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Seasons Greetings and Happy New Year

By By Steve Flowers
As we celebrate this special time of the year – and look forward to the promises of the coming New Year – allow me to extend my very best wishes – and those of my family and staff – to all of you for a very happy, healthy, and safe holiday season.
In just a few days, the 110th Congress will convene with many new faces in charge of both the House and the Senate. In next week's column, we'll provide a glimpse at the make-up of the new Congress, as well as an idea about some of the stated goals and priorities of the new Speaker of the House, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, D – California.
For now, however, as 2006 draws to a close, let me once again tell you how truly honored I am to have completed another term in office as your voice in Congress.
Just a few days before Christmas, at a local department store in Mobile, a very nice man and his wife came up to thank me for helping him with a problem he had experienced with the federal bureaucracy. It seems he had run into one road block after another, and it was only after contacting my staff that he was able to get positive results.
Truthfully, this is not an uncommon story. And while the fact is we cannot guarantee an agency will decide a case in your favor, we can assist you by seeing it gets timely consideration.
On behalf of the young men and women who work with me, special thanks for allowing us an opportunity to represent you and your interests.
2006 – A challenging year
Without a doubt, 2006 has been a challenging year – from unprecedented gas prices this summer, to Iran's work to acquire and develop nuclear weapons, to North Korea's conducting its first nuclear test.
But, we have also had our share of good news – the "prince of al Qaeda," Abu Musab al Zarqawi, was killed by coalition forces; Congress approved the expansion of domestic offshore oil and natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico, allowing Alabama and three other coastal states to share part of the federal revenues; and Medicare Part D was implemented, allowing the average senior more than $1200 in annual savings a year on their drug bills.
This past year I was also proud to host the first telephone town hall meetings – to my knowledge – in the entire state, and certainly the first in southwest Alabama.
From my office in Washington, D.C., we made random calls to literally thousands of residents of the First District, and over the course of the next hour, I was able to listen to comments and answer questions on events in our nation's capital and issues of concern to my constituents and their families and friends.
Over the past four years, we have held over 135 town meetings in all six counties of Alabama's First Congressional District, and we're already busy making plans for our next series of town meetings in early 2007.
Clearly, the personal interaction these town hall meetings provide cannot be duplicated over the telephone; however, the new technology of "telephone town halls" has enabled constituents to share their thoughts and concerns with me from the comforts of their own home. I hope to make use of both of these venues in the coming months.
New office in Washington
Speaking of new venues, my staff in Washington has just completed a move to our new office in room 422 of the Cannon House Office Building. While we have been based in the Cannon Building for the past four years, our new location gives the staff a little more space, which is always a premium in Washington, D.C.
If you or your family are making plans to visit Washington anytime soon, please note the change in our office location. Our D.C. phone number, (202) 225-4931, remains the same.
Our New Year's Resolution
To You
As is the case every year, this is a time best known for making resolutions, from vowing to lose weight to promising to exercise more or finishing that project in the yard.
The resolution my staff and I make every year at this time is not new, but it is just as sincere today as it was during our first year in office:
Our offices in Mobile, Foley, and Washington, D.C., are here to serve each person – and their families – that live in Alabama's First Congressional District, and we want to provide you with the best, most prompt and most courteous service possible. Nothing fancy, admittedly, but hopefully this is a promise we can always make happen. I hope you will never hesitate to call on us whenever you feel we can be of assistance.
May 2007 be a year filled with good health, happiness, peace and prosperity. Happy New Year.
Steve Flowers is Alabama's leading political columnist. His column appears weekly in 70 Alabama newspapers. Steve served 16 years in the State Legislature. He may be reached at www.steveflowers.us