Congress officers face a troublesome crowd in Greensboro – Information – Athens Banner-Herald
A crowd of more than 600 people in Greensboro on Friday morning shouted clearly shocked employees for the two US Senators of Georgia and US Representative Jody Hice from the 10th district in Greensboro, leaving no doubt that they were directly and personally from Hice and want to hear sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue.
The crowd gathered was largely the result of the work of Athens-based progressive activist group Athens for Everyone and a second activist group, Indivisible Georgia’s Tenth District, to bring people to the gathering.
The Friday meeting should have been an inaugural service event where people with a specific issue with the federal government – a belated performance review or concerns about how pending laws will affect their business or personal situation – can have one-on-one conversations with a member of Congress. Inaugural service sessions routinely draw in only a handful of people, like a woman who was in Greensboro on Friday to talk about improving internet access in rural areas.
However, on Friday, people gathered for the meeting more than an hour before the scheduled start at 10 a.m., and when the staff opened the meeting they were faced with a standing crowd that eventually spilled the Greene’s multiple doors The County Commission’s large meeting room opens onto an adjacent courtyard. Some of the people in the crowd had come from Atlanta, Athens, and Augusta.
“This is also not what we expected,” a rushed Hice employee said to a Greene county official, who was apparently surprised by the crowd descending on the county administration building.
Tim Denson, President of Athens for All, who previously stated that attending Congressional-led events is an attempt to get senators and officials to meet with voters themselves, said attendance on Friday was “about that, what I expected “.
“I think they need to realize that this is the ‘new normal,'” said Denson as he stood in the crowded meeting room. “I hope you will answer the call.”
Similarly, Jackie Elsner, co-chair of the Tenth District of Indivisible Georgia said that it was “unsatisfactory” to appear at events such as membership services meetings, but that it had become a strategy for activists “because we were not in direct contact with them get the people we have chosen. ” represent us. “
Caroline Vanvick, a spokeswoman in Perdue’s Washington, DC office, criticized the activists’ efforts, suggesting that the large crowd undermined the intended purpose of the Greensboro event.
“Our goal is to help as many Georgians as possible who have casework concerns and need help dealing with federal agencies like so many of our veterans and seniors,” Vanvick said in a prepared statement released Friday afternoon. “If organized groups produce protests and want to continue to have a disruptive effect, only those who really need help are rejected.”
“This is the biggest crowd we’ve ever had for mobile office hours,” said Jessica Hayes, Hice’s deputy chief of staff, to the cheers of the group as the event started on Friday. But when Hayes said to the crowd, “We won’t have a town hall,” the room burst into screams, which gave way to repeated utterances of shouts and chants. “Show me what democracy looks like! This is what it looks like.” Democracy looks like! “
The congressional staff from the state or regional offices of their respective senators or representatives were also orally with repeated chants of “Do your jobs!” when a man shouted, “We’ll pay you, you’ll do what we ask of you!”
As the crowd chanted “Shame! Shame! Shame!” and “Hear our voice! Hear our voice!” The congress staff retired to a nearby conference room and showed up a few minutes later with a compromise plan.
Over the next two hours, a lone Hice employee was taking notes as people flocked to a microphone in the meeting room, making statements and asking questions on a range of topics, from their concerns about the future of the Affordable Care Act to its recent confirmation the Senate of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of State for Education on Hice’s proposed Sanctity of Human Life Act, which would legally stipulate that life begins at conception.
Among the most popular speakers was an elderly black woman from Greene County who said the federal government was “full of people who don’t care about us in these small towns … We are in Egypt and Pharaoh is in the White House . “”
Meanwhile, the other congressional staff retreated into the conference room and met with small groups of people on a range of topics from public education to the separation of church and state.
Vicki Krugman, who is based in both Athens and Putnam County, was among the few dozen people who attended one of the closed conference room meetings. When Krugman emerged from the meeting, she said she was dissatisfied with her recent attempt to contact her representatives in Washington.
“I’m not satisfied,” she said. “I sent an email, I called, I sent an email. I didn’t get any replies. I just have people taking notes.”
One of the small-group meetings also attended Greg Davis, a member of the Clarke County Board of Education, who asked for Perdue’s views on how to ensure that all public funds earmarked for education go to public schools.
“They took my business card and said they would be with me again,” Davis said after his meeting.
Both Vanvick and Amanda Maddox, a spokeswoman for Sen. Isakson’s Washington office, said the volume of business at the Capitol in recent days, which has included cabinet confirmations, has left the senators with little else. However, the two spokespersons said the senators are separately considering holding “telephone town hall” meetings to contact constituents directly.
People interested in attending a telephone town hall with Isakson can register on his website at https://www.isakson.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-me, according to Maddox.