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From Pennsylvania or North Carolina - Help in visiting Congress for Reform

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From: John Murtari (
Date: Wed May 01 2002 - 21:42:14 EDT

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Good People & People of Faith,

We are making some final plans for our visit to Congress next
week.  Right now we had a last minute cancel from North Carolina,
and have one person from Pennsylvania -- we could use a couple
of more folks!  Please read the complete message sent out
earlier below.

If you think you might want to help petition Congress for reform,
please email me directly:  jmurtari@AKidsRight.Org
Details for meeting also at:
http://www.AKidsRight.Org/mom2002  (moms or dads welcome!).

---- message
TO: Lisa ( - North Carolina), Billie Sue
( - Pennsylvannia), Mary Jo ( - New
York), Kris Kenderes ( - New York):

Everything is falling into place for our visit to Washington next
week (May 9).  It was nice talking with all of you and I want to thank you
making the effort for your children and those of others. I also want
to share with you why I think this trip will be different, and not a
waste of time. I'm getting ready to leave on a trip to Colorado to see
my Son tomorrow for the weekend.  I will be back on Monday afternoon.
Here is a brief update of where we stand and how we can better prepare
for this effort.

PLEASE, if you are not SURE you can make it next Thursday, let me know
right now so we can have a backup ready.  We have meetings with some
influential people, partially based on having someone from their
State there.  It's no problem not being able to make it, but just let
us know now.

1. Hotel - Mary Jo has been very kind to help out with finding a hotel
outside of the City and near one of the metro stations where we can
all meet the night before (most of us are driving a long way).  She
should be finalizing that in the next few days and sending out a
message of where you can call for reservations.

2. Meetings - I've had pretty good luck setting up meetings with the
staffs.  Right now we have confirmed meeting times with the staff's of
Senator Clinton & Schumer (NY), Senator Specter (PA), and Senator
Edwards (NC).  We also have a meeting with Congressman Tom Reynolds
(NY).  I am still playing "phone tag" with the offices of Congressman
Petersen (PA) and Congressman Hinchey (NY).  I will follow up with
them from Colorado on Friday and Monday.  We should be pretty busy
between 9 and 3 (we might run over till 4).  Bring your camera.

Our shortest meeting may be only 30 minutes, you can expect to have 5
minutes to have your say at the start.  Try to focus on what happened
to you with the failure of our system to recognize basic civil rights:
1) A strong presumption that you are a fit (not perfect) parent with
the right to nurture your own children and have equal access. 2) The
right to an attorney to represent you.  3) The right to protection of
Jury and proof "beyond a reasonable doubt" if you are accused of being
a threat to your children.

In all cases I asked for a meeting with the members themselves. We
should be able to speak with Senator Edwards in person (and get some
pictures), and hopefully see a few of the others in person.

3. Expectations - Ours is the first step in an effort the group will
be making this year to make Congressional Hearings into reform
happen. I have done some lobbying with State officials and have also
met with some Congressional staff before.  As many, many people will
testify (and I think some of you have had the experience), they are
very quick to "feel your pain", but very, very slow to take any real
action, if any.  It is just politics.

I can already tell that almost all of them really didn't read the
letter I faxed them in any depth... They just don't have time, there
are more important things going on.

If that is what I expected of our effort I wouldn't even waste my time
driving to Washington, nor encourage you to go.  But our effort will
be a crucial first step in holding them accountable.  With good
intentions we are going to try to show them how our basic rights as
parents have been violated by the system.  We will share with them the
urgency of what should be our nation's most important issue.

When we walk away, the group will try to follow up with them.  I hope
for a response, but we will probably get very little -- they are too
busy to deal with "small potatoes" like us.  We will post pictures at
our web site (www.AKidsRight.Org), and I would also like each of you
to submit your personal thoughts on what happened so we can send those
our on our mailing list.  I think our efforts will set a trend for
other groups.

For Father's Day we will make a similar effort, hopefully many of you
will join in that.  We will see many of them again, and review the
progress made (or lack of).  We will try again to follow up. We will
give them a reasonable chance to be responsive and "proactive."

4. NonViolent Action.  In August of this year, we will try to get a
small group of mom and dads to walk outside their local offices,
carrying pictures of their children, and risk arrest.  Our reason will
be "lack of response from Senator X."  Senator X will certainly not
want to see calm, well-mannered, and loving mothers and fathers
(constituents) go to public trial or end up in jail.

Then we will be firm for a substantive meeting between ourselves and
Senator X in person. We will accept nothing less.  We will setup a
timetable for response and ask them to take a public stand for/against
reform or hearings to investigate reform.  This is the type of story
the media could "take off" with.  Loving moms and dads risking jail
because their Member of Congress won't be responsive on Family rights.

5. Congressional Hearings - An event like that could catch media
attention and public attention.  I certainly would want to see each of
you have the opportunity to testify before the Congress of the United
States.  There are also some very influential people who agree with
us, I encourage you to check the links on the site's Legislative Action
page, http://www.AKidsRight.Org/legislat.htm

There is also a "contact kit" which will help you prepare for our
meetings and let you know what they are probably going to say.

John Murtari

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