Over the last week, the House and Senate have experienced an enormous increase in daily traffic. While in the last 48 hours the www.house.gov, Write Your Rep service and many Member Web sites have gone down, I’m happy to report Fireside21 clients’ Web sites and constituent comment forms have not experienced any problems.
We’re happy that our clients have been able to maintain an open avenue of communication with their constituents via the Web during this important debate.
In addition to having the benefit of our infrastructure, many of our clients have wisely intercepted an influx of emails by posting a Web survey for their constituents. These same offices have instructed staff to submit the same survey on behalf of constituents who call their DC and district offices. This real-time feedback clearly had an impact on yesterday’s vote.
Here’s a glimpse at requests to one of our servers over the last 10 days:
For a little perspective, here is a graph of requests over the last 6 months:
Per Emily Yehle’s Roll Call article, the Senate has revised its rules to allow Senators to post YouTube videos (and other content generated by third-party Web sites) to their official Senate Web sites. It is interesting to note that the Senate reversed its course since I last blogged on this issue:
Earlier this year, Senate officials planned to go the route of the House franking commission and keep a list of “approved Web sites” that agreed to provide pages free of advertisements or partisan leanings.
But after the complaints in the House, Senate officials switched gears, and the approved rule change now mimics the Republican plan. Senators have the discretion to use whatever third-party Web site they want, as long as it follows the Senate’s Internet Services Usage Rules and Policies.
Hooray, but what about the House!?
Today, the Committee on House Administration held a business meeting (likely their last one for the year) where Rep. Vern Ehlers submitted a motion to adopt the Senate rule. Unfortunately, Rep. Brady blocked the consideration.
New Tele-Townhall Rule
The Committee did adopt a rule to allow allowing for a one-time approval of “Tele-Townhall” scripts. Basically, every Tele-Townhall begins with a Member pre-recorded invitation. That invitation is subject to Franking rules, but the new policy will free offices up to have more impromptu Tele-Townhalls (because they won’t have to wait for Franking approval of a script they have previously used).
Lance Armstrong wants to one-up his record as seven-time GC Champion of the Tour de France next year. A recent Vanity Fair article goes into great depth about Armstong’s motives and the Livestrong campaign of his Foundation.
Here’s an except about fan mail that got me thinking:
Somehow, Armstrong has managed to work into his schedule enough downtime to answer thousands of letters from kids with cancer and leukemia, in a personal, non-form-letter way. “These days I’ve been doing these video messages,” Armstrong told me. “I’ll sit there with a little camera and record a minute-long video and just give a shout-out to them and e-mail it. They love it. They keep it forever, show it to their family and friends.”
I know of some clients who have implemented a “Mail Bag” feature on their web site and others include videos on their legislative issue pages, but if someone is doing video responses to constituent mail, please let me know.
Now, it certainly isn’t practical for each and every message, but it would be a lot more interesting than a form letter.