Castor Telephone Town Hall a mellow affair
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08/14/09 Mitch E. Perry
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Last night, Tampa Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor held a live town-hall meeting via telephone.

According to a spokesperson, over 5,000 people called in for the call, which began shortly after 6:30PM last night and ran for a little less than an hour.

Castor answered 12 questions and also heard comments, including a familiar complaint from critics that members of Congress haven’t read the one bill that has come out of a House Committee.

Al from Tampa asked another question that critics have invoked at town hall meetings: If the reform plans being discussed by President Obama and Congress are so great, why they don’t they drop their health care plans to get on something like a public option?

Castor was asked whether children of undocumented immigrants were included in the legislation, a flashpoint for conservatives in their talking points at town hall meetings.

Many progressives have been unhappy that the single payer option, a la Canada or England, was taken off the negotiating table early on by President Obama.

Castor is one of many Democrats this month who are doing town hall meetings by telephone.

Texas Representative Silvestre Reyes, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, is blowing off live meetings with their constituents. He told the El Paso Times “I’m not going to give people a stage to perform”.

Others, like Illinois Senator Dick Durban, is hosting smaller round tables with community leaders. He tells USA Today “I won’t be doing sucker-punch town hall meetings”.

The paper reports that in Longview, Washington a meeting was canceled after officials decided not to pay the money for extra security.

In Palm Beach County, Democratic Representative Ron Klein, unlike Kathy Castor, has had no live town hall meetings, instead hosting them via telephone. That rankles Sid Dinerstein, the Chairman of the Palm Beach County Republican Party.

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