When The Turner Report published, on May 1, 2011, Don't expect traditional town hall meetings from Billy Long, most of the people who follow politics thought as Turner did:
Anyone waiting for an opportunity to ask Seventh District Congressman Billy Long about the issues that affect southwest Missouri and the nation might as well forget it...Long's aides are letting it be known that the Congressman feels he reached more people through his recent telephone town hall meeting than he could reach through in-person meetings.Turner was invited to be a participant in Long's first tele-townhall. He was suitably unimpressed: My wasted hour with Billy Long's telephone town hall meeting.
Left unmentioned is the obvious: With the telephone meeting, Long may have reached thousands of people, but all they had a chance to do is listen to Long reel off folksy one-liners and take questions from carefully pre-screened listeners. I might add that in the one hour town hall meeting, Long only fielded five questions, with one of those being specifically about one man's problems with the Veterans Administration.
Frequent bus riders will remember my attempts to ask Billy Long questions about his votes to kill Medicare: "What's the difference between a duck." While he didn't answer my questions or let me in his press briefing, (Billy Long doesn't play well with news media) Billy did tell the group of assembled senior citizens not to believe everything they read in the paper about the Ryan Budget plan and its effect on Medicare.
When Billy Long stood in front of that group of his constituents and told them that, he owed it to them to at least told them why he said that.
Long should have been well versed enough in the budget he voted for to explain what the misconceptions are and what the effects will or might be.
All that can be gathered about why Billy voted for the Ryan budget which killed Medicare is what he told "The Erstwhile Conservative": "(S)omething needed to be done because the system was designed when people only lived to be “48 years old.”
Lots of folks down here in MO 7 have questions for Long and, without knowing when his next town hall will be held, if ever, wonder if Billy will really be listening to them.
A frequent bus rider wrote Billy asking him these very questions.
Long's reply (exactly as written, less recipient's name):
Dear Xxxx,I encourage ALL bus riders to call Billy and request a meeting. Tell him you are a constituent and you would like to ask him some questions about votes he has taken since he has been in D.C.
Thank you for contacting me about holding town hall meetings. I sincerely appreciate the benefit of your views.
America has a long tradition of Constitutional representative government where the people select people, out from the body of the general public, to go to the halls of institutions from the Courthouse to the White House to act as stewards of our local and national affairs in accordance with rule of law. These citizen-officials exercise their limited powers at the consent and pleasure of the public. In order to be responsive to the public it is necessary that our elected officials to listen to the public regularly; own halls are one way in which some representatives attempt to listen to the public.
With the advent of modern technology, we have more options available to us than we did at the beginning of our nation when meetings required expensive, slow, and exhausting travel over non-existent roads using beasts of burden. I have begun to use modern technology to bring together large numbers of citizens to get their views and keep them informed of what is happening inside their government. At my last Tele-Townhall event more than 12,000 individuals in the Seventh District participated in an hour-long event. I hope to repeat this process regularly because I want to be your eyes and your ears in Washington so that you will know exactly what is going on behind the scenes.
However, I understand that even with all our technology, events like the Tele-Townhall system have drawbacks in terms of one on one interaction and lengthy dialogue that can only be done comfortably in close informal settings. I frequently return to the Seventh District whenever the schedule of the Congress permits me to do so and have set aside blocks of time for individual meetings with constituents such as you. If you would like to meet with me individually, please contact my District Office at (417) 889-1800 and schedule a meeting.
Hearing the views of all Missourians gives me the opportunity to better understand how important issues could impact the people of Missouri and the future interests of the nation.
For additional information regarding current legislation and my representation of the Seventh District, I invite you to visit my website at http://www.long.house.gov.
Member of Congress
Since Long won't come to you, you'll have to go to him. Let me know the results.
Developing: Long involved in D.C. shoot-out.