Congressional Action Meeting held in Pinellas County

01/12/09 Concetta DeLuco
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In an attempt to build support for President- elect Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan, a handful of local members met Sunday in Pinellas Park to watch an instructional video on how to practice successful tactics for influencing their elected officials. The meetings, called Congressional Action Training, were similiar to others held across the nation. is one of the largest political action committees and involves citizens in the movement for a progressive America.

Joe Illingworth is the local representative who hosted the meeting. He said Obama has so far shown he will be one of the few presidents to reach out to the people and encourage their input.

With the unemployment rate in Florida steadily increasing and nationally reaching 7.2 percent last month, members of are advocating for a swift passage of Obama’s proposed economic plan. The president elect’s plan will provide a stimulus package that will be invested in the economy in the form of tax cuts and direct spending for the unemployed, working families and homeowners. After recently losing his job due to budget cuts, Alan Zukowski said he hopes that change comes quickly.

Even though Pinellas County is considered a swing county with only a 1 percent difference in the number of registered Democrats and Republicans, more than 53 percent of Pinellas County voters cast their ballot for Obama in the election. And on Wednesday, local members of will be presenting Rep. Bill Young, R - Indian Shores, with a signed petition, pledging their support for Obama’s economic plan.

Elaine Grenada, a member of, said the group wants to make sure the stimulus plan is one of the first orders of business that is addressed by Obama, and members are trying to pressure Young to get the message across.

Grenada said the revitalization of the economy is crucial. She said she believes the United States is the richest nation in the world and can afford to take care of the homeless and middle class. However, Grenada said she is appalled by the way these groups have been ignored during the Bush administration and hopes to see change in the near future.

Beth Lindenburg, a substitute teacher in Pinellas County, said she believes the growth of unemployment will inevitably affect everyone because we are all interconnected. And while working in the public school system, she said she has seen the detrimental effects that a poor economy is having on the education of our youth.

The Congressional Action Training meeting encouraged members of to focus on either trying to get their elected officials to become champions for the economic plan or at least, neutralize their opposition. And across the nation on Wednesday, members will meet at their local congressional offices to present their elected officials with petitions.

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