Tag Archive: Townhall

What If There Were No Video?

I attended today’s Town Hall Meeting at Rutgers in Newark, hosted by President Robert Barchi, who opened his remarks by reminding the audience that the purpose of the meeting was to focus on the Strategic Plan for moving Rutgers toward a world class future. But, the phalanx of reporters and television crews in attendance suggested that there might just be some lingering interest in the ongoing basketball scandal that came to light last week.

After Barchi opened with a grand vision of shared values, and ambitious leadership, an audience member asked about Barchi’s involvement in the basketball story, and Barchi retreated behind the defense of “I didn’t see the video til last week, and once I did, I took appropriate action.” That explanation, which has blunted some of the criticism, and at least to date may be what has saved his job, really bothered me. Because there’s almost never a video of bad behavior. And, what if there had been no video this time?

So, I went to the mic, and asked what seemed to me simple questions:

Assuming you did not see the video until last week, when I and the rest of America first saw it, were you at least aware last year that an employee of this University had on multiple occasions, over an extended period, physically assaulted multiple students while yelling misogynistic and homophobic slurs at them?

And if so, why didn’t you take the appropriate action then? And if not, who did? And either way, do you think in the face of the University’s inaction before the video became public, you still have the ability to lead this great institution into the world class future we’re discussing today?

His answers, to put it mildly, were less than world class. He didn’t admit or deny what he knew, he didn’t identify who knew what or when, and to the question of whether he still has the ability to lead – he deferred to the judgment of the Rutgers Board at whose pleasure he serves.

And, I come back to my office to learn that Governor Christie is proclaiming – without the benefit of any independent investigation – that Barchi did not commit a fireable offense, because he had not seen the video. I would say this to President Barchi, and to the Governor: leadership doesn’t always come with a videotape. Sometimes the facts are enough. And if Barchi, or others in leadership (after all, someone overruled Tim Pernetti’s recommendation to fire the Coach) had the facts described above – video or not – there was only one appropriate action to take. The one not taken until the video surfaced.

Ocean Grove resident in wheelchair talks about being heckled at healthcare town hall on MSNBC

Marianne Hoynes, a resident of Ocean Grove, talked yesterday on MSNBC by webcam about being heckled and booed at a healthcare town hall meeting while she was telling her story to Congressman Pallone last week:

She also mentioned some of the overheated rhetoric used at the town halls. She said she wanted to tell her story to the Congressman and said “I had that right, I thought.”

Brian Donohue had a real good video asking if there is any room for a centrist in the healthcare debate using this particular town hall as the example:

As Brian said, a month from now the behavior exhibited at the town hall would get everyone sent to the principal’s office.

Learning By Listening: An Epilogue

A follow-up by the congressman to his post leading up to the Town Halls. – – – Promoted by Rosi

Cross Posted on Daily Kos

We have all seen the news and read the reports about the disruptions and obstructionism taking place at town hall meetings all across the country. However, this did not deter me from coming home from the legislative session in Washington to brief my constituents and neighbors, just as I have done the last 20 years as a member of the House of Representatives.

The health care debate brings out strong opinions on all sides of the political spectrum.  And these feelings surely were on full display at my recent town hall meetings last Monday and Tuesday.  Both in Piscataway and Red Bank, we had huge crowds, as many people waited several hours to come and discuss the pending health care legislation in Congress, among other issues. Emotions ran high in some instances, because clearly we must fix our broken system to cover 46 million uninsured Americans and usher in new medical technologies to increase efficiency and accessibility.

Overall, I think we had a productive discussion about the reform bill and how it will bring costs down.  However, some town hall attendees showed up with no interest in taking part in civil discourse, but rather to simply shout and heckle the other participants.  While this is a testament to the First Amendment and the democracy we live in, we must not let the loudest and most vocal opponents deter our ultimate goal of passing meaningful health care reform.