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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Who gave you that microphone, Congressman?

Well, I attended the town hall meeting that my congressman, Baron Hill, finally decided to hold. It was informative -- I'd imagined that he might still be on the fence, or even inclined to live up to his Blue Dog label, but he'd clearly decided to support the Democratic leadership's approach, complete with public option if he can get it.

Hill tried to be fair about the way he ran the meeting, sometimes affirmatively looking for people who opposed his views and wanted to speak. I was, however, disturbed by one of his ground rules: no audio or video recordings except by "accredited news agencies". He was asked twice why he would not let audience members record the proceedings. I don't think he answered the first time, but the second time he replied, "This is MY town hall and I set the rules." That got an angry reaction, and he defiantly repeated that this was "MY town hall." (He also explained that he didn't want recordings showing up on YouTube, which was at least honest.)

So what does that mean, "MY town hall"? He was the one who deigned to hold a meeting. He's the one who is (for now at least) in Congress. But he's there as our employee and representative. We put him there. If we call on him to meet with us on how he's doing his job, is it really "his" meeting? or is it more like his performance review?

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