DEVELOPING A LOCAL ACTION PLAN
Taking action against noise polluters may take considerable time and effort. It's best to develop a detailed plan, including the following:
1. Tape record the noise event.
2. Contact the local police or sheriff, with detailed information.
3. Seek the support of your neighborhood and community:
-contact your neighbors
-contact your neighborhood association
-contact the Chamber of Commerce
-contact service organizations, such as the League of Women Voters, the Kiwanis Club, and the Lions Club
4. Do a petition drive.
5. Speak to local elected officials.
6. Write letters to the editor of the local newspaper.
7. Write op-eds for the local newspaper.
8. Appear on local radio talk shows.
9. Ask local radio stations, television stations, and newspapers to do stories on noise pollution in your community.
10. Ask the police to conduct a neighborhood meeting.
11. Ask the police to conduct mediation sessions between you and the noise offenders.
12. If you're a member of AARP, speak to one of their legal ombudsmen.
13. File a civil lawsuit.
MEETING WITH AN ELECTED OFFICIAL
1. Contact the official's support staff to schedule an appointment. A member of Congress will have an appointment secretary or scheduler. Tell them what
issues you wish to discuss and who you represent. Make sure you tell them you are a constituent.
2. Don't be discouraged if your meeting is with a staff member. Many elected officials, particularly members of Congress, have staff who meet with constituents on specific issues. Dealing with a staff person is not a slight. Officials often rely heavily on staff members for information and advice.
3. Be prepared. Research the voting record and views of the official with whom you are meeting.
4. Outline your main points ahead of time. If possible, tailor your presentation to the official's constituency, views, background, and interests.
5. Use a conversational approach. You are going to have a discussion, not present a lecture or report. It may help to practice with others until the conversation feels natural and clearly expresses your opinion.
6. Call 24 hours before your appointment to confirm the time and location of the meeting.
7. Be professional in your dress and manner. You don't have to wear a business suit, but you should be neatly dressed.
8. Be punctual and patient. Things sometimes come up at the last minute for elected officials. Sometimes you have to wait for your meeting. The official will appreciate your patience.
9. If you go as a group, pick one person as the spokesman. Ideally, a constituent should serve as the spokesman.
10. Be an information source. Be sure to incorporate factual information and current statistics into the points you present. Make sure they are accurate.
11. Stay focused on the issue at hand. Do not get sidetracked.
12. Always ask for a specific action on the part of the official. Try to get commitments. However, don't be hostile if it is not forthcoming.
13. Always be gracious. Even if the official or staff member is rude or uninformed, remain courteous.
14. Get the business card of any staff members present at your meeting. Use this person as a contact in the future.
15. Follow up. Send thank you notes to all of the people involved in your meeting. In the letter, remind the official of what you asked for, send them any additional information you promised, and thank them for taking the time to meet with you.
WRITING TO ELECTED OFFICIALS
1. Address the letter correctly. In the address, members of Congress and other elected officials are referred to as "the Honorable Nancy Smith." The greeting would be "Dear Senator Brown," "Dear Representative Johnson," or "Dear Governor Jones."
2. Limit the letter to one or two pages.
3. Limit the letter to one topic. For example, don't include your views on a leaf blower ban and restricting "background" music in airports in the same letter; different people in the office may handle those issues.
4. Specify the name and number of the legislation you are discussing. For instance: "I am writing to urge you to support H.R. 1, the Quiet Communities Act of 2001." For an appropriation for a specific program, say "I am writing in support of increased funding for the Office of Noise Abatement."
5. Identify yourself as a constituent.
6. Identify yourself as a member of a relevant organization. However, do not imply that you are writing on behalf of that organization without its permission.
7. Use first-hand knowledge. If you are writing to complain about boom cars, note the effects of their noise on your babies and children. If garbage collectors come at 3:00 am, describe how the loss of sleep affects your ability to function.
8. Use statistics and specific information to support your position.
9. Tell stories about specific, relevant incidents.
10. Give examples of how the legislation would affect your community.
11. Always tell the truth and only the truth.
12. Be gracious. Don't threaten. Be rational but passionate.
13. Ask for a specific action on the part of the official. Possibilities include voting for or against a bill, co-sponsoring a bill, vetoing a bill, signing a bill, or increasing funding for a program.
14. Ask for a response from the official. They should explain their position and what they will do about the legislation you are writing about.
15. Include your full name and address to show that you are a constituent.
16. Get to know staff members. It is often appropriate and effective to address letters directly to staff members in charge of a specific issue area.