It’s teeth-grinding time for Georgia’s Democratic members of Congress.
The best evidence for confrontations to come over health care reform during the August break is video that surfaced this weekend — from an Aug. 1 town hall meeting sponsored by the city of Douglasville. U.S. Rep. David Scott was the primary speaker.
The event was recorded by the city’s cable TV station. The video was then nabbed by WXIA-TV.
The main purpose of the event was to discus improvements to Ga. 92 in the area. But at the end, questions of all topics were allowed, including a pair of inquiries on health care.
To describe Scott’s reaction a “rant,” as the Atlanta TV station allowed some to some to do, may be pushing things. But Scott did show a flash of temper to those who challenged him on the topic of rebuilding the American health care system.
Watch for yourself:
In response to the health care questions, Scott said:
”There are people in this room, who are here, who don’t want anything changed with health care…..
“I’m listening to my constituents, okay? These are people who live in the 13th Congressional District, who vote in this district. That’s who I’ve got to respond to. Okay?
“That’s everybody with different opinions. So what you’ve got to understand — those of you who are here, who are taking and came and hijacked this event that we’re dealing with here. This is not a health care event. You made the choice to come down here….”
WXIA interviewed a doctor who posed one of the questions rebuffed by the metro Atlanta congressman. The local urologist says he wasn’t part of any conspiracy.
Efforts to contact Scott have been unsuccessful. His voice-mail message box at his D.C. office is full. But to be fair, the congressman was probably correct when he sensed that something orchestrated was building.
One local blogger wrote this in the run-up to the meeting:
”We need to overwhelm David Scott with questions about healthcare. He needs to hear that all of us, black, white, whatever, are concerned and will vote for pretty much any other person who runs against him if he supports [President Barack] Obama’s healthcare plan.?
Kellie Hunter, who runs the Douglasville cable TV office, said the complete Aug. 1 town hall meeting will be rebroadcast on Saturday, which will allow viewers an unedited account.
Health care rallies and forums abound this week and next:
— Sadie Fields of Georgia Christian Alliance sent out a notice over the weekend of a major rally at Centennial Park, also on Saturday. Twenty groups will participate, and organizers are billing it as the biggest rally in the country “to date.”
Former U.S. House majority leader Dick Armey and country music singer John Berry are among those scheduled to attend.
— U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop of Albany has scheduled four town hall meetings on Aug. 19 and 20 in Columbus, Fort Valley, Bainbridge, and Albany. But the congressman is taking some heat at SWGA Politics, for scheduling the meetings during the weekday, and during working hours.
— U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey has planned a “town mall” meeting in Rome at 3 p.m. Thursday in the Rome Civic Center.
— Two Georgia congressmen have town meetings scheduled for today. Paul Broun (R-Athens), an opponent of overhaul measures, will host a 6 p.m. gathering in Evans, Ga.
But the one headed up by Hank Johnson (D-DeKalb County), an Obama ally, is likely to be much louder, and possibly rowdy. Start time at Georgia Perimeter College is 7 p.m.
Johnson’s office has already said that about 20 police campus police officers would attend, and more officers from other local agencies would be on standby.
Blog for Democracy, a partisan site, is suggesting these tips for the Johnson event tonight:
Make sure that everyone who attends is required to sign in. Set up enough tables, with staff and or volunteers to enforce this. If it were me, I’d have separate sign in’s for constituents, and “visitors” and make sure that the constituents are given first priority for seating and entry.
Have a few crowd control folks sprinkled about, it will not hurt at Hank Johnson’s event, if they just happen to look like the front line of the McNair and Miller Grove Football teams.
Do not allow any signs to be brought in, all in the interest of not impeding anyone’s ability to see of course.
Clearly state that the Town Hall will be conducted based on a posted/distributed agenda. Assign a time keeper.
Begin the meeting on time-or if possible sightly early- this will minimize chair squirming and lessen any build up of tension. Video-tape everything, especially the crowd.
Do not offer refreshments, and turn up the air slightly. Folks won’t want to stay if they are hungry and a bit too warm.
While you ponder the above, consider these items found while perusing this morning’s ajc.com:
Private school tuition loophole exploited, at taxpayer expense. Atlanta officials say criminals are more violent, better organized. One in six Georgia banks have major problems. Volume of ’subdivision’ vacant lots overwhelms banks. Blue Dogs rocket to prominence in House. Georgia Marine killed in Afghanistan. Lilburn looks to relax its liquor laws further. Judge to consider Gwinnett’s city-county tax issue. Atlanta hopes to lure industries getting federal aid. Clayton superintendent cited for running stop sign. Belly-up in Lake Clara Meer: fishy deaths of countless fish.
Your Luckovich fix. Kyle Wingfield finds desperate Democrats offensive. Cynthia Tucker wonders by tea-party protesters hate Medicare. Bob Barr thinks national ID card are still a bad idea.
From elsewhere in Georgia:
Augusta Chronicle: State boards lack Augusta representation.
NYT: Climate change seen as threat to U.S. security. WSJ: Opposition emerges to U.S. House spending spree on jets for senior government officials. WP: Preparing for swine flu’s return.
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