Letter to Rodney Davis in response to tele-townhall

Sent electronically on February 22.

Rep. Davis,

We participated in or read accounts of your tele-townhall on February 15. We appreciate that you finally responded to requests to discuss issues with your constituents and that the questions that were allowed by your staff member were a balanced representation of local concerns.

However, the night’s event displayed the many limitations of this format. A tele-townhall is insufficient, and your engagement remains much too infrequent. Here are some of our concerns:

  • Timing and access. Events like this should be scheduled for a set time well in advance. Your excuse that the unpredictability of floor votes requires this behavior is weak at best and insulting at worst. Congress is frequently in session three days a week. You’ve proven your ability to make scheduled appearances for radio call-ins, fly-in press conferences, and out-of-district industry events. You can and should manage the same for your constituents.
  • Length. If weeks of requests for information and conversation yield a single tele-townhall, it should surely be longer than 45 minutes.
  • Distractions. We want to share our thoughts with and hear from our representative. Rep. Burgess’ participation was a barrier to that. He may well have great expertise on the Affordable Care Act, but it was not evident. Talking points from a medical doctor are no more valuable than talking points from a political operative.
  • Lack of follow-up questions. The control exercised by the moderator kept things moving and organized, but it also allowed you to avoid certain questions. It must be evident from the last two months that your answers on the ACA are insufficient for your constituents. You are asking us to support you as you significantly alter a very important and effective piece of legislation. After years of discrediting the ACA, “more competition” is not a meaningful answer to questions of how you plan to lower costs. “A Better Way” offers no hard numbers. You must provide more information. The format of the tele-townhall is custom made to protect you from those expectations.
  • Dismissiveness. The final question of the night clearly referred to your habit of calling your constituents “the opposition” and “professional protestors.” It was disingenuous to feign misunderstanding of that fact. We were muted on the phone, but we were not fooled.

Pat answers and thin, orchestrated engagement with constituents have weakened our democracy for years. Citizens and representatives alike from across the country have been complicit in this. But these are extraordinary times — tense and divisive and dangerous. They require more of all of us.

We are committed to being better, more deeply involved citizens. We expect no less from you.

We ask that your staff schedule a meeting with a small group to determine mutually agreeable ways to improve and expand our interactions. We believe this is a modest and manageable request, and we would like to hear from someone no later than March 1. We can be reached by contacting Bill Bell at jwb713@yahoo.com.

Larry Adelston, Champaign
Marci Adelston-Schafer, Champaign
Whitney Akhtar, Urbana
Sarah Lund Allen, Edwardsville
Mark Allender, Champaign
Anne Anderson, Champaign
Denny Anderson, Champaign
Susan Appel, Champaign
Theodore Arnold, Champaign
Colleen Aziz, Urbana
Deborah Baker, Monticello 
Trish Barker, Champaign
Bill Bell, Champaign
Eric Beckley, Urbana
Molly Bentsen, Champaign
Alice Berkson, Champaign
Dianna Black, Urbana
John Braden, Champaign
Linda Braden, Champaign
Rosanne Brighton, Champaign
Michele Brown, Champaign
Alejandro Lleras Buetti, Urbana
Christine Canfield, Urbana
Hsiao-Ching Chen, Champaign
Chris Cribbs, Monticello
Stacy Cribbs, Monticello
Trisha Crowley, Champaign
Marlise Dahl, Monticello
Page Daniels 
Colleen Deal, Champaign
Kirsten Dennison, Champaign
Kate Denmead, Champaign
Tyler Denmead, Champaign
Dick Detzner, Urbana
Glen Dimock, Savoy
Jane Domier, Urbana
Diana Dudzienski, Champaign
Brian Dunn, Champaign
Christy Ann Elamma, Bement
Steven Errede, Champaign
Jodi Fan, Mahomet
Ted Faust, Champaign
Ryan Flanagan, Urbana
Jeffrey Friedman, Champaign
Shari Fox, Champaign
Terri Fredrick, Champaign
Katherine Galvin, Champaign
Chris Garcia, Champaign
Lisa Gatzke, Urbana
Garth Gersten, Champaing
Myra Gillespie, Champaign
Mark Gnaedinger, Champaign
Robin Goettel, Urbana
Jody Groff, Champaign
Laura Koertge Hahn, Champaign
Elizabeth Hanauer, Champaign
Amy Hassinger, Urbana
Mary Lucille Hays, White Heath
Amy Heggemeyer, Champaign
Patricia Ann Fendley Helm, Champaign
Pamela Hill, Urbana
Darla Hoffmann, Edwardsville
Jeannette Hulick, Tolono
Corinne Jackson
Laura Jacob, Champaign
Cari James, Urbana
Scott Johnson, Champaign
Jacqueline K. Jones-Myers, Virden
Lois Kain, Urbana
Melody Kane, Champaign
Brett Ashley Kaplan, Champaign
Paula Kaufman, Champaign
Lisa Kelly, Urbana
Catherine Kenney, Blue Ridge Township
Katherine Kline, Decatur
Frank Knowles, Urbana
Patricia Knowles, Urbana
Jessica Kopolow, Champaign
Megan Kuhlenschmidt, Champaign
Ming Kuo, Urbana
Cloydia Hill Larimore, Urbana
Lil Levant, Urbana
Ellen Leyerle, Champaign
Melissa Libert, Bloomington
Bernice B. Lieberman, Savoy
Yu-Feng Lin, Champaign
Suzanne Linder, Champaign
Kerrith Livengood, Champaign
Natalie Lloyd, Champaign
Sarah Lubienski, Urbana
Edward Maclin, Urbana
Elizabeth Majerus, Urbana
Hector Mandel, Philo
Jack Maples, Urbana
Anna-Maria Marshall, Urbana
Shawna Martell, Champaign
Cara Maurizi, Urbana
Mike Marlow, Champaign
Pat Marlow, Champaign
Ann Marty, Monticello
Leah Marty, Monticello
Gayle Matteson, Hillsboro
Tara McClellan McAndrew, Springfield
Meaghan McGinnis, Champaign
Joan McGrath, Springfield
Michael McKelvey, Champaign
Anne McKusick, Champaign
Rosemary McLeese, Monticello
Annie McManus, Champaign
Joan Millis, Champaign
Cheyenne Miller, Urbana
Douglas Miller, Urbana
Caroline Montgomery, Springfield
Diana Mosher, Champaign
Elizabeth Murphy, Champaign
Mary Murphy, Champaign
Tom Murphy, Champaign
Susan Mynatt, Savoy
Margaret O’Brien, Urbana
Allison O’Dwyer, Urbana
Joseph Omo-Osagie, Urbana
Jim Onderdonk, Savoy
Diane Ore, Champaign
Sanjay Patel, Urbana
Alaina Pincus, Champaign
Chris Piper, Champaign
Michele Plante, Urbana
Kelly Pollard, Litchfield
Ann Prisland, Champaign
Ann Quackenbush, Champaign
Beverly Rauchfuss, Urbana
Maeve Reilly, Champaign
Ellen Ritter, Urbana
Jennifer Roth, Urbana
Sasha Rubel, Urbana
Leslie Rye, Champaign
Catherine Schneider, Urbana
Melissa Schoeplein, Urbana
Adam Scott, Champaign
Tom Seals, Urbana
Kathy Shannon, Champaign
Linda Sims, Champaign
Betsy Smith, Urbana
Wayne Smith, Champaign
Diane L. Stensland, Urbana
Gary J. Stensland, Urbana
Phil Strang, Urbana
Todd M. Sweet, Savoy
Stephanie Swift, Urbana
Henry Szujewski, Champaign
Lex Tate, Champaign
Jami Taylor, Champaign
Kathryn Tessin, Urbana
Trenna Thomas, Champaign
Mary Timmins, Savoy
John Toenjens, Tolono
Nathan Tolbert, Champaign
Renée Trilling, Champaign
Pamela Van Wyk, Champaign
Steve Vaughan, Urbana
Julie Webber, Normal
Ruth Wene, Urbana
Kirstin Wilcox, Urbana
Valerie Willetts, Urbana
Kate Winkler, Champaign
Linda Weiner, Champaign
David Wolfmeyer, Champaign

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