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2003 General Assembly Session

Preservation Alliance Pursuing Budget and Growth Measures

The Preservation Alliance is active on two major issues before the General Assembly this session: Smart Growth legislation and funding for the State Department of Historic Resources:

We Need Your Help. Get Informed. Get Involved. Tell Your Legislators You Support Preservation in Virginia!

Watch This Site for Further Legislative Action Alerts.

Lobbying: E-mail Less Effective

You would think e-mail is a quick, easy, effective way for citizens to get in contact with their legislators. Especially with the recent discovery of anthrax in Congressional mail, e-mail seems the logical alternative. Nevertheless, the trend on Capitol Hill and here in Richmond appears to be a backlash against the medium.

Our legislators' offices simply cannot handle the volume of messages they receive through the Internet. According to an article that appeared in the New York Times last December entitled "E-Mail Gets the Cold Shoulder in Congress," many Congressional offices no longer disclose e-mail addresses because they are "ill equipped to cope with the deluge of correspondence that the Internet has brought." Nearly one-third of the 100 Senate offices no longer accept e-mail through public addresses. Congress received about 80 million e-mail messages in 2000, according to the Congress Online Project, a two-year research effort financed by the Pew Charitable Trust and conducted by the Congressional Management Foundation and George Washington University. These researchers estimate that the number of e-mails doubled in 2001. The sheer avalanche of Internet correspondence prohibits e-mails from being read and given due consideration.

Garvey Winegar, a local columnist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, addressed his thoughts on the ineffectiveness of e-mails in a January 4, 2002, article "Knowing the write stuff on reaching legislators." He confirmed that the best way to contact your legislators is via mail or telephone. Winegar stated, "Veteran political types tell me that e-mails-so fast, so easy, so numerous-don't get read or acted upon with the same thoroughness as phone calls or regular mail. The point is especially true once the General Assembly gets cranked up and smothered with work." He concluded by saying, "So if you want your vote to count, make a phone call or write a letter, no matter how out-of-the-loop and old-fashioned it may seem."

Both staff members and lobbyists say that e-mail is far less successful than faxes, phone calls, or letters in reaching and influencing legislators. Jonah Seiger, co-founder of Mindshare Internet Campaigns, which designs online communication strategies for trade associations, nonprofits, and corporations, says that
"E-mail is effective in organizing a constituency," but "it's uniquely ineffective in projecting the voice of that constituency. There's no way to create an impact in a visual way."

E-mail silently accumulates in an In Box and is likely never to be read. Bulging mailbags, ringing phones, and humming fax machines, on the other hand, create a tangible sense of pressure within our legislators' offices. As constituents we will be more successful in accomplishing our preservation-related goals if we lobby by traditional means. Sending e-mails certainly won't hurt, but make sure you accompany your virtual communications with hard copies. The extra effort of a letter or a phone call will enhance the likelihood that our concerns are reviewed and addressed.

**To be notified of preservation issues that arise this legislative session, join the Legislative Alert List of the Preservation Alliance. You can become part of the Alert by sending a message to the Alliance at or going to the Legislative Updates page of our website,

January 2002

Governor Mark R. Warner
State Capitol, 3rd Floor
Richmond, VA 23219
PH: 804-786-2211
FAX: 804-371-6351

Lt. Gov. Timothy Kaine
900 E. Main Street, Suite 1400
Richmond, VA 23218
PH: 804-786-2078
FAX: 804-786-7514

Senator John Chichester
Chair, Senate Finance Committee
General Assembly Building
Richmond, Virginia 23219
Senate Finance Committee Office
Fax: 804-698-7498

Honorable Vincent F. Callahan, Jr.
Chair, House Appropriations Committee
P.O. Box 406
Richmond, Virginia 23218
Fax: 804-786-6310

General Information-

Copyright 2002 Preservation Alliance of Virginia. All rights reserved.

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