Fri, 26 May 1995 14:34:32 -0400
To the Cultural Resources Community on the Net:
Chuck Niquette, president of ACRA, wants me to express our thanks to each of
you who took time out to call your senators, your friends and colleagues, and
the White House this past week. We were, of course, not successful in saving
the Advisory Council (at least not yet), but through your efforts and those
of thousands of others, it appears that the Rescissions Bill will not
succeed. Bill has said again that he will veto it in its present form. See
The time has now come to write letters supporting historic preservation, the
NHPA and the ACHP. I am providing information on what to write and where to
write it to. This is based on CEHP Incorporated's standard format. I have
taken the liberty to write up a sample letter which you can use, but letters
are more effective if they come from the heart. You might also consider hand
writing your letter and/or putting it on letterhead.
Executive Director - ACRA
The following information is provided as a service to the cultural resources
community by ACRA during the present budgetary crisis.
WASHINGTON, May 25 (Reuter) - The Senate on Thursday passed a $16.4 billion
spending cut bill and sent it to the White House moments after President Bill
Clinton reiterated his pledge to make the bill his first veto. Speaking to
reporters, Clinton derided ``the old politics'' that he said has been
operating on Capitol Hill to keep pork projects intact and cut education, job
training and housing programmes he wants restored. ``If the bill comes to
me in the same form without the restoration of the education and training,
yes, I will veto it,'' he said.
Some of you may have already recieved this. If you have I apologize for the
Most Members of Congress, whether in the House or Senate, pay little heed to
issues they think their constituents are not interested in. All it takes are
a few letters to bring an issue to the Member's attention.
Letters can, among other things: (1) alert the Member to new issues; (2)
ensure that the Member's legislative assistant is aware of and researches the
issue; (3) prompt a Member to cosponsor a bill or send a letter of support to
key Congressional leaders; and (4) urge a member to vote for or against
legislation in committee and on the full House or Senate floor.
Outlined below is a letter format. Some elementary, but frequently overlooked
Include (in readable print) your name and address. Better yet, use your
personal, professional, or organizational letterhead stationary. Without an
address, the Member has no way of knowing whether you are a constituent. Do
not, however, use an organization's letterhead or appear to represent that
organization's view without permission.
Be polite. Don't alienate the Member and his staff. Even if they disagree
with you on this issue, they may be more friendly on the next. You always
want to keep the door open.
Be brief, to the point, and try to discuss one issue only. If you write on
too many topics, your message is diluted. State in the first sentence why you
are writing. If the subject is complex or technical, include a separate fact
sheet rather than include all the information in the letter itself.
Ask for the Member's position on the issue. This will force the member's
staff to research the issue and ensure that you receive a response. Most
importantly, it lets the Member know you are taking his or her actions
seriously. Always clearly state what action you want your member to take.
Underline your request.
Follow up! Send another letter or make a phone call to the Member or
appropriate staff person if you do not get a response within a reasonable
time period (a month at the latest) or if you do not like the response you
get. Remember to send thank you notes when appropriate and to thank, by name,
the staff members who helped you.
POSSIBLE OUTLINE FOR A CONSTITUENT LETTER
The Honorable (full name)
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable (full name)
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Representative (last name) or Senator (last name):
Opening: State why you are writing. If the issue involves specific
legislation, provide the bill number (if you know it) and the bill's title.
State briefly what you want your representative or senator to do.
Background: Provide applicable background information or describe the issue .
If you have an article or fact sheet, enclose it.
Your Interest: Briefly explain why this issue is important to you and/or how
it specifically impacts your community or state.
Closing: Thank the member. Restate your request. Ask for a response. Provide
your full name and title (if appropriate). Sign with your full name unless
you are on a first-name basis. Indicate to whom copies are being sent (it is
often useful to show that others will see your letter, too).
(Here is a sample letter. I am sure you can do better. If it easier for you
to copy it, however, please feel free.)
I am writing to you to express my support of historic preservation in
general, and the Historic Preservation Fund and the President's Advisory
Council on Historic Preservation, in particular. Our cultural resources are
finite. Once a historic house or archaeological site is destroyed, it is
gone forever. I support programs that force people to think twice before
destroying such resources. I would particularly like to express my dismay at
the Senate budget which eliminates the President's Advisory Council on
Without enforcement of Section 106 by the President's Advisory Council, our
historic and archaeological resources will be left to the ravages of federal
agencies and private developers, many of whom would willingly abide by
Section 106 if they felt it was being enforced fairly. This is a
non-partisan concern, many voters from both ends of the political spectrum
enjoy visiting an archaeological park, a Civil War battlefield, or a house
listed on the National Register. Voters from both ends of the political
spectrum appreciate and value our common past and traditions, and want to see
As with most people, I am ready to tighten my belt to get out from under the
mountainous deficit built up in the 1980s. I am willing to see funding stay
the same or even retreat slightly, but I feel it is short-sighted to cut out
completely (whether through funding cuts or a change in the law) a relatively
inexpensive program that does so much to protect our common heritage in
Georgia and the nation.
Please let me know your position on this issue at your earliest convenience.