After a series of unsuccessful requests to arrange a town hall over the August recess with Democratic Congresswoman Betsy Markey (CO-4), grassroots organizers opted instead to host their own health care town hall in the congresswoman’s absence – complete with an empty chair and placard for the reticent Markey.
The Northern Colorado Townhall Committee, who say their objective is to “provide a forum” for the voters of Northern Colorado, announced today they would hold a health care town hall on August 25th, and extended an open invitation to Representative Markey to moderate the event.
“With the August recess nearly half way over, we can’t wait any longer,” said the group’s founder, Kelly Trosper. “When other Reps across the nation are adding extra meetings, we still don’t have a schedule from her. This is a forum to discuss urgent topics, to include Health Care reform. We’re having to set one up ourselves, because our Rep isn’t making herself available.”
But this afternoon, following the public outcry and impressive political theater, Markey’s staff announced a town hall blitz, featuring 11 public forums on health care reform.
Greg Merton, a spokesman for the townhall committee, remains skeptical of Markey’s new-found interest in dialogue, and points to a local news report where Markey’s staff obfuscated on the matter last night, saying no details on the Congresswoman’s events would be made public for at least another week.
Confronted with the prospect of engaging in a dialogue with unhappy constituents, Democratic members of Congress have begun employing questionable tactics to limit access to town hall, some staffing the forums with supporters, while others still requiring photo identification to verify residency. While Congressional Democrats routinely demagogue the latter practice as it relates to voting, arguing it disenfranchises poor and minority voters, they seemingly have no problem disenfranchising low- and middle-income families concerned with the future of health care in the United States.
Concerned Markey may chart a similar course of action, Merton says his group intends to keep the August 25th event on-the-books until they “find out the ‘rules of engagement’” for the Congresswoman’s other events.
“We appreciate the small victory for democracy,” Merton says, adding, “but we'll be keeping the date so we can be sure to be heard.”
Markey's staff did not return an immediate request for comment.