kidsnav.gif (4714 bytes)

Contact Us

Marketing Family Law Reform & Got Milk? / Notes on Trip to DC.

Date view Thread view Subject view Author view

From: Webmaster (
Date: Tue May 21 2002 - 08:49:17 EDT

This is a message from a mailing list,
Unsubscribe instructions at bottom of message.

Good People & People of Faith,

This message has info on:
1. Marketing our "product" to Members of Congress - Got milk?
2. A Call for Action - Gary Ewing (recently from jail).
3. Notes on Mother's day trip to DC - Mary Jo Marceau-Hawthorne

1. Marketing our "product" to Members of Congress - Got milk?
We are not "America's Dairy Farmers" and we don't have enough money to
buy "suits" and "paper down" politicians with our contributions.  We
can't buy their attention many people think Congressional action
is not possible for us. If your "model" of reform is based on "Got
milk?" -- you are right. It will never happen in any meaningful way.

What would make Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania or Senator
Hillary Rodham Clinton or Representative James Walsh of New York make
time for us (make time for YOU) on their busy schedules?

It is really pretty simple.  Get several loving parents in some type
of demonstration outside "one of their offices" in "their state" and
when questioned by reporters mention "their lack of response."

If some folks are willing to risk jail as part of NonViolent Action
(by carrying a picture of children peacefully inside a building) --
that increases the risk to the "Senator" of a very public trial and
potentially even more media attention.  That is the political process.
That is how representative government was designed to work. Place
their chance for reelection at risk.

We are blessed with an issue worth sacrificing for and one of major
importance: Our right to an undisturbed relationship with our own
children.  Is a lobbyist for the Dairy Industry going to spend a night
in jail for the cause - I don't think so.  Will a loving parent be
willing to sacrifice a night of freedom for the sake of their children?

But we must be "loving", we must be there "for our kids."  A story on
the 5 o'clock news about angry protesters condemning the system and
making a scene and being hauled off to jail (frothing at the mouths)
-- will not generate public sympathy and will make it very easy for
the Senator to ignore.

We are starting to plan events of this type for this fall. Right now
we are trying to approach Members of Congress in Washington to give
them a chance to respond.  We encourage you to sign up at the web site
(http://www.AKidsRight.Org/dad2002).  Anyone is welcome, we also need
coordinators.  If your group has been involved in talking with
legislators at the state level, your help is welcome.  The more groups
the better.

2. A Call for Action - Gary Ewing (recently from jail).
We received this very timely message from Gary a few days ago:


All the talking on the internet is not going to get us anywhere!!!!
We must bring our plight to the politicians, the media, and demonstrate
by mass civil disobedience.

I myself was in jail for non-support (with many other fathers) and I
didn't hear from almost anyone.  NO PROTESTS, NO LETTERS TO THE JUDGE
OR MEDIA, NO NOTHING!!!  Fathers are being arrested every day in New
Jersey and most of us sit and do nothing but complain to each other.
This is a shame!!!!!

If we are to bring about CHANGE it is not going to happen on the
Superior, Appellate, Supreme Court level.  It must happen on the
political level.  And the only way that's going to happen is if we all
make a lot of noise.  And so far that has not happened!!!


3. Notes on Mother's day trip to DC - Mary Jo Marceau-Hawthorne
The following was submitted by Mary Jo (MMARCEAU@OCDUS.JNJ.COM)

We, John Murtari with 'A Kids Right', my son, Brian, and myself started
out to our 10am appointment with Senator Arlen Specter from
Pennsylvania but had difficulty parking the car at the metro in
College Park.  When getting to the metro parking area you must arrive
early or there will be no parking to be found.  After getting off the
metro at Union Station, we tried to meet up with Shannon Ricci, her
mom, Cindy and a friend, Victor, in front of the Senate Office
Buildings. They drove into Washington DC from West Virginia.  They
also had difficulty finding parking and didn't catch up to us until
much later.  

We arrived at the Senate office a bit late and had to wait in the
reception area until the Legislative Correspondent, Jennifer Shevchek
came out to greet us.  While waiting, Senator Specter arrived and
graciously proceeded around the reception area shaking everyone's
hand.  Jennifer came and we were taken to a small conference
room. Jennifer then asked us the purpose of the meeting.  I explained
that we came seeking family court reform and the affirmation of our
constitutional rights as parents to raise our children.  I also added
that Child Protective Services and Family Placement Services lacked
accountability for their actions and are given too much power.

Ms. Shevchek felt that this was a state issue and we should go back to
our state and see local representatives.  John explained that the
family rights act that 'A Kids Right ' has drafted, reaffirms a
parents constitutional right to raise their child and a child's right
to be with their parent.  Ms. Shevchek then explained that we would be
more effective if we brought our issues to the Judiciary Committee
staff of which the Senator is a member.  John asked if the Senator
could help by bringing these issues before the committee and recommend
congressional hearings.  Ms. Shevchek then said she felt the Senator
was just too busy at this time and felt that our best plan would be to
submit these issues ourselves.  She said she would leave the packet we
gave her with another staff member and assured us that the Senator
would be made aware of our information.  We asked if we could follow
up in a month and she agreed.

We left the building and started a four-block walk to the next meeting
in one of the House Office Buildings.  The Senate buildings are on the
North end of the Capitol Building and the House Office Buildings are
on the South side. Our next stop was an 11:30am appointment with
Congressman James T.  Walsh.

We met Patrick Gavin, a Legislative Assistant for the Congressman of
the 25th district of New York State.  We sat in the cafeteria and
talked to Mr. Gavin affirming once again the constitutional right of a
parent to raise their child, the right to due process under the law
before that right is taken away, and the right to be presumed innocent
until proven guilty.  Mr. Gavin felt that this was again a state issue
and not a federal issue.  John brought up the point that in similar
situations in the past, the federal government had stepped in to
reaffirm constitutional rights in granting the women's right to vote
and the Civil Rights Act.  John and I had put together an information
packet, which contained statements from other concerned citizens and
names and addresses of supporters as well as signed petitions and
individual articles.  We gave a package to each Senator and
Congressman we met that day.  Again we asked if we could check on the
progress of this issue with Congressman Walsh's office in June, before
Father's day.  We explained our goal was congressional hearings.
Mr. Gavin thanked us for coming and promised to talk to the
Congressman about or issues.

We then headed for our next appointment in the Senate Office Buildings
and to meet Shannon, Cindy and Victor who had finally found parking
and were on their way there.  We met in front of the Supreme Court
Building. Shannon told us of how her three small daughters were taken
by Child Protective Services.  She had taken the youngest to the
emergency room one evening for an illness and was asked to leave the
child overnight for observation.  The next day Child Protective was
called.  They showed up at noon, and by 3pm the children, all three,
were taken into custody.  The emergency room physician felt that there
may have been child abuse.  Shannon said the physician never appeared
in court but phoned in his concerns to the judge.  Shannon's mother
Cindy had wanted to take the girls but CPS told her no since she was
not an approved by the county as a foster parent.  Cindy wanted no
money to take care of her grandchildren but the county insisted she
had to be approved and would be paid.

We next, headed for the Senate Office of Senator Byrd of West Virginia
to get the name of the contact staff person, Debbie Miller, whom Cindy
and Shannon could contact.  We also followed up with Senator Jay
Rockefeller's office also representing West Virginia to obtain the
name of the contact person, BJ Richards, and left information packets
at both offices.  

We had a 1 pm appointment with Legislation Assistant Kyle Kinner in
Senator Edward's office, the Senator from North Carolina.  Cindy,
Shannon, Victor, John, my son Brian who is twelve, and myself,
attended the meeting. Mr. Kinner offered the same argument that we had
heard before: "that this wasn't a federal issue but this seemed to be
a state government issue".  We again said that even though we felt
some of the reforms we were asking for focused on the state run
governed services such as family court and Department of Social
Services, that the more important issue of constitutional rights as
specifically defined in the fourteenth amendment of the constitution
as the right to life and liberty was key and focused on the right to
raise our children as interpreted by the Supreme Court in much of case
law.  Also, mentioned was the Mondale Act and CAPTA which are federal
government laws that fuel the out of control systems at the state
level.  All of this ran well over state lines. Shannon told her story
about the loss of her children. John mentioned another mother who is a
non custodial parent and her plight in trying to see her children in
North Carolina when she couldn't file papers in family court without
an attorney and couldn't afford one.  The county would not appoint her
an attorney unless she had lived in a shelter.  Mr. Kinner said he was
not convinced that there was a federal scope in the issues we raised.
We asked if we could stop back again in June to check on the Senator's
opinion about these issues and the packet we were leaving.  Mr. Kinner
also suggested that we pursue Senators Hatch, Layhee, and Rockefeller
since they were on a committee that could be helpful.

At 2pm we had an appointment in the Senator from New York State's
office, Senator Schumer.  We met with his staff person and again
presented the issue of constitutional rights being ignored at the
county level in family court rooms and the problems of being assumed
guilty instead of innocent before being proven guilty.  The
Legislative Assistant said that it would be very hard to write and
pass laws at the federal level and directed us to go back to our state
governments.  John Murtari tried to draw his attention to the
similarities between the proposed Family Rights Act and two laws
enacted by the federal government, the Civil Rights Act and women
gaining the right to vote.  Both, the Civil Rights Act and the
amendment giving women the right to vote were enacted by the federal
government when expediency was needed to ensure the liberty of the

John pointed out that the Family Rights Act that he is proposing would
re-affirm the constitutional rights of parents and families.  If you
are interested, you can read more about this act at John's website,  I also mentioned the foster care system and what a
former foster care mother thought of the current system, that it had
become dirty and cloudy.  We mentioned returning to follow up in June
and left a packet of information.  I also left information on the
Prokoshevs, a family in New York that I had met and talked with who
had been through the current Child Protective nightmare.

At 3:15pm, we stopped at New York State Senator Hilary Clinton's
office. Our appointment had been canceled by the staff person
Catherine Brown, but we left a packet of information for her.

Our next appointment was in with (upstate) New York State Congressman
Tom Reynold's office and staff person Kelly Dixon, a legislative
assistant to the Congressman.  I had run out of packets at this time
since we had miscounted and didn't account for Senator Bryd's and
Senator Rockefeller's office stops.  I made a mental note to next time
have extra since you may not know what will come up.  So I promised to
send a packet on returning to New York.  This meeting was attended by
John Murtari, my son Brian, and myself.  Again we reiterated our
issues.  Ms. Dixon asked us many questions and seemed truly
interested.  She spent a great deal of her time with us and we are
truly appreciative.  She seemed to have true heartfelt compassion,
concern, and understanding.  She explained that as most others did she
felt that this may be a state issue and not a federal issue.  She
reassured us that she would talk to the Congressman about the issues
we raised even though this was outside his realm of special interest.

We rushed to meet our next appointment, which was with (downstate) New
York State Congressman Maurice Hinchey and Sara T. Curtis his
executive assistant.  We were scheduled to meet with the Congressman
as well but he was delayed on the floor of the house voting.  We
talked to Sara for about twenty minutes and promised to send her a
packet.  We also asked if we could follow up in June. We proceeded to
Union Station where foot sore and tired we found the train back to
college park.  We arrived back at the car and it was safe and sound
and started on the seven and one half hour ride back to Rochester, NY.

I would highly recommend to anyone who feels strongly about their case
to go to Washington DC and meet with your senators and congressman.
Show them how important this is to all of us as families who care
about or children.  It is not hard. All you have to do is call for an
appointment, fax a letter with the issues you would like to discuss
and get a few others to go with you to share the cost.  In June during
the week of father's day others will be going. My prayers go with

Mary Jo Marceau-Hawthorne

To unsubscribe from this list at anytime, send email to with the following 1 line in the
BODY of the message (Subject is ignored).

unsubscribe members

Date view Thread view Subject view Author view

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Thu Jan 02 2003 - 03:12:01 EST