Democracy In Action
I consider the Town Hall meeting held by Anthony Weiner in Neponsit in February as an orchestrated example of Washington condescension.
The meeting was conveniently held on the Tuesday after President’s Day, during a holiday week with the kids off from school and many folks away, at 6:30 p.m., so those working in Manhattan had a devil of a time making it...In addition, it had been snowing all day, making travel on our icy Rockaway streets, the land that time and government forgot, impossible. Weiner arrived 25 minutes late and announced that we have the room for only two hours...the main topic for discussion was beach erosion!!! He proceeded to introduce four engineers and experts from the Army Corps of Engineers who discussed the intricacies of pumping sand onto Rockaway Beach....for an hour and fifteen minutes.... the bottom line?...we have to wait six years for an impact study! When asked how could this be? Rep. Weiner stated...look I’m only a politician, I have to defer to the experts on this topic...case closed....any other items for discussion? My neighbor asked him about health care reform... he proceeded to ramble off DNC talking points...people can’t afford escalating costs and those big insurance companies made a fortune in the last quarter, so we need the public option! Now if there aren’t any more questions I have to go.......I went to stop the Congressman as he headed for the door...first cornering his assistant...I said we need another meeting to address the real issues of health care and Wall Street reform.. speaking to someone else, he heard me, spun around and said don’t beat up on him I’m the “big man here!” I said that he never mentioned Wall Street reform...he said look I voted for the bailout and these bonuses are obscene so we need to regulate the banks...I countered yeah after you guys in government precipitated the crisis. I showed him a copy of the “Schumer’s Straddle” article from the NY Sun, which talked about how Glass Steagall, the depression-era act that regulated Wall Street, was dismantled in 1999 and the banks and brokerage firms were encouraged, by his Democratic associates, to take risk and come up with financial “innovations” to compete against global banking firms. Then I said who are you and by what authority do you tell the private sector what to pay their employees...he said when they took the bailout money they lost that right...and now that they paid out those bonuses they needed to be reined in. I explained that with New York State facing $8 billion in deficits shouldn’t he be defending the financial services industry in light of the fact that Wall Street is the smoke stack industry of NY without the smoke stacks? The banks and insurance companies here in the city and
Letters state pay a third of the tax revenue to the government and for every job on Wall Street two are created in the private sector. Besides that, the banks are to the economy what aircraft carriers are to national defense...you should be looking to strengthen them to compete globally not crippling them! Finally, I said talking about bonuses, those government bureaucrats who run Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the major contributors to the financial crisis, showed real restraint with their record payouts! What do you have to say about that?
The coup de grace, and I got a round of applause. So let me see if I have this right. A few minutes ago we were told that it would take a six year study to figure out how to put sand on a beach and you, not a expert but a politician couldn’t object. But in regard to two crucial, complicated issues affecting the very future of this Nation, you are ready to railroad through radical changes in health care and Wall Street reform overnight without weighing the effects? How can you assure us that these plans will work? He literally waved his hands and told his assistant to take my name and he would meet with me privately....thus ended the “town hall” meeting!
Weeks later, after repeated emails, I have yet to get a phone call.....I ask my fellow Rockaway residents, is this the kind of representing in Washington we need? No wonder Congressional approval ratings are the equivalent of low tide at the beach!