Downtown Joey Goes to CPSIA Rally in DC

CPSIAgrou[ 

On Wednesday (April 1st aka April Fool’s Day) I set out bright and early to fly from NYC to DC to attend the Amend the CPSIA Rally which was sponsored by many different groups.  A flight which should have taken a mere 40 minutes turned into an adventure…4 hours later I arrived at the US Capitol Building.

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Although the cherry blossoms are beautiful in DC this time of year, the weather wasn’t great (cloudy skies and intermittent rain showers).  As I approached the Capitol Building, thousands of people were being evacuated!

I spotted Rachel Dressler-Sweetser of Monkey Baby who had a CPSIA sticker on her jacket.  I asked her what was going on.  Apparently, security found a suspicious package.  But she gave me her visitor’s pass and I snuck in the side door.

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When I finally made it to the CPSIA Rally room, I could barely squeeze in.  Standing room only!

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I listened to lots of great speakers from different industries and some elected officials.

Here’s video from Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX):

 

and another from Governor Engler:

After the Rally, we divided into groups to attend meetings with different legislators and their aides.  My group consisted of  Scott A. Cohn of Arent Fox, Jason Oliver of Oompa Toys and a few other gentlemen.

We trekked around to visit a few senator’s aides.  When we finished, my group spotted Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY and Vice Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee) and double-dog dared me to approach Schumer as he was getting on the elevator.

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I figured since I was unsuccessful at getting an appointment with him or his aides, it was now or never.  Thank goodness I’m a New Yorker and have chutzpah (even though I’m a nice Irish/English gal).  I approached Senator Schumer and said, “Excuse me Senator.  I’m a New York children’s clothing manufacturer and I need help with the CPSIA.”  He told me to come with him and took me on a little elevator ride.

Senator Schumer was intrigued that my boys’ clothing line was manufacturer in New York City (my guess is most have their items manufactured abroad) and got a kick out of my boys’ jeans snap (which looks like a NYC manhole cover).

CPSIAVICTIM

After discussing the issues surrounding the CPSIA and it’s effects on my business, Senator Schumer took out his cell phone and hooked me up with his Deputy Staff Director, Stacy Ettinger, telling her to meet with me now.  The Senator assured me they were working behind the scenes on this issue.  I told him we need Democrats to support this–plain and simple.

I immediately met up with Ms. Ettinger at his office–and what a breath of fresh air!  She was extremely well-versed about the CPSIA and it’s implications on children’s businesses.  She stated there had been a lot of support for the new CPSIA from consumer groups such as USPRIG and she needed to hear from others like me with real numbers (inventory loss, loss sales, business closings, etc.).  I provided here with the financial losses I’ve incurred and projected 3rd party testing costs in order to be in compliance.  I also supplied her with this blog post which lists the other companies that would be affected if I were to go out of business.

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I must say I felt really good after meeting with Senator Schumer and Ms. Ettinger.  I do believe they “get it.”  I don’t think I was given the brush-off at all.  I left feeling that I had been heard and they were genuinely concerned.  However, I do believe that unless a Democrat introduces legislation to amend the CPSIA, the point is moot.  Unfortunately, although this should be a bi-partisan issue, it’s not–how sad.

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Then I went to meet with Kathryn DiBitetto, Legislative Assistant to Congressman Michael McMahon‘s (D-NY) office, who handles product safety issues.  Unfortunately, Congressman McMahon was voting at the House of Representatives.  I would have liked to see him as he was my personal injury lawyer years ago and is a fellow Staten Islander.  Ironically, McMahon won me the money which was used to start my boys’ clothing line.

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Ms. DiBitetto (another Staten Island native) told me the Congressman was aware of the problems being caused by the CPSIA for local businesses.  She said he’s written the CPSC with concerns.  I explained that the CPSC could do nothing to change the law, but instead legislators would have to fix it.  I urged Ms. DiBitetto to ask Congressman McMahon to support any legislation to amend the CPSIA.  P.S. – Ms. DiBitetto loved my Downtown Joey clothing line!

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I almost canceled my trip, because I had no one to watch my two children.  But then I thought about how hard my friends have fought the CPSIA and felt it was my responsibility to be there.  Kathleen, Rick, Rob, Jennifer, Olivia, Wacky Hermit, Whimsical Walney, Tristan, Deputy Headmistress, Handcraftivist, Jill, Cecilia, Walter, and Marianne have all fought the good fight while I was taking my daughter through a kidney transplant.  It’s was my turn to step up and be heard.  I am glad I went to the CPSIA Rally in DC!  It was a terrific experience. I’d like to thank all the folks who put together this rally in 2 short weeks.  YOU ROCK!

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Here’s lots of great CPSIA commentary from around the web:

Learning Resources:  The Rally and the Democrats

Learning Resources:  A Quick Guide to What’s Wrong w/ the CPSIA

Overlawyered:  Things I Learned at the Rally

Wall Street Journal:  Obama Urged to Fill CPSC Post as Complaints Mount 

Women’s Wear Daily:  Kids’ Execs Rally Against Safety Law

Woman’s Wear Daily:  Businesses Seek Changes to Product Safety Act (subscription required)

Journal of Commerce:  Manufacturers Urge Change in Product Safety Law

Congressman Joe Barton:  Bill Fixes Mistakes in Toy Safety Law, Saves Small Shops from Bankruptcy

Publisher’s Weekly Addresses CPSIA Testing and Labeling Provisions

Polkadot Patch Baby:  CPSIA Rally is Over.  What Now?  Keep Spreading the Word

Why Congress Won’t Fix the CPSIA

Amend the CPSIA:  DeMint Amendment

The Common Room:  Myth Busting the Myth Busters – CPSIA

Alliance for Children’s Product Safety on CPSIA Rally

Tristan Benz:  CPSIA-If There Were a Time to Ask Questions, the Time is Now

Journal Sentinel:  Lead Law Leaves Small Businesses in a Lather

Crafty Baby:  Letter to President Obama

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I returned home from DC to read that High Lead Levels found in my own town’s shoreline.  Lovely.  Do I need to be concerned about lead in my kids’ clothing when I’m living in a lead-filled city?!

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Not to mention, our local landfill makes the news once again.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with some CPSIA inspired photos.  Feel free to use any of these around the web to help spread the word about the unintended consequences of the CPSIA:

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CPSIAMINIBIKES

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CPSIALANDFILLCROSS

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With friendship,

Lisa

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Comments

  1. Thank YOU for fighting the good fight, Lis!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your story of the rally. It was great to read and I’m so glad Rachael helped you sneak in! You definitely deserved to be there. Glad to hear that Ms. Ettinger was knowledgeable about CPSIA and that you came out of the meeting positive about a change. That’s a step in the right direction for sure.

    Great links of resources included. Thank YOU for going and representing all of us.

    Best,

    Marianne

  3. great post Lisa, I’m glad you were there to represent us!

  4. kudos to you!

  5. Thanks to you and everyone who went to the rally.
    I had my entire line reprinted to meet new phthalate limits, CA-CHING, and am in receipt of test certs from my onesie manufacturer and I am lead compliant. But if I have to RE-TEST everything and batch and label, I will be closing my doors. How many more like me will close?
    This just can’t happen.
    thanks agin.

  6. I think what you’ve done and the people you have talked to is really important and even though I am not affected, you’re doing and rallying for something that everyone can appreciate. Thanks for sharing your story and links! xx

  7. Awesome Post!

  8. Lisa, you are awesome and an inspiration to all! I’m on the other coast and couldn’t make it to the rally, but watched the stream. I’m so glad you were there to represent us. Great job in talking to Schumer, we need to get some Dems on our side and really make this a bi-partisan issue.

  9. Lisa, Thank you thank you thank you!!! I wish I could’ve gone! But I did make a phone call to one of my senators (who voted “nay”) and said “You’re outta here buddy! No more votes from me!”
    Keep fighting the good fight!!!

  10. What a great post. I didn’t realize there was an evacuation going on that day. Such drama! I’m glad you got in. Good for you for approaching Sen. Schumer! Thank you for all of your hard work.

    Cecilia

  11. Chutzpah, indeed! Wish I had half as much as you. Thank you so much for going to the rally and your wonderful post.

  12. Lisa, thanks for being our CPSIA-reform champion.

Trackbacks

  1. […] rally coverage: Domestic Diva, Polka Dot Patch. Public domain image: Yankee Mother Goose (1902), illustrator Ella S. Brison, […]

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