Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Unwelcome birthday card

I opened the mailbox yesterday expected a larger than normal volume of mail since Monday was Columbus Day and a federal holiday so there was no mail delivery. What I was most hoping to see in the mailbox was my ticket to the Sheryl Crow concert, which is now less than a week away. What I found instead was junk mail, advertisements and a postcard with a yellow sticker on it, indicating that it was mail forwarded form my old Palm Springs address.

The postcard was from one of the city council members of Palm Springs. It had a simple message. "Happy Birthday from your Councilmember Ginny Foat" with a handwritten note with my first name saying "Happy Birthday, Ginny."

I think I've mentioned I'm not a big fan of birthdays, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't appreciate a birthday card as much as the next person. But this card annoyed me. Why the hell is a city council member, particularly one in a city where I no longer live, sending me a card for my birthday?

There is small type on the card making it clear that the card is "not produced printed or mailed at government expense." It goes on to say it was "printed and produced on (a) home computer."

Well, at least Foat isn't using taxpayer funds for her little folly. However, she was quite obviously using public records, most likely voter registration records, for her little card mailing campaign.

It's silly stunts like this that lead people to privacy concerns about what information about this is part of the public record. Personally, I'm a vigorous defender of public records. I think the public's right to access public records is very important. We need to know what information government holds about us and our neighbors.

I don't mind that people knew I was a registered voter in Palm Springs. There are legitimate reasons for that to be known. However, a council member using that database of information to send a personal birthday card for obviously political purposes of keeping her name out there for reelection is an inappropriate use of public records.

But there is some small comfort. Ms. Foat wasted her 23 cents postage on me, because I don't live in her city any more.


3rdtimesacharm( 3T ) said...

That's right, your Birthday is this NEXT MONDAY isn't it? (I always play 17 on the roulette wheel, and win with this number a higher then average amount.Thank's G-Man!) ;-)

And this is the BIG 4 0 too, isn't it? Since I'm not a Politician, I'll be sure to give you a proper Welcome to Mid-Life Birthday wish.


Brat said...

I hope mine is welcomed!

The G-man said...

Thanks T. You aren't supposed to out me on my own blog.

And brat, it depends on what your card looks like. Will it have a scantily clad woman on the cover? I may be an old dog, but I'm not a dead dog!

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