A Message from the
Ad Hoc Committee for Smart Meter Legislation*
If we do what we have always done,
we will get what we have always gotten.
We think we have a righteous cause. We become discouraged at times, or even frantic, when legislators do not always immediately see the issue as we see it. But the key to selling any new idea, product or suggested course of action, in politics as in any other area of life, is to discover the prospect’s possible objections, including those objections that may not be plainly stated.
We often hear it said “if the politicians do not do what we want then vote them out of office”. How often does that solve the major problems of the day? Sure, once in a while there is an issue that so captures the public imagination that a party is swept out of power. And does that solve the problem? Or do we just have the ones we perceived to be rascals replaced by new “rascals”?
Legislators must deal with many worthy causes, and plenty more that are not so worthy. One thing the politicians know for sure is that they will not be in a position to help anyone or fix any problem if they cannot stay in office.
There are legislators in Lansing who understand our smart meter issue and are working quietly, behind the scenes, to come up with a bill and a strategy to pass the bill. They have and are listening to us. They took notice when 200 of us appeared before the House Oversight Committee last December. They are aware of the bullying that is going on, the confrontations with DTE employees, the shortcomings of our Public Service Commission and the fact that some of us have lost electrical service over this issue. They are also aware that to fix our problem, or any other problem, will require compromise and require being a team player.
There may be a few legislators who will be deterred from helping us by the idea of displeasing a powerful interest. For others the task of getting up to speed on our issue may be the major factor, or the time it will take to sell the issue to colleagues. All of this may be worth it if they are going to gain the appreciation and loyalty of a grass roots movement. For that to happen we must clearly communicate what it is we are asking them to do. We may not always speak with one voice, but there must be enough of a common thread they can pick out of our different voices so they can fashion a remedy that will satisfy most of us.
We hear reports from time to time that some of our activists, in their passion for the cause, are less than courteous to legislative staff. That needs to change. Rudeness will get us nowhere and the rude among us are effectively undoing the efforts of the rest of us. We want our elected representatives and their staffers to know that we care very much about our issue and that we are not going away. But pounding our fists on the table and saying “I want it NOW” does not get us very far. Nor does casting blame.
Beyond simple civility, we need also to be ready to remember those who helped us at election time. They will need our support, our votes, our willingness to volunteer as campaign workers and, when possible, our campaign contributions. Sure we are not going to support someone who agreed with us on this one issue if their positions are intolerable on several other issues that are of even greater importance to us. But neither should we be blinded by a party label or by an often misleading label like “liberal” or “conservative.” If this issue really matters to us we must look beyond labels and support those who helped us. And we must let our elected representatives know this is what we will do.
Everyone should be aware that there is a process going on with the legislators who are on our side. We need to be patient, be civil at all times, and be certain we do nothing that could sabotage that process.
David Lonier, Chairman, Richard Meltzer, David Sheldon
* Please also see excellent essay by Pam Wallace on
‘Using Our Grace’ in Contacting Legislators https://michiganstopsmartmeters.com/using-our-grace-when-contacting-legislators/