Sunday, August 02, 2009

Rep Joe Courtney defends his lack of Town Hall meetings

Dear Leticia, (my comments in red)

Thank you for contacting me regarding health insurance reform. I appreciate your comments and having the benefit of your views.

Our representative democracy is built on the premise that all citizens must have the opportunity to have their voices heard. As your representative in Congress, it is absolutely critical that I hear from a diverse cross-section of the constituents for whom I serve. That is why I have made communicating with my constituents, soliciting their feedback, and keeping them informed of developments in Congress a top priority.

For example, I have hosted or participated in more than fifteen public events across eastern Connecticut since January, many of which focused on health insurance reform and economic recovery, which I believe are not mutually exclusive in many cases. These events have included public town hall meetings, "Congress on your Corner" events where I make myself and my staff available at a publicly accessible location, roundtable discussions about health care, among other events. In most cases, these events have been publicized either through press advisories and media listings, notification through my weekly "E-Newsletter," or posted on the "Events" section of my website,

None of these were held this summer recess.

I have also made sure that the public has access to the resources they need to be informed about the bill and access information about the long-overdue changes it proposes to make to our health insurance system. For example, the proposed draft of health insurance reform legislation has been posted on my website since July 1, 2009, followed by a section-by-section analysis of the bill on July 8, 2009. Around that time, I announced the availability of these documents both through an email to subscribers of my E-Newsletter and to the media through a press release, which was then published in various local papers. Further, the text of the bill, as it was officially introduced, was made available on my website July 18, 2009, and again I notified the public of the availability of these resources through an e-newsletter and press release.
I can read the documents anywhere, I wanted to voice my opinion and you dodged my questions.

During the August District Work Period I was invited to participate in a town hall meeting sponsored by a third party organization. Was it SEIU by any chance? Why can't you name it?
It was a set-up like Obama's events. Puhleeze!!!!
I was therefore unable to personally advertise and promote this event due to guidelines listed in the U.S. House Ethics Manuel in which it specifically prohibits my office from using any of my "Member's Representational Allowance" to promote any event with a political organization, which this organization is.
Oh, so posting it on your website, and sending me an email alert were too expensive, right?
The event was posted in local newspapers and advertised by the group.Which group?
The event was widely attended by over 350 supporters and opponents of H.R. 3200 and I was pleased with the productive conversation that was had. I apologize if you were unable to attend, but I look forward to holding similar meetings in the near future. I will join the SEIU and that way I'll be sure to get my invitation.

In addition, in response to the overwhelming number of questions my office has received about H.R. 3200, I created a special section on my website, , which is linked directly from my main page, to address some of the most frequently asked questions about the House version of the bill.
Spin spin spin
This page, available since July 18, 2009, provides a link to the bill text, up-to-date information from the three House committees that approved the bill, and additional information. In addition, visitors can find information about some of the claims being made about the bill being circulating in the media and on the Internet. You mean the 'false witness' sites like mine have been spreading about death panels and abortion funding.

Despite the intense public focus on the health reform debate this summer,despite the heat I have been hiding from the truth is that we still have a long way to go before any bill is finalized in the House and Senate. As we move forward with this important debate, I look forward to continuing to listen to the feedback of those on both sides of the health insurance reform discussion, as well as holding additional public events on the topic. Because I want to make sure that you have all the resources you need to share your views with me, I encourage you to take the following steps:

o Stay informed through my E-Newsletter. On a regular basis, I send out email updates on legislative developments, occasional notifications of public events, surveys where I solicit direct your feedback, and other helpful information. Under House rules, you must sign up to receive these regular updates, and can do so here:

You never informed me about the union sponsored town hall.
Will you actualy post town hall meetings on this site?

o Contact me to express your views. I'm sending him this post This year, I have received thousands of letters, emails and calls on health insurance reform expressing a wide range of views on the topic. Bet I know which side was most vocal! You can call or send a letter to one of my offices to express your thoughts on the issue, or send me an email through my website,

o Attend a public event. Without a union card, are you serious? Since January 2009, I have held over a dozen public events focused on health care alone. These events are opportunities for constituents to share their views and hear what is on their neighbor's minds. Information about these events is often note, not always distributed through my E-Newsletter - so I want to again encourage you to sign up for that important resource - or can be found at

Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. Please be assured that I appreciate your views and that I take the concerns and opinions of those I serve into careful consideration but Nancy Pelosi is the one I obey before every vote I cast in the United States Congress as your elected representative. I promise you that I will always listen respectfully to those with whom I may not agree, and I can only ask that same courtesy in return.


Member of Congress

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