Lizanne O’Toole, a mother of five from White Plains, has a few thoughts about the health care debate going on in Washington. And she’d like to tell her Congresswoman — Rep. Nita Lowey, D-Harrison — in person that she doesn’t care for the plan. She’ll have to settle for the phone, a telephone Town Hall meeting, and the Republican is not happy about that.
“If she can’t take the time to have a meeting at Harrison High School or Saxon Woods Park, it just seems crazy,” O’Toole said early Friday. “I feel like we’re working for the government.”
“To be on a phone call with a 1,000 other people, it doesn’t make sense,” she added. “I don’t understand how a phone call is going to be effective.”
Lowey, and many other members of Congress, are forgoing traditional Town Hall meetings this August and instead hosting conference calls, which they say are far more productive than some of the meetings that have been subject to large protests organized with the intent of disrupting the conversation. One forum in Missouri, for example, resulted in a carnival-like setting with violence and arrests, ABC News reported.
Lowey Spokesman Matt Dennis said many groups were more interested in disrupting the meetings than contributing to the conversation. He said the phone meeting was productive and didn’t preclude Lowey from meeting constituents through office hours and other venues. She’s “happy to speak with people who disagree with her,” Dennis said.
“The benefit is your able to meet a lot more people with telephone Town Halls,” he said. “She’s certainly seeing people. … Telephone Town Halls are great in terms of reaching a large group of people.”
Just last week, Dennis said 6,700 participated in a similar one and Lowey plans more round table discussions with different groups. Another telephone meeting is planned for next week.
O’Toole, who says she’s not involved in any groups organizing protests, said she’s frustrated with the process. She said it wasn’t Democratic.
“It’s like they are afraid. This is America, people are not going to throw stones at her,” O’Toole said. “It’s not Democratic.”