Three weeks ago, Roland Burris was sworn in as Illinois' junior senator. Despite his controversial appointment, he promised to do his best for Illinois. He could start by answering the phone.
Three weeks ago, Roland Burris was sworn in as Illinois' junior senator. Despite his controversial appointment, he promised to do his best for Illinois.
He could start by answering the phone.
As has recently been reported, constituents able to find a phone number for Burris' office are more likely to get a busy signal, a full voice mailbox or no return phone call. Forget speaking to a real, live human being. Staff members have said they're still working out the kinks, need more help and are doing the best they can.
Problem is, three weeks have passed since Burris' ascension, more than five since his appointment. He should have been able to staff his office by now. Indeed, Burris' chief of staff came to him straight from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, so clearly he's not hurting for high-level assistance. With the senator's vast political experience, which he's never hesitated to brag on before, his Rolodex should have been big enough to find folks to answer the phone and help constituents.
Meanwhile, Burris' online Senate home page looks like he's treating this job as little more than a vanity exercise. No information on policy issues, no news releases, no upcoming appearances, no Senate agenda, no easy Internet contact form for constituents, no addresses or phone numbers for offices in Illinois and Washington - all of which can be found with a casual glance at Sen. Dick Durbin's page. Instead Burris dedicates nearly all of his official government Internet site to what seems his favorite subject: himself.
Indeed, visitors get a six-paragraph biography listing all the important dates and offices held during Burris' life - essentially what's carved into his mausoleum, only in prose form. He'll forgive those who conclude he's in Washington to serve himself, not Illinoisans.
OK, OK, so these things take time to update, right? Not necessarily. Rod Blagojevich was bounced from the governor's office shortly before 5 p.m. on Jan. 29. By 6 p.m. that same Thursday, state Internet sites had been changed to reflect that Pat Quinn was in charge. By the next day, all kinds of information from the new administration was available.
Meanwhile, Colorado's new U.S. senator took office five days after Burris, but his constituents could immediately reach him by phone or e-mail. Burris' site didn't post an e-mail address and contact information for his district offices until the complaints began.
So here they are: Call his Senate office in Washington at (202) 224-2854, his Springfield office at (217) 492-5089, or e-mail him at Senator_RolandBurris@burris.senate.gov. Feel free to give him a buzz. Hope someone answers.
Peoria Journal Star