UPDATE 6:37 P.M. In response to the announcement of the protest, Rep. Jerry McNerney’s spokeswoman Sarah Hersh said the congressman has prior commitments to attend events in San Joaquin County on Saturday, including a visit to battered women’s shelter and meeting with teachers. But Hersh said he will make staff available on Saturday at his office to listen to constituents’ concerns, and staff will provide him with a briefing later in the day. LAV.
If Rep. Jerry McNerney won’t have a town hall on health care, the town hall will come to him.
Tri-Valley conservatives who helped organize “tea party” protests of Democratic policies in the past year in the area have announced a rally for noon Saturday in front of McNerney’s Pleasanton office to protest the Democrats’ health care legislation.
McNerney, like many other Democrats, held teletown halls via a telephone conference system rather than public town hall meetings. Although McNerney has been widely praised on both sides of the political aisle for hosting more than 50 in-person Congress On Your Corner events since his election in 2006, McNerney is now coming under fire from critics who say he is dodging his constituents on the controversial health care legislation.
McNerney and his neighbor, Rep. George Miller, opted for the more easily controlled teletown halls last week. The lawmakers pointed to major disruptions in town hall meetings in other Congressional districts across the country, creating what Democrats call a hostile environment orchestrated by right-wing organizations unlikely to foster useful debate on the subject.
Several political science professors at several California universities have called that stance unproductive and unlikely to reassure the many constituents worried about changes in their health insurance.
The Saturday rally is already the subject of discussion on conservative talk radio KSFO and could potentially draw a substantial number of protesters.
Whether or not it will influence McNerney’s unequivocal support of health care reform legislation is a different question. But unlike most congressional incumbents, McNerney’s re-election is far from certain as District 11 remains one of the few politically competitive districts in the state.
Read on for the event organizer’s press release sent out a few minutes ago:
PLEASANTON, CA- On Saturday, August 22nd at 12 noon, many concerned citizens Nationwide (www.recessrally.com) are gathering in front of their Congressmen’s office in protest of the proposed Healthcare Bill H.R.3200. This will include hundreds, maybe thousands of citizens from Jerry McNerney’s District 11. Citizens committed to the cause are arriving from Danville, San Ramon, Manteca, Morgan Hill, Dublin, Stockton, Pleasanton, Lodi and beyond to try and find the “missing in action” Congressman.
“We want answers and we deserve them. McNerney is our employee and he is MIA!” reports a Danville citizen.
“We tuned into the phone town hall meeting and what a staged event that was”, reports concerned citizen “L.J.” from Pleasanton.
Dr. Bridget Melson states, “The people who live in and support the 11th district, need an outlet and need to speak to their Representative, so they are showing up in droves with black pens and poster board with their questions for the Congressman written on them. I don’t think holding a live town hall meeting is too much to ask-and we have asked! If McNerney will not come to us, we will come to him. The recent number of TEA parties, town hall meetings and protests all across this great nation is a warning to our politicians to remember that they are here to work for us and if they do not do their job, they will be voted out.”
WHAT: Recess Rally at McNerney’s office (www.recessrally.com)
LOCATION: Congressman Jerry McNerney’s Pleasanton office:
5776 Stoneridge Mall Rd. #175 Pleasanton, CA 94588
WHEN: Saturday, August 22nd, 2009 12-3 pm