Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, will host a telephone town hall on health care reform starting at 6 tonight.
What’s a telephone town hall? It’s is an increasingly popular system where politicians can take questions and speak to large numbers of their constituents without the hassle and expense of a finding a suitable meeting room. McNerney, and his predecessor, Richard Pombo, like the system because the 11th District sprawls from Morgan Hill to Brentwood to Tracy.
The automated system calls voters in the elected official’s district and if the constituent agrees, he or she can stay on the line throughout the call and ask questions.
Under normal circumstances, a congressman’s choice of a telephone town-hall style for a meeting would not attract much attention.
But critics of the Democrats’ health care reform plan are showing up in large numbers at congressional town halls across the nation and, in some cases, the events have grown heated. But for angry constituents, a telephone conference call isn’t the same as seeing the congressman or woman in person. They are also suspicious of the fact that congressional staff can screen the callers and cut or block the connection if someone is verbally abusive or threatening.
Nevertheless, the automated system will start calling residents in the 11th District and if they choose to participate, voters can join an hour-long telephone town hall meeting during which they will be able to ask questions of the congressman and listen to the questions of others along with McNerney’s answers.
To ensure that you are on the call list, contact McNerney’s office at (925) 737-0727.