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Monday, October 29, 2007

Congressional hearing on magazine postage hike Tues.

Stop the Rate HikeTomorrow, the House subcommittee that oversees the US Postal Service is holding a hearing on the periodicals postage rate increase that is causing havoc with small and independent magazines. I wrote about the impact the rate increase may have on UU World in the Fall issue. (Check out the links there to related resources, and see also my earlier urgent appeal.) Since I wrote that column, we've determined that the new rates — which give discounts to media giants — will boost UU World's mailing costs by 21 percent. Late last month, the liberal National Catholic Reporter announced that the 23-percent increase in its mailing costs had led the newspaper to cut back from 42 to 24 issues a year.

If you have not already urged your Congressional representatives to reverse the unfair rate increase, please do so today.

Here's the subcommittee meeting announcement, which was rescheduled from earlier this month to October 30. If you are represented by one of the subcommittee members, consider giving them a call: Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.), chairman; Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.); John P. Sarbanes (D-Md.); Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.); Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio); William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.); Stephen F. Lynch (D-Mass.); Kenny Marchant (R-Texas); John M. McHugh (R-N.Y.); John L. Mica (R-Fla.); Darrell E. Issa (R-Calif.); Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).

Update 11.8.07: The Association for Postal Commerce has posted a summary of the testimony at the congressional subcommittee hearing. Hilary Goldstein and Isabel Macdonald of FAIR say that seven Representatives attended the hearing. The Nation's John Nichols quotes from some of the written testimony (including somewhat idiosyncratic views from Victor Navasky of The Nation and CJR), but he also quotes a passage from my written testimony.

Copyright © 2007 by Philocrites | Posted 29 October 2007 at 8:48 AM

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October 29, 2007 07:48 PM | Permalink for this comment

What's the UUAWO doing about it?


October 29, 2007 09:47 PM | Permalink for this comment

The UUA Washington Office for Advocacy is concentrating on its strategic public witness goals and opted not to add the periodicals postage rate increase to its priorities. (I did ask.)

I filed written testimony on behalf of the UUA and UU World through the media reform group Free Press, which has been lobbying on behalf of independent magazines affected by the rate increases, so we haven't been working alone. The publisher of The Nation has been especially vigilant about contacting publishers and editors and keeping us in the loop as the advocacy efforts have proceeded.


October 30, 2007 07:49 AM | Permalink for this comment

Wow. As Dana Carvey's Church Lady used to say, "Isn't that special?"
The denominations principal means of communication and outreach needs an advocate in Washington to maintain its voice, but its own advocate in Washington has, um, "other priorities". Would those "other priorities" include eating lunch with the Vice President from time to time? He knows much about such things.

I bet they get their exercise jogging across the Tidal Basin at lunch hour, too.

“God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector.” Luke 18:11

h sofia:

October 30, 2007 09:59 AM | Permalink for this comment

Wow, that felt like a case of pulling back the arm and firing.

I sent my letter again - this time to a different rep because I've moved this year. I get my FreePress updates from Tim Karr whenever there are any, but who says I can only send one letter, right?


October 30, 2007 10:41 AM | Permalink for this comment

Fausto, I wasn't speaking tongue in cheek about the Washington Office's priorities. Of course I wish they had helped with my office's efforts to rally UUs and lobby Congress, but I can also appreciate their decision to keep doing what they believe they're charged to do. Thankfully, Free Press has done much more than any number of UUA staff could have done to mobilize people around this issue and to work with Congress to set up today's hearings.

Chris Walton:

October 30, 2007 07:02 PM | Permalink for this comment

Since Chalicechick is piling on the Washington Office, too, I'd like to clarify something. I did consult with Rob Keithan, the director of the UUA's Washington Office, about the most effective ways the UUA could lobby about the periodicals rate increases. The UUA did most of the things it could do through the Communications department (where I work) rather than through the Washington Office, largely because it was efficient, but also because of the way the Washington Office is currently set up to work.

People hold all sorts of views about whether the Washington Office should be doing the sorts of things Bill Sinkford and the General Assembly have authorized it to do, but the only thing they could have done that might have made any difference from my point of view would have been to enlist their activist constituency to join the letter writing and petition campaigns. I'd like to believe that we reached many of those people anyway.

The UUA signed on to two letters about the postage rate increase (through my office) and I filed written testimony on behalf of the magazine and the UUA. (Much of what the Washington Office does on other issues involves researching and signing on to letters drafted by other groups.) The magazine urged readers to get involved through my "From the Editor" column in August and through a handful of notices in's weekly email newsletter. And we worked with Free Press, an advocacy group that has real expertise on the issue, just as the Washington Office would have done.

I'm sympathetic to some critiques of the way liberal denominations approach public witness — especially when they try to position the denominations themselves as counterweights to the political action groups that make up the religious right — but the UUA Washington Office is doing what the administration, board, and General Assembly seem to want it to do.


October 30, 2007 08:32 PM | Permalink for this comment

— but the UUA Washington Office is doing what the administration, board, and General Assembly seem to want it to do.

Bully for them. What does it say about the UUAWO that your own efforts can be so effective when it's not even your regular job?

If the UUAWO weren't such a cherished puppet of 25 Beacon, I wonder if it could earn Independent Affiliate status under the new standards. They did give the Unitarian Sunday School Society the boot...


November 8, 2007 10:02 AM | Permalink for this comment

A summary of each person's testimony given at the congressional subcommittee hearing has been posted by the Association for Postal Commerce. Hilary Goldstein and Isabel Macdonald of FAIR say that seven Representatives attended the hearing. The Nation's John Nichols quotes somewhat peculiar aspects of Victor Navasky's testimony, but he also quotes a passage from my written testimony.

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