Even with the mild summer we have had in Virginia’s Fifth District it seems that the heat is still too oppressive for Congressman Perriello. Like other representatives Tom seems to be shying away from town hall meetings. According to an article dated July 31 on Politico.com legislators all over the country are being challenged at their town hall meetings something that has not previously happened. Our elected officials are not used to being tested by their constituents and they do not like it. It has come to the point where several are not going to bother having town halls because according to one member of Congress “I had felt they would be pointless…”
In this article Tom Perriello stated: “People have gotten fired up and all that, but I think that’s what makes town halls fun,… I think that most of the time when we get out there, it’s a good chance for people to vent and offer their thoughts. It’s been good….I enjoy it, and people have a chance to speak their mind.” Perriello said that he plans on “plunging ahead” with town hall meetings.
Now I am not aware of any town hall meetings that Tom has had in which he was seriously challenged except for his meeting with the Jefferson Area Tea Party on May 8. On other occasions when our group attempted to meet with him he was not available, a town hall he had in the Danville area was designed so as not to acknowledge difficult questions. Challengers were ignored.
I am led to believe that town halls are not as much “fun” for this legislator as he seems to indicate. Mr. Perriello begins his summer break next week and has scheduled a series of events called “Tom In Your Town” in which he will appear at venues in different towns and meet one on one with those who are willing to take the time to sign up and then wait in line to meet with him. These meetings in no way resemble the town halls that Tom says he enjoys so much. They will certainly not be as challenging as an open forum and we the people have no way of knowing what is going on behind closed doors. Perriello and his staff can spin these individual meetings in ways that will make him look good and because of the closed venue we won’t know fact from fluff.
It is the responsibility of our legislators to face the people they represent, if they are not able to handle the pressure maybe they should find some other way to make a living. Spinning the facts, telling reporters that you enjoy the town hall style meetings and aim to continue them and then changing the forum to be less confrontational is cowardice. Perriello knows that his constituents are not happy with what is happening in Washington but he must conform to the role that the powers that be have chosen for him. Hundreds of thousands of dollars flowed from out of state supporters during his election and now it is time to repay those that helped him win his seat. Tom has chosen not to represent the people of his district but answers to the far left and the lobbyists that put him in office.
Unfortunately for Mr. Perriello times are changing and the people will no longer put up with bought and paid for politicians. This member of Congress can try to hide but he will be found and we will persist in asking him tough questions. If he chooses to continue to sequester himself behind closed door meetings his weakness will be exposed. When election time comes around next year he will be wishing that he had been more forthright with the people of the fifth district.