Report from FOGAH Advocacy Training

As you may know, the Friends of Georgia Archives and History (FOGAH) has hired Joe Tanner & Associates, a governmental affairs firm, to advise the group on their interactions with legislators and executive officials as FOGAH continues to push for a restoration of the budget and staff of the Georgia Archives.

At the Society of Georgia Archivists (SGA) annual meeting, held November 7-9 on St. Simon’s Island, Joe Tanner & Associates held a FOGAH sponsored advocacy training. Approximately 60 SGA members and FOGAH supporters attended the training.

The purpose of the session was twofold:

  1. Communicate to attendees the language and focus of FOGAH’s current message;
  2. Teach attendees how to approach their legislators to spread the message

A major priority for FOGAH and Tanner was to create simple, clear message that will be effective. What is known right now is that the Georgia Archives will move to the University System of Georgia. This will likely require a budget item in main budget (aka, the proposed budget for 2013-2014) for the State of Georgia.

The message developed by FOGAH can be boiled down to three basic points:

  1. We support the Governor’s recommendation to move the administration of the Georgia Archives to the University System;
  2. The Secretary of State has shown his support for this recommendation;
  3. The University System and the Governor will determine the needed level of funding to restore the Georgia Archives and offer a recommendation for the State budget. We would like a minimum of 1.15 million in new money in the budget. Even though there is a minimum wanted by FOGAH, we want State legislators to support the true assessment of need from the University System.

Attendees were asked to stick to this message when approaching their legislators.

Another major initiative for FOGAH is to find supporters in each House and Senate district who are willing to speak directly to their legislators. Joe Tanner stressed that these officials (who are elected every 2 years) are most likely to be responsive to their own constituents, and that they should hear a repeating, unified message about the issue.

Tanner’s advice included:

  1. Arrange a face to face meeting with your Senator and Representative;
  2. If they will not meet, try to get them on a short call;
  3. If possible, take 1-2 other constituents with you to meet them;
  4. Tell them up front that you are their constituent contacting them about a statewide issue;
  5. Tell them that you are interested in the issue because you are a member of a specific group;
  6. Leave behind the handout created by the SGA President (these were made available to attendees, and can be sent to interested parties by contacting outreach@soga.org);
  7. If you can’t answer a question they have, tell them you will get back with them, contact FOGAH or SGA for and answer, then follow up;
  8. Follow up your call or meeting with a thank you/reminder.

Tanner & Associates encouraged members to look at letters and/or emails as a path of last resort. These are much less reliable avenues of contact when you are trying to communicate a specific message. If you must resort to one of these, make sure to personalize your letter of email. Any kind of form message should be avoided.

These contacts should start in January, after the holidays, and while the new legislative session is still slow and officials have more time to meet with constituents.

FOGAH still needs volunteers to meet their goal of one per Senate and House district. Further training sessions, including web based sessions, will be given in the future.

If you are interested in getting involved, please contact the SGA Outreach Co-Managers at outreach@soga.org.

Today’s update from FOGAH and GA in the news

From FOGAH President Dianne Cannestra:

As of yesterday, five of the 10 remaining employees will still be losing their jobs October 31.  We are continuing to work through our consultant, Joe Tanner and Associates, to decrease that number.  He shares our opinion that all 10 of the employees are essential to the Archives operation.  

Unless more surprises are coming our way, it does appear that the Archives will remain in Morrow, even after the Archives operation in transferred to the University System.  Just in case, the FOGAH Board is providing rational to the consultants regarding the benefit to not physically moving the Archives from its current location.

We still need to identify volunteers around the state who will personally make contact with their state legislators after receiving training and “talking points” from our consulting firm.  If you would be willing to volunteer, please email me at diannebc@bellsouth.net with either your district number or your nine digit zip code and I will add you to the list.  The first training session will be November 8 in St. Simons Island from 4:00 pm to 5:30 so we are especially interested in volunteers from South Georgia right now.

Because the consultant contract fee was not anticipated and thus not in the FOGAH budget, you can also assist in saving the Archives by making a donation to FOGAH for the “Consultant Fee” fund.  You can send a check to FOGAH, 5800 Jonesboro Road, Morrow GA 30260 or by PayPal at www.FOGAH.org.  Please check that web site frequently for additional updates.


Links to news items after the jump:


October 21
October 20 

Update from FOGAH

From FOGAH President Dianne Cannestra:

“After reading the October 18, 2012 Press Release from Governor Deal’s office, the FOGAH Legislative Affairs Committee had a conference call with our Legislative Affairs Consultant.  It is unclear how the latest news will impact on the termination of the 7 employees.  The consultant will attempt to get more information on that question as soon as possible.  He shares our opinion that all 7 of the employees are essential to the Archives operation.  It was also not clearly stated that the Archives will remain in Morrow.  We will be working on that clarification as well.

We are all very appreciative of the Governor’s intervention and are especially excited about the move to the University System.  Please write letters to the Governor thanking him for his intervention as soon as possible.
Our fight for restoration of the budget is not over.  The $125,000 is obviously not nearly enough.  No matter where the Archives resides organizationally,  we need to convince our senators and representatives that the Archives needs $5.4 million to get back to the model Archives it once was and be open 5 days a week. 

The first task in the consultants work plan is to identify volunteers around the state who will personally make contact with their state legislators after receiving training and “talking points” from our consulting firm.  If you would be willing to volunteer, please email me at diannebc@bellsouth.net and I will add you to the list.

Because the consultant contract fee of $3,000 per month for 6 months was not anticipated and thus not in the FOGAH budget, you can also assist in saving the Archives by making a donation to FOGAH for the “Consultant Fee” fund.  You can send a check to FOGAH, 5800 Jonesboro Road, Morrow GA 30260 or by PayPal at www.FOGAH.org.  Please check that web site frequently for additional updates.”

Links to news coverage below the jump.


Vivian Price Saffold  http://georgiaarchivesmatters.org/

Statement from FOGAH on the Georgia Archives remaining open

Although the Governor’s press release raises a number of questions,
it’s fundamentally good news.  Archives is in a better place today
than it was yesterday.  With continued efforts, things may improve
further.

FIRST AND FOREMOST, FOGAH encourages EVERYONE to send an email or
letter to the Governor thanking him for his support.  Without his
efforts, we wouldn’t have this victory.

Everyone is concerned about the staff — one of the unanswered
questions.  Please remember that staffing decisions are ultimately the
Secretary of State’s, not the Governor’s.  It’s one thing to ask the
Governor to continue efforts to support the Archives and the Staff,
but please avoid language that sounds demanding.

We still have lots of work to do.  We need to make sure that the
Archives has adequate support when transferred to the Board of
Regents.  That means meeting with members of the Assembly —
preferably in their district before the beginning of session, rather
than at the Capitol.  We’re planning an advocacy training session at
the SGA meeting so that we can all work together as effectively as
possible.  Stay tuned for details.

Again, please use all available channels to say “thanks” to the Governor!

Update on the Georgia Archives from FOGAH

After much deliberation and talking with many different people, on October 11, 2012, I signed, as President of the Friends of the Georgia Archives and History (FOGAH), a contract with the legislative affairs consulting firm Joe Tanner & Associates, Inc.  The contact is $3,000 a month for six months.

As you know the Archives budget has been severely cut for the past several years.  Although the Coalition to Save the Archives has worked tirelessly to restore some or all of the funding, we have had very limited success.  The latest cut which resulted in the decision to close the Archives to the public made us realize that a more organized approach must be taken.  The legislative and budget process is very complex and requires very specialized expertise and the ability to contact the appropriate legislators and budget officials.  The FOGAH Board of Directors believes Joe Tanner & Associates, Inc.  is the perfect firm to assist us.

Very shortly, we will share the entire work plan with all of you because all of you will be asked to assist.  One of the first tasks is to identify individuals who live in each house and senate district in Georgia.  We will be asking those individuals to make contact with each legislator after specialized training and talking points have been given to you by Joe Tanner & Associates, Inc.  Our goal is to work with the Governor and the General Assembly to put the Georgia Archives on more stable financial footing for years to come. 

You can also assist by making a donation to FOGAH that is designated to the “Consultant Fund”.   This $3,000 a month is an expense that was not anticipated and is not covered by our current budget.  You can make the donation by sending a check to FOGAH, 5800 Jonesboro Road, Morrow GA 30260 or by using PayPal on the FOGAH web site, www.fogah.org

Thank you in advance for your assistance in saving our Archives.

Dianne Cannestra