My response to Representative Schakowsky

Posted by Kathleen Fasanella on Feb 24, 2009 at 4:56 pm / CPSIA / Trackback

As I mentioned two Fridays ago, I received a letter from Jan Schakowsky, representative from Illinois. It wasn’t pleasant to say the least and is reprinted below. As many others suggested, the letter was intended to intimidate me and prevent me from exercising my right to free speech with respect to my protests against the CPSIA law. As far as can be determined, this letter is the only letter ever written by a legislator to a private individual regarding their activism in opposition to the CPSIA law. A well placed source suggests I’m being targeted as the focal point of a negative PR campaign. Whether this is true or not is yet to be determined but in any event, the correspondence merited a response if for no other purpose than to correct its inaccuracies. My response is reprinted following Schakowsky’s letter to me.

Representative Schakowsky’s writes:

February 12, 2009

Dear Ms. Fasanella:
It has come to my attention that, as author of the websites “Fashion-Incubator” and “National Bankruptcy Day,” you have used an illustration of a tombstone to mark the day on which certain provisions of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act went into effect.

I agree that the Consumer Product Safety Commission, under the leadership of Chair Nancy Nord, has not implemented the law in such a way that provided guidance and answers to business owners in a timely fashon. However, I am outraged and deeply offended that you have chosen to mark February 10th with such irreverence.

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act was passed because there are children who have been injured and killed by dangerous products. These are children who were loved by their families but who now lie under actual tombstones. Let me give you some of their names:

  • Danny – at sixteen months, he was strangled when the top rail of his poorly designed, untested portable crib collapsed around his neck. Danny is one of seventeen babies who died from this particular design.
  • Kenny – on Thanksgiving Day 2005, Kenny died in excruciating pain after swallowing tiny magnets that had fallen out of his older siblings’ toys. The toys were sold, even knowing that the magnets fall out and the extreme damage – or in Kenny’s case, death – that can result when they are swallowed.
  • Jamell – died after swallowing a charm that came free with children’s shoes and was 99% lead content.
  • Liam – who was caught and suffocated in the gap that formed between his crib rail and mattress when the hardware failed.

All of those deaths and many more could have been prevented if a law like the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act had been in place. Out of respect for those children and their families, I hope you will remove all images of tombstones from your sites, tone down your rhetoric, and work to protect children’s lives by focusing on product safety.

Sincerely,

Jan Schakowsky
Member of Congress

My response to Representative Schakowsky:
February 24, 2009
Ms Jan Schakowsky
2367 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative Schakowsky,

I am writing in reply to your letter dated February 12, 2009 in which you criticized pages on my websites at www.nationalbankruptcyday.com [cit] and www.fashion-incubator.com[cit]. These pages on my sites relate to implementation of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, and the design you objected to expressed my view that the retroactive effect of the new lead and phthalate standards under the CPSIA will kill many small businesses. My main business is consulting to small apparel manufacturers. I care deeply about my clients and their businesses. These hard working Americans have no record of harming children with their products. The ill effects of the CPSIA on small apparel manufacturers and retailers will harm our country without making any child safer. Your chastisement of this point of view has only amplified my estrangement from some of the liberal, “consumer protection” groups that I respected and supported.

The debate over the CPSIA has long featured misuse of child injuries data by consumer advocates to justify the overreaching CPSIA. The enduring sorrows of these families should not be exploited callously for political gain. By overstating and distorting the relationship between the tragedies experienced by these families and the new law, your letter exemplifies the myriad inappropriate arguments in support of the CPSIA.

In your letter, you state that “[t]he Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act was passed because there are children who have been injured and killed by dangerous products” and provide four examples of deaths involving children’s products as an illustration. Your letter continues: “All of these deaths and many more could have been prevented if a law like the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act had been in place.” Sadly, this is untrue and a critical question in the debate over this law. You have argued that this draconian law was needed to fill a regulatory gap to save these children. However, as the CPSIA could not have been effective to change any of these sad outcomes, how can such a dramatic, over-arching and exceedingly costly law be justified? In this case, it cannot.

Your cited examples do not tell the whole story:

  • Your First Example: Danny, strangled by the top rail of his crib.
    Danny and seven other children were lost due to this product defect. The CPSC implemented a recall of Danny’s crib in 1993 and similar models were recalled over the next four years, primarily during the chairmanship of Anne Brown [cit/cit] . In cooperation with the JPMA, the CPSC developed voluntary standards for cribs that eliminated this product design flaw and today virtually all cribs sold in the United States meet these standards. None of this activity required any aspect of the CPSIA. Prior to the passage of the CPSIA, the CPSC had ample authority under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act and Consumer Product Safety Act to implement mandatory regulations but chose not to do so. In fact, both Acts empower the Commission to rely on voluntary standards if such standards would adequately prevent a risk of injury and would be substantially complied with. The new crib standards to be promulgated not later than August 2016 under the CPSIA simply makes mandatory what the CPSC had the authority to implement since 1970.
  • Your Second Example: Kenny, died after swallowing small magnets that had fallen out of toys.
    Kenny’s death was one of the first identified cases indicating a possible problem with multiple magnets. The CPSC implemented a recall of the product involved, as well as many other similar products, some of which contained hazardous magnets and some of which did not contain hazardous magnets [cit] . In light of the discovery of this new hazard, the ASTM F963-07 standard was updated to establish criteria for use of magnets in toys. As the hazard was unknown at the time of this accident, the CPSIA (had it been law at the time) would have had no impact on this child’s safety. As was fitting, the CPSC acted under prior legislative authority to remediate the problem upon discovery.
  • Your Third Example: Jarnell, died after swallowing a lead charm that came free with children’s shoes.
    Lead in children’s products that can cause injury has been banned since approximately 1970. In February 2005, after recalling a number of items of children’s jewelry that presented such a hazard, the Commission issued a policy statement that set forth the criteria for evaluating the hazards associated with such jewelry. Subsequently, in January 2007, the Commission commenced a rulemaking proceeding to formally define children’s jewelry as a banned hazardous substance. In March 2008, five months before the passage of the CPSIA, the manufacturer paid a $1,000,000 civil penalty to resolve the Commission’s allegations that it violated the law [cit]. As far as can be determined, the January 2007 rulemaking proceeding has been tabled in light of the CPSIA which mandates specific levels of lead in children’s jewelry. It is clear, however, that the CPSIA was not necessary to regulate leaden children’s jewelry and in fact the rulemaking might have been completed already had Congress not intervened. As a result, it can be argued that the CPSIA actually delayed implementation of rules on leaden jewelry.
  • Your Fourth Example: Liam, who suffocated in his crib when its hardware failed.
    Crib hardware has been an issue for 30 years at CPSC and is largely related to hardware loosening or becoming lost over time, especially with used cribs [cit/cit]. It is notable that the CPSIA does not address many of crib hardware issues other than to restrict the sale of used cribs that fail to comply with to-be-adopted mandatory standards (another retroactive standard). In fact, under the old FHSA and CPSA, the CPSC had the authority to address crib hardware issues that constituted product defects (see the first example) by recalling affected cribs and amending its existing crib rules if necessary to address hardware issues. Nothing in the CPSIA would have addressed the issues that led to Liam’s death, nor does the CPSIA confer authority on the agency to address hardware issues that did not exist prior to its passage.

Fundamentally, the issues underlying the four deaths you cite are not regulatory authority, but in fact resources (financial and personnel) and agency direction. The adequacy of prior legislation had nothing to do with these incidents and therefore the new law would not have remedied the above-referenced accidents. Blaming Acting Chairman Nancy Nord for the consequences of this absence of Congressional support is disingenuous.

On a personal note, I resent your implication that I am insensitive to children’s safety. The issue of children’s safety is not the sole possession of CPSIA supporters; there are many committed children’s advocates, mothers, teachers and counselors who adamantly oppose this law while still remaining very committed to safety. The vast majority of my manufacturers were compelled to enter the market for many of these reasons with products that exceed CPSIA standards. Unfortunately, today many of these same manufacturers are unable to locate contractors willing to take their work or even to acquire usual business insurance due to the fear of liability under the CPSIA. In an industry dominated by small firms (68% have fewer than 20 employees) the market chaos bodes poorly for consumers as well.

It is my sincere wish that the debate over the CPSIA can be conducted without twisting it into some sort of “good citizenship” test. The incontrovertible fact remains: CPSIA will not make children’s products safer but it will make them scarcer and more expensive. The law fails to incorporate concepts of risk assessment and will have the unintended consequence of devastating the business community and employment in this challenging economic environment.

We can do better than the CPSIA to protect our children. I would welcome a further constructive dialogue on how we can best achieve this goal for our nation.

Sincerely,

Kathleen Fasanella
www.fashion-incubator.com
www.nationalbankruptcyday.com

What didn’t make the final cut was this passage:

My delay in responding to your letter is due to indecision and mourning. Indecision wrought by my perceived futility of writing a response that will not be read anymore than the content of our continuing objections to CPSIA has been. As a life long liberal activist, I am grieving the loss of my faith in being forced to admit that the activist groups to which I’ve belonged, do not look beyond the rhetoric to examine root causes of our social afflictions.

I remain grieved that CPSIA has pitted activists against each other. I resent the polarization of well meaning but misinformed activists on both sides; reducing the controversy to simplistic descriptions of safety versus profits, right versus left, China versus domestic, and large enterprises versus small ones. It has simply become intolerable to me, not that I haven’t written of it many times before now.

56 Responses to “My response to Representative Schakowsky”

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Elaine Good
February 24th, 2009
5:26 PM

Amen, Kathleen. Way to go! Clear and succinct. Thank you for your considerable investment in clarifying these issues.

Shelagh
February 24th, 2009
5:34 PM

Bravo, and thank you.

Katy
February 24th, 2009
5:35 PM

Thank you. Peace!

Jennifer
February 24th, 2009
5:52 PM

Well you sure put her in her place. I hate when people throw things they heard “out there” without proper research. It’s irresponsible (especially for a public official) and I believe she owes you an apology. I’m embarrassed to say she’s from my State but gratefully is not a rep from my area. You wrote a great letter with great restraint and I applaud you!

deputyheadmistress
February 24th, 2009
6:26 PM

I am disappoiinted by her attempt to exploit children’s deaths in order to marginalize valid points.
My response is here

Lauren
February 24th, 2009
6:28 PM

It’s a bummer that you’re becoming a sacraficial lamb for this, but I appreciate what you’re doing to fix it. I’ve never really gotten involved in any kind of activism, but your blog (I’m just a home sewist lurker who likes to dream) inspired me to write all of my representatives to register my dissatisfaction with the way this legislation was written and will be enforced. The world is a better place with champions like you fighting for the little guys.

Lisa DOWNTOWN JOEY
February 24th, 2009
6:38 PM

Very well said, Kathleen.

Your letter clearly disproved her claims. Way to go!

RachelMM
February 24th, 2009
7:10 PM

Beautiful!

Betsy
February 24th, 2009
7:43 PM

Your eloquence is enviable. You articulate well–particularly in the deleted passage–the frustration of a liberal mystified by knee-jerk party-mongering. Please accept my thanks!

Jimmy Hudson
February 24th, 2009
7:47 PM

Responding to Representative Schakowsky presented several hazards which you skillfully avoided. She failed to draw you into her morality play and she failed to provoke an angry response to her smarmy rhetoric. I think your measured and informed tone came across like a reply as opposed to a retort, but you still managed to take the wind out of her sails. Interestingly, you may have presented Rep. Schakowsky with a fresh angle on CPSIA that she may actually find useful, i.e., politically expedient; because your remarks did not cause her to lose face. Good editing, too. No need for histrionics.
If she was smart she’d hire you for consultation, or at the very least, to write a white paper for her. Then, she could be your mouthpiece…but, I’m getting ahead of myself…

Tristan Benz
February 24th, 2009
8:28 PM

Well, let’s hope it DOES get read. Well done.

Suzy
February 24th, 2009
9:27 PM

Great job Kathleen!

I think you hit the nail on the head:

“Fundamentally, the issues underlying the four deaths you cite are not regulatory authority, but in fact resources (financial and personnel) and agency direction. The adequacy of prior legislation had nothing to do with these incidents and therefore the new law would not have remedied the above-referenced accidents…”

Further, I think anyone with any even passing knowledge of this agency is well aware of their inadequate resources.

Does Representative Schakowsky realize just how “outraged and deeply offended” I am with her for this kind of divisive grandstanding? It is her misuse of this information for political gain that is callous. Shame on her. I expect better of our elected officials, and if she can’t deliver, I will be more than happy to support someone who can.

Suzie
February 24th, 2009
11:54 PM

Bravo to you Kathleen, very well written and I pray that it is read and not just tossed aside.

I hope that you will be able to have peace sometime in the near future. You are a strong woman to keep fighting so well. I have to back off at times because the stress is too much for me.

Someday down the road, you will look back and wonder why you had to go down this road to be where you are. There is always a reason for the bumps in our lives and I feel confident that you will come out of this an even stronger woman and in a much better place.

Peace to you my dear.

Jo
February 25th, 2009
2:04 AM

Excellent, excellent letter, Kathleen. I endorse Jimmy’s and all the comments above. Well done!

Wacky Hermit
February 25th, 2009
5:51 AM

Representative Schakowsky can read what I think about her letter here.

cgHipp
February 25th, 2009
6:13 AM

Very well-written and reasoned response. Representative Schakowsky’s use of the word “reverence” in her letter speaks volumes. Perhaps we are supposed to “have faith” in the CPSIA?

emily
February 25th, 2009
6:49 AM

hear hear!!! Kathleen, I’d vote for you if you ran for office near me. Clearly, you support level headed legislation that looks to actually solve problems instead of making a few lobbying parties happy.

Allison
February 25th, 2009
7:07 AM

Kathleen,
What a wonderful & intelligent response you have written. I am amazed that you were able to write such a relevant and unemotional response after receiving that horrifying letter. That must not have been easy to do!!
I would vote for you too!!!! :) Thank you for standing up for us all.

Camille
February 25th, 2009
7:10 AM

Kathleen,
You do us proud in your courage and thoroughness of response. Your discussion is emblematic for how any individual can stand and face down those who would attempt to swat away what they would take to be a simple nuisance. Representative Schakowsky seems not to have taken your position very seriously, and she should understand that this lack of depth in dialogue has backfired. But all does not have to be at loss; she can be redeemed (the matter can be redeemed) if now the matter can be addressed to the breadth and depth that it requires. If not, much will die, much will be exploited for all the wrong reasons/ all the wrong purposes.

My respect for you continues to be well placed.
very best regards,
Camille W

Kiki Fluhr
February 25th, 2009
7:48 AM

Kathleen I think your response is fabulous!

Clairee Meeks
February 25th, 2009
8:06 AM

Just a note to confirm what Camille has stated above. I am not involved in this industry, but I heartily applaud you efforts on behalf of the many small manufacturers, and cottage industry persons trying to make a living in this country. As tedious as it may be, keep up the good fight – we need you and others like you!
God bless………
Clairee

Elizabeth Nill
February 25th, 2009
8:19 AM

Wow, Kathleen. What an intelligent response. While I am not personally or professionally at risk due to CPSIA, I’m inspired by your courage, facts, and responsiveness. If I were to write more here, it would only be a less elegant recap of what Camille has already written. Bravo.

Rita Yussoupova
February 25th, 2009
8:34 AM

Bravo !!!! Kathleen!!!!!
I have been working as a technical designer in kids for many years and I am very familiar with safety regulations. They often DO NOT WORK.
An example is CPSC measurements specifications standards for cotton sleepwear for children.
It is supposed to be a very tight fit to prevent injuries in the event of fire. Cotton is highly flammable and close fit minimizes amount of oxygen between body and cotton fabric.
Lack of oxygen prolongs the time of the cotton fabric catching the flames.
The fit is so tight that children are uncomfortable sleeping and we would get returns and complaints from customers/parents over and over again and exchanging them for larger sizes. The other option they have is to buy a loose fitting polyester sleepwear.
The amount of effort the Companies put into complying with this regulations is tremendous.
Starting with special training, testing and implementation of procedures such as double checking the measurements by 3 different Technical Designers of Pre-Production samples and 100% QC inspections of production when the entire Technical department is called out to stop what ever they are doing and measure all production garments.
We used to call them pajama parties. This cost a lot of money to the companies and it all so the parents can get a larger size pajamas for their kids.

bente
February 25th, 2009
8:39 AM

I vote for you too.
So amazingly calm written, so clear and informative.
I shouldn’t say this, but we have to learn to measure some safety for our children ourselves.
We all know that household accidents are the most frequent accidents with children. We have to teach them about dangers in stead of avoiding totally. I have always gone for the old fashion safe children’s items and never this plastic colorful over-stuffed with whatever because I found it safer. The problem is that it’s probably more expensive as all the new (and modern) stuff come from low cost production. And here lays the main problem of unsafe products; cheaper production, higher volume and more profit; all on behalf of the children’s safety. The rules should be about this!

Tonya
February 25th, 2009
8:57 AM

Kathleen, we need citizens like you in govenment. You should really run for public office.

It’s very scary to think that we have elected people who make decisions based on 30 second sound bites without taking the time and initiative to get ‘the rest of the story’. This is the same attitute that got us into Iraq, rushing to judgement, a lack of critical throught, and the branding of those who ask questions as un-American.

Well done, Kathleen. . .very well done.

Melanie
February 25th, 2009
9:24 AM

Kathleen,
Excellent letter! I hope it will be read, but I fear it won’t…or if it is, will just fall on deaf ears…unfortunately, right now, Washington is hip deep in it’s own efforts to try to reinvent the wheel, and they think they can solve everything with more spending and more legislation…this began even before the current administration, and politicians on both sides of the aisle are to blame….they didn’t actually read the CPSIA and they haven’t read the new stimulous/pork package either…they’re all just doing knee jerk legislation and whatever will grab them the most headlines. I am not giving up the fight…but I have doubts as to our success…both on this issue and as a country as a whole…I pray I’m wrong…but only time will tell. THANK YOU for all of your efforts! I’m feeling fatigued from the fight and have not been nearly as involved as you have…thanks again from all of us!

Pamela
February 25th, 2009
9:47 AM

What a fantastic response and your writing is so well done. I do think she will read it simply because she was the one that wrote you the first letter. Whether you get a reply will be another thing. I just love the power of the internet and how this situation can be seen by so many people and can call a congressman on their own words. This could never be done before and now the world is much more transparent than it ever was. Great job and thanks for doing all this work!

Melana
February 25th, 2009
9:58 AM

Brilliant! Excellent, excellent response to someone that really hasn’t a clue. Maybe her research staff should of delved deeper into the truth behind the CPSIA law and the CPSC. Thank you for having a voice for us “little” businesses out here…. Thank you…

Nicole
February 25th, 2009
10:10 AM

Please everyone go and buy Kathleen’s book to support her. She is doing so much for designers, small businesses, and the like with this new law and we need to do everything we can to get behind her. I haven’t bought the book yet because I am not a fashion designer but I am going to buy it now because I have products they may be affected by this law.

NCH
February 25th, 2009
1:38 PM

Because you were the direct target of her letter, responding with reason and restraint was the wise thing to do and I commend you for it. I however, do not feel bound by such restraint and I would like to say something to Representative Schakowsky.

Dear Representative Schakowsky,

Under color of the office you currently hold – Congressional Representative from the State of Illinois – you have attempted to dictate to a citizen of the United States what she should and should not say. Although this action does not meet the definition of Congress passing a law restricting freedom of speech, which would be a clear violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution, it nevertheless qualifies as an abuse of the office to which your constituents have elected you. I can say it no plainer than this: You should be ashamed. In my opinion, your direct attempt to stifle free speech and debate, your implication that Kathleen Fasanella does not care about the safety of children and childrens’ products, and your knee-jerk assumption of Ms. Fasanella’s motives without apparently any research on your part on who she actually is or advocates, call into question your fitness for the office you now hold.

I strongly recommend you read Ms. Fasanella’s reasoned response to your letter, if you haven’t already done so, and engage her, as she requests, in “a further constructive dialogue on how we can best achieve” the goal of protecting our children.

Sincerely,

NCH

Rocio
February 25th, 2009
2:06 PM

Love it!

Your factual response is refreshing in a sea of cluelessness

j. caroline
February 25th, 2009
2:24 PM

Excellent (and well-researched) response. Remind me never to throw out angry rhetoric at you! Man, is there anything worse than having FACTS thrown back at you?

Dana
February 25th, 2009
4:13 PM

Bravo Kathleen!

I bet there is a reporter or two who’d be interested in hearing about Rep Schakowsy’s letter. Anyone got contacts?

Nancy
February 25th, 2009
5:52 PM

Rep S stated you had two websites, but obviously did not spend any length of time in either. Had she, she would have realized your education, sensed your motivation, your energy, and your love of sharing all that you have learned, will learn, and hope to learn with the world. Her letter sounded rushed, formed, ill-thought and empty, while yours was informative, principled, evidenced, enthusiastic, passionate, and politically stated. Kathleen, if you ran for office I bet you would give even the Pied Piper a run. (Have you thought of doing a video?) I do hope she read it – I read it twice – and I could never come close to the eloquence, exactness, and vocabulary required to address such an attack. An amazing letter, a fantastic website, and I just want to say “thank you, Kathleen” for all of it.

Lora
February 25th, 2009
7:44 PM

Kathleen,

That is exactly what I would have said LOL.

Really, it was eloquent and professional and fearless.

Eric H
February 25th, 2009
8:58 PM

I am reduced to speechlessness upon finishing a letter that uses dead children to advocate a wasteful, poorly planned, unread, harmful law and which concludes with a call to tone down the rhetoric. Wh-wh-what? I am bursting at the seams with pride for my wife, her role in trying to correct this mess, and the restraint and clarity with which she approaches her response to Congresswoman Schakowsky. These people brought a butterknife to an intellectual gun fight.

I think the Congresswoman missed her target by a country mile. The special interest groups and the senators who joined the retroactive phthalate suit first tried to paint CPSC General Counsel Falvey as a Bush lackey, but we found that she had generously supported Friends of Hillary so they ceased that attack. Now they have leveled their sights on Chairwoman Nord. It is scapegoating so transparent that you almost have to admire the sheer chutzpah. I think this letter may have been the first round of attempts to marginalize Kathleen as a reactionary; shortly after receiving this, I picked up a search on my blog for “Kathleen Fasanella campaign contributions” from someone in Washington D.C. Yep, my wife, the Subaru wagon drivin’, Co-op America joinin’, vegetarian, Democratic headquarter election night partyin’, NPR listenin’, immigrant defendin’, solar music festival attendin’, sustainability advocatin’ (and again) neocon.

Apparently the same deep thought process that went into the CPSIA in the first place: Ready, Shoot, Aim.

Marketa
February 26th, 2009
7:09 AM

Kathleen, you are my hero.

Karen
February 26th, 2009
9:31 AM

Kathleen,

I am shocked that you received that letter in the first place. Your response was perfect and I applaud your eloquent stance.

Jason
February 26th, 2009
10:05 AM

Wow…it’s hard to believe that a member of congress would send such a self-serving, ill-informed letter like this. I’m kidding of course, it’s not a shock at all. I can almost see her assistants scurrying around the office…tracking down childrens’ names to be exploited for the “great work”.

What’s truly depressing about this, is that Jan Schakowsky was put into office to be a “representative”. It’s not her job to send hate mail to business owners, attempt to suppress free speech by intimidation, or publicly advertise her ignorance on important issues like the CPSIA.

Thanks for the sharing the letter, and especially for your fantastic response. I don’t know anyone covering business or politics at the Tribune, but I do have a few contacts there. You (and Jan) can be sure that they’ll hear about the letter exchange!

Best,
Jason

Dawn Michelle
February 26th, 2009
10:51 AM

Kathleen,
This letter is truly perfect. You have worked so hard fighting this law. I understand your frustration and feeling of hopelessness. I commend you for taking so much time and energy, researching and articulating what seems so obvious to so many of us. I just hope this person actually reads this law.

The CPSIA has uncovered the truth about the corruption of our government and I am no longer able to live in ignorant bliss.

I just want you to know that you are truly a hero to many of us who have given up the fight, it’s just too painful not to be heard.

Thank you so much for your tireless efforts and I pray that your words will be heard!!

Sincerely hoping for change,
Dawn Michelle

Lesley
February 26th, 2009
12:24 PM

For every Jan Schakowsky you have at least 1 million of us who think you walk on water. You, of all people, hold us all to the task of higher standards. I was aghast at the tone of her letter. You did right to publish it and your response was impeccable. I too am so disgusted and disappointed by the hypocrisy of these CPSIA activists.

Deb
February 26th, 2009
1:07 PM

Thank you, Kathleen, for all of your efforts. We all share a common goal of protecting our children, but I am a bit startled by the fact that Rep. Jan Schakowsky used her official letterhead to convey a private opinion about the graphics used on your website.

The House Ethics Manual (see http://www.rules.house.gov/ruleprec/111th.pdf) does state “Members of Congress communicate with the public in various capacities. However, communications of a private (or political) nature, whether sent by a Member or by organizations outside the House, may not be prepared or mailed at official expense.”

Jan Schakowsky is entitled to her personal opinion, but I certainly hope that she did not send that letter using “franking” privileges.

Kelli
February 26th, 2009
3:29 PM

I agree with the posters above — I’m so impressed with this post. I admire your ability to present the facts with such reason and logic — and without elevating the issue to an emotional, personal show-down. I’m probably speaking for many of us when I say that I feel almost too close to this issue to accomplish such a task. That’s why I’m so forever thankful for your time & voice! And, as a side note, I’m a mom of 2 — and I completely agree with “bente” above.
Kelli

colleen
February 27th, 2009
8:48 AM

Kathleen, great letter.
Eric H., great reply. Your sense of humor (sarcasm?) is much appreciated. You two are a dynamic duo!
I received a lovely response from Senator Olympia Snowe, Maine. Although I suspect it was a “form” letter, it came across as well reasoned and aware of the shortcomings of the proposed regulation.

Mary Saunders
February 27th, 2009
1:01 PM

Thank you for your efforts. I will be glad to meet you in Washington and knock on doors! We need to stand up for our rights. I use glass stones to embellish tees. We had 30 of them tested and all passed…took 5 gross which is about 800 stones for the test. All came in under the 300 ppm. We use about 100 stones on our tees or less..our designs are small. I have a crazy store who as a result of this law, is using it as an opportunity to threaten to turn us in to CPSC because they have hit on hard financial times and want their money back. They claimed to have tested…found out yesterday, it was with a rented xrf gun and done by the owners, not a certified tech. I standby by our certified results. We not only got reports from our suppliers but we tested ourselves her in the US in a certified lab. However, there are websites out there…one in particular…who is telling everyone all stones are bad. Wanna know what the funny thing is…the stones passed, the screen print tees did not! Not a sole cares about those. This law has caused so much trouble on so many levels. It makes me sick. I think it is terrible that I had to hire a lawyer to write a cease and desist letter to a store. I am fighting this tooth and nail. Maybe it is time we all team up and MARCH!!!!!!!!

Liz Gumbinner
February 28th, 2009
6:26 AM

Absolutely fantastic response. Professional, thorough, and factual.

It’s breaking my heart that representatives I otherwise admire and respect are so misinformed about the law and guided by a belief that this is bad business versus good mommies. This is why we also need more democratic politicians advocating cpsia changes

Mary Saunders
February 28th, 2009
9:37 AM

Another thought…I reread this letter and it made me so mad. I really think you need to send a copy of this letter as well as a description of why this law is so bad to every news station there is. I have been pushing for press on the local level and got some…sent to Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh as well and they talked about it but most are focusing on toys and not apparel. We really need to push this issue some how. I have sent detailed letter after detailed letter to our Senators…they respond with we are saving the children and quote the law. There is no interest in doing what is right or using common sense or addressing the issues that make this law unconstitutional and unjust as well as unenforceable. I think it is time to go to the media. With this and the taxes Obama is about to place on small businesses for healthcare, energy and whatever else he can, small businesses are done as we no it and so is the America that allowed them to thrive.

david foster
February 28th, 2009
2:27 PM

A genuinely nasty letter from the Congressperson. And her line” I agree that the Consumer Product Safety Commission, under the leadership of Chair Nancy Nord, has not implemented the law in such a way that provided guidance and answers to business owners in a timely fashon” is a cop-out, and one I have heard before from both sides of the aisle. Congress is filled with lawyers–they should be able to write legislation that provides reasonably clear guidance to the agencies that must administer them. Ms Schakowsky–If you and your fellow Congressmen can’t clarify your thoughts well enough to write coherent and unambiguous legislation, don’t blame some administrator for your own inabilities.

Stan Ho
March 2nd, 2009
5:36 PM

…and what would you expect from a congresswoman that proudly shows a list of earmarks on her website! They are actually called “earmarks” http://www.house.gov/schakowsky/ top right

Cathe
March 4th, 2009
11:12 AM

Very well-written. Thank you for your willingness to address these attacks. It’s been hurtful for all of us to be portrayed as “moneygrubbing baby-haters” (yes, that was posted in response to a blog article I published) when most of have very strong feelings about the safety and welfare of our children. I am glad we have such an advocate!

Jennifer
March 19th, 2009
4:55 PM

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

kaji
April 16th, 2009
2:12 PM

I think Rep Schakowsky has a long history of idiotic legislation. Here is part of an email that I originally sent to her in 2007:
= = = = = = = =
Subject: Pending H.R. activity
Hon. Rep. Schakowsky;
We were reading H.R.1216 info on your web page and are concerned about this section:
• Requires the government to study making power windows (in automobiles) automatically reverse direction when they detect an obstruction to prevent children from being trapped, injured or killed and to report back to Congress if they don’t conclude that such a mandate is necessary;

We think that preventing the window from closing or allowing reversing is more dangerous to those who are attempting to escape from abusers, robberies, and carjackers than the number of children who would be harmed by an automatic closure. Children should be strapped into their carseat, thus preventing them from reaching the TOP of the window, which is the only spot where they might get hurt. …..

= = = = = = = = = = = = =
This bill was passed anyway in Jan. 2008 and went to the D.O.T. for ‘study’. I contacted the Dept. Of Trans. and asked them to include statistics re abusers, robberies, and carjackers in their study. Of course, it is all just a waste of taxpayer money – Congress’ main skill, yes?

[…] not meant for the under-12 set, at least not since the enactment of the calamitous Jan-Schakowsky-backed law: the law requires each batch of toys be tested by a 3rd party laboratory to be sure they are […]

Joanne
October 24th, 2011
8:05 AM

I found this post when looking for a stuffed bunny pattern and was interested in your experience.

I agree with the fact that legislation that allegedly is for the good of the country hurts its citizens and serves no purpose. In my own state, our zealous tax department decided to clamp down on hobby vendors at craft shows to make sure they had business licenses. To make it worse, if you do not report any sales tax collection for 6 months, they rescind your license, and you have to pay for a new one.

This has eliminated all of the wonderful crafters that occasionally do one or two craft shows during the holidays. The retired woodworkers that make a few toy cars, and the grandmothers that sell the hand knitted potholders, stuffed animals and doll clothes.

My complaint with your post is that you chose to turn this over regulation into a “liberal” activity. It isn’t. People all along the political spectrum are capable of stupidity and ignorance. I am liberal and I am fighting against the legislation that makes it a crime for Americans to craft and sell their wares. In my state, it was conservative politicians that created tax laws that drove small crafters out of business.

We do not need to be divided. And our conversation should not resort to labeling anything as liberal or conservative. It does no good to foster divisiveness by using such labels for something we disagree with.

Kathleen Fasanella
October 25th, 2011
10:50 AM

My complaint with your post is that you chose to turn this over regulation into a “liberal” activity. It isn’t…We do not need to be divided. And our conversation should not resort to labeling anything as liberal or conservative.

Frankly, I’m at a loss for words. It just goes to show that people will selectively read and interpret what they will no matter how carefully one crafts their words. Minimally, it is humorous as I’ve been the one person in this entire debate that has railed against right-left divisiveness. I’ll quote a comment my husband wrote above (reading comments is helpful!) and leave it at that. He wrote:

I think the Congresswoman missed her target by a country mile… I think this letter may have been the first round of attempts to marginalize Kathleen as a reactionary; shortly after receiving this, I picked up a search on my blog for “Kathleen Fasanella campaign contributions” from someone in Washington D.C. Yep, my wife, the Subaru wagon drivin’, Co-op America joinin’, vegetarian, Democratic headquarter election night partyin’, NPR listenin’, immigrant defendin’, solar music festival attendin’, sustainability advocatin’ (and again) neocon.

[…] and pushed a poorly-written bill through the Senate. Never mind that, as blogger Kathleen Fasanella explains in detail, many of the horror stories used to promote CPSIA could have been addressed under existing law. But […]

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