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LETTER: Luetkemeyer opts for partisanship over health care reform

Wednesday, July 1, 2009 | 10:41 a.m. CDT; updated 11:17 a.m. CDT, Thursday, September 3, 2009

*CLARIFICATION: Mr. Hinshaw and 12 other constituents delivered a petition to Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer's office, but they did not have a specified appointment, according to records from Luetkemeyer's office. Mr. Hinshaw says his group called ahead to ask if anyone would be in the office at 4 p.m. June 26 to receive the petition. According to Luetkemeyer press secretary Paul Sloca, the receptionist — who is not part of Luetkemeyer's paid staff but handles receptionist duties for his and other offices in the building — received the petition and it has been forwarded to the congressman. Sloca said the Columbia staff was working on other projects and not available to meet at that time.

I was stood up by Blaine Luetkemeyer's Columbia staff on Friday along with 12 other 9th Congressional District constituents. *Despite having called ahead to let them know we were coming during regular office hours, no congressional staff was available. It was disappointing that Rep. Luetkemeyer's office can't keep regular hours.  It is also disappointing that Rep. Luetkemeyer and the minority party is playing partisan politics with health care reform.

American per-capita spending on health care dwarfs other developed countries. Because of the astronomical cost of American health care, almost 1 of every 6 Americans are not covered. Many American families must choose between health care coverage and other primary expenses such as food and shelter. Health care costs are 16 percent of the total economy and continue to climb.

The economy depends on workers being healthy and ready for work. Americans can't compete economically with other developed countries with our current health care system.

The vast majority of Americans recognize that health care reform is required. Businesses understand the health care system hurts their ability to compete. But what is obvious on Main Street is in danger of being lost in Washington because of the vast lobbying effort on health care reform. If the public allows Washington to continue as usual, the outcome will be more of the same. Readers should contact Rep. Luetkemeyer and our senators often to be sure they understand the critical importance of health care reform.


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Comments

William Monroe July 1, 2009 | 12:58 p.m.

I was there and prevented from walking past the Buttonwood Office complex reception desk to get to Leuktemeyer's office. The receptionist said she was expecting us and she did accept the petition on behalf of the Representative's staff. She informed us there was no staffer...even a secretary...in the office to accept the petition and she did not have access to an official vistor's log for us to sign. She was kind and got us some paper to make our own signin sheet. I believe our Representative and his staff need to be more accessible and not close their door (and minds) to folks who may have a different idea than they do on an issue.
Here is the response by the local Leuktemeyer staffer Gary Marble to our petition for health care including a choice of a public health care option:

"Congressman Luetkemeyer has made his position on health care very clear. Socialized medicine has failed in every attempt. The Congressman's position is in line with the overwhelming majority of the constituents who have contacted our office in opposition to Socialized medicine."

As you can see, our Rep is way out of touch with the 9th District (and reality, apparently). You can add your name to the petition that elicited such a response here:

http://my.barackobama.com/page/event/det...

(Report Comment)
William Monroe July 1, 2009 | 1:25 p.m.

Sorry...that was the wrong link for our petition. It is here:
http://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?...

(Report Comment)
lyn williams July 1, 2009 | 6:26 p.m.

As one of the 13, I was very offended that there was not a member of his govenment staff available to accept our petition. His personal business staff and govenment staff should not be mixing. On some level this is very wrong and unethicial.

Yes she was nice but the fact still remains that when you have posted office hours someone from his govenment staff should be available. I wonder what type of reponse I would of gotten if I walked up to her and said that I didn't want reform, I love the job he is doing. Would I get to see a member of his staff?

(Report Comment)
John Schultz July 1, 2009 | 10:17 p.m.

My guess is that the person you talked to was someone who worked for the Buttonwood Building and not on the representative's staff.

(Report Comment)
lyn williams July 3, 2009 | 10:40 a.m.

Response to Clarification: When we dropped off the petition we also dropped off a letter addressed to Mr. Mable asking for an appointment with him and as of this date he has failed to respond. So does this mean that people that want health care reform are denied access to this office.

Also if they were working on other projectsand and the office was open why were we told that he (Mr Mable) was out of the building. I have that on tape and will be releasing it to the media upon request.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz July 3, 2009 | 12:21 p.m.

Why release it upon request? Put it on YouTube.

(Report Comment)
Peter Hinshaw July 3, 2009 | 2:58 p.m.

I appreciate the Missourian posting my letter, but the overall process of getting it published concerns me. The Missourian posted, and then removed my original letter. The original letter is at http://docs.google.com/View?id=ddd8rsn9_.... The Missourian called and informed me that since Rep. Luetkemeyer's office disputed whether we had an appointment they could not print the letter with a reference to an appointment. Following that, the Missourian required a second change, they could not print the letter with a reference to the office being closed.
The interpretation Rep. Luetkemeyer's office and of the Missourian was that the office was not closed, and that our group did not have an appointment, so the Missourian refused to print my letter with my interpretation of my experience. Our group contacted Rep. Luetkemeyer's office multiple times before our visit and let them know we were bringing a petition at 4:00 on Friday, June 26. Since Rep. Luetkemeyer's office didn't note our requests on their calendar as an appointment it doesn't count to the office or the Missourian as an appointment. I ask myself, why do constituents have to micromanage the calendars of Rep. Luetkemeyer's office?
The reference to the office being closed seems the same. The people in the office have a job to serve constituents. They knew our group was coming, but they were not available. According to the Missourian an office must be physically locked to be closed. We were at the office for close to 30 minutes, a Congressional staffer surely could have found a few minutes for us during that time.

(Report Comment)
Kurt Jansen July 3, 2009 | 3:22 p.m.

Last Friday June 26 at 4:00pm 13 of our the nearly 700 signers of our petition from all across the 9th Congressional District assembled at the Columbia office of Rep. Blaine Leutekemeyer. We were prepared to deliver our petition to Rep. Leutkemeyer's staff. We had previously confirmed that the office would be open and a member of his staff would be able to receive the petition. Instead we were met by a member of the building management company and kept from entering the office.

We have emailed Assistant Chief of Staff Gary Marble to verify the petition was passed along, question the scheduling mishap, and asked for Rep. Leutekemeyer's standing on the Public Option. The response in part was as follows..

"Congressman Luetkemeyer has made his position on health care very clear. Socialized medicine has failed in every attempt. The Congressman's position is in line with the overwhelming majority of the constituents who have contacted our office in opposition to Socialized medicine. "

While we realized that Rep. Leutekemeyer would probably be against the Public Option, we also had an expectation of a respectable reception and a reasoned response.

We intend to continue presenting our petition to our various representation.

As discussed above as part of the learning process we have discovered that it is much easier to have your side of a story published when you have a press office than when you are a group of constituents. One of our fellow petitioners wrote the above letter to the editor. It ran online for about a day. The Missourian pulled the letter after the Leutekemeyer press office disputed whether or not there was an "appointment". After resubmitting the letter taking out the term appointment the Missourian still refused to put the letter back online. We have requested a meeting with the editorial board of the Missourian and await their response.

As you can see the Missourian has now agreed to publish the revised letter with their own clarification as provided by the Leutkemeyer press office.

We have a established a website that contains the online petition please forward or post to anyone who might want to add their voice to this fight.
http://healthcarereformpetition.blogspot...

(Report Comment)
lyn williams July 3, 2009 | 4:03 p.m.

In response to Peter's statement "According to the Missourian an office must be physically locked to be closed."

If we were allowed to go back to the Congressmans office door and check the door we would of known if they really were or were not closed or dealing with others. But we have to remember that we were STOPPED in the hallway and not allowed to even go to the office and see if the door was locked. In my heart of hearts I really believe that they were in the office and was hidding because they didn't want to deal with people who have differing views.

I feel sorry for the receptionist of the Buttonwood Business Center because over the next two years she is going to get sick and tired of doing thier dirty work of keeping people that want "Change" away from the office.

(Report Comment)
William Monroe July 3, 2009 | 9:25 p.m.

The fact that the Buttonwood receptionist was not abole to go to Leuktemeyer's office to retrieve a visitors register, as we requested, telling us that the office was closed...should be proof enough that is was indeed, closed. The Missourian has been duped. What has become of the fourth estate?

(Report Comment)
John Schultz July 3, 2009 | 10:29 p.m.

Um, say what?

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance July 4, 2009 | 10:16 a.m.

Wow,

Attention Missourian. If our Representative wants to retort Hinshaw's account of the even on June 26th, he can write a LTTE just like everyone else. This wasn't a story, this is an opinion letter. Don't label someone's differing observation as a clarification just because they complain. Stop being wusses and start telling the likes of Sloca to write a letter in response.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance July 4, 2009 | 2:00 p.m.

The fourth estate refers to the press, John.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_Esta...

(Report Comment)
John Schultz July 4, 2009 | 2:02 p.m.

Thanks Tim, I'm aware of that, but the rest of the comment was not making much sense and needs some clarification/better wording to express the message.

(Report Comment)
Jake Sherlock July 6, 2009 | 9:17 a.m.

Tim, et al,

I spent all afternoon last Thursday vetting Mr. Hinshaw's letter. This included numerous conversations with him, with the congressman's staff and a trip to the Columbia office to get a look at the layout of the place myself.

Here's what I found in the vetting process:

-- When pressed about whether or not there was an appointment with the office, Mr. Hinshaw said they "called ahead" to let the office know they'd be dropping off a petition. At no point did he state that the group requested a meeting with the congressman's staff, only that there be someone there who could receive the petition. Thus, no appointment was on the books, and nobody in the office was immediately available to meet with the group.

-- The office was open, but nobody was available to meet with the group. There's a big difference. If you go to a restaurant, sit down and nobody takes your order, is it closed? If Mr. Hinshaw believes the congressman should make someone available to the public at all times during regular business hours, he's free to make that argument all day long. But don't say something is closed when it's not. It's factually inaccurate, and facts matter every bit as much on the opinion page as they do on the news page.

-- In discussing the wording changes, I asked Mr. Hinshaw if he'd like me to try and set up a meeting time for him with the congressman's staff to discuss health care. He declined. I find that curious, since it was a perceived lack of access that spurred his decision to write the letter in the first place.

-- The letter was temporarily removed from the Web site while the above facts were in dispute. It was replaced with the new wording and the clarification and re-published just as soon as possible.

I hope this clears up a few misconceptions in the comment string here.

Jake Sherlock
Opinion editor

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance July 8, 2009 | 1:36 a.m.

Jake,

This was an opinion piece. OPINION

To vet someone opinion piece is very inappropriate. Again Sloca could of retorted with his own letter, but you let the his press secretary bully you. This is not a story that required you to "check the facts" I doubt you would vet a op-ed or LTTE from the congressman if one of us complained. If people are to freely express their OPINIONS, they must feel that they won't have to spend an afternoon being "vetted".

As for Hinshaw not wanting you involved in a meet. I don't blame him, you made yourself a defacto agent of Blaine Luetkemeyer. You lost his trust. I take it you might be a student. Whether you are or not, you need to grow a pair and don't let the "fourth estate" just become an annex of the other three

(Report Comment)
Tom Warhover July 8, 2009 | 9:28 a.m.

Mr. Dance and others:

I'll defend your right to your opinions, especially when you find fault with the Missourian -- I want the feedback. There has been more published, through your comments, regarding this event than I could have imagined from one letter to the editor.

You've brought up an interesting issue: the role that facts play in opinion pieces.

We believe opinion -- in letters, blogs, wherever -- should carry the same burden of accuracy as a news story.

In this case, a fact was disputed. Was the office closed or not? It would be irresponsible of us not to check it out.

The change did not, in my mind, alter at all the opinion expressed by Mr. Hinshaw. He opines that Rep. Luetkemeyer's office should be more accessible; that announcing his intention to deliver the petition at a specific time and date should have been a clue to Luetkemeyer's staff that they expected to be seen.

Whether you agree, those arguments hold up in either version of the letter -- in my opinion.

We don't vet letters to the editor as closely as, say, a news story -- the letter didn't originate with a reporter and an assigning editor. But the letters are checked. The newspaper's copy desk reads all letters, and will check out information that looks dubious.

What they won't do is change the language that expresses the opinion of the letter writer.

(Don't be surprised if you see some of this again in a Dear Reader column. You all have brought up some interesting points.)

Tom Warhover, executive editor, Columbia Missourian

ps: Jake Sherlock is the newspaper's opinion section editor. He's a full-time editor, not a student.

(Report Comment)
Jeremy Littau July 8, 2009 | 9:42 a.m.

Tim, your last post here is off target. Sure, it was an opinion piece, but it was based on statements of fact. The notion that the office ought to be open at all times is an opinion, but the statement that it was closed as a supporting point to your opinion is a statement of fact. And apparently it's at best a "fact" in dispute, at worst one that is outright false.

People use factual evidence to judge opinions. Because of this, the Missourian has an obligation to its citizens to make sure the facts are correct if it is going to provide a forum for people to speak their mind.

Otherwise I could libel and slander people all day and just claim it was my "opinion" as a means of getting out of it. But that would never hold up in court. What you're asking the Missourian to do is take a risk on letters and open itself up to a potential lawsuit, because like any news organization the newspaper is liable for the things it prints.

The good news for you is you don't need a newspaper if you just want to print a bunch of ill-conceived "opinion" pieces with no regard to suspect facts. I refer you to Blogger.com, where you can libel someone 'til your heart's content and bear the full responsibility for what you write. In the meantime, maybe consider that the Missourian has some sound journalistic (and for that matter, business) reasons for doing what it did.

Before you ask, no, I'm not an employee of the Missourian. Bear in mind that I agree with your desire to change health care, but I'm fairly certain you're wrong on your assessment of this situation.

(Report Comment)
Kurt Jansen July 8, 2009 | 10:23 a.m.

RE: Editors Comments.

I have several disagreements with the editors interpretation of the facts. I will seek to clarify one question at this time.

Jake in order to protect the journalistic integrity of the opinion page of the Missourian, and not be used by the Representatives staff.

I am certain you will be willing to check whether Deputy Chief of Staff Gary Marble was in the "open" office on Friday June 26 th from 4:00 to 4:30 or was out of the office as we were informed by the building's receptionist (which we do have on video).

(Report Comment)
John Schultz July 8, 2009 | 11:06 a.m.

Put in on YouTube already.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance July 8, 2009 | 4:42 p.m.

Jeremy,

The whole idea of vetting opinion pieces, save libel and slander, leaves a bad precedent. This vetting was a response to Luetkemeyer's political machine bullying the editorial dept of this paper. Again, if his "version" of the facts were different, let him write an editorial piece in response. But if the newspaper is going to allow politicians to control the conversation by bullying, then the integrity of the opinion page is shot.

(Report Comment)
Peter Hinshaw July 8, 2009 | 6:00 p.m.

Appearances can be just as important as the vettable truth. The appearance that the Congressional office influenced the Missourian influences what people believe. What people believe is very important, especially in the news business.
The group of 13 that visited Rep. Luetkemeyer's office on June 26 felt the office was closed. Our expectation was to handle normal business during normal business hours. The business we had expected to transact was not handled appropriately. The way a person feels also influences what they believe.
The number of comments on this is an indication of what people believe is important.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance July 8, 2009 | 11:32 p.m.

Here is how this should of been handled:

Sloca: The editorial is incorrect, please take it down.

Missourian: If you feel that the editorial letter was in error, please feel free to rebut with your own letter.

Sloca ....

If you start vetting LTTE, what's next, vet your editorial columnist like Col Miller et. al.?

You let one of the other "estates" bully you Mr. Warhover and the Missourian just took an integrity hit. Plain and simple. Now folks are not going to even bother to write an LTTE because it appears that you can be influenced by the powers to be. What a shame.

As the Missourian you have the right to put whatever you want in your paper, however being bullied into "vetting"

(Report Comment)
Jeremy Littau July 9, 2009 | 9:51 a.m.

I guess I don't understand why your group is so afraid of being fact checked. Whether done by the Missourian or an alternate letter from Luetkemeyer, the facts of this dispute were clarified.

Frankly, I'm less likely to trust your version of events as someone reading your opinions now that I know you're willing to jump to conclusions without a shred of evidence. The Missourian did this because they were bullied? Please produce the YouTube video for THAT!

(Report Comment)
Amber Hanneken July 9, 2009 | 11:47 a.m.

I applaud the Missourian in not letting a letter simply run for the sake of running.

For those in the dark:
Opinion:
• a personal belief or judgment that is not founded on proof or certainty; "my opinion differs from yours"; "I am not of your persuasion"; "what are ...
• a message expressing a belief about something; the expression of a belief that is held with confidence but not substantiated by positive knowledge or proof; "his opinions appeared frequently on the editorial page"

Fact:
• a piece of information about circumstances that exist or events that have occurred; "first you must collect all the facts of the case"
• a statement or assertion of verified information about something that is the case or has happened; "he supported his argument with an impressive array of facts"
• an event known to have happened or something known to have existed; "your fears have no basis in fact"; "how much of the story is fact and how much fiction is hard to tell"
• a concept whose truth can be proved; "scientific hypotheses are not facts"

Source: Princeton Wordnet

If you are going to state an opinion you better make it about something that cannot be proven (e.g. "I think purple cars are ugly"), or base it on known facts (e.g. "I believe we were treated unfairly because of this video showing the guard not giving us access.")

Right now, none of the facts add up in Mr. Hinshaw's story so his opinion may be what it is but the public has a right to know the details when reading accusations about our politicians.

(Report Comment)
Peter Hinshaw July 9, 2009 | 11:50 a.m.

Jake,
I don't remember declining a meeting with the people from Rep. Luetkemeyer's office. If you can get that set up I'd be glad to come. We asked Gary Marble for a meeting and he refused since he didn't have any information for us on Mr. Luetkemeyer's position on health care reform. Please let me know how it goes in getting a meeting set up.
Thanks

(Report Comment)
Jake Sherlock July 9, 2009 | 12:45 p.m.

Peter,

I'd be happy to do that. Could you contact the other members of your group and e-mail me with a couple of dates and times that works for y'all? I'll gladly call Mr. Marble and see about a meeting.

My e-mail is SherlockJ@missouri.edu

Jake Sherlock
Opinion editor

(Report Comment)
lyn williams July 9, 2009 | 1:22 p.m.

Below is the link when the Buttonwood Center stated that Gary Marble is not on property.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtvrKnAeI...

(Report Comment)
lyn williams July 9, 2009 | 1:54 p.m.

Jake I wish you luck with getting that meeting set up. Per this video its pretty obvious that Gary Marble does not want to sit down with us. This video was taken on July 7, 2009 during a visit to drop off more names of those that signed the petition asking for healthcare reform.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0GV2kc9m...

(Report Comment)
Kurt Jansen July 9, 2009 | 4:43 p.m.

Amber,

Please be specific about which of "none of Mr. Hinshaws facts" add up. It appears that you are accusing Mr. Hinshaw of making unfounded accusations. I believe that is incorrect. However, at least he is rather specific in his understanding of the events.

Please be as specific in your attack on his credibility.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr July 9, 2009 | 5:17 p.m.

If Miss lyn williams and Kurt Jansen and company went to this meeting or whatever it was you can be assured their facts are right. Why would they go to this meting and not be prepared to get answers or at least be treated with reasonable respect.

I think those trying to put these citizens down should get to know them first and maybe even ask them about the community organization they belong to and it's goals.

(Report Comment)
Kurt Jansen July 9, 2009 | 5:21 p.m.

Much of this frustration is resulting from the editorial process in which the Missourian pressured a citizen to edit a letter based on the papers "fact" checking.

The two main "facts" that Jake points to are

1) Whether or not the office was closed. It is evidently the position of the Leutkemeyer office and the Missourian that it is only "closed" if the doors are locked.

I decided to utilize the resource that Amber provided

Princeton Wordnet to help determine the definition of "Closed"

Adjective

S: (adj) closed (not open or affording passage or access) "the many closed streets made travel difficult"; "our neighbors peeped from behind closed curtains"

S: (adj) shut, unopen, closed (not open) "the door slammed shut"

S: (adj) closed (not open to the general public) "a closed meeting"

S: (adj) closed, unsympathetic (not having an open mind) "a closed mind unreceptive to new ideas"

S: (adj) closed, closed in (blocked against entry) "a closed porch"

Now please take a moment to watch and see if any of the above definitions describes this situaion.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtvrKnAeI...

2) Whether or not there was an appointment

It is the Missourian and the Leutkemeyer's office position that since there was no appointment on the books of the official scheduler there was no appointment.

Let's look at that for a second. It has been stated that on at least two occasions the group contacted the Leutekemeyer office and stated that they wanted to drop off a petition to a Congressional Staffer at 4:00 pm on Friday June 26th.

On at least both occasions they were told ok. On neither occasion were they informed of the necessity to speak with the official scheduler.

Now lets return to Jakes scenario about the restaurant. If I were to call my favorite restaurant up twice and said I want to come by for dinnner on Friday at 5:00 for a party of 4 and both occasions I was told sure not a problem come on by.

Now I get there at 5:00 on Friday but I am turned away becuase I have no reservation. Now did I or did I not have a reservation? Or is it a matter of interpration? If it truly is an open question than why would it be subject to editing by the Missourian.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance July 9, 2009 | 10:09 p.m.

The Missourian was wrong plain and simple. They need to take down that "clarification" and let the congressman know they are welcome to rebut. An apology to Hinshaw is also in order.

[w]rite that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know -- fiction!" - Stephen Colbert

(Report Comment)
John Schultz July 9, 2009 | 10:21 p.m.

Did this group ask to drop something off, or did they ask for a meeting? Seems like they are claiming the former, which I would not expect anyone to make an appointment for unless explicitly asked. If one wants to speak to a politician or their staff, one should ask for an appointment. If the point is to get a photo-op while dropping off a poorly-worded petition, don't be surprised if said politician doesn't want to play your game.

(Report Comment)
Peter Hinshaw July 10, 2009 | 8:47 a.m.

Jake,
I'll be glad to check with the group about times when they can meet. The agenda should be health care. If Rep. Luetkemeyer's office isn't ready to describe their position then perhaps they would be willing to hear us out as to why reform is needed.

(Report Comment)
Ed Ricciotti July 10, 2009 | 10:49 a.m.

Watching the videos, the contrast between Luetkemeyer and Hulshof comes to mind. In 2005, a group of concerned citizens, including myself, asked to see Rep Hulshof and discuss his views on the Iraq War. Our group was against US involvement in Iraq, Kenny was for it.

Since Mr. Hulshof was out in "the district", we met with one of his senior staff at his Columbia office. We crammed into a small room and discussed the issue. It was very civil and everyone in our group appreciated the time. The "guestbook" that Mr. Monroe was referring to was the one citizens sign when they visit their congressman. For all of Hulshof political faults, his office had the courage and professionalism to meet people that didn't share his point of view.

Luetkemeyer's staff's suggestion that they 'write" their questions and refusing to meet with them is sad and puts a distance between the Representative and his constituents. Also the "gate keeping" (the receptionist) by someone not working directly for the congressman further gives Luetkemeyer the appearance of separating himself from his constituent

(Report Comment)
Kurt Jansen July 10, 2009 | 11:38 a.m.

There are so many issues in this situation that is bothering to me. I have attempted to keep my focus on a number of key issues. However, Ed Ricciotti brings up a point that has been troubling me as well.

I personally find it troubling that Representative Leutkemeyer's office is relying on a private employee of a private business to be the face of his congressional office.

I have no personal problem with the lady who was staffing the desk of Buttonwood Business office. However, I ask is it appropriate to have a person who's paycheck comes from the private for profit business to be the public face of the US Representative and his office thusly the face of the US Government.

Again, I have no personal problem with this person. Abstractly, however, how do I as a constituent know that she is working in the best interest of the Representative's or the best interest of the company paying her check. I want to be very clear I am not accusing this particular person of anything unbecoming. I am questioning the propriety of this arrangement.

As the video clearly demonstrates this lady has the very powerful position of who does and who does not have access to the Representative's office.

(Report Comment)
Peter Hinshaw July 10, 2009 | 12:15 p.m.

Jake,
We can gather a quorom any time next week. Our first preference is 4:00 PM on Friday. Monday - Thursday at 4:00 is our secondary preference. If for some reason 4:00 Monday - Friday doesn't work, then we'll be there when they can make it.
Next week is important due to timeliness of this topic, as it is being discussed in Congress now and next week.
Thanks,

(Report Comment)
Ed Ricciotti July 10, 2009 | 1:27 p.m.

Jake et. al.,

I really doubt you will get a meeting with Blaine's staff. The videos just give a sense of hostility towards citizens that don't see Luetkemeyer's point of view.

John,

People have a right to petition their government. Whether or not it is a photo op is irrelevant. It is a part of politics. However as I stated above, the hostility towards his constituents who doesn't share his views is unprofessional and inappropriate. Let's remember that nearly 50% of the voted for Judy and Tamara and not Blaine.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro July 10, 2009 | 1:48 p.m.

("The economy depends on workers being healthy and ready for work. Americans can't compete economically with other developed countries with our current health care system.")
Seems to me that the outsourcing of jobs to overseas companies are the problem. Most recently, GM canceled its contract with American suppliers and opted to continue doing business with Russia and South Africa. Is that why we bailed them out? We are socializing government controlled business in the real estate, bank/financial/insurance fields and now in the automotive industry and they outsource to Russia and South Africa?
American's who are not healthy enough or ready to work has little to do with our current health care system.
Except for easy access to dentists, their are many health and human care services available via existing government programs, United Way funded agencies, nonprofit voluntary agencies and Church supported programs.
I would suggest that the President's Health Care reform is nothing more then the government's desire to meddle in the insurance business, in this case, access to healthcare is the property being insured.
My suggestion would be that insurance companies should be eliminated from this "right" of healthcare.
We all currently have this "right" to healthcare, but many people do not exercise that right. They don't access the resources available to them. There are Americans who choose to become alcoholics and drug addicts. Americans smoke tobacco, don't follow good eating habits, ignore prenatal care, are promiscuous and don't practive "safe sex." Many do not exercise enough. Many do not partake in preventative care. Many do not attend free alternative holistic/spiritual workshops. People don't even read books or seek out information on the net.
Access to care has been and will always be out there.
Insurance is a business which attempts to give people "peace of mind." Insurance Companies should not be in the HealthCare business. Leave that to the AMA. If they're smart they'll bring back doctors carrying their little black bags filled with medicines as they make their routine house calls.
Both the Republicans and the Democrats have this healthcare business/insurance business thing all wrong.

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