Sunday, December 23, 2012

Billy Long: Hearing your concerns without ever meeting with you

In his latest newsletter, Seventh District Congressman Billy Long asks readers to share their concerns with him. An interesting idea for someone who has yet to hold a town hall meeting in his two years in Congress and has limited his contacts with the public to tightly controlled telephone town hall meetings. Billy Long's newsletter is printed below. After that, you can read my response, originally posted May 1, 2011.

I am grateful for the trust you have placed in me, and I am humbled to continue to serve as your liaison to your government.  I will continue to bring Southwest Missouri values to Washington.  Your voices do not go unheard.  I am committed to making decisions which reflect the values of the 7th District and am fighting right beside you to restore fiscal sanity and moral diligence to Washington.
We face a critical moment in our nation’s history as our economy continues its lackluster growth while government continues its excessive spending.  We must rein in our spending while providing pro-growth solutions to help our economy fully recover.  Our tax code is far too complicated and burdensome for small businesses and individuals.  We need comprehensive tax reform that simplifies the tax code and eases the strain felt by families and business owners. 
In the next Congress I will serve on the Energy and Commerce Committee, where I will work to find solutions to help small businesses, create jobs, reduce burdensome regulations, and boost domestic energy production.  Accomplishing these goals will move us towards a self-sustainable energy future, providing relief at the pump, and jobs for Missourians.  We have the resources to achieve this future; it is time for the government to get out of the way so we can.
The people of Missouri’s 7th District expect me to make the difficult decisions our country desperately needs to return to financial stability.  Just as the American people must balance their own checkbooks each month, our government must live within its means.  I will continue to address the budget deficit with a sense of urgency, and I hope that you will continue to be engaged in this process and share your views with me.
I described Billy Long's communications with the public in this May 1, 2011, post:
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.

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.

I described the electronic town hall meeting this way in an earlier post:

It was a glorious opportunity for constituents who might never have a chance to talk to the Congressman. Unfortunately, only about five people were squeezed in to the 60 minute meeting.

Don't blame those people for taking up 12 minutes apiece of Billy Long's valuable time. That is not the way it worked. Long did not take his first call until approximately 13 minutes had passed and spent about the last 10 minutes offering a glimpse of his radio talk show days as offered a mix of home-spun one-liners and assertions that he was still fed up.

A portion of the remainder of the time was spent offering two polls of the telephone listeners, with the second one revealing the mind-numbing information that 68 percent of those "attending" the town hall meeting did not believe in First Amendment protection for those who burn the Bible or the Koran.

The questions Long took were typically bland and offered more of an opportunity for the questioners to offer their opinions on softball issues while Long agreed with them. For each question, Long was able to dig into his treasure trove of long (pun intended) countrified stories, a couple of which even pertained to the subject.

I was one of those who punched star-three to ask the Congressman a question. I did not anticipate getting through, but was still surprised when Long cut off the questions with more than 10 minutes left in the hour.

Since the most recent recess began, Long has made a point of saying what he has been told by the people of southwest Missouri. Since he only talked to five people during the electronic town hall meeting and has held no face-to-face meetings, who are these people and what have they told the Congressman?

Without the dealings with the public that are expected of all elected officials, how are we going to believe anything except that the only ones who have the ear of Congressman Billy Long are the ones who can provide sizable contributions to his campaign account?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Confirmed attendance includes: Board members from Carthage CVB, Carthage Chamber of Commerce, Joplin CVB, Joplin Sports Authority, SWMO Lodging Association, Council Members from City of Carthage & City of Joplin, Katie Steele Danner with Missouri Division of Tourism, Steve McIntosh from Senator Roy Blunt’s office, Jake Heisten from Congressman Billy Long’s Office and Missouri State Representatives Tom Flanigan and Charlie Davis.

Southwest Missouri Legislative Luncheon
Broadview Country Club
Thursday, December 27, 2012
Networking at 11:30 a.m.
Lunch at 12:00 p.m.
Lunch will be provided for $12
988 S. Country Club Road, Carthage, MO

The Carthage Convention & Visitor’s Bureau invites you to join our Board of Directors, Carthage Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Carthage City Council and elected officials from Southwest Missouri at the third annual Legislative Luncheon. We look forward to an opportunity to further develop relationships with elected state and federal officials as we continue working together.

Please RSVP to Wendi Douglas 417-359-8181 or