Part of the Bay Area News Group

Rep. Garamendi holds debut town hall

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Thursday, November 12th, 2009 at 5:44 pm in Congressional District 10.

A week after he took the oath of office. Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, held his first congressional town hall.

More than 100 people packed the Livermore City Council chambers through the lunch hour today. It was, for the most part, a friendly crowd although opponents of his favorable vote on the House’s health care legislation on Saturday made themselves heard.

Garamendi initially listened to an unconventional welcome from the always unconventional Livermore Mayor Marshall Kamena. (Kamena joking offered to get Garamendi tickets to a football game at UC-Berkeley, the college where the congressman played football. Garamendi remined the mayor of the $10 gift limit. “Given the Bears’ record, I don’t think the tickets will be worth $10!” Kamena retorted.)

The congressman then heard presentations about the Livermore Valley Open Campus, a city collaborative with the national laboratories to foster the creation of high-tech jobs in the area.

But the audience was there to ask questions. Members of Congress have increasingly turned to the use of telephone-based town halls, ostensibly to reach a wider audience but also to avoid confrontational voters angry about Democratic policies.

Garamendi answered queries about his desire to see an increase in federal funding for education and his outlook on the future of the national laboratories.

He told them he opposed an increase in U.S. troops in Afghanistan and said he had read the vast majority of the 2,000-page health care bill including all the summaries of key sections.

He declined to state a preferred location of the planned BART extension into Livermore — on the freeway or downtown — and said it was the community’s decision.

The tensest moments, as expected, during the questions about health care legislation as residents decried the move as a government take-over of medical care that will hurt the national economy and contribute to unemployment rates.

Garamendi vigorously and unapologetically defended his support of the bill and the public option as a few audience members shouted “Shame on you!” He called medical insurance companies “sharks” whose sole purpose is to hike profits through the denial of coverage to sick people.

He may be a new congressman but the former lieutenant governor of California and 35-year veteran of public office easily handled his outspoken critics. He mildly admonished both sides and urged them to refrain from clapping and yelling in the interests of avoiding a deterioration of civil discourse.

Garamendi will hold several more town halls in District 10 before the end of the year. The dates and places have not been finalized.

I recorded Garamendi’s opening statements and portions of his comments on health care, which you will find linked below.

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

  • Ulno

    Rep. Garamendi’s support for the government takeover of individual’s freedom to choose their own healthcare is certainly a demonstration of his lack of support for freedom of choice. However, his support also shows a lack of realization of what socialism does to this country. This country has moved from spending 10% of the gross domestic product in 1949 to now over 45% just by the federal government, on a GDP of about $14T. Add in free healthcare for 30 million illegal aliens, with a CBO estimate of $3T in costs, and the country is facing a complete economic collapse in the next decade.

    The federal government reported the budget worse than last October by $20 billion with a deficit of $176.36 billion for the MONTH. That used to be considered a decent deficit target … for an entire YEAR. This year’s deficit will be larger than all 8 years of George Bush COMBINED.

    There is little wonder why gold has gone from under $800 last year to over $1100 now. The devaluation of the dollar has begun.

    Garamendi’s glib comments that are smoothed over by this report won’t paper over a sinking ship.

  • http://twitter.com/WalterViceChair Walter, Livermore

    John Garamendi failed to read the Health Care Bill! http://bit.ly/2l8qT6

  • Lisa Vorderbrueggen

    Walter,

    That’s not true.

    I heard what Garamendi said in response to your question about whether he read the bill. He said that he had read the vast majority of the 2,000-page bill including the summaries of its key provisions.

    Whatever your opinion about his vote in favor of the bill, suggesting that he was uninformed about its contents is absurd. He has written single-payer, healthcare legislation and was California’s insurance commissioner for eight years. Other lawmakers may well have voted without knowing the details but I doubt Garamendi was one of them.

  • David LaTour

    Even if Garamendi read the “vast majority,” as you claim he said, Lisa, he still voted without reading the WHOLE bill. At 2000 pages long, even if he read 90% there were 200 pages he didn’t read. The Patriot Act was about 300 pages long. That’s scary.

    A good bill is under 10 pages long and too the point. Any bill that’s hundreds or thousands of pages long should get a No vote out of principle.

  • ken88

    I’ve talked to people, are you for health care bill, ” no”. Do you think the bail outs are working, “no’. Then why would you vote for Garamendi?
    “Because I always vote Democrated”, I kid you not.

  • http://twitter.com/WalterViceChair Walter, Livermore

    Lisa,

    I don’t recall Garamedi saying anything about “reading the vast majority of the 2,000-page bill” although, I do remember him saying that he read a summary of the important parts of the bill.

    If you have audio or video of the exchange that suggests that I’m mistaken, I will stand corrected, however until then, I stand by my words!

    Regardless of if Garamendi read “a summary,” or “all of the summaries of key sections,” or “the summaries of its key provisions,” or “a vast majority of the bill” itself… that only means one thing to me!

    GARAMENDI DIDN’T READ THE ENTIRE BILL THAT HE VOTED ON!

    This should be unacceptable to you as an American, as a voter, as a member of the Press, and even as a supporter of Garamendi! Why are you so willing to let him off the hook on something like this?

    The Congressional “Summary” that is made available to Members’ of Congress is a 4-page print-out! You can find it here: http://thomas.loc.gov/ (Search “HR 3962″ and click on “CRS Summary”)

    Garamendi staffers’ actually had printed copies of that summary located at the table that you were sitting at during the meeting. Did you by any chance take a look at it? If you did, you’d agree with me that someone could not possibly have an in-depth understanding of the entire bill only having read this 4-page summary.

    Just because Garamendi has written single-payer, health care legislation (in the past) and was California’s insurance commissioner doesn’t mean that he need not read the entire bill that he is voting on! That’s what’s absurd Lisa!

    The 35-year veteran of public office should know better and be held to a higher standard when it comes to accountability in this regard.

  • Elwood

    Gentlemen:

    This election is over. Garamendi won. Get used to it.

    You can have another shot at him next year.

  • http://twitter.com/WalterViceChair Walter, Livermore

    Elwood, We are not questioning the election of Garamendi. We are discussing his actions as an elected Representative.

  • Elwood

    Re: #8

    Sounds like a large serving of sour grapes to me.