Town Hall “Rules of Civility”

Reed-TrumpThis week-end will be the first series of many Town Hall opportunities to meet with Rep. Tom Red. If 2017-2018 is like Reed’s  previous terms he will dedicate one Saturday a month (usually the 3rd Saturday, but not always) to meet his constituents, listen to their concerns and tell us that “he cares” and that “we will need to agree to disagree.”

This term’s Town Hall meetings take on new importance because politically left grassroots groups have organized and are proudly exercising their first amendment rights. Using strategies of Ghandi, Martin Luther King, and the Tea Party, and others, groups named #ReedsLastTerm, Southern Tier Action Together, Seneca Falls United to Resist, Concerned Voters of the NY 23rd, and others are planning to attend Rep. Reed’s meetings en mass. Rural Town Hall meetings which would normally draw maybe two dozen participants will see their numbers grow with district constituents from outside of their local region.

 Rep. Reed, in an interview (see below) with Fox and Friends’ Steve Doocey, has already framed the newly energized patriots as “liberal hard left protesters” who are “angry because their agenda is threatened.” They agree that the goal of the liberals attending Town Halls is to disrupt the status quo. That seems ironic to me since Rep. Reed embraces the “disruption” that Trump brings to Washington, why would he embrace other disruption acts?

Ann Sullivan, from Tompkins County, in a Facebook entry, reacted to Reed’s Fox and Friends interview, and suggests that Civility be the rule for the day:

The shameful, misleading Tom Reed video on Fox and Friends has been posted below by another poster. I was at the December Barrington meeting. The people who questioned him were not agitated folks disappointed at the election, but seniors like me concerned about his assault on Medicare. Still, remember. Civility must rule at the town meetings next Saturday, Be polite, but be firm. The extent of Reed’s pushback (aided and abetted by Fox News) shows how nervous he must be at the pushback in his district. They must want to discredit us. Please read and remember, question Reed’s judgement, but not his motives. 

Observe the Rules of Civility.

Greet your neighbor. Say hello to the Congressman’s aides.

Let Locals Speak First. If you have traveled a long way, you might hold back and listen to what local folks have to say. Avoid booing if you do not like an answer. Nobody will fail to note a vigorous sorrowful shake of the head, which is the polite way to register your displeasure.

Stick Around and Chat Afterward. Go up and shake the Congressman’s hand. Introduce yourself to more people in the audience after the meeting. Ask them what they thought. Listen to them. If they disagree, do not get into an argument. Question peoples’ judgement, but not their motives.

If a journalist is there introduce yourself as a constituent.

The Fox and Friends segment also pointed out that one of the “hard left” groups in his district placed an advertised “Political Activities Training.” A spokesperson for that group told me, “We also didn’t place an ad in the paper–nor did anyone actually involved in organizing the event. It looks like someone at the paper  got wind of it (a training session) and decided to publish a scare-mongering piece without contacting any of us.” If you watch the video, and can pause it when the “Ad” is being shown, read what it says and compare it to what Steve Doocey reports. Scary.

Participating in Town Hall meetings is important. Record them if you can. He often, especially with large groups,  wants you to write your questions down and hand them in. I would suggest do write them before you get to the meeting, and keep a copy for yourself. Hold Rep. Reed accountable. He often uses the question to slip in the GOP talking points and not answer the question.

Celebrate the freedoms that we have.


About pystew

Retired Teacher, political science geek, village trustee. I lean a little left, but like a good political discussion. My blog, the New NY 23rd (http://newny23rd) is about discussing the issues facing the people of our new congressional district. Let's hear all sides of the issues, not just what the candidates want us to hear.
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4 Responses to Town Hall “Rules of Civility”

  1. Deb Meeker says:

    Anne Sullivan, i wish I could agree with your highground suggestions, and I do to some degree.
    I have attended three of Tom Reed’s town halls in the past. When people mainly did as you suggest, they left the meetings not answered, feeling as though they had been patted on the head and sent home. I never advocate violence or anything near it. However, to get a point or question across one must be prepared to interrupt, change the subject, read a written statement which has been prepared, and not accept Tom Reed’s condescending posturing.

    Tom’s ego, and belief in Trump’s leadership have grown since the last election. He feels free to say ” We care” without backing it up, since he’s on the leadership team. Civility is always best, but when dealing with a sweet talking brute, one must get past holding one’s tongue when so much is at stake. At one town hall in Newfield, I told Alison ( one of his assistants) that I had a statement I wished to make; the time to be at her discretion. She finally pointed to me, and among other many things I told Tom Reed I was dying of cancer, how treatments were extending my life, and how critical the ACA law was to me, to not be caught in an insurance company’s ” lifetime cap on pay outs”.. When I finished he immediately said how sorry he was, and if his office could do anything for me…..I interrupted him to say that I wasn’t seeking his personal sympathies, but was trying to help him understand that millions of people in my position or worse, would be be left to die sooner and others would get or remain ill without insurance. He immediately took the next person’s question, he couldn’t respond to my connection of live vs. die and the ACA. That town hall was recorded by a radio station, but it was never released.


  2. whungerford says:

    From Tom’s perspective, the purpose of these meetings is to advance his ideas and disarm dissatisfied constituents. He is good at what he does–those expecting to be heard will likely be disappointed.

    I’m not sure what can be accomplished at these meetings. One can listen and learn, speak if given the chance, and as AS suggests, shake your head in disbelief. One might also bring signs; a good one might read “please explain why you say that.”

    Rather than drive long distance to attend a meeting, better to demand meetings in cities and villages close to home. It is glaringly obvious and unfair that Tom avoids meetings that large numbers might attend. He has next week off; what will he do with that time?

    Before leaving home better to check that the meeting is still on. It must be tempting for Tom to cancel blaming extreme liberal agitators.


  3. What can be accomplished at these meetings is that we can observe and report back in a wide variety of forums exactly what happened: what questions were asked, answered, deflected, ignored, quashed. Forums through which to report back: here, there and everywhere, with video support in digital realms and, perhaps most importantly, in letters to editors of every paper across the 23rd to counter what are so very often skewed formal reports and staff-generated press releases, often written and delivered to the press before the event even goes down.

    Stay woke, noobs. This is an incremental game.


  4. Deb Meeker says:

    Demanding closer town meetings would most likely get the same result as demanding Tom Reed’s real reasoning. Ithaca has been begging for quite a long time.


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