In accordance with his typical protocol, Pete Stark is hosting a series of town hall meetings on Saturday 8/15, which he had already scheduled well in advance like he normally does. Obviously, with the astroturfing campaign to shut down Democratic town halls by packing them with wingnut thugs, this is no longer a typical recess.
Scanning through some of the local news and political sites, it looks like Pete Stark's town halls have been targeted by the Minutemen and the local tea party chapters. It's also one of the targets listed on the various astroturf anti-reform sites. No surprise, considering that Pete Stark is one of the cosponsors of the HR3200 America's Affordable Health Choices Act.
Anyone who lives in Rep. Stark's district and doesn't want to see OUR town halls turned into yet another example of how mob rule can shut down public debate, PLEASE go to one of the three town halls scheduled for Saturday!
CA-13 is a relatively liberal district in south Alameda County, but has some conservative enclaves and borders on more conservative districts to the east served by centrist Dems Ellen Tauscher and Jerry McNerney. Tauscher (who recently resigned her seat to take a position in the State Department) and McNerney are not holding any live town hall meetings during this recess, so the right-wingers in those districts have talked about disrupting Rep. Stark's meetings instead.
Their tone has nothing to do with promoting a conservative alternative, it has everything to do with a show of force to shut down the discussion and silence anyone who feels otherwise. There's nothing wrong with debate, and there's nothing wrong with raucous and vigorous disagreement. But, when the objective is to drown out and intimidate the other side (who actually represent the vast majority of Pete Stark's constituents), and prevent any other voices from even getting heard in the first place, that has no place in MY district or any other.
Rep. Stark's 8/15 meeting schedule is posted below. The Fremont meeting in particular has been targeted by the Minutemen and tea party groups. Organizing for America just sent me the meeting schedule, so it seems that word is slowly trickling out on the progressive side.
Fremont Senior Center
40086 Paseo Padre Pkwy,
Fremont, CA 94538
San Leandro City Hall
835 E 14th St,
San Leandro, CA 94577
Alameda City Hall
2263 Santa Clara Ave
Alameda, CA 94501
I arrived at 8:15am and the line was already way down the block. By the time the meeting began, I would guess that there were over 1,000 people in line. The Senior Center could only hold 325 people, so I couldn't get in.
From what I saw, the crowd was overwhelmingly in favor of health care reform, and the expected throng of tea baggers were largely scattered around. They held up the usual anti-government/socialist signs, but they were way outnumbered by the pro-reform forces.
Organizing for America (the off-shoot from the Obama campaign) played a big role in mobilizing local residents in Stark's district. They staked out the visible locations with their signage, and smartly passed out signs for attendees to hold, along with stickers for those in favor of reform to wear. This made the supporters very visible and made it all the more apparent that a few loud right-wingers with big signs did not represent the vast majority of the crowd.
The most amusing troll in the crowd came from wacko fascist Lyndon LaRouche's group. He was passing out propaganda sheets featuring a photoshopped cover with Obama alongside Hitler. If anything, people were grabbing those handouts more for the sheer comedic value.
Lots of interesting conversations with people outside. But, all in all, I'm very proud of my neighbors and fellow district CA-13 residents for turning out in huge numbers to make sure that the health care conversation moves forward and stays focused on the topic at hand.