Fake Town Hall’s

Recently,  Delegate, Peter Farrell along with State Senators, Tom Garrett and Bryce Reeves hosted a Town Hall meeting at the Louisa Arts Center on Monday, April 14th supposedly to talk about their accomplishments in the latest state legislative session.

The real purpose of this meeting was to hold a revival meeting for their conservative faithful and avoid talking about how they are holding the states budget hostage because of their refusal to consider let alone discuss Medicaid expansion as part of the states budget process.

It’s worth noting that this meeting  was primarily publicized though this Republican’s supporters email notice, although there was a short public notice buried on page 4 in our local paper the Central Virginian  the week before.

 

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Even before this Town Hall meeting took place, Mr. Farrell along with several other Delegates were busy practicing their deceptions in a phone conference town hall the week before, hosted by House Speaker Bill “ALEC”  Howell.

This telephonic Town Hall consisted of a litany of talking points in response to their own questions, and was essentially a practice run for their deceptions about holding the states budget hostage over Medicaid expansion in Delegate Farrell’s April 14th meeting.

That very same day, Senator Garrett took the lies and misrepresentations about Medicaid expansion in this telephone “Town Hall” to new levels with this op-ed printed in two local papers, the Fredericksburg Free Lance Star, and the Richmond Times Dispatch.

Where he makes several confabulations; that Medicaid expansion is Obamacare, that Obamacare and Medicaid are broken, along with repeating Delegate Farrell’s and Speaker Bill Howells, disingenuous claims that because of unspecified “concerns” about the fiscal stability of the ACA and Medicaid expansion that this is not a good program for the people of Virginia.

In this telephone Town Hall, Speaker Howell went on to blame the evenly divided …. I mean Democratic dominated Senate for trying to shove the Affordable Care Act and state Medicaid Expansion down our throats without any discussion, holding the States and local communities budgets hostage in the process.

Predictably, the Louisa Town Hall turned out to be another dog and pony show for the benefit of their faithful, vs. being a good faith effort of any of any of these representatives to inform their constituents about any of the issues.

It’s worth noting that none of the subsequent editions of the Central Virginian that have come out since this Town Hall meeting took place made a single mention of this meeting.

So unless their readers happened to read the two recent letters to the editor Louisa’s Town Hall Meeting and GOP holds the state for ransom over Medicaid which turned out to be the only local “coverage” of this event that discussed what actually happened at this meeting.

If I didn’t know better, one would think that the CV wants their readers to believe that this meeting never happened. A strange set of circumstances, especially since one of their reporters was present and was taking pictures of the event and talking to our representatives.

Are we left to conclude that Town Hall meetings featuring Louisa Counties State Delegate and 2 State Senators happen so frequently that they are no longer considered news worthy?

Meanwhile the Richmond Time Dispatch thought it worth sending out a reporter to cover this event, who noted that the only topic the audience wanted to discuss was Medicaid expansion and how it affected the states budget, and why were they refusing to include it in the budget negotiations?

His comments below sum up the dynamics of the meeting and the Republican’s rationale for holding them.

“Welcome to the echo chamber, an endless loop of messages about the health care debate from legislators to their grass roots which reinforces already rigid positions that serve to undercut any chance for compromise. Across Virginia, the message in the health care debate is orchestrated by the boundaries of House of Delegates and state Senate districts, and  is literally unfolding by the book

In the case of Republicans, it’s publications such as the “State Legislators Guide to Repealing Obamacare,” by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, of which House Speaker Bill Howell is a major project chairman.”

“The organization urges politicians to take this fight to the people: “Hold public hearings and establish standing legislative committees to examine Obamacare’s implementation and impact.” Bolstering the Republican-created, Republican-dominated General Assembly panel which claims it has the ultimate say on any Medicaid-backed plan for Virginia.  ALEC also recommends legislatures serve as a “check on agency and executive branch implementation of Obamacare.”

Meanwhile, over in Charlottesville, Republican Delegates Steve Landes and Rob Bell were headlining their own version of the “greatest misinformation show on earth” the following week in the Lane Auditorium at the Albemarle County Office Building backed by a cadre of green shirted Americans for Prosperity supporters who were surprised to discover that despite their best efforts to pack the house, that they were outnumbered by local citizens.

 

Not to be outdone, Delegate Farrell and Senator Garrett will be taking their misinformation campaign  for a second run,  at J. Sargent Reynolds Community Campus on the 28th.

 

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After talking to locals in Goochland and Henrico counties, there wasn’t any public notice about this event in any of their local papers, and it was the lowest attended of the 3 regional Town Halls.

About the only good news was that the green shirted Americans for Prosperity folks failed to make their appearance at this meeting like they did in Charlottesville.

Make no mistake that our state Delegates and Senators leading these Town Hall’s are conducting them directly out of the ALEC playbook, setting the stage for taking their “model legislation” used as a blueprint for influencing state lawmaking all the way down to the local level.

While they were busy distracting us with their fake Town Halls, and holding the states budget hostage, another plan was being quietly set in motion, through the efforts of folks like Speaker Howell, and Louisa’s own Pat Mullins, Chair of the Virginia Republican’s.

ALEC is making plans for the public launch of this program called the American City County Exchange (ACCE) which will target policymakers from “villages, towns, cities and counties.”

The new organization will offer corporate America a direct conduit into the policy making process of city councils and municipalities. Lobbyists acting on behalf of major businesses will be able to propose resolutions and argue for new profit-enhancing legislation in front of elected city officials, who will then return to their council chambers and seek to implement their proposals.

And just in case you’re tempted to dismiss this is some kind of tin foil conspiracy talk, you should know this has already happened in Chesterfield County, where Ben Knotts, the director of coalitions for one of ALEC’s allies, Americans for Prosperity a national conservative organization founded by billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch spoke at the meeting urging county residents to oppose a 4.5 cent increase in the counties proposed budget.

Prior to this meeting, the group has been robo-calling Chesterfield residents, urging them to oppose this increase in the county’s proposed budget.   Several people attending this meeting publicly called him out as a representative of the Koch Brothers, and not a local citizen who has legitimate interests in the affairs of Chesterfield County.

By allowing state politicians, like Delegate Farrell and Senators Reeves and Garrett to continually misrepresent themselves on issues like Medicaid expansion in their ALEC based Town Halls and whose interests they are actually representing, we are enabling them and their supporters to set the stage for taking over our government at the County and Town level.

This is what will happen in county after county and in small town after small town if we allow Local County and town politicians to represent  the interests of ALEC and Americans for Prosperity and not yours.

The only way you can stop this from happening is to pay close attention to what is going on at the local level and having a long enough memory to remember to vote them out of office in 2015 when these State representatives come up for re-election.

Jon Taylor

 

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