Saturday, October 20, 2007
Tips for testifiers (1)
It occurred to me that we on Oahu have the advantage of being able to walk/drive over to the State Capitol any time we want, so giving testimony is a familiar thing for many of us. From Neighbor Islands it's a chore and an expense to do so.
Now that legislators are headed out for their "road show," I thought the least I could do would be to pass along some tips. Just suggestions.
The first batch is from an email sent by Henry Curtis, a veteran at the Capitol. He knows from vast experience what works best. Here's an extract from a recent email he sent, reproduced here with permission and thanks:
A testifier should (a) greet the Legislators; (b) identify themselves; (c) limit their arguments to 1-3 points; and (d) look at the decision-makers as they testify.
Even at the Capitol, most testifiers (pro and con) don't engage the Legislators. They look down at notes, fail to say hello or id themselves, and just read stuff. Trust that all the info will be entered into the record by someone. Your mission is to look into their eyes and tell them your thoughts.
You get extra points if you are kupuna or youth, extra points if you are in elementary school.
One final point, if you are asked to summarize in the interest of time, say, (a) I am (b) I have only a little bit more (c) thank you ... and then continue at your pace. They want to find people who help to shorten the length of the hearing. You have something to say. Say it.
Be polite. To get what we want we must assume they support us but are under pressure to go against the public interest. Don't threaten.
Henry also advised that as many people as possible come down and testify.
Numbers count. Don't stay home because your friend or spouse is going. You go too. Speak. It's important. One chance, now.
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