SF Gray Panthers joined the California Alliance for Retired Americans in CARA'S Valentine's Day demonstration at Sen. Dianne Feinstein's office, opposing her sponsorship of S 355, a bill that would clear the way for massive cuts in Social Security, Medicare and other so-called entitilement programs, whether by privatization, direct benefit cuts, contracting out services, or raising the retirement age. (See accompanying story.)
Feinstein's office refused to meet with us, and called the SF Police, the FBI, and Homeland Security, who threatened to arrest one of us who had entered the building earlier to use the bathroom. In response, CARA, Senior Action Network (SAN), and the San Francisco Gray Panthers wrote the following letter to Sen. Feinstein, and distributed it to media and other legislators.
Dear Senator Feinstein,
On Wednesday, February14th, approximately 50 of your constituents came to your San Francisco office hoping to present you with our concerns about S 355 – a bill that you co-authored which would establish a commission on Social Security, Medicare, and entitlements. They were met by dozens of S.F. Police Officers, the Dept. of Homeland Security, and the FBI. These officers stated that they were called by your office to monitor the “protest” that was scheduled. They were instructed to prohibit anyone from entering the building at 1 Post St. where your office is located, based on the fact that your office is private property and that the building managers do not allow “protesters” in the office.
Senator Feinstein, you are a public servant. If you choose to have your office in a private building rather than a public one, then you need to make accommodations for the public to visit your staff (whom we pay for) to share our ideas and concerns as constituents. Your unwillingness, time and again, to meet with your constituents, or to make your staff available to meet with constituents at your office, at public forums – or anywhere – is an affront to democracy and disrespectful to the people who you were elected to represent.
We may not always agree on issues, but we certainly should have the opportunity to meet with you or your representatives, or at least enter the building where your office resides to present you with a letter or background material. If you choose to have your office in a private building, we would hope that you would make arrangements with the building management to allow constituents the opportunity to visit your office, If that is not possible, than you should move your office to the Federal Building or another public location where constituents are welcome.
Many of those who attended the event on February 14th have worked with you over the years, some have been donors to your many campaigns, and all of us are your constituents. We were treated very disrespectfully, not by the police officers who helped us facilitate a young woman from your office to come and receive our communication – finally, but by your San Francisco staff and ultimately by you. Unfortunately, this is not the first time many of us have been treated this way. We hope you will address this attitude problem in your office and in the future be more welcoming and accommodating to your constituents.
Thank you for your attention to this letter.
Nan Brasmer, California Alliance for Retired Americans
Bill Price, Senior Action Network
Sonia Siegel, S.F. Gray Panthers