Are telephone Town Hall meetings Democratic?

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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.

Here’s what Paul Krugman of The New York Times and Peggy Noonan of The Wall Street Journal had to say on the debate.

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.”

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32 Comments

  1. How about a little honesty? There is no such thing as a “telephone town hall.” This is nothing more than a telephone conference in which Mrs. Lowey gets to decide who talks. Most importantly, it insulates Mrs. Lowey from the audience–her constituents. She will not hear any feedback, no cheers, no boos.

    Also, have you tried to participate? If you leave a phone number, they may call you back with dial-in information for the telephone conference. And when will it be? Her staff won’t say.

    Finally, Mrs. Lowey is afraid of people “disrupting the conversation”? I don’t think so. She is planning to control the conversation and suppress dissenting views.

    Mrs. Lowey thinks we work for her. She forgets that she works for us.

  2. Next, as individuals, we will have to elect representatives to do the talking to our representatives. Special interests have already figured this out by hiring lobbyists so that the deals are made quietly before we have even an inkling of what’s going on.

  3. Mrs. Lowey should face her constituents, period. Remember this at the polls, I know I will…

  4. Who is running against this Pelosi patsy in 2010? I want to work on the campaign to oust this elitist.

  5. Emailed her thru her web site over the weekend and was told nothing of this scheduled event (not surprised).

    Guess it’s a good thing there won’t be a “real” town hall event. Means we won’t have to worry about assaults from SEIU flunkies.

    Westchester/Rockland residents will be badly hurt by much of the legislation now going through Washington today. Please remember this when Nita’s up for re-election.

  6. Update from Lizanne O’Toole: Nita Lowey’s office did not call me last night (8/10)to give me the specifics regarding todays (8/11) “Phone In” Town Hall as promised. This is not OK. I will be silent no more — The silent majority of constituents must awaken and demand that our voices be heard. Nita Lowey and other politicians who are supposed to represent us can not get away with this squelching of challengers! 2010 can not come fast enough!!

  7. I am on the call right now and it is very controlled with Rep. Lowey answering questions halfway and there is no opportunity for follow up. It’s clear that she’s reading talking points.

    Not one person so far (I think she’s “answered” 7 questions so far) has expressed any support for the program.

  8. I emailed her web site with comments- no reply.
    I wrote a letter to her office- no reply.

    Time for real change.

  9. Why doesn’t The Journal News do a story on this? This is essentially the most important issue of the month (at least) and I would think that a local Congressperson not holding a town hall meeting (as many of her colleagues across the country have) would be worthy of a story.

  10. I am in Ms . Loweys district and since she does not have the courtesy to meet with her contituents I will not have the courtesy to vote for her again . Whether or not she wants to hear it the overwhelming majority of americans ( and her district IS in America) do not want this healthcare reform bill to be enacted into law. The last time I checked she worked for us not the other way around.

  11. Joan Chevalier on

    I am a liberal registered Democrat (Sarah Lawrence graduate) and I am absolutely appalled at how this health care plan, the stimulus, and the cap and trade bill have been handled. Did I think we needed a stimulus? Yes, NOT THAT ONE. Do I think we need innovation on the energy front? YES, NOT CAP and TRADE. (I’m on Wall Street — and only we will benefit from that; the volatility in a cap and trade regime will be god for us and bad for innovation). Do I think we need some health care reform? YES NOT THIS NONSENSE. The economic landscape for all of us is tenuous; we are all exhausted; we need competent, streamlined, reasonable, focused government. Not hubistic, arrogant overreach. I have communicated repeatedly with Nita Lowey and received nothing but inane drivel. They won’t listen. I find the snitch line repugnant, as well as the characterizations of town hall protestors as unAmerican mobs. God, only knows how many Repbulicans I protested over time (I wore the pavement down outside Alphonse D’Amato’s office) – and I was an equally unruly mob. I am absolutely fed up. I would like to begin to organize those in Lowey’s district who want to oust her next time around. We need to start to work NOW to get her OUT. You and I may not agree on everything, but I am sick to death of being manhandled by government. I would be very very hard pressed to join the Republican Party to oust her, but I will support a Republican at this point. You are free to google me. I am a speechwriter (for a Republican, naturally) and published elsewhere (very active in trying to defend America’s farm and ranch lands). I am on Linked in, where you can find my email address. I may also start to blog. Please put Oust Nita Lowey in the subject line so that I know it is in response to this posting. For those liberals out there who disagree with me, check out Camille Paglia on Salon.

  12. I agree that this is not a town hall meeting, it will be controlled and our voices will not be heard, perhaps we should get a group of people to go to her office in White Plains and demand that she listens to her constituents. IT is right on Mamaroneck Ave. I am definitely not going to vote for her in 2010, and I think it is time to start finding people who can run against her, as an independent,

    Nita Lowey has to realize that at least I do not vote for the party, but for the person who represents me in washington. If they are 60% of the time voting for or agaist bills that I disagree with, it is time to replace them.

  13. Just got home and there’s ANOTHER message from Lowey. Obama’s got these people jumping around like jackrabbits.

  14. Donkey Darling on

    Once again, the voice of the aggrieved conservative is heard in disproportion to their presence in the electorate! Most people in these parts have been voting Democratic because they believe in what the Dems are trying to do…and ever since the Republicans held COMPLETE control of Washington – put in Alito and Roberts on the Supreme Court, passed the Patriot Act to snoop on what library books we check out, fire US Attorneys who aren’t doing their job, i.e. going after Democrats only, HEAVENS TO BETSY, THE REPUBLICANS LOST CONTROL! And now there’s a righteous uprising against liberalism????

    No sir. What we’re seeing is the 35% conservatives motivated by talk radio to show and act as if they are the 51% majority.

    Democrats outpolled Republicans in 4 of the last 5 Presidential elections, but conservatives act as if they are the dominant philosophy, and liberals are in full retreat.

    The REPUBLICANS made the mess in DC, and the Dems are now trying to clean it up with aggressive public action. The voices of the status quo want no action – let the banks fail, let the car companies fail, let the huge HMOs decide whether you get treatment or not…

    Nita Lowey will get re-elected next year with over 55%, even if conservatives don’t like it. There are real concerns over the healthcare plan, and I’m not supporting anything until I see the final document. But the protests aren’t about the substance of the bill — they’re about conservatives who want to let the world know they’re mad they lost, and they want to have George W. Bush policies back in charge anyway.

  15. smartporpoise on

    You say the protests aren’t about the “substance” of the bill, but rather just radical conservatism? Check out all the aging whiteheads who are doing all the major public protesting around the nation. They’re concerned about their future, not George Bush. He, too, ran into their wrath with his illegal alien amnesty and quickly turned tail.

  16. Zyskandar A. Jaimot on

    to Donkey Darling and other DEMBHOLE DOUCHESBAGS or do you prefer PTOGRSSEIVE PUNKS or MARXIST MORONS: Conservatives are not aggrieved at your lidicrous/asanine assertions but rather at the DEMBHOLE CONGRESS of fraudsters eager always to be first at the trough for STIMULUS schiesst or HEALTH CARE supposed reforms that guarantee us a;; ;ess LIBERTY!!! IF YOU OR ANY OTHER ‘JACKLEGS’ WOULD LIKE TO GO OVER THE ACTUAL FACTS OF THIS HEALTH-CARE SCAM [including ‘the OBAMA’s probably drug induced fantasies about misrepresentations]I WILL MAKE MYSELF AVAILABLE ON A PAGE FOR PAGE ANALYSIS OF THIS FRAYD!!! Any takers??? Like ‘the OBAMA’ all talk&hype – little substance or ability at anything. Ha.

  17. Donkey Darlin, it’s not just the conservatives who are kickin’ up their heels at Obama’s health-care “reform” -it’s also the moderates and the liberals. People who love America and are scared to hell by what THEY ARE READING in the BILLS, which many of the elected officials had failed to do initially.

    To those of you who want their voices heard – put ink to paper to YOUR elected representative (don’t bother sending it onto other representatives-they are bound by courtesy to forward it on to your representative) and cc everyone else, including the papers, who might be following this. Hopefully, although not likely, you won’t get a “green widget” response.

    Phone calls and emails can be easily lost – physical paper is much harder to lose. I know, I worked on the Hill.

  18. Zyskandar A. Jaimot on

    Gone With the Wind – THE HEALTH CARE SCAM
    cast of characters
    ‘the OBAMA’ as PRISSY the kneegroe maid
    HILLARY of course as MISS SCARLETT
    Veep JOE BIDEN as the comic-fool

    Scene 1 – an evil wind of economic despair and
    exaggerated HEALTH emergencies sweep through this
    nation leaving many people searching for some succor

    ‘the OBAMA’ as PRISSY:”Ise dunno nothing about HEALTH CARE, or doctors, or eechonomicx, or banks, or autos but Ise can reads from a telepooper. What Ise goin do oh whats Ise goin do???”

    HILLARY as MISS SCARLETT:[Slaps the kneegoe maid]”Shut up fool!!! Just LIE, and LIE, and LIE some more. Those UNIONS + ACORN members are ours – they’ll believe all the you read to them from the telepooper. You can read so what if you don’t speak any truths. Your BLACK that’s all that counts. With this HEALTH CARE SCAM in place we’ll control everything and then watch the money/power we have. Nobody will realize this SCAM for what it is until it’s too late. Just keep saying the conservatives are evil and Nazis and they misrepresent your plan[even though we won’t let ‘em see it till it’s passed by our Congressional Commie DEMBHOLES. STICK WITH THE PROGRAMMED TELEPOOPER LIES.”

    Veep JOE’it’s-a-hair-implant-not-a-brain-transplant-rhyorical-flourishes-outta-all-my-edeekated-orifices’BIDEN: “When i was a boy back in Hardscrapple PA. we waz so poor that i fell down a lot on my head. And there was no doctors to treat me. AND LOOK WHAT HAPPENED TO ME?! Doctors who needs em? i take the train everywhere i need to go and thanks for the beer at the WHITE HOUSE on the lawn. Gee that was a great moment in mental health history with all those STOOPID WHITE COPS and that oh-so-intelligent BLACK perfessor. Don’t worry about this HEALTH CARE thing. You just keep getting up when you fall down. WHO NEEDS MENTAL HEALTH CARE??? And i really like that program of turning in those who disagree with us to whitehouse.gov. GET RID OF THOSE MALCONTENTS – THEY DIDN’T VOTE FOR US.”

    End of HEALTH/WEALTH/FREEOM in AMERIKA now the SOCIALIST STATES of OBAMALAND.

    Zyskandar A. Jaimot, Orlando, Fl., state of STOOPID LAWLESS OBAMALAND

  19. Donkey Darling on

    Zyskander, you’re nuts, so I’ll leave you alone to rant in peace.

    GOP Girl and smartporpoise: the Health Care bill as it is isn’t going to pass. There will be 1,000 changes, and probably watered down pretty darn much – that’s the process. To that extent, the protests are doing the job – they are pointing out the flaws, and forcing people in Congress to re-evaluate. Me, I’m legitimately worried about the cost.

    But the “whiteheads” as smrtp says, are saying I don’t want SOCIALISM!! I don’t want GOVERNMENT INTRUSION !! You have exactly that under the GOP, just on other issues – abortion, gay rights, etc. This is not about the details of a bill – this is about fighting an ideology you don’t like: Democrats’ liberal, progressive plans. OK w/me – I fought against Bush and the DeLay GOP conservative plans on the environment, etc.

    But let’s see this for what it is: Conservatives fighting, not “the average people”. Those showing up aren’t undecideds or Obama’s disgruntled supporters – they are those who voted against Obama and the Dems, and can’t stomach him or the Dems. That’s what Zyskander is all about, isn’t it?

  20. smartporpoise on

    Well, I respectfully disagree about a couple of things. The main thing is that, if the truth were told, people make a stand depending upon where they sit. If the President promised free health care and additionally, promised to send nice juicy checks monthly to absolutely everyone without burdening any group or individual by asking him or them to pay for it, he would garner 80% of a plebiscite. Alarmed Intellectuals would argue economics, inflation, social-science, political theory, and etc. ad infinitum, but they, too, would cash the checks. The country would eventually implode, but few would find anything to complain about until it inevitable happened, and just hope that it all works out and keep their fingers crossed that Washington knew what it was doing.

  21. I think you all are missing the point. Again, the issue is: why isn’t Congresswoman Lowey holding open forums for her constituents to discuss this issue? And why isn’t the print Journal News reporting on this?

  22. smartporpoise on

    Why? Because none of them know what they are doing or what the convoluted social/fiscal requirements and ramifications of this issue really are, they want to take advantage of the lack of scrutiny and confusion, and push this thing through, all the while knowing they have no hard answers other than the usual pap which does not fly impromptu when confronted with penetrating questioning.

  23. Zyskandar A. Jaimot on

    to DonkeyDarlin + other DEMBHOLE DOUCHESBAGS – Mome of your stoopid otiose ilk dare take me up on debating the abomination this HEALTH CARE SCAM is – why is that??? Is it that you can’t read the 1000+ pages of DEMBHOLE LIES + MYTHS promulgated by ‘the OBAMA’ or is it that you just can’t read because you availed yourself of a good DEMBHOLE edeekation??? And NO i didn’y vote for ‘theOBAMA’ or the other SENATURD FRAUD JOHN’the-old-fool’McCain. Say here is something for youse immense thinkers –
    To my knowledge – this has never been axsked(ebonics spellung) on any blog or site – if the BLACK PUNK CHICAGO COMMIE FLY-SWATTER-n-CHIEF ‘theOBAMA’ exhibited cauasoid features/skin colouring instead of negroid features/colouring – would ‘the OBAMA’ have been the DEMBHOLE/MARXIST candidate and ultimate president??? OR DID YOU NOMINATE HIM JUST BECAUSE HE FIT YOUR IMAGE OF BLACKNESS???
    Posted by Jaimot’s Jargon at 11:17 AM

    Zyskandar A. Jaimot, Orlando, Fl., state of STOOPID DELUSIONAL OBAMALAND

  24. Zyskandar A. Jaimot on

    No i can’t suffer FOOLS or DEMBHOLES or MARXISTS who it is proven which to destroy this nation!!! You write of the ‘average people’ is that whom RAHM EMANUEL who enriched himself with $millions working for several months at bankrupt FANNIE/FEDDIE or ERIC HOLDER who ‘sold’ his honor/position for MARC RICH to escape justice or REPREHENSIBLE CHARLIE RANGEL deliberately evading taxes or perhaps it is former SENATURD JOHN EDWARDS who enjoyed drilling his video aide Ms. R.HUNTER and paying her from his campaign funds for president denying it was his child she spawned – all of these and many more on both parties both REPUBLICANT + DEMBHOLE — for ‘the average people’??? Ha. You is a ‘true’ Donkey – Darlin. STOOPID, MORONIC, INCAPABLE-of-THOUGHT but you probanly attribute that to your DEMBHOLE edeekashun. ‘the OBAMA’ is a coward like you – incapab;e of real thought but able to hoodwink weak thinkers such as you have proven yourself to be with your pathetic whiney scrawlings. If ‘the OBAMA’ had not appeared BLACK – he would have wound up as the less than-honourable DEMBHOLE SENATURD JOHN EDWARDS – CONVICTED AND IN JAIL WHIMPERING OF HOW HE WAS MISTREATED AND TAKEN ‘OUT-OF-CONTEST’ BY THE EVIL CONSERVATIVE PRESS!!! But he is probably for ‘the averahe person’ as long as he can drill her for snippets of video!!!

  25. Joan Chevalier on

    For those of you who are interested in organizing against Representative Lowey’s re-election, please contact me as instructed in the email above. We are already beginning to organize around this. At the very least, we can put her on notice that re-election is not a given and that she needs to be more responsive to constituents.
    Joan Chevalier

  26. Zyskandar A. Jaimot on

    This HEALTH CARE SCAM is unconstitutional on certain aspects as it now stands in the DEMBHOLE-House-of-Fools CONGRESS. Further ‘the OBAMA’ snitch-line is urging felonious conduct in violation of the PRIVACY ACT of 1974. As for DonkeyDarling – i can not stomach FOOLS or MARXISTS or those gullible to be taken in by DEMBHOLE race hucksters. YOUSE QUALIFY ON ALL COUNTS.’the OBAMA’ is just the latest fraud proffered by STOOPID DEMBHOLES such as DAVID AXELROD[no groucho marx glasses but the nose+the moustache] + RAHM EMANUEL[who received millions in bonuses for working for bankrupt FANNIE/FREDDIE for a few months] + ERIC HOLDER[bought+ paid for AG by m. rich] — all of these jes fightin for the “average people’ at ACORN, at SEIU, at the UAW, at GOLDMAN-SUCKS, + CITIGROUP!!! Ha. You is a ‘true’ Donkey – darlin.AND AS FAR AS REPREHENSIBLE LOWEY(by-the-by is LOWEY named for a cow’s/ruminants function?Ha) – she has an obligation to her constituents – not just too her fellow
    COMMIESIRS in the CONGRESSIONAL COMMIE CADRE that now infests WASHINGTON!!!

    Zyskandar A. Jaimot, Orlando, Fl., state of STOOPID OBAMALAND now utilizing his dead grandma for sympathy!!! THOUGHT SHE WAS JES AN EVIL OLD WHITE WOMAN AFRAID OF BLACKS WHEN ‘the OBAMA’ NEEDED TO USE HER BEFORE!!!

  27. Thanks Mr. McKinstry for today’s piece about these town halls. I’d say you let them off the hook a bit with that title (Town Halls Are Hard to Plan) — because it doesn’t really explain what’s so hard about planning them except fear, but nevertheless the article itself was good,and carried views from both sides, and appreciated the dates/times of the upcoming Hall meetings. Hopefully The Journal News will pre-publicize the Lowey and Engel meeting as well.

  28. Vita Dicpinigaitis, M.D. on

    This is the handwritten letter I wrote to Rep. Lowey the day after her “telephone town hall”. It was sent certified and “return receipt requested” – no response. I also sent my letter to The Journal News/My Story section – no response…

    Dear Rep. Lowey,

    I am a physician, a Westchester County resident, and an independent voter. After attempting to participate in yesterday’s “telephone town hall”, I feel compelled to communicate to you about how deeply disappointed, insulted, and infuriated I am.

    The fact that you chose to hide behind a telephone instead of meeting face to face with your constituents speaks volumes about you. It was frustrating as it quickly became clear that I would not get a chance to be heard. The phone call came late, after the “meeting” was well underway. The entire experience seemed contrived as “callers” were apparently preselected, staged, fake, and the responses scripted. Your tone was arrogant, condescending, and patronizing. What you communicated to your constituents was contempt – for us, for the democratic process, for this country. This “telephone town hall” was yet another cynical attempt to manipulate the political debate. You read off the same talking points we’ve heard many times – full of contradictions, inconsistencies, obfuscation, and lies.

    The American people are not fools. We are not stupid. Ordinary people can read the text of these bills and connect the dots. Even as the media fail to fulfill their professional responsibilities, we are doing our own research, and connecting the dots. I am now aware of your far left record and politicians like you are no longer going to be able to rely on uninformed, uninvolved citizens to get reelected for far too many years. I will do everything I can to inform others about your record and your performance yesterday.

    Rep. Lowey, I am a first generation Lithuanian American whose parents and grandparents fled communism. I am thoroughly familiar with Soviet-style totalitarian government and see similar tactics being utilized by the Obama administration and the Democratic party. “We The People” are increasingly becoming more aware of the corruption in Washington and New York State. We reject this corruption and the socialist, indeed fascist policies that your party proposes. I am disgusted by the identity and racial politics, race-baiting, elitism, class warfare, sexism, and thug-like tactics.

    I suggest that you become acquainted with your constituents and hold a traditional town hall meeting in the near future. You may discover that you can’t hide forever.

    Sincerely,
    Vita Dicpinigaitis, M.D.

  29. Zyskandar A. Jaimot on

    Dr. VITA DICPINIGAITIS letter, his history, and concerns – must be part of the “…un-AMERICAN EVIL MOB” eh DEMBHOLES??? Ha.

    Zyskandar A. Jaimot, Orlando, Fl., state of STOOPID THOROUGHLY FASCISTICLY CORRUPT OBAMALAND