Governor Christie’s “Town Hall” meetings have fascinated the mainstream media with their bombast, fancy props, and security details consisting of State Police and men in dark suits wearing earpieces. The script is always the same – a daytime meeting making it difficult for working people to attend, the governor pontificating for a while and then taking off his coat to answer questions, and his relishing YouTube moments to bash Democrats, teachers, female legislators, or whoever his target happens to be that week.
By contrast, the Democrats’ Town Hall meetings are low key, with scant coverage by the press, and no fancy props. After all, while the Governor’s political rants are paid for by taxpayers, the Dem’s meetings are funded by the party.
Last night, Senate President Stephen Sweeney was introduced by Senator Fred Madden at a town hall meeting at Camden County College in Blackwood. The auditorium was full, but not overflowing. There were no long lines to get in, unobtrusive security from the campus police, and no hoards of mainstream press and TV cameras to bring the proceedings to the general public.
Sweeney only spoke for a few minutes before taking questions from the audience. While the main item on the agenda was his tax reform proposal, he took questions on a variety of topics. Blue Jersey was there to bring you the proceedings. (Unfortunately, we had technical problems with the campus audio feed. The audio is sub-par; listening with headphones for better clarity is recommended.)
Below the fold: some time markers for interesting questions and answers.
There’s nothing new in Sweeney’s description of the Senate’s property tax reform proposal. But you may find his answers to some of the questions interesting.
At the 32:17 mark, a woman asks about the policy on accumulated sick time payout and state benefits.
At the 41:09 mark, a woman asks about prison privatization, and privatization in general.
At the 44:14 mark is a question about the politicization of education and charter schools. Sweeney is uncharacteristically unprepared (or unwilling?) to answer the question.
At the 1:01:25 mark, a gentleman asks a question about use of six-sigma in government. This was also unanswered. Perhaps the Senator should read my prior post on this topic.
While the information content of these meetings (on both sides) is limited, I would encourage the Democrats to continue holding them – if for no other reason than to stay connected with concerned citizens. We send them to Trenton to make decisions for us. They should hear our voices.