Town hall meetings on health care reform seem to be the hottest ticket in town these days for the media, activists, and constituents on all sides of the issue. Representative Tim Walz from Minnesota’s 1st congressional district held a town meeting on August 2oth in Mankato at the Mankato East High School. Concerned citizens from across the district traveled to Mankato from Worthington to take part as did I and two of my union brothers. Unfortunately for us, our 90 plus mile trip was marked by unavoidable delays in getting started and detours on Highway 60. We arrived a few minutes after the doors opened but the place quickly filled to capacity. Many of the people that came to participate left but there was still a crowd of people from both sides of the issue that stayed to show support or protest. Initially, there was anger and demands to be let into the building from the anti-reform folks but they soon realized that was not going to happen.
Teamsters Local 120 had a good contingent of people there on the outside with signs in support of reform and of course they drew the ire of the opposition. Although they were called “union thugs” and accused of unfairly loading up the auditorium they remained calm, even engaging some of the opponents in lively but peaceful discussions. I noticed other people doing the same, each side trying to convince the other that they were right. I doubt if there were any serious conversions amongst the outside crowd.
There was one tense moment before we left when a man came walking over carrying a sign that can only be described as despicable. It was met with cheers from many of the right wing crowd and boos and groans from the supporters of health care reform. Several people confronted him and it wasn’t long before one man got very angry and emotional. Fortunately the Mankato police department had several officers on the scene and one of them walked over to observe. He did not let it escalate and escorted the man away from the crowd to calm him down. We left about 15 minutes after that but I did have an opportunity to take a number of random pictures which I have put together as a video below.
The Marshall Independent is reporting that former Minnesota House minority leader Rep. Marty Seifert, R-Marshall will formally announce his bid for governor on July 7. His plans include a campaign tour throughout the state, starting with the Twin Cities and with visits to Duluth, Rochester and Mankato.
Oh, by the way, he also mentions that voters have until Tuesday to take advantage of the campaign political refund program that his best bud, Governor Pawlenty, has decided to eliminate. I wonder how that is working out for you Marty?
Minnesota’s 6th congressional district Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann has garnered a lot of attention this last week for comments she made to talk show host Chris Baker of radio station KLTK. Needless to say, her remarks were totally off the wall and were devoid of facts. OllieOx at Bluestem Prairie notes that NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me featured her, “we are running out of rich people”, comment on their latest broadcast. Minnesota Independent has an interesting piece as well as the MN Progressive Project, and of course Dump Michelle Bachmann has all the coverage.
If you would like to weigh in on her latest comments please take the poll below.
Over the past few months I had been actively working to help elect Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States. Sometimes it was tedious-setting up phone banks, door knocks, work-site visits and recruiting volunteers. As November 4th grew closer the anxiety and excitement became more intense. The poll numbers were looking good but nobody was leaving anything to chance. The final four days were intense but enjoyable. I had the opportunity to work with a diverse group of excited volunteers. A young African immigrant who was voting for the first time was actively participating in getting her community registered to vote and getting them to the polls, retired teachers were training door knockers, college students were volunteering, packing house workers and professionals were knocking on doors side by side. We all shared the same goal and dream. November 4th was our day to bring about change and we were successful.
While I went home that night to sip a little brandy and watch the returns and celebrations on tv and the internet, others took to dancing in the streets in America and the world.
Mick Jagger and David Bowie do a little dancin’ in the streets in this music video that is older than many of the volunteers I worked with.