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Archive for November, 2009

I am involved in fund raising for a non-profit charity which operates a homeless men’s overnight shelter.  We have a fund raiser on Saturday, November 7th.  I expect several Washington State Representatives, The mayor of our city, and several city council members to attend.  I need help on the order of introduction as well as the titles to use for each category.  All are elected to office but I don’t want to repeat The Honorable over and over.
Please suggest order and best title to use.
— Charles Kolkaski, In the State of Washington

Dear Mr. Kolakaski:
The order in which they are introduced is determined by precedence
1) Rank your list by their office — high to low.
2) When there is more than one official of “equal rank” — rank them within their category.  For elected officials ranking is by length of their service in that office. These politicians WILL know their relative ranking (and it’s important to them) just like when you go into a market and take a number: You know who was there when you walked in the door, and you know who came after you. You can find the date they were elected in their biographies on the state and city websites.
3) Officials in their own jurisdiction have higher precedence that those out of their jurisdiction: e.g., the mayor of a city has the highest precedence in his or her town. A state representative in his or her jurisdiction is higher than other representatives out of their jurisdictions …. etc.
Making the introductions
Even if you get tired of “The Honorable” over and over …. your elected guests will not! Introduce each correctly … everybody loves (and I would say, entitled to) their rank and name. So those entitled to “The Honorable” should get it. Doing so makes you knowledgeable and your organization look good. Best of all for a non-profit organization — saying their names and titles correctly is absolutely free. The formula is:
1) (The Honorable) + (full name)
The Honorable Sue Kolakaski
2) Then the position they hold
Member of the Washington State House or Representatives for the 20th Legislative District
or House Member for the 20th District
or Member for the 20th District to the Washington State House of Representatives
— you get the idea.
Mayor of (city)
Council member, (city)
– Robert Hickey     www.formsofaddress.info

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I wish to write a thank you letter to a retired Major General- USAF.
I am responding to a letter that was written years ago. The letter was lost for many years, but has surfaced so I would like to respond.
— Pauline Greenwood

Dear Ms. Greenwood:
I have how to address the letter to a Major General posted on the site already.
If your note is more ‘social’ than ‘official’  … e.g.,  addressed to his home rather than his office ….  leave “USAF” off …. on social correspondence the branch of service is omitted because it is not pertinent.
A social envelope is addressed to:
Major General (Full name)
(Address)

An official envelope is addressed to:
Major General (Full name), USAF, Ret.
(Address)

Salutation is the same in either official or social ….
Dear General (Surname)
– Robert Hickey     www.formsofaddress.info

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How should I address an invitation to my aunt — Nell Darwish. My Uncle George (her husband) has been dead for 20 years.
— RND, Nashville

Dear RND:
I’d address Nell Darwish’s invitation as follows:
Outside envelope (most formal form for a widow):
Mrs. George Darwish
(Address)

Inside envelope (using whatever call Nell in conversation … for example):
Aunt Nell
Many etiquette books (no mine of course) give the form for the inside envelope as … Mrs. Darwish. The tradition is — the outside envelope was for the post office — and as it likely was soiled in route, it was removed by the household staff and only the inside envelope would have been presented to the recipient … probably on a silver tray. So I say what the tradition is that you write what you would write on a birthday card you hand carry to a party.
So while Mrs. Darwish is O.K. she’s a member of the family and I’d use the more intimate form, Aunt Nell, which expresses the warmth that’s intended with the invitation.

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Regarding “How to Address Former Officials”, what is the rule when printing an advertisement or a sign at an event?  For example, would you print:
Vice President Al Gore
Former Vice President Al Gore -or- 
Former US Vice President Al Gore
?
— PR Writer for a Canadian Internet Company

Dear Canadian PR Writer:
The Rule: He is not the Vice President now, so it isn’t respectful to the current Vice President to address Al Gore as “Mr. Vice President” or refer to him as “Vice President (Name).”  The rule is: if there is only one at a time, former’s are not addressed using the forms of address used when addressing the current office holder.
Most accurately he is:
The Honorable Albert Gore
Or perhaps:
The Honorable Al Gore
[Once you are elected to office you are an “Honorable” forever.]
Or if you want to mention that he was VP:
The Honorable Albert Gore,
45th Vice President of the United States

The Style: I’d probably avoid “former.” Doesn’t sound kind of has-been?  In this case, Al Gore was not only VP, but a Senator, a member of the House of Representatives, an environmentalist, and most recently a Nobel laureate.
– Robert Hickey     www.formsofaddress.info

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There are two ways to be appointed as a Federal Inspector General; either by presidential appointment with Senate confirmation -OR- by appointment by the head of your agency.  In the IG Act, the latter is known as a “designated Federal entity” as opposed to the former being regarded as an “establishment”. (See Inspector General Act, 5 U.S.C. app.5.)
Is it appropriate to address both types of appointed IGs (who perform the functions of IG equally) as “ The Honorable”.
— Madelyn Dean

Dear Ms. Dean:
Having two categories of individuals in the same job is not uncommon:
* Most sherifs are elected, but some are appointed sherifs … only the elected are “The Honorable” ….
* Same with clerks of different courts, members of school boards, various commissioners, chiefs of police, etc.  So …
Presidential appointment/Senate Confirmation: The Honorable Kevin White
Other than that: Mr./Mrs./Ms./Dr. etc, Kevin White
– Robert Hickey     www.formsofaddress.info

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