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Activists calling for town hall meetings

Groups upset that leaders aren't publicly discussing controversial health plan

By Garren Shipley -- gshipley@nvdaily.com

Conservative activists around the commonwealth would like a little face time with their two U.S. senators.

Activists want Democratic U.S. Sens. Jim Webb and Mark R. Warner to take some time to meet with constituents in an old-fashioned town hall -- something neither official had publicly scheduled as of Thursday afternoon.

With Congress considering a highly controversial plan to reform the U.S. health care system, town hall meetings have turned raucous in recent weeks.

Events that in other years would usually do well to draw a few dozen people have seen packed auditoriums with sign waving, shouting people protesting the proposed legislation.

Recent events have seen counter-protesters mobilized, making for an even more chaotic scene in many cases.

The Richmond Tea Party, a conservative group protesting expanding government programs, has put up billboards around Richmond, prodding the two men to meet with constituents.

"Wanted: Senators to hold real town halls. Apply next election," the billboards state.

A similar group in Hampton Roads is equally upset with Webb.

"We get lots of e-mails from frustrated Virginians," said Karen Miner-Hurd, of Virginia Beach, founder of Hampton Roads Tea Party.

"They are calling Webb and asking for town halls. They are being told that he's busy," she said.

"By not meeting with his constituents, he's telling us exactly what he thinks about us. Apparently we're an expendable electorate," she said.

Webb's office didn't immediately respond to requests for comment, but the senator's Web page does have a place for constituents to submit comments on the subject.

The senator was scheduled to visit Hampton Roads on Thursday and today, but none of the events are open to the public.

Warner did hold a telephone town hall on Tuesday that was said to reach some 40,000 or more Virginians, but not all callers who signed up on Warner's Web site were able to join the call.

The former governor defended his interactions with voters during an interview on WRVA-AM in Richmond on Tuesday.

"Of course I'm going to be doing town hall meetings," he said, adding that he's been meeting with groups and businesses about health care since he returned from vacation.

While current proposals may not be popular, something has to be done about health care or the U.S. economy may never fully recover from the recession, Warner said.

"The current health care system is not sustainable," he said, adding that health insurance costs are likely to double over the next decade.

"Medicare and Medicaid are going to explode the deficit over the next 10 years," he said. "We're not going to see a full-fledged economic recovery and I also think we're going to explode the deficit" without reform.

Rep. Frank Wolf, R-10th, hasn't held a town hall per se, but has been meeting with numerous civic and other groups and taking questions.

"We've done Rotary [Club], Kiwanis [Club], Lions Club, [National Association of Retired Federal Employees]," said Dan Scandling, Wolf's chief of staff. "We've been all over the district."

Wolf will also be holding three tele-town halls where residents can question the congressman directly.

The valley's other voice in Congress, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-6th, will be holding town halls in several locations, including one at Turner Ashby High School in Bridgewater on Sept. 5.




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13 Comments



kim bishop

Strasburg will be holding a TEA party rally on September 5th in the Old Town Lot, behind the fire station from 1:00-4:00 PM. Speakers will be local and hopefully, if time permits, we will open the forum to citizens to voice concerns AND give ideas on how they think things will best be fixed...without the single payer option. There will be more discussed than health care, and if we can, we will be sending a video of it to Senators Webb and Warner. If they won't come to us we'll come to them. Let your voice be heard. You can google strasburg tea party to find a link to our web site.

Ryank

Perhaps these esteemed senators would be more eager to attend an event like this if the audience intended to be civil and attentive, rather than acting like a bunch of attention-starved preschoolers.

Whooppee

Will everybody be bringing their guns and knives? If there are going to be guns all over the place I will stay at home. Too many crazies bring guns to these events. Sooner or later somebody will flip out and start shooting at somebody for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Too dangerous. I am staying safe at home.

kim bishop

Whoopee you watch too much main stream media outlets. The only violence that has happened at a tea party was the violence of the Union Thugs who showed up, at the calling of the president, and beat people senseless or threw them out of meetings. Name one instance of a tea party having a shooting. I can't think of one. Stay home if you're such a coward, but for those of us who will not be victims of this administration's scare tactics and fear mongering we'll be there celebrating our Constitution and protesting the progressive policies, by both sides of the isle, that have been eroding our freedoms since the days of FDR.

BTW people have a right to carry weapons that they own legally. The people you need to fear are the ones who carry them illegally...like criminals not law abiding tea party goers.

Whooppee

Who are these goons packing pistols at tea parties? What sane person attends town hall meetings with storm trooper militia whackos brandishing Uzi's slung over shoulders? These events are simmering caldrons of hot headed psychos, eager and itching for a fight with anybody who disagrees with the far right conservative agenda. Ms. Bishop is kind enough to demonstrate the smears and intimidation dissenters will face if they show up. Who is dying to face the gun toting miscreants wearing the tin foil hats? Coward no, fearful yes, when looking down the barrel of a gun being held by someone foaming at the mouth who spends most of their time on another planet speaking to people floating in the air.

Who wants pie?

Mountain Man

Whoopee, thank you for re-enforcing what I suspected about who the "real" loons are out there. I'll be sure to let you know if I see any uzi totin', tin foil hat wearin', hot headed psycho miscreants at the tea party.

Tstar

Oh, boy! A tea party right here in Shenandoah County! Are the guest speakers Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh? The only way I would remotely consider attending something like this is if all attendees have READ the actual healthcare bill and know what the heck they are taking about!

Tstar

An edit to my previous comment...."if every attendee has actually READ the healthcare bill and knows what the heck they are TALKING about." Oops, sorry! Wanted to be clear on that!

Whooppee

That would be just great! Hold that thought. With those nasty leftist loons in mind, did somebody suggest it might be a good idea to bring a gun for defensive purposes?

Please give us the full tea party FAKE GRASS ROOTS PROTEST attendance report in twenty-five thousand words or less. More about this in a moment.

The far right continues to demonstrate they can not be trusted. They can not discern fact from fantasy or what's "real" from what's "fake". It becomes permissible to allow real corporate cash to warp fake policy decisions.

Can the Whackos honestly believe they showed up just in time to receive our everlasting gratitude for saving us from ourselves? Sure they can, because they are the true believers on an important mission funded by the vast expansion of corporate cash influence. Cash drenched politicians place considerations of profits before considerations of people.

The Tin Foil Hat Tea Party Fake Grass Roots Protest promoters employ the Stanley Kubrick method of determining what is real and what is not real. Real is not what "we" without tin foil hats see, real is what "they" with tin foil hats see. The Kubrick method works well for weak-willed people with one foot firmly planted on each side of the sanity fence.

Speaking of loony men straddling the sanity fence, remember Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski, a Montana mountain man with his own unique insight of what was real? A twenty-five thousand word manifesto later and everybody knew the tin foil was fatally tarnished, never mind shaped like a hat too.

Crazy is a pre-existing condition your health insurance won't cover. Does that make you feel better? Or safer?

Now... who wants pie?

Mountain Man

From your rambling I'd say you learned that last statement from experience.

Tell me something, how can it be a FAKE grass roots protest if these are REAL americans showing up to them? Or does the fact that they do not agree with your ideology make them fake americans?

kim bishop

Wow. I didn't think a simple invitation to a tea party would spark so much anger. I don't understand why the pro-health care people are so angry. If you're right and the people want it, it will happen. We have a right to disagree. All of the people out there calling tea party attenders uncivil and non attentive obviously haven't ever been to one, so come out and see for yourself.

Tea parties are about more than health care, they're about smaller, fiscally conservative government. If you want big out of control government (like you had with Bush) than keep on belly-aching, but if you really want what Obama "promised"...fiscal responsibility and transparency this is the place to be.

On a personal note, I'm not protesting the government. The government is the people and the Constitution. I'm protesting the politicians on both sides of the isle who can't control their wasteful spending. And Whooppee the only place a gun has been seen (leagally btw) was a town hall meeting, not a tea party. And Tstar Glenn and Rush will not be attending and no politicians have been asked to speak, only real people from the valley who see things differently than you. I hope you'll come out and give it an honest chance...you may be surprised.

Whooppee

Now there is an interesting twist usually heard during husband and wife conversations. You disagree with me so you must be angry. Are you so angry because you disagree with me? Circular logic goes nowhere in a hurry.

Regarding the topic under discussion here, tea parties and today's version of town hall meetings are virtually indistinguishable, organized by the same far-right minority funded by K Street lobbyists for the purpose of self promotion of far right conservative values. Nothing abnormal with this concept. Everyone promotes something. So where is the problem?

Tea parties and today's version of town hall meetings are not grass roots bipartisan in origin or support. These groups are one-trick ponies with one track minds.

The fallacy being perpetrated with the tea party concept is the claim their origins began as a spontaneous bipartisan grass roots response to protest tax issues on 15 April. Remember? Then the claim became bipartisan solving of problems with big governments lack of fiscal responsibility concerning the economic recovery program. Then the claim became nothing is wrong with health care so it does not need any reform. The common denominator behind all these claims was one basic idea: to discredit anything and everything if it wasn't invented by the far-right. The most egregious claims said to keep socialized medicine from taking over the country our grandmas would be killed by death squads arriving in those famous black helicopters. The comedian Ron White said it best; "You can't fix stupid."

Tea parties are nothing more than pep rallies for like minded folks to share their ideological coziness, a mutual back-slapping love fest. Town hall meetings have became shout down contests preventing the exchange of ideas and the bipartisan solving of society's problems.

Who wants pie?

Tstar

Kim,

I just finished reading your press release online regarding the Strasburg TEA Party Rally and was quite taken aback by your statement of "This is a time for the people who actually WORK and supply the taxes to government to stand up and let ALL of the parties in Washington..."

Maybe you are not aware of the thousands of people who USED to actually work, but from no fault of their own are now unemployed and thus not able to pay said taxes to Washington because they have lost their jobs due to our current economic status. A lot of those people can now no longer afford thousands of dollars for COBRA health insurance...maybe they didn't have insurance to start with. Does your statement mean that unless you are working you cannot attend this TEA party? These people too have a story to tell.

Some of those very same people may have made comments or had thoughts that anyone on assistance did so because they were lazy, living off the government and were a real drain on our society, but now they find themselves in a new reality and maybe have a new understanding of just how quickly life can throw you a devastating curve. Now they find themselves in the very same situation they used to abhor in others. No, circumstances among our citizens are as diverse as we are a people. You cannot categorize us into 4 neat little packages and get a decent healthcare package for all.

I do not proclaim to be with the right, left, conservs or liberals, but more center so I can see what is all around me, not just my corner of the world. Ask the woman who just underwent a mastectomy on an outpatient basis what she thinks of our current healthcare situation. Ask the patient that just had a growth removed from their bladder on an outpatient basis what they think. Ask the 62 year old man who worked all of his life and gets laid off from job what he thinks of our healthcare system.

Ask the cancer patient who has been battling the disease for years via very expensive cancer treatments, who by the grace of God can still work and has insurance, but has their wages garnished because their idea of "as much as I can afford to pay" was not the hospital's idea of a minimum payment, what they think of our present healthcare. Ask the patient in an emergency room filling out paperwork who is asked for a "deposit/deductible/dowpayment" right then and there even though they HAVE insurance what they think of our healthcare system. BTW, in this situation all you need to do is tell the hospital to file your insurance and bill you. Only the deductibles listed on the back of your insurance card are required. Check with your insurance company for verification. I could go on...but won't.

Unless we know and understand the WHOLE problem, we'll never find the WHOLE solution. All voices should be heard and not over a roar of anger. They all have their stories to tell.

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