Town Hall = Photo Op?

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I noticed in the March 29 issue of the Estherville News

that my Congressman, Randy Feenstra, visited Estherville

Friday and reviewed solar energy panels at New Fashion

Pork with eight city officials as “guests.” I wish I had

known he was coming so I could have given him my views

on current congressional issues, but I didn’t know anything

about the appearance. There was no previous announcement

in the local paper. Congress adjourns often on the pretext

of keeping in touch with its constituents, but has turned

this practice of town hall meetings into photo-ops with very

little contact with rank and file voters. Senator Joni Ernst is

doing this, and now Representative Feenstra as well.

Senator Grassley pioneered the practice of the “full

Grassley,” a term coined by the press for visiting every

Iowa county for a yearly town hall meeting with voters.

These meetings were usually at the Estherville college auditorium,

very well publicized, and often attended by 50-100

people who asked him questions and gave their opinions.

I know because I asked him several questions at different

meetings and was always recognized and answered. I was

treated with courtesy and respect, even though I often disagreed

with him.

I am sorry that the “full Grassley” is not being followed

by Senator Ernst and now Congressman Feenstra, who arrive

in town unannounced to the public, find something

non-controversial to inspect, invite a few chosen guests,

and then pose for a photo-op and accompanied story about

an issue everyone agrees upon, and then they leave town.

Why are our elected officials hiding from the people they

represent? Why do they pretend to represent us when they

refuse to meet with us?

A town hall meeting with Congressman Feenstra could

have been arranged at the new college auditorium with

appropriate COVID-19 protocols. You can be sure

Congressman Feenstra will talk during his next campaign

about all the “visits” he has made to his constituents during

the past year, but the fact is – he has had little face-to-face

contact with any of them. His visits are photo-ops and nothing

more.

Don Brown

Estherville

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