Monday, April 5, 2010

"We're not the federal government."

Every day you learn something new. Today I learned that U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski's office (Illinois 3rd Congressional District (Chicago, Oak Lawn and area) is not the federal government.

It's amazing how I have lived this many years, believing that our elected representatives in Washington were part of the federal government. Of course, I have always known that they were elected, not hired; paid substantially more than the people who elected them; thought they were there to serve the people who elected them; even thought they might from time to time actually care about the people who live in their districts.

On Friday I tried to reach someone in Rep. Lipinski's four offices, in the hopes that someone would have some clout with I.C.E. and unsnarl a problem for a young man who lives in the 3rd Congressional District - Dan Lipinski's district.

I called and called and called. The phones in all four offices were answered electronically. In three of them a female voice said the call would be returned as soon as possible; in the fourth, a male voice announced that the call would be returned.

In not one of the offices did a message indicate that the office was closed for Good Friday.

So I sent an email to Rep. Lipinski's Chief of Staff, Michael McLaughlin, at
michael.mclaughlin@mail.house.gov

He called me this afternoon and, boy! did I get an earful! I wish I had started writing down his comments sooner, but I was on the Metra nearing Woodstock, returning from bonding the African man out of I.C.E. detention.

Mike told me that it was well-known that Friday was Good Friday and that "everyone" knew their offices were closed. I couldn't count on two hands the number of times that he told me that the "markets" were closed, and so I should have known that their offices would be closed.

When I mentioned something about separation of church and state, Mike said, "We're not the federal government."

I'm a little rusty on constitutional history, but doesn't the Constitutional have something to say about Senators and Representatives? Wouldn't this make them "part" of the federal government?

Sen. Burris' office was open (although I don't know if they were working, since my call wasn't returned (and not even yet)).

I did find my pen in time to write down Mike's comment that it was "obvious to everyone that the office was closed." Well, it wasn't obvious to me, because the phones were answered (by voice mail) and nothing was said about being closed. He also told me that Rep. Lipinski is a "good Catholic." So...? Many offices that serve the public change their voicemail messages when they are closed during normal business hours. I didn't realize that was too much to expect of a congressman's office.

And then he asked a question that you should ask a blogger. "You're blogging about that?"

No doubt that a Chief-of-Staff feels that he has some muscles to flex. That one does. Flexing them at me does nothing but stretch his shirt. It has no effect on me whatsoever.

Maybe Rep. Lipinski will sit him down for a little heart-to-heart and next year they'll put a message on their phones; maybe something like, "It's Good Friday and we're at church. We'll call you Monday. If you're in jail, have a nice week-end."

3 comments:

Philip said...

"We're not the Federal government"? Gus, you took it too easy on this guy. If it was me, I would've bitch-slapped this moron into oblivion with a rapid-fire series of questions about who he worked for, who PAYS his six figure salary, who PAYS for his health insurance, etc.
I remember one of U.S. Senator Blank Lincoln's junior P.R. flacks giving me the run-around on The Patriot Act years ago. I think I still have the tape of the phone call. When it was broadcast during my morning radio program, I didn't deal with flacks any more. Just the Senator herself.
And quite frankly, I would've rather had an ice water enema than talk to her. Not one of the more congenial elected officials.

Whitmore2 said...

This is sweet. How about a letter to the editor of the Chicago Tribune?

Gus said...

Great idea!