So we get a press release from the Secretary of State’s office saying another petition has been approved for circulation. We check the SOS web page to see how many other petitions have been certified for the 2014 ballot already. Four of them. One is referred to as “version 1, blue paper.” Then there’s “version 1, yellow paper.” Then there’s “version 2, blue paper.” And then there’s “version 2, yellow paper.”
What the heck is that? We ask ourselves.
Thinking erroneously that we could get our question answered in about 30 seconds, we call the SOS elections division. We make a terrible mistake. “This is Bob Priddy with the Missourinet. I have a question about the petitions listed on the web page as approved for circulation,” I say.
“Just a minute, Bob,” she says.
And then there is a silence for several seconds.
A new voice comes on, “Secretary of State’s office,” the young lady says.
“Hi, this is Bob Priddy with the Missourinet. I have a quick question about the petitions listed on your website for circulation in 2014. Some are listed as ‘version one, blue paper’ and ‘version 1, yellow paper.’ Can you tell me what those mean.”
“Well, let me check with the elections division…”
“Wait a minute,” I say, “where are you? Aren’t you in the elections division?”
“No, I’m in the information division. We handle all media calls.”
“So I called the elections division with a simple question and got sent to you and now you have to contact the elections division to find out what I wanted to ask them?”
“Yes, if you’ll give me your contact number I can go get that for you.”
Memo to fellow reporters: If you have a question for anybody in Robin Carnahan’s office, do NOT identify yourself as being with the media. Just say, “Hello, this is Joe Furd. I have a question about the petitions you have listed on your web page.” Chances are you will get right through to someone who knows what the hell you’re asking about.
We started writing this blog entry right after hanging up with the young lady in the communications division. The phone has not rung while we have been writing this.
We’ll be getting a new Secretary of State in a few weeks. We sure hope Jason Kander brings some common sense to the position so reporters can ask a simple question and get a simple answer without wasting time talking to someone who doesn’t know something but will be glad to run time off your deadline clock while she asks the person you should have been talking to in the first place what the answer to your question is.
And the phone still hasn’t rung.
How did this turn out? Half an hour after we made the call, after we had not been able to include the story in a newscast, the phone rang. Here’s the answer to the question for those of you who might go to the SOS web page to check on the list of petitions.
The peitions were submitted by Ron Calzone, long-time property rights advocate. Actually there are two versions of two petitions. Version one of each was addressed to Jason Kander, who won’t take office until January 14th. Version two of each one was addressed to Robin Carnahan, who leaves office that day. But all four are approved for circulation by Carnahan.
And actually, we were told, we wouldn’t have been able to get the answers right away because people were in meetings.
Regardless, fellow reporters, tell them you’re Joe Furd, taxpaying private citizen, especially if you’re trying to hit a deadline.