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I found a survey flyer titled "10th District Town Hall by Mail" in today's mail from Congressman Bill Young (R-FL).  What the...? Town halls?  Young lay low all summer and now he wants to have a town hall?  By mail?  And I have to pay return first class postage on the oversized flyer?  

But when I started to answer the survey, then I became upset enough to call his office and complain.  This question did it:  

Should Congress raise taxes to pay for health care reform legislation?  

There were many similar questions. So I called his office.

I identified myself and said I wanted to comment on the flyer.  I told the staff person that I was disappointed that Congressman Young was not going to face his constituents in a live town hall.  She said that "all the yelling and screaming" doesn't do any good and this is a better way to hear from everyone, "not just fifty people."  

One of the most interesting aspects at this point of the conversation was the tone of voice. I'm a civil person with a quiet voice, yet the staff person immediately was defensive, cut me off, and was almost strident in her defensiveness. My hunch is that I wasn't the first to call with my complaint, and she had gotten edgy.

I replied that town halls have been constructive when managed correctly, but it is his prerogative to avoid hearing from his constituents in person. I also pointed out that a town hall is a two-way venue for communicating, and this town-hall-by-mail scheme constrains communication instead of encourages it.

My other important complaint is that I had to pay oversize first-class postage to send my survey with my important feedback back to his office. Can you imagine? The staff person seemed surprised by this one and said, "Someone could pick it up from you" but quickly changed that to "You can drop it by one of our offices."  The flyer didn't mention that return option--nor did it list any physical addresses. Great. They really didn't think this one through.

Having voiced my main complaints, I added that the survey distilled complex issues into over-simplified questions like,

Would you be willing to pay higher fuel and energy prices to reduce production of greenhouse gases?

And biased questions like...

Which do you believe would do more to create jobs...?

o Increased government spending and new government programs.

o Reduce taxes on private businesses (US business tax is 29th highest of the world's 30 largest economies

(Hey 29th out of 30 sounds low to me! Apparently, his office can't phrase their bias correctly.)

And this WTF question:

Should the US continue pursuing a missile defense shield in Europe?

Yeah, well, that's a policy question, but if Young wants to get real and be relevant to his Florida constituents, he should ask for opinions about foreign policy towards Cuba. Any mention of Cuba was absent, of course.

I bet that this town-hall-by-mail survey is not unique to Bill Young, and was coordinated by some RNC-affiliated group. And if Young wanted to know about his constituents opinions, he would have solicited them before the HCR vote, not after the vote took place.

The biggest stinker of all is that this survey smelled like campaign donation literature, the kind that asks red meat questions that are simply intended to get you to open your wallet and write a check. I fully expected to find a campaign disclaimer, but found that it was paid with tax dollars of course. This mail ostensibly was sent to "every resident" of his district (per the flyer). I wonder how cost-effective this mailer was compared to actually holding a town hall or two?  And what the return rate will be? I'd be surprised if it reaches he's still only going to hear from a minority of his constituents anyway. What a sham.

The supposedly fiscal conservative Young is one of the biggest pork barrel politicians in Congress. Next time, I hope he skips the fake survey and just sends pictures of himself cutting ribbons celebrating his pork barrel largess.

Originally posted to sawgrass727 on Tue Nov 10, 2009 at 12:34 PM PST.


Have you ever heard of "Town Hall by Mail"?

2%1 votes
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10%4 votes

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Comment Preferences

    •  My deceased mother has gotten at least three (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sawgrass727, drewfromct, myrealname

      of these in the last couple of months. They are blatant fundraisers and obviously geared toward people like my mother, who didn't have a cynical bone in her body.  OFFICIAL DOCUMENT! DO NOT DESTROY! screamed one.  I filled out the first one honestly, checked the $500 donation box, and sent it back in the postage paid envelope.  The second one I sent back stuffed with the "survey" and any other junk mail I could find.  I taped a few ounces worth of pennies to the last one I returned.

      Looking back through the Bush years for his Positive Accomplishments is, for me, like picking through my toddler's diaper for the undigested corn. - Thers

      by MadRuth on Tue Nov 10, 2009 at 12:45:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Also writing a LOE to the editor (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      drewfromct, skohayes

      After publishing the diary, I realized "Town Hall by Mail" is a oxymoron:

      Town Hall Meeting (Wikipedia): A town hall meeting is an informal public meeting. Everybody in a community is invited to attend, voice their opinions, and hear the responses from public figures and elected officials.

      Doing this communication by mail seems antithetical to the principles of holding a Town Hall.

  •  They asked that question of Canadians.... (5+ / 0-)

    "Would you support expanded health care even if it meant increasing your taxes?"

    They were surprised when a large majority answered "Yes, Increase Healthcare".

    Sometimes those type of leading questions can bite them in the ass.

    All evils are equal when they are extreme. - Pierre Corneille

    by LiberalCanuck on Tue Nov 10, 2009 at 12:41:05 PM PST

  •  call back and ask for a postage paid (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    return envelope as you are a proud Patriot and would like to respond to the form and the donation asap.

    Hopefully, they will send one to you. When they do, stuff it with junk mail (or actual shit if you are so inclined) and make them pay the extra postage.

    You can also include a copy of the receipt from your donation - to the Progessive or Dem candidate in your area.

    Good luck and have fun!

    "Two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the universe." Albert Einstein

    by GrannyOPhilly on Tue Nov 10, 2009 at 12:43:44 PM PST

  •  The questions are ridiculously slanted (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sawgrass727, drewfromct, myrealname

    So when I got one, I filled it out with all the "wrong" answers and sent it back. Fixed some of the questions too.  Of course I didn't have to pay postage.

    "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." Daniel Patrick Moynihan

    by atlliberal on Tue Nov 10, 2009 at 12:44:20 PM PST

  •  My slimey Rep (Brian Bilbray R- CA-50) (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sawgrass727, drewfromct

    He does teleconferences on the phone with a question screener.  Same difference.

    "The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind". William Blake

    by egarratt on Tue Nov 10, 2009 at 01:12:04 PM PST

  •  never expect intelligence from any of them... (0+ / 0-)

    cunning, deceit, dishonesty, etc.... yes.  

    Never walk into a public restroom while breathing through your mouth.

    by quityurkidding on Tue Nov 10, 2009 at 01:26:39 PM PST

  •  So angry about survey that I called Young's offic (0+ / 0-)

    Young is a coward for not facing his constituents.  This is neither a town hall nor a survey. It is a waste of public money. It will provide no insight into his constituents views because it is structured poorly.

    I called Young's office and the same snippy staff woman answered the phone.  She said you can request an appointment with Young by sending an email to ""  Harry is the Chief of Staff.  

    When I questioned the survey's structure, she handed the phone over to Brad Stein.  Brad said some people were scanning and emailing the survey with comments.  Apparently there have been several complaints about the survey.  Brad said they could only offer Yes/No answers because the survey was already long enough.

    He said the survey was mailed to over 300K registered voters.  Now there's economic stimulus.  At least a $300K boondoggle.

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