Where'd ya go, Joe? (McDermott, that is!)

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    OK, so I’ve emailed Councilmember Joe McDermott twice over the course of the past couple of months regarding reviving water taxi service on weekends during the entire year. Haven’t heard a peep from his office. Don’t politicians (especially relatively low-level ones) respond to their constituents anymore? Not even a canned “thank you for your interest” email?

    Hey, Joe, if you’re out there – I voted for you. Don’t make me vote for whoever opposes you next time around.



    I’ve E-mailed Joe a couple times over the last few months expressing my disapproval of the “Rapid Ride” implementation, and received no responses either.

    I assumed it was because I had been written off for telling him that despite previous support of his political career, I had already decided to support Anyone-but-Joe in the next election.

    Perhaps he and his staff are too busy planning further ways to ruin Regional Transit to respond to their constituents.



    I emailed Joe twice about a topic of importance to me. He never wrote back either time. Not even a “thanks for your interest.” I was pretty frustrated. I guess he has better things to do.



    I’ve had many similar experiences with politicians. It seems to be some kind of official policy with these guys now that unless you’re willing to kick up a fuss, they just ignore you.

    Therefore you should always be prepared to kick up a fuss.

    There’s a right way and a wrong way to do this, of course.

    The wrong way is to beg and plead.

    Or threaten.

    Or whine.

    The right way is to escalate . . . That’s right, escalate.

    Pretend that you’re President Obama and that the recalcitrant politician is that Iranian dude. What’s his name?

    Achmood . . .

      Achmhad . . .






    Here’s what you do:

    1) Give the politician guy a friendly phone call or send him a letter or an e-mail with your question.

    2) If he doesn’t respond within a reasonable amount of time (say two weeks) give him a second, not-quite-so-friendly call or e-mail. Don’t write a second letter.

    –In the follow up, don’t repeat your question. Simply remind the guy that you’re a constituent, that you’ve asked him a question, and that you’re expecting a response.

    —In your follow up, explain to the pol that you’re a busy person, just like him. Let him know that if he doesn’t get back to you with some kind of response by the deadline (say one week), there will be a consequence. List some possible consequences, and get imaginative here, but leave him with the idea that “no option is off the table.”

    —Don’t threaten the guy with anything illegal (“I’m gonna egg your house”) or unethical (“I’m gonna tell everyone you’re straight”) or unbelievable (“I’m gonna run against you.”)

    —If the deadline comes and goes, follow through with the consequences, and make sure the politician is kept apprised of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Always leave the door open in case he changes his mind and wants to talk. Let him know that you can go from being his enemy to his friend, depending on how he treats you, and make sure he understands that what you’re asking is not for him to AGREE with you, but merely to COMMUNICATE with you.




    In this case, Sonoma has done a good thing by following up on the Blog, but it won’t have full effect unless he/she gets back to Mr. McDermott with a link to this thread.

    Sonoma, here’s what you should do at this point:

    ¶ E-mail McDermott’s office with the link to this thread and let him know that he’s getting lots of negative attention on the Blog right now, including dittos from other constituents who have been similarly ignored by him.

    ¶ In the follow-up, explain that, for each day Mickey D. doesn’t get back to you with a response, you’ll put another comment on the Blog, letting everyone know that he is STILL ignoring you.

    Conversely, let him know that if he DOES get back to you, you will take that back to the Blog, too. Explain that the more personal and thoughtful his response, the more you will rave about it.




    BTW: When you finally do get the guy on the line, my advice would be to stay neutral, neither praising nor criticizing him. If he thinks you’re a sure thing either way, he’s not going to want to spend much time with you.

    In any case . . . threatening to withhold your vote from a liberal gay Democrat in this town is not exactly going to strike fear into the guy’s heart now, is it?




    “In any case . . . threatening to withhold your vote from a liberal gay Democrat in this town is not exactly going to strike fear into the guy’s heart now, is it?”

    well, that depends.. doesn’t it.. on whether the actions of a liberal politician seeking re-election are.. well.. liberal



    Thank you, one and all. Unlike Joe McD, you have been wonderfully responsive. This is one of the many reasons I love the blog. I just emailed him (though his office is probably closed today). Your advice is fantastic, DBP. And, yes, JoB, I agree about the liberal part!

    Alkene and Skeeter, I am sorry to hear you had similar experiences. Joe McD was highly visible during the widely televised gay-marriage event – an event that I found very moving. But he needs to be available and responsive to all his constituents on other issues, too.



    Ha. Being for gay marriage in Seattle takes about as much political acumen as being for beer in a pub.

    I wish job performance mattered for our local pols, but it really doesn’t. Political affiliation is what matters. See, folks around here are so terrified of Republicans, they’d do just about anything to make sure Democrats keep getting elected. They don’t care whether those Democrats are actually any good. Long as they’re


    Nope, if you wanna be a politician in King County, all you gotta do is go to a few gay weddings (or be in one), kiss the right butts, and get yourself the official seal of approval from the local Democratic machine. Once you got that, you’re a made man.

    Just look at the other McDermott: Jimbo. Made man.

    Sure, I like some of what this guy’s done in the past, but at this point he’s just keeping a chair warm and collecting a paycheck. Last I heard, he was polishing apples over in Bali for $30,000 a week. Pssh!

    This guy’s middle name must be Kennedy or something. Ancient though he is, he can still beat off all challengers – left, right, and center – without straining his milk.

    I’d like to swap ole Jim for someone who can still stir things up, but this guy has already outlasted several popes and he hasn’t said anything about retirement, so I’m not optimistic.



    DBP, your posts are gems – with or without accompanying photos. How can anyone not be cynical about politicians? In essence, these guys have tenure – and, indeed, being invited to a gay wedding – or a hetero wedding, for that matter -is a nice perk.

    I remember being quite impressed with Dow C. when I met him about six years ago. I was at a fundraiser, and Dow was the only pol who talked with me without looking over my shoulder to see if someone more influential than mere me was within greeting distance. Not enough to make me a lifelong fan, but little things do make a difference. Maybe, if I don’t hear from Joe McD within a week, I’ll cc Dow, too.

    P.S. I wonder if the Pope gets a retirement party, complete with humorous roasts and a gold watch. And does he get to keep his cool Pope outfits? Will he cash out his 401k? Will he putter around the Vatican, driving the other clergy crazy? Will he take up a new hobby?


    HMC Rich

    Rich chuckles, shakes his head and wonders. Thanks DBP.




    i haven’t kept an eagle eye on Jim’s voting record lately because i found it consistent..

    when i write him, i still get a real letter back..

    one that actually addresses the issue i wrote about.

    I’ll admit, i haven’t written lately because i haven’t felt the need.

    his record reflected that he is representing my interests well.

    Has something changed?

    is there something i am missing here that he should be doing that he isn’t?

    is it time for me to track him relentlessly again?

    do tell



    Terrified of Republicans!? There hasn’t been an effective Republican politician from this state since Dan Evans. Republican politicans in this state, as long as they continue to drink the tea-bagger, Christianist fundamentalist, or oligarchical kool-ade, will never strike fear in the hearts of reasonable politicians and citizens in this state.

    If ANY of them embrace TRUE conservative principles then the Republican Party will once again regain a level of relevance in this state, not until then.



    Republican politicans in this state, as long as they continue to drink the tea-bagger, Christianist fundamentalist, or oligarchical kool-ade, will never strike fear in the hearts of reasonable politicians and citizens in this state.

    –Ha. See what I mean?




    That’s fear talking . . .


    Anyway, try not to get too hung up on these labels, folks. Words like “liberal” and “conservative” don’t mean that much at Joe McDermott’s level.

    We’re not asking the guy to save Civilization from the forces of Evil. We just want him to answer our phone calls and make the buses run on time.



    unfortunately, there are effective republican legislators in our state senate…

    you might want to spare a minute to find out what they are up to




    “We’re not asking the guy to save Civilization from the forces of Evil. We just want him to answer our phone calls and make the buses run on time”

    i want him to save civilization from the forces of evil.. one good fight at a time

    while he is doing that he can make the buses run where they are needed and on time… and answer phone calls



    Hi All: So nice to see people thinking clearly about establishing an adequate (hmmm, not a perfect word, but a start) politician feedback loop other than that thing called a vote.


    As DBP has so deftly pointed out, certain politicians of certain parties seem to think they have it “made in the shade” and there are no threats to their continued employment whether they stay tuned to their constituents or not… or do more than the minimum required to look reelectable…


    I can’t tell you how much all of our local politicians have been MIA for our neighborhood, here in the Lowman Beach Park area, over the last five years. They don’t care to respond to even nice, respectful, logical questions or requests for assistance that would be considered even minimal in most relationships… a word of support or understanding, even.


    So, due to that incredibly disrespectful treatment, a number of my neighbors and I have been consistently putting out the message to take the pledge NOT to vote for Dow, Joe, Tom, or Mike the next time around. The pledge can be taken at http://www.OneGoodFlushDeservesAnother.com


    Our latest editorial can be found at http://www.DaffyCounty.com, entitled “What Would MLK Say?”


    Not only have these politicians completely ignored several individual communications from my neighbors and myself, they completely ignored a petition hand-delivered to them with over 2,500 signatures. No response, whatsoever. You can read about it also at http://www.DaffyCounty.com


    Again, thank you so much for having this discussion. Take care, Ron



    Re: Jim McDermott (Dr. Jim, a fellow psychiatrist)… uh, totally entitled and asleep while the bus moves along. I don’t even begin to understand how he gets reelected time after time. The last time I actually got to talk with him personally through an appointment at his local office site, he fell asleep while we talked.


    I am ashamed to call him a colleague. So, really important things, like huge, lengthy, and highly problematic shortages of several medications used in the treatment of the low working memory central to the downside characteristics of ADHD, barely got his attention, even when constituents were essentially “yelling” at him.


    As I said, I am ashamed to have him as a colleague, much less as a “representative” of the smart, engaged, mindful, and caring people of his district (like the people writing here).



    Is it only the democrats who are “safe” in their positions who are so unresponsive to their constituents? I wonder if there are elected republican officials in, say, Eastern Washington that are so “safe” that they can ignore constituents and choose to do so.

    I thought I was the only one being ignored by Joe McD. I wrote it off figuring that the topic I was writing about just wasn’t interesting to him. But after reading this thread it looks like he ignores everyone.


    I remember emailing a polite, respectful email to Dow Constantine around 2002. Never heard a peep from him or one of his staff. Flash forward to 2012, I emailed Mayor McGinn about a problem I was having with a city department. The Mayor replied once I followed up (I gave him several weeks) but he basically didn’t help my situation because he just referred me back to the department I had an issue with. That department’s “manager” has never replied to various professional emails and phone calls from last year and this year.

    My point is now and was in 2002 .. politicians shouldn’t have email addresses if they can’t/wont respond.

    BTW, I like your tips DBP.



    Funny, ratsinacage! You make a good point about email addresses. When we email them, maybe their office can set up an autoresponse – something like: “Thank you for your email. Your opinion means nothing to me. I have better things to do than respond to my constituents. However, please feel free to attend my next fundraiser. I might even shake your hand while I scan the room for someone more important than you.”



    One might hve success trying through his staff? From the king county page

    Shannon Braddock

    Chief of Staff



    Shannon . . . heads up the office’s coordination, intergovernmental relations and community efforts in West Seattle, Vashon and Maury Islands and Georgetown.



    Thanks, Melly Mel – I’ll try contacting Shannon.

    Oh, and I like how one post can engender such lively discussion. Another reason to love the Blog!


    Cheers Sonoma.



    Melly Mel makes a good suggestion. However, in terms of the concerns expressed in this thread about the genuine responsiveness to significant and substantial constituent issues, Shannon has been no help. You may get a response, but whether your concerns actually advance along the road to the person who has the power, um, good luck.


    With respect to any of the communications, whether by phone or by e-mail, by petition or by snail-mail letter, Shannon and her cohorts in other offices (Mike’s, Dow’s, and Tom’s) have no real say in what the elected official finally says or does. They are there to try to pick up balls that may get dropped, but, in my experience, both as the Chair of the King County Mental Health Advisory Board and in my attempts to advocate for my neighbors and myself and others situated like us, admin staff of those offices have consistently been obstacles in the way of obtaining significant engagement with the elected official. In other words, with only one or two exceptions over the last 10 years, they have been there to help smooth ruffled feathers, and that is about it.


    Money clearly talks — the principles of protecting minority abuse by majority irrationality, in other words, showing real concern for all constituents, and leadership, walks.


    BTW, Dow’s first major fundraiser for the next election cycle is tomorrow at the local estate of David Jones and Maryanne Tagney-Jones. You can get in for $100 minimum.



    02/20/13 ~ 11:07 AM

    Message left on Dow Constantine’s machine:

    Yeah, uh . . . hi Dow. David Preston here. Say, I heard you were having a fundraiser, and the tickets were only $100.

    Gosh! At that price, I can afford to invite some of my friends. I have a question about directions to the event and a couple of other little things. Can you call me back personally, please?


    Thanks, bye!



    11:08 AM



    –Oh, hi, Mr. Preston! Dow Constantine here. You said you wanted directions to the fundraiser tomorrow?

    Yeah, yeah, that’s right. But first, real quickly, I wanted to ask you a couple of questions about the CSO project at Lowman Beach.

    It’s on behalf of my friend, Duckitude!

    [ . . . ]

    {click-click . . . ♫ buzzzzzzzz ♫ }

    Hello? Dow?





    I guess money really can’t buy everything.

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