What a day! Over the weekend I was looking forward to attending Congressman Walz - Town Hall Mtg on the Federal Budget, Monday. I look forward to any opportunity when I can manage “face time” with my elected Representatives. I arranged my schedule so as to be able to attend at least 1 hour (my lunch) in between commuting between Dodge Center to Riceville, IA. (RCTC isn’t exactly on the way).
Rep Walz and I haven’t exactly had a smooth relationship. During several opportunities to talk with him on the radio he seemed far less interested in hearing what I had to say, and far more interested in holding some type of radio filibuster. He would fill up the air waves with so much chatter one could easily forget what the question was. Emails, written letters (yes, in pencil) and phone calls were usually answered with some “cookie-cutter” response that let me know all the good works he was doing for me and my fellow citizens of Southeast Minnesota.
But this time there was something different. I RSVP’ed by phone to say I would be attending and looked forward to speaking with him. This time a real voice returned my call to say, “Rep. Walz is looking forward to hearing from you.” Wow! A real voice. How refreshing.
I arrived just before the Congressman took the podium. I was given a handout from an orginization called “The Concord Coalition“. I’d heard of them. I recalled reading an article about their take on Congressman Paul Ryan’s budget plan. It was positive. They were impressed that someone was getting serious about our countries finances. They had some concerns about the plan, but considered it a good start.
After a short introduction, Congressman Walz stepped up and assured the room that they were not here to listen to him, he was here to hear from them. I believe he made the comment [paraphrasing], “…I have one mouth, but two ears.” (Ha, ha, ha, oh, that is funny) He displayed several slides, showing the seriousness of the Federal budget problems. He let the room know that getting out of this mess was going to take hard work and sacrifice.
After about 5-7 minutes the Congressman turned the room over to a representative from The Concord Coalition. She spoke of her organization and helped guide us though the workbooks we all held in front of us Principles & Priorities. An excellent work book. It helped us understand the decisions that needed to be made and their impact in the deficit and our country. What a fantastic tool. The intention was to work through the book in groups of 4-6, with people you most likely don’t know, and come to an agreement on budget decisions. Data from the workbooks would surely show the priorities of this group of citizens from SE MN.
I couldn’t wait to get started, but I was running out of time. By the time we were to get with our groups an hour had passed, and I had to go. Damn! This was going to be interesting, and Rep. Walz was going to gather a treasure trove of data from the Rochester area folks of MN-1st. All I could do was pickup my things and quietly slide out.
All the way to Riceville (1-1/2hrs) I thought, “Maybe I’m wrong about the Congressman. Maybe our past encounters were just a series of unfortunate events.” Maybe? While working, I began to believe maybe things were changing. I couldn’t wait to read how the event had gone. I wished I could have stayed.
Before I left Riceville I checked the KTTC web-site for a story. Sure enough, there it was. “Federal Budget Town Hall“. It was just like I thought. Rep. Walz was serious about listening and hearing what his constituents had to say.
The story talks of the Concord Coalition, the workbooks, the inter action and the data the workbooks would provide. The last line of the story: “Walz says he will take the worksheets back to Washington with him to help him as budget talks continue.”
I couldn’t wait to write this blog. I thought about it the whole ride back to Rochester.
Then, once my phone got back into its service area (yes, I know AT&T covers 98% of the US, but the remaining 2% is in NE IA) I received a message from a fellow Tea Party Patriot…
Cindy M. ”… When we finished, several tables were asked to stand up and say what was the easiest question and what was the hardest?… (PWC- That was the end of the questions)
…When we were finished Rep Walz again took the stage and said they were going to Winona, Austin and all over the district to gather information from district 1 members. When they collected our pens we asked them if they wanted our questionnaires they said “NO” we don’t need them. When I confronted Rep Walz about this he said he went around to the tables and listened to people and took notes and that was all he needed. He never visited our table. 2 1/2 hours to tell 4 other citizens what I thought. The whole thing was a joke. He never took one question from the audience.
He actually told me “when you become a Representative you can run your town halls the way you want to”
I was able to verify Cindy’s story. The more things change, the more they stay the same. PWC