Smart Coward: Congressman John Faso and Alan Chartock Disparage Our Local Town Hall..Before It Happens

In his recent opinion column for the Daily Freeman on February 19, 2017, Alan Chartock promotes NPR member WAMC, a radio station that he heads as CEO, over the democratic tradition of town halls. Mr. Chartock’s advocation is clear even if he is not direct. A radio station that he oversees could replace town halls with a congressional call-in radio program. This is not an either-or scenario, we can have both. It is an ill-attempt to undermine our collective power as citizens to organize an event holding our congressperson accountable during a public, free, and open town hall.

I agree with Chartock that people’s emotions or agendas should not get in the way of civil discussion. Though, the reality is, people are passionate and some of their lives, or the lives of their loved ones, depend upon the policies put forth by our lawmakers. Congress members also have a responsibility to be civil at town halls. Not giving clear answers impedes civil discussion.

Congressman Faso is not alone in using doublespeak. Many get away with taking two positions or sometimes no position on a single issue, which is the real reason why, “…resisters are counseled to make videos…”. Chartock writes of this video recording technique (getting our congressperson on record) in derisive fashion. Paradoxically, Chartock disparages both the chaotic shouting at town halls and the attempts at ordered, organized resistance through following the Indivisible Guide.

Chartock also attempts to paint “The Resisters” at town halls as frustrated and frightened throughout his column, while simultaneously implying that they are a threat to safety. To be clear, only one person’s safety is really discussed. Chartock states, “He [Faso] also knows that some of his colleagues have had to be escorted from Town Hall meetings by state police to protect them.”

At a town hall in Roseville, California, a different type of story is reported by The Sacramento Bee on February 4th, 2017, “A politician saw danger in a town-hall meeting. Police saw it differently” . The congressperson, or his staff, reportedly deceived the public to leave the town hall early under police protection. The threat, which supposedly required police escort, was essentially staged and unnecessary. The Roseville Chief of Police Daniel Hahn stated, in many ways, as reported in the article, that the town hall was peaceful, “People were loud, but that’s the extent of it.”

Kingston is not Roseville, nor any other city. It is unjust, that we will not have a single town hall with our congressperson before judgement is passed. After weeks of indecision, Congressman Faso has dishonorably declined to attend the event. Some may claim he is being smart, others a coward, I would put forth both. Congressman Faso is a “Smart Coward”.

The town hall hosted by Citizen Action of the Hudson Valley will carry on without our congressperson at George Washington School (formerly city hall) in Kingston, NY on Friday, February 24th, at 6PM. RSVP and free ticket required due to large number of attendees.