlier this year and got generic form letters back that basically said nothing about the topic I wrote about. I don't know which is more impersonal but I see why they say it is always best to call your representative's office instead of e/snail mailing them.

Posted by: tiz at September 27, 2005 02:24 PM

There are bound to be some foul-ups when dealing with the volume of mail, e and otherwise, that flows into any senator's office. The form letters they all send in response often are to the point, and satisfy people.

What's needed is some way to escape the "system" when it does mis-fire. Responses to constituents should at least include a "follow-up" email address to use if there's a need, as opposed to filling out the same old form again.

Posted by: jcb at September 28, 2005 03:06 PM

Here's someone who had better luck emailing Obama in the little pork/pet experiment (scroll down, I couldn't get the permalink): http://semirandomramblings.blogspot.com/

Posted by: paladin at September 29, 2005 10:04 AM

At some point in time "we the people" will have to do something about all the government pork. I don't think that will happen until more of us have less. As I have always said. we have too many "waa-waa" people on earth.

Posted by: Dennis Hamilton at September 29, 2005 12:09 PM

I concur with tiz above... I'd wager that "pet projects" was in the message somewhere and a person or program keyed on the word "pet".

Posted by: TID at September 30, 2005 03:44 AM

My first thought was, as tiz beat me to above, that "pet projects" was in the message somewhere and a person or program keyed on the word "pet".

Posted by: TID at September 30, 2005 03:44 AM

On the Iowa side, here's a plea by "iowahawk" to preserve the Iowa Rain Forests (satire alert!): http://iowahawk.typepad.com/iowahawk/2005/09/rainforest_iowa.html

My concern for those of us here in IL, is that it appears we have no pork to cut in the 17th Dist. What does this say about the quality of our elected representatives? Nothing positive, I'm sure! (hee!hee!) (No, I don't consider road and bridge projects "pork" either)

Posted by: paladin at September 30, 2005 10:49 AM

I've always had prompt replies from the Iowa delegation about my emails, and usually the response in on topic exactly.

Posted by: Vita at October 3, 2005 01:17 PM