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The question is how different? The Open Letter isn't a LTE, either...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Sep 11th, 2006 at 07:18:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmmm... Do we want to think of the open letter as ET's first publcly released document? Then it should be accompanied by a press release...

What is the proper way to do this?

The open letter is addressed to Piebalgs and Wallstrom.

We can also copy others explicitly (in a CC: field, such as, for instance, the EP committee on Energy, and maybe someone from the Council, that would have to be the Finnish minister in charge of Energy policy).

Then there is a wider distribution list of MEPs and national politicians? (not named on the letter) These people would require some sort of short cover letter to introduce the document we're sending them, since they're not addressees.

And then there is the press...

Should the letter be released here on the ET website and a press release sent to media outlets on top of that? The open letter would have to be submitted with a cover letter in any case.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 11th, 2006 at 07:38:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Eek!  I just re-wrote the whole letter and then lost it!

The reason I re-wrote is that I think the preliminary paragraphs are too...boring.  Not snappy enough.  I could re-write them if anyone agrees with me.

(sound of tumbleweeds blowing across empty streets...)

I also think that you must absolutely propose alternative questions for the ones you disagree with.  Not just "This is clearly biased" (many people will tell them that; and will be just as easily ignored), but also: "Here is our non-biased alternative, with added ET zip and zing!"

This must be done for each question, and therefore you may need to reduce the number of questions used as examples (if you wish to keep the letter a decent length (it's one page of A4 double-sided at the moment, I think.)

The part about the responses could be broken up into easier-to-see bullet points (I can do that do if you want.)

In my re-write, I missed out the part about Section G.  We say "It's superficial", they say, "No it isn't."  What is gained?  If it is, then examples of the superficiality need to be highlighted.

And always, always, offer alternatives.

Having said all that, I support you all 100% and admire the effort everyone has put in.

I don't think I would be the correct person to co-sign the document as it stands because it relies on a technical understanding of the issues I don't have, and a letter signed by "me too, (Mr. Thicko)" isn't any better than one that isn't--if quality is to beat quantity.

Ach, am I making no sense?  I'll shurrup.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Sep 11th, 2006 at 08:26:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I also think that you must absolutely propose alternative questions for the ones you disagree with.  Not just "This is clearly biased" (many people will tell them that; and will be just as easily ignored), but also: "Here is our non-biased alternative, with added ET zip and zing!"

I think afew makes the point repeatedly that the entire questionnaire should be reorganised along different lines. It is not just that the questions are leading.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 11th, 2006 at 08:32:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I mean I think this
Most of the questions in the questionnaire are restrictive, leading, and manipulative. The effect is to force respondents into apparent consent to the policy choices set out in the Green Paper. A polling institute which made use of questions of this kind would quickly be challenged and discredited.
is the main point of the letter. Then there are things like "why should one care"? Wallstrom should care because it reflects poorly on the EU's communication strategy, etc.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 11th, 2006 at 08:34:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A polling institute which made use of questions of this kind would quickly be challenged and discredited.

My reading of the above: "A polling institute would have to ask better questions to maintain credibility."

=What are the better questions?

But maybe I shouldn't be in this conversation at all?  (I'm don't think I'm being helpful.)

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Sep 11th, 2006 at 08:56:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think this points to the well-known "leading questions are worthless in opinion polls" problem. Afew also says that asking whether the goal is agreed on before asking how to best achieve the goal (leading question) would be an improvement.

All questions are helpful. Convince yourself, then convince a friend, then convince an enemy. You're playing the role of friend needing to be convinced.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 11th, 2006 at 08:59:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Please, please understand that I am in full support of all efforts here (in case I haven't already said that.)  I'm only asking the questions I'd ask if this letter appeared on my desk one morning.  In that case, I'd be some PA to Commissioner X, maybe new in my post.  "Open the mail," Commissioner X would say.  "Rants, stick in the bin.  Queries, read 'em see if you can and reply.  Anything interesting, put it in that envelope.  Answers to the questionnaire, put them in that filing cabinet."

How to get into that "anything interesting" envelope?

So, do we agree that it is impossible to write a non-loaded multiple choice question regarding the topic(s)?

Thing is, I can't see them changing the whole structure because we have found fault, but I can see them taking note of "the form of the questions" for next time round...  

I'm trying to think practically.  A hundred great suggestions end up in the bin because they don't tie to what's feasible on the ground.  I can see it where I work.  The guy from Data Quality bores us for hours about how much we need X, Y, and Z, and he's right of course.  He spends hours writing long messages, paper and e-mail, intranet, you name it, he sends his messages out and is ignored by everyone because they're not that interested and he never gives them simple things to do.  He needs to say:

STOP DOING 'A', DO B INSTEAD.  IT WILL WORK BETTER.  (HERE ARE SOME EASY TO REMEMBER NUMBERS IN CASE YOU FORGET.)

We're not paid enough to be like other lobby groups.  We have to be faster, smarter, more fun, more exacting, ET always gets to the point, knows what's what etc.  If the survey is a crock, then I think the letter could say so more clearly and be shorter.

Then again, I never was good at meetings or reading reports...

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Sep 11th, 2006 at 08:48:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, we do say it. We say "stop using 'interactive policy making' multiple choice questionnaires and look to the Biofuels consultation [run by the other half of your own directorate] for 'best practice'".

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 11th, 2006 at 08:53:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think you're being misunderstood (oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood!), rg.

But I don't fully agree with you. If we're just going to do a snappy, smart, brief put-down saying the consultation is a crock, then we will get shoved in the wastebin, imo. The point of this is that it does go to (I think) sufficient length to argue the case against the questionnaire, and that it will also be sent to the Communication Commissioner whose job it is to look out for this sort of thing, and we will also copy in EP Committees and MEPs. Which I think means it will be read and responded to.

It won't change the face of the earth. I hope it may serve as a basis for challenging whatever "results" DG-TREN try to present as "public opinion" on the basis of responses to the questionnaire. And push the (reluctant) EC a millimetre along the road towards more open communication and acceptance of democratic input.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Sep 11th, 2006 at 09:04:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood!

This is the version I had.

(That pic brought back sudden memories...another strange part of the mind awakens...as if it had been slumbering...and the song isn't even on it!)

Here he is:

looking a bit like this chap:

And to think I never knew 'till now (though I'd heard it) that the original was by the Animals.

But I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood

Diddle-iddle-iddle-ow;

And to place the date, my memory of the Graham Parker album is linked to this:

(Whatever happened to, all of those heroes, all those...shakespearos...we made their ears bleed...No!  We watched their Rome burn.  No!  They watched their Rome burn.  The memory is an unbalanced tool..."I said, somefin be'ah change!")

Afew, I wish you all ze good luck and I offer you ze big drink!



Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Sep 11th, 2006 at 10:06:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Me, it was the Animals when it came out as a single. Eric Burdon's amazingly bluesy voice, Alan Price arranging and keyboarding, God that was when Britain kicked ass!

<Garble burble old fart memories pffflll....>

(Oh, it's one of my all-time favourite songs!)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Sep 11th, 2006 at 10:49:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not forgetting Chas Chandler who looked about like Stephen Fry and went on to manage Hendrix ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Sep 11th, 2006 at 04:15:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not forgetting Chas Chandler!
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Sep 11th, 2006 at 04:28:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think we need to offer our version of the questions. It's their job to do the consultation process properly. If we did it, it wouldn't be organized under the same headings, either. We'd have to tell them how to do the whole thing! No, I think it's perfectly legitimate to complain, pure and simple.

Section G: well, it needs mentioning that the major points of general policy are handled near the end, instead of at the beginning. It's true the point is less clear the further one is from the Green paper and the Consultation questionnaire itself.

This leads me to the conclusion, actually, that we can't push this too far from base. The complaint necessarily supposes a degree of knowledge of the questionnaire. Commissioner Piebalgs and his staff may be assumed to have that, and Commissioner Wallström can take a look at it. MEPs and EP Committees too can be supposed to be familiar with the workings, at least, of these things. But the more general the audience, the less likely it is people will understand what we're bitching about...

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Sep 11th, 2006 at 08:40:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would then cut out the press and any MEPs not on the relevant committee(s).

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 11th, 2006 at 08:44:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All MEPs are supposed to take an interest in business brought up by constituents.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Sep 11th, 2006 at 08:46:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure. In my case, "my" (Spanish) MEPs are elected on party list for a single national constituency, so unless I have a personal reson to contact any one of them because of prior contact with them, just the Spanish MEPs on the committee are enough. Or am I supposed to mass-email 54 people? I suppose I could write to Borrell since he was the no.1 candidate on the list I voted for...

This is one of the ways in which party lists put the elected representatives far away from the voter even if they achieve proportional representation. It really doesn't encourage a bottom-up approach as people follow in the UK and US.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 11th, 2006 at 08:50:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Agree totally on party lists. As I said to Alex, we have a regional Green MEP we can certainly sound out. (I voted  Green, and he was head of the list and got in, so I consider he's "my" MEP). Otherwise it's difficult. Who are an MEP's constituents?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Sep 11th, 2006 at 09:07:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Every few weeks the MEPs get a week "off" to go back home to do "constituency work". I find the concept hilarious in a Spanish context.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 11th, 2006 at 10:16:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This leads me to the conclusion, actually, that we can't push this too far from base. The complaint necessarily supposes a degree of knowledge of the questionnaire. Commissioner Piebalgs and his staff may be assumed to have that, and Commissioner Wallström can take a look at it. MEPs and EP Committees too can be supposed to be familiar with the workings, at least, of these things.

Being a cynic, I wouldn't necessarily suppose that the Commissioners know the details (in the same way that my managers don't know the details of much; or MPs for that matter), but they should, and so the letter has chances.  Ditto for specific MEPs and committee members...

My lack of knowledge of the structure and the process(es)...

Maybe the same approach for signatories to the letter?  Yer goodself, of course.  Jerome, if he agrees with the content (and can act as "head" of ET.)  DoDo (if s/he wishes) has the technical skills.  Migeru, if he wants to push the spanish angle and agrees with content.

Me, nowhere mate.  I'm the one in the bar waiting to hear how it went.  Learning "go".  

(I taught it to a friend of mine.  Great game.)

(I'm stuck at 16 kyu.  I can cheat and get to 13, but in truth, against igowin, I still need a three stone handicap to win confidently.)

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Sep 11th, 2006 at 09:20:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
(p.s. and this may be the wrong place to bring this up...  I'm thinking of going to the annual Green Party Conference in ten days time.  Handily, it's just down the road.  I have a friend who might be able to take some pictures and get them up with the story....so I was thinking how about an official ET press pass?  I could print it off, laminate it...of course, I may be the last person you all would want walking around representing ET.  Black and white sounds good, coz it's easy to print.  We have some art wizzos here, I'm sure.  Something simple, with the words "PRESS PASS" on it somewhere, or somesuch.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Sep 11th, 2006 at 08:32:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
rg's comment set me thinking (see my reply). This is not a LTE, and it's not a press release. It refers specifically to procedures and documents that are not widely known or readily accessible to most people.

If I were on a newspaper, what could I do with it even if I thought it had some interest?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Sep 11th, 2006 at 08:45:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If I were on a newspaper, what could I do with it even if I thought it had some interest?

Nothing, of course, or something evil. One would have to write a separate letter regarding this to send to newspapers. And this issue can very easily be  turned into/read as some rather standard and too often occuring Eurosceptic crap: "That EU is non-democratic and no good and they don't listen, maybe we should get rid of it." I don't believe that is the message we would like to get across to anyone. This letter does a good job, as it is written, of being critical of this particular consultation but pro-EU. But I have a hard time imagining any of the papers I read presenting this issue as anything other than Eurosceptic drivel, if at all.

by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Mon Sep 11th, 2006 at 10:36:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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