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23 August - Sent a FedEx Letter to the Washington offices of Senator Clinton, asking for her help in setting up a meeting.
10 July - Got a call from Jill Harvey, Senator Schumer's staff, that we could setup a meeting in August (after my vacation with Dom ends on the 21st).
May - Left message for a follow up meeting with the staffs of Senator Schumer & Senator Clinton. Got a return call from Senator Clinton's office and was told a meeting would be setup to review the wording of the Family Rights Act, but then nothing.
25 April - Review some pictures of the event. We sent a letter for a follow up meeting to the staff of Senator Clinton and also received a disappointing letter from Congressman James Walsh of Syracuse.
23 April - Receive what appears to be a standard form response from the office of Senator Clinton, not even appropriate to our topic.
16 April - More details, including pictures, will soon be posted at the site.
In the morning we had a meeting to discuss the process and methods for reform. We also prepared our "petitions" for our Congressional representatives and were also able to schedule meetings that day with the local staff of U.S Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton.
We had an hour meeting with Jill Harvey, of Senator Schumer's office, and all of us came away with a good feeling. She was aware of the issues and listened to the some of the stories we told. She was interested in getting backup information (which we will be asking your help in collecting).
On at least two different occassions she expressed how impressed she was by our committment. That a bunch of "regular people" had taken time off from their regular jobs to drive all the way to Syracuse to express their desires.
She was also impressed by our attitude. She did NOT detect hostility towards the system and former spouses. She told us about another group that had contacted the Senator, but their "anger" was going to get in the way of making progress.
She positively told us she was going to recommend that the Senator take a serious look at this. He is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
There was a shorter meeting with Senator Clinton's staff, it was a VERY different atmosphere. The staff people were rushed, they seemed to have prejudged things and were ready to just dismiss us. We are going to try to arrange another meeting with them to get a fresh start.
We wish you all could have heard Senator Schumer's aid recognize the efforts those attending had made. She was impressed by our willingness to sacrifice and the clear love she could see for our children. Email campaigns and letter writing help, but when they see you took two days away from work/home to have a face-to-face meeting. Your actions speak louder than any words.
At the end of the day John Murtari started a brief walk inside the building carrying the pictures of two other parents and their children. He was initially told he had to leave or face arrest. After John explained to them that prior charges had been dismissed, they checked with supervisors again and he was left alone, but told "not to come back, or you will be arrested."
We will be following up with staff. We are trying to plan similar events for May 21 (the week after Mother's day), and June 25 (the week after Father's day). If you want to setup a meeting in your local area with your Senator or Representative, please let us know and we can help with planning.
Our letter to Representative James Walsh is a bit different. We have met with his staff once, but right not he just refuses to even acknowledge that Civil Rights for Parents is even a national issue. We hope by our efforts to show him there is public attention.
9 April - part of the events for Monday is a planned "walk" outside the offices of Representative James Walsh. So far he has refused to even acknowledge the "rights of parents" as a national issue deserving Constitutional protection. For those walking, with the possible risk of arrest, we are happy to say that two attorneys have volunteered to help during any initial arraignment. We all express our great thanks!
1. Mr. Charles Keller - involved in State practice. He represented John Murtari during his previous "walks" in the Federal Building and his strong voice was key in getting all charges dismissed and convincing state and federal officials that such walks should be allowed to proceed. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
2. Mr. James Stern - involved in Federal practice. Associated with the local ACLU with experience in Civil Rights work. http://www.jsternesq.com/
REMEMBER - Again, we areAgain, we are trying to keep a positive and courteous attitude at all times. These are good people that we are dealing with (certainly no worse than any of us are!). They may have trouble understanding our situations and goals. We will help them understand, NOT by insults, but by demonstrating OUR willingness to sacrifice for the sake of our children.