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Saturday, August 15, 2009

RC Chamber and SHS Disinvite Public; Right-Wingers Get Easy Blog Fodder

Bob Ellis is inflamed because someone in either Stephanie Herseth Sandlin's office or the Rapid City Chamber of Commerce or both dropped the PR ball and issued an open invitiation to a public meeting, then recanted and declared the Congresswoman would be speaking only to the RC Young Professionals Group. Then Pat Powers GOES APE with seven posts in one day saying the same thing.

Now we know what this is about. Bob Ellis wants a chance for his Tea Party friends to play out their faux-patriotic fantasies and storm some room with Stephanie Herseth Sandlin or Tim Johnson in it. They want to hyperventilate and pretend they're taking America back (from whom? other Americans?).

It is worth noting that SHS and Senator Tim Johnson held a series of public meetings on health care at the end of June and beginning of July. PP was apparently blinded by the glow of his Caps Lock key to notice the article in his local paper about a lunch and discussion SHS had with 120 of Pat's fellow Brookings residents on Tuesday.

Unfortunately, it is also worth noting that, like broken clocks, even Bob Ellis and Pat Powers manage to be correct on occasion. If the Madison Chamber of Commerce had issued an invitation for everyone to come hear Senator John Thune speak, then rescinded that invitation and said the meeting was for Chamber members only, I'd have blown some blog spitballs, too. (I'd have been blowing bigger spitballs at the Chamber of Commerce for charging $20 for lunch... and for charging Chamber members less than the rest of us to get in! Darned elitists!)

With Congress taking action on so many important issues, it's all the more important that our Congressional delegation use the August recess to get around the state and interact with as many constituents as possible. All three of our members of Congress can make a reasonable case that, even without town hall meetings, they are still making plenty of effort to communicate with South Dakotans. But the Rapid City public disinvitation makes SHS look bad, and Ellis and Powers are entitled to blow their spitballs.

Then again, Thune was in Madison Thursday, and he didn't hold a town hall meeting. When he dropped in to give his pal DeLon Mork a pat on the back for another job well done raising money for the Children's Miracle Network, Thune probably didn't take any questions on health coverage reform or anything else political. Am I outraged? No. Had I been at the Dairy Queen Thursday when Thune came in for his Blizzard, I wouldn't have raised my voice or tried to co-opt the event to serve my political purposes. There is a time and a place for everything. Politicians are obliged to be open to public, but they are also entitled to attend special events like Miracle Treat Day and give attention to groups like the Young Professionals or the Red Hatters or whomever else without undue distraction.

South Dakota's right-wing bloggissariat will have its fun with the public disinvitation snafu, and I won't try too hard to defend the Rapid City Chamber or SHS's office or whoever else caused it. Remember, I'm as interested in getting a chance to ask SHS (and Johnson and Thune) some pointed questions about health coverage reform and other issues as anyone else.

But it's also important to see this snafu for what it is: a bureaucratic failure to communicate between two offices, not a nefarious plot to hide from one's constituents.


  1. It doesn't take a plot for Rapid City powers that be to royally screwup.

    Until Herseth-Sandlin, Johnson, and Thune get serious about single-payer, this is all just another boondoggle to make a very inefficient health insurance industry safe from complete collapse like Wall St, etc. If they won't talk about the best option, they might as well be ignored...and then replaced.

  2. I would like to replace the whole lot with some folks with the guts to support single-payer... but who's out there to replace them?

  3. I have repeatedly called all three congress people's office and been told that the scheduler is out, the schedule isn't finalized, SF says to call DC, DC says to call SF, or they will pass on my comments. Sorry, guys, I don't need to pass on anything. I have a right to voice my concerns directly to my representatives, who are my only voice in DC.

    And this does not mean that any of us who want public meetings are going to be disruptive, astroturfed, micromanaged, or anything else. We have a right to meet with our congressional delegation, and they have a responsibility to meet with us, and whether you believe it or not, we are for the most part grown up enough to conduct ourselves in a respectful manner, as are most of the people in these townhall meetings. Of course, the media loves to hype those who aren't, and that's what we see.

    Johnson's office or he has blatantly lied about whether he is having meetings during recess (he said he was on an interview I heard today, he implied he was going to in an 8-3-09 interview, his SF office said they knew of none and even said they didn't have a scheduler, despite the fact that they had previously told me "the scheduler was out, etc", the DC office at first said he was, and then later another person said he wasn't. And you wonder why people are upset!

    And now I read that Herseth had the nerve to disinvite people to a chamber meeting in Rapid City! Way to go, Stephanie, to win hearts and minds. She will be at Dakotafest in Mitchell on Wednesday, August 19, at 10 AM, and I urge everyone who wants to meet with her to attend that meeting as evidently it will be her only public meeting. Her office said she will answer any questions that she is asked; let's see if they are right.

    Any politician worth his salt can stand up to criticism and should be able to state his or her positions concisely and understandably, and that includes Johnson and Herseth. It appears that neither Herseth nor Johnson is up to this task. They deserve as much respect as they give their constituents. And right now it seems they consider themselves a group apart from the masses that elected them. Shame, shame on them.

    Thune has scheduled meetings in Aberdeen and Watertown and plans additional ones this recess.

    To imply that not meeting with constituents is simply blog fodder is disingenuous. This is part of their job, and they refuse to acknowledge this.

    Yes, they had three meetings over a month ago, well before the voters actually understood what this 1000+ boondoggle of a bill would mean to them. Johnson and Herseth need to make themselves available NOW to answer questions and listen NOW. But they won't. Again, shame on them both. We deserve better.

    Linda McIntyre

  4. "To imply that not meeting with constituents is simply blog fodder is disingenuous."

    Far from it, Linda. I agree with you that our Congresspeople are making a bad move by not making more public appearances during the August recess, especially at a time when people seem exceptionaly engaged in political discussion. (There is an admirable amount fo public discussion going on about health care -- look at how many blogs on all sides are tackling the topic!) When I say the "disinvite" was "easy blog fodder," I mean it was a mistake that could have been easily avoided by simply saying, "Oh, let the public in, no problem, I can answer anybody's questions." I make the points above to maintain that there is an interpretation other than a conspiracy to hide... but that's somewhat short of a passionate defense.


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