The Lone Response

26 Apr

Annoying city and state representatives is not my idea of fun.

So when I write a letter to Austin, you know the legislative landscape must be on the cusp of diaster.

Here’s a quick recap: Texas has a $27 billion dollar deficit. Legislators are looking for ways to cut spending. Education and social services, including all public libraries, are lying on the cutting blocks.

I emailed the letter linked here to five people, the state governor, the infamous Rick Perry, his lieutenant governor, David Dewhurst, House Speaker Joe Straus,  State Representative Barbara Caraway and Senator Royce West.

It was like sending a letter to Santa–your words and wishes and requests disappear into a virtual mailbox that you can only hope will be read, considered and, perhaps, answered by somebody–anybody.

The reply from Speaker Joe Straus made me ecstatic. What’s more impressive, the response actually sounded customized and not like a one-size-fits-all reply emailed in mass to the millions of folks contacting him.  His letter is below.

Dear Ms. Cooks:

Thank you for contacting me with your concerns regarding proposed educational budget cuts and for sharing the stories of Armando, Jillian, Alex and Yesenia. I appreciate having your perspective on the issues that affect the citizens of our state.

The Legislature is facing serious challenges this session in balancing the state budget, and I agree that we must make items like public education a priority. The reductions to which you refer are simply proposals at this time, not a foregone conclusion.  Before any final action is taken and the budget for the 2012-2013 biennium is adopted, there will be a thorough examination of all recommendations in both chambers, with ample opportunity to hear from all interested parties.

According to the address you provided, it appears that you reside in Representative Barbara Mallory Caraway’s district. As a matter of legislative courtesy, I encourage you to contact her directly so that she too will be aware of your concerns. Her contact information is as follows:

P.O. Box 2910

Austin, Texas 78768

(512) 463-0664

I also encourage you to stay involved with the budget process by visiting Texas Legislature Online at or by calling the Texas Bill Status Hotline at 1-877-824-7038.  The website includes My TLO, a helpful tool that allows you to track the status of particular bills by creating custom watch lists.  You can also receive alerts when significant actions are taken on the bills in which you have an interest.

Again, thank you for writing and for your involvement in the legislative process.. I will keep your concerns in mind as we work to craft a budget that meets the state’s needs but also lives within its means. If I can be of further assistance to you on this or any other issue, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Joe Straus


Kudos, Joe. But why is one response something really worth celebrating?  Do they not all have a duty to answer to me and my fellow residents–through their words and actions?

If  so, why do these ferocious attacks on education and libraries and resources that support the state’s most vulnerable citizens continue to occur. It’s a government FOR the people, right?


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