Town Hall = Photo Op?
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
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