Life in Bay Center on Willapa Bay

Living in a maritime fishing village in Southwest Washington state on Willapa Bay

Archive for the ‘U.S. Representative Brian Baird’ Category

Congressman Brian Baird’s Successfully Civil Town Hall Meeting in Ilwaco – Health Care Reform

Posted by pallix on September 2, 2009

Kudos to the Congressman and his staff for hosting a successfully civil discourse Town Hall meeting last night in Ilwaco, in Pacific County, WA. And of course, the primary range of questions had to do with Health Care/Insurance Reform.  Death threats to the Congressman aside, he still managed to conduct his usual in-person Town Hall meetings in several Southwest Washington counties.

What was the process? 

I can’t speak to the in person Town Hall meetings he held in other counties except for what I’ve read in media (some of which has been reported at Washblog).  I can speak to the TH we attended in Ilwaco last night.  Also Baird has added telephone Town Hall meetings as well to his usual array of in-person TH meetings in the SW counties.  

The Ilwaco TH meeting was orderly and permitted the many to hear both the questions and Baird’s responses without interruption or interference.  Which is precisely what I wanted – information and not the drama of interference that has been the hallmark of many other TH meetings across the nation.

We arrived at the high school, and yes, there was a tiny contingent of less than impressive ‘protesters’ with their home-made cardboard signs.  They kept their behavior under control and did not molest the people as they were coming into the auditorium.   We signed in, and we were asked if we wanted to ask a question of the Congressman; if so, we were given a number (kind of like at an auction). 

We were seated and it was explained by the moderator that corresponding numbers were in a twirl cage (bingo comes to mind), and numbers would be picked at random.  Those persons who held those numbers would come forward to be seated in the first row of seats.  Each would then get 3 minutes of time at the microphone to state their concerns, ask their questions and the Congressman would have 3 minutes of time to respond.

Questions came from both parties.  I think people are sophisticated enough to filter out what is rhetoric and focus in on the actual question, when there is a question and not just a 3 minute pulpit for speech making.  The Congressman’s opportunity to respond, or better said, give the facts as he knows them, provided a format that helped enormously to dispel some of the rhetorical myths, giving the auditorium of people an opportunity to listen to and hear the information.

In Congressman Baird’s Town Halls that we have attended in the past, even when my own emotions have been highly charged, (ie, his vote in 2007 for the Surge in Iraq where our son-in-law was deployed), he has been respectful to all, including us, in responding to concerns and questions.  Last night’s Town Hall was no exception.  He was respectful, courteous, and responsive to every question, even the few who formulated their questions in what seemed designed to bait him.  He actually was skillful in handling those baiting type questions, both responding and further elaborating on concerns and situations that led to the current Health Care Reform issue.

It was a 2 hour TH meeting, so obviously, there was not time for everyone who might have wanted to ask a question to have a turn at the microphone.  But with the quality of the kinds of questions asked, and Baird’s informative responses, I think probably most of the concerns people had in their minds received air time in a very Civil dialogue.

Earlier in August, I was also on one of Baird’s telephone TH meetings (Pacific County), and got to ask my question of him; specifically what concerns about the Health Care Reform Bill did he have as he has said he is unsure how he will vote when it comes up for vote in Congress.  Frankly, I would like to see him vote for the Bill with all of it’s warts and flaws rather than to vote against it.  I sense that voting for the Bill starts the ball rolling, probably with a lot of tweaks needed in years to come.  Whereas to vote against it because of it’s imperfections does little to alter or change the current deeply flawed Health Care ‘system’. 

As Baird explained he has heard from doctors, it is not really a system so much as an evolution that has evolved into a complex hodge podge of health care that some get and some don’t.

On a personal note, I do have to be a bit amused at one of the questions last night.  The Chair of the Republican Party in our 3rd Congressional District was among one of those whose number was called, giving her time at the microphone.  She has had time at earlier Town Hall meeting in another county to state her concerns to  the Congressman and she did make an offer of her home as a venue for the Congressman to hold an in- person Town Hall, guaranteeing him an assurance of safety she would personally provide.  He did thank her for and it did seem he accepted the offer; I’m not sure he intended to hold a Town Hall in her home, nor would that be logical.  He did hold the in person Town Hall in Ilwaco, at the high school – a more appropriate venue and approximately 2 miles from her home.  She has not been deprived of opportunity of access to the Congressman, nor of opportunity to state her concerns or questions. 

She has had a beef with what she terms his rejection of her offer, labeling it as evidence of an unwillingness on the part of Congressman Baird to hold in-person Town Hall meetings.  She has both blogged it and arranged for a newspaper article in The Columbian, of her account of his rejection of her offer.  In my opinion, it goes to show the ‘slant’  of her perspective in presenting the situation as a rejection, as an unwillingness on Baird’s part to conduct in person Town Hall meetings. And it is a perspective she is pleased to broadcast in the media and telegraph to her party. It was, in fact, Baird offering a more appropriate venue with a wider opportunity, for the larger populace in the area to participate in an in person Town Hall. Probably safer for everyone also, with the County Sheriff there, and the presence of uniformed officers stationed along the side corridors.   

Her concern as she stated it in the question last night to Congressman Baird were some remarks he had made in earlier years; favoring universal health care and duration terms of office. Baird corrected the perception she had of his earlier remarks on terms of office.  She spoke again indicating she was in favor of all people having access to health care, and when Baird asked if she was in favor of universal health care, she said no, she was not, and promptly sat down.  There was a bit of a buzz talk after that exchange amongst the people in the auditorium. 

Highlighting this more to illustrate, in my opinion, a tactic of intent on the part of the Republican party in trying to direct attention away from the Health Care Reform issue, while offering little of substantive value as an alternative method to adjust the disparities in health care as we know it today.  Congressman Baird is not the issue, nor is the next election.  Health Care Reform is the issue on many people’s mind and they seem to want information, not politicking.

My thanks to Brian Baird for the opportunity to learn what I felt I wanted and needed to learn about Health Care Reform – less the noise of disruptive interference.  Good job in putting together the Ilwaco Town Hall meeting. 

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Posted in 3rd Congressional District, Health Care Reform, Pacific County, Town Hall Meeting, U.S. Representative Brian Baird | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Lewis and Clark National Heritage Area moves forward…what about Chinook Tribe recognition?

Posted by pallix on April 11, 2009

It’s been on my radar to keep an eye out for the progress being made to have this region declared a National Heritage Area.  My interest is more along the lines of what seems a corresponding and relevant action to recognize the Chinook Tribe as a declared Tribe.  To my way of thinking, the naming of  Lewis and Clark National Heritage area,  requires a recognition of the Chinook people as a federally recognized tribe. 

 

Without the friendship and aid of the Chinook people, Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery expedition may well have not survived once they arrived in this area – the mouth of Columbia River where it flows into the Pacific Ocean.  Legislation has been introduced to give recognition to the Chinook Tribe.  That legislation has not moved along; while simultaneously legislation to declared this area a Lewis and Clark National Heritage area seems to be moving along.  To my way of thinking, these are hand in glove actions, complementing each other, and it seems to me it would be hypocritical to have one without the other.

Link to article at Daily Astorian;   excerpt

Having just returned from a trip overseas, David Szymanski, superintendent at Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, is canvassing the North Coast to update communities on the proposed National Heritage Area.

He presented to the Clatsop County Board of Commissioners an update on the proposed Columbia Pacific National Heritage Area Wednesday in the Judge Guy Boyington Building. Heritage areas define a region where communities can use federal funds to benefit local economies.

"This project will not go forward until we’ve heard from local governments and the public," Szymanski said.

The Columbia Pacific heritage area would incorporate portions of Clatsop County and Pacific and Wahkiakum counties in Washington.

"People are probably surprised to learn that the National Park Service often has skepticism about National Heritage Areas," Szymanski said. "Some have not been well thought out."

Szymanski said the most important requirement for a heritage area is finding the right coordinating entity. A lot of heritage areas focus on tourism, rather than broader economic development.

ShoreBank Enterprise Cascadia was recently selected for the coordinating entity for this heritage area, in large part because the nonprofit organization focuses on investment and capital building.

Posted in 19th Legislative District, 3rd Congressional District, Chinook Nation, Lewis and Clark National Heritage, Native Americans, Neighboring communities, neighbors, Pacific County, Pacific ocean, recreation, U.S. Representative Brian Baird, wetlands, willapa, willapa bay, Willapa National Wildlife Refuge | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Chinook Nation Restoration Act – H.R. 6689

Posted by pallix on November 19, 2008

Chinook Nation Restoration Act – H.R. 6689 – Extends federal recognition to the Chinook Indian Nation. Makes the Chinook Tribe and its members eligible for all services and benefits provided by the government to federally recognized tribes regardless of the existence of a reservation or the location of residence of any member on or near any Indian reservation. Provides that, for purposes of the delivery of federal services to enrolled members, the Tribe’s service area shall consist of specified counties in Washington and Oregon.

Requires the Tribe to: (1) submit to the Secretary of the Interior a membership roll; and (2) conduct, by secret ballot, an election to adopt a constitution and bylaws. Provides that if the Tribe transfers all rights to land to the Secretary, the Secretary shall take such land in trust for the Tribe’s benefit, subject to specified restrictions. Directs the Secretary to: (1) negotiate with the tribal governing body regarding establishing a reservation; (2) develop a plan for doing so.

Requires the Secretary to: (1) notify and consult with all appropriate state officials and owners of land adjacent to those considered for the proposed reservation; and (2) provide complete information on the proposed plan to such officials. Provides for the plan’s submission to Congress upon approval by the tribal governing body.

Requires any real property transferred by the Tribe or any member to the Secretary to be held in the name of the United States for the Tribe’s benefit. Prohibits the exercise of eminent domain for purposes of acquiring lands for the Tribe’s benefit.

Latest Major Action: 7/31/2008: Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources.

Links: 

 Open Congress

The Library of Congress

Baird confident of support for Chinook recognition  – article at The Daily Astorian

It is time to recognize the Chinook Nation – indianz.com – has several links to history of getting tribe federally recognized.

Recognizing the Chinook Nation  Long Standing Injustice about to be Set Right  is explained at Congressman Brian Baird website.

Official website of the Chinook Nation

Posted in Bay Center, Chinook Nation, Native Americans, U.S. Representative Brian Baird | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Congressman Brian Baird Town Hall Meeting, South Bend, WA, July 1, 2008

Posted by pallix on July 3, 2008

On Monday, June 30, I received an email from Congressman Baird’s office advising he was holding a Town Hall meeting in South Bend, on July 1 (the next day).  He holds Town Hall meetings annually in towns and cities across his district. I wanted to attend, for a couple of reasons. 

Some background:  Last summer, Congressman Brian Baird held a Town Hall Meeting in Raymond, and this was at the time that Congressman Brian Baird who had voted against the invasion into Iraq, decided that he wanted to come out approving President Bush’s ‘Surge’ of U.S. troops in Iraq.  Congressman Baird had made a trip to Iraq last year, to assess the situation of war in Iraq and had conversation with General Petreaus, coming home to believe in the value of proceeding with a Surge in U.S. troops deployed to Iraq.  The deaths of U.S. troops was at an increasing frequency, and violence was rampant in Iraq, IED’s and suicide bombings – killing civilians, Iraqi police and soldiers, and U.S. troops.   Last year, Congressman Baird made national news in his support for President Bush’s call for a ‘Surge’ (of troops) in Iraq. 

My husband and I, being a military family with 2 returning Iraq veterans (both from Washington state),  attended that Town Hall meeting in Raymond, WA last summer primarily to challenge the Congressman on his support of the ‘Surge’ and it was a contentious exchange with the Congressman.  Please refer to the article ‘Baird faces his constituents in Raymond’ in Daily World last September.   

The article features photo of my husband, Arthur Ruger, and the pointed question he put to  Congressman Baird man to man -“was the war worth our son’s blood.”, to which the Congressman responded yes, he believed it was.  That was a slap in the face to us, as we do not believe, have never believed this war was worth any son or daughter’s blood.  It was important to me then, last night, a year later at the Town Hall Meeting in South Bend, for me to connect to the Congressman based on our exchange from last year.  That same year, in December 2007 our son-in-law deployed to Iraq in his second 15 month stop-loss, extended deployment, where he is now.

I wanted very much to attend Congressman Baird’s Town Hall meeting last night, even though I seem to have run out of things to say about the wrongness of the Iraq war. We attended, and after Congressman Baird gave his presentations, he opened it to audience questions. I listened through all of the questions, intending to ask my two questions at the end of the proceedings.

Issues discussed during course of the meeting:

Gas Prices; Astonishingly – well to us anyway – when the question of gas prices came up, as we knew it would, and someone asked about off shore oil drilling and leased land not being used for oil drilling, Brian Baird started to discuss it and then asked the audience for a show of hands as to who was in favor of off-shore oil drilling. And almost all the hands went up. Then Brian Baird asked who was not in favor, with my husband, mine and probably 3-4 other hands going up.

I was stunned. And in somewhat confused language pointed out peak oil and global warming and then gave up, saying never mind. I could not believe what I had just witnesssed. An expectation that enough information is out there now about the growing oil crisis, that I had thought more would be appreciative of our need to change our lifestyle to become less oil dependent and the urgency in finding alternative energy lifestyles.

Acidic Ocean; Congressman Baird acknowledged Al Gore’s documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, and then explained to the audience about acidic ocean, disappearing coral reefs, and how as a coastal community we should be concerned about our oceans. Then he answered other questions, and while I was listening attentively, I had already recognized that once again, our views on oil dependency (my husband and mine) were indeed the minority opinions amongst the community we live in. We’ve encountered this before along the course of our speaking out against the Iraq war as military family with loved ones deployed in Iraq.

Funding Iraq War vs Domestic Needs; Later when a young reporter from the Aberdeen Daily World newspaper tossed out a comment about trading off the $$ being spent in Iraq against using for homeland needs, Congressman Baird explained that we were not using current funds, rather creating a deficit that would be paid in our children and grandchildren’s time. As Congressman Baird explained it that were we to withdraw the troops now (which he then went on to explain was a time consuming process and needed to be done responsibly so as not to leave troops exposed and at-risk), there would still be no funds available to be used for domestic concerns. Rather that it would reduce somewhat the future deficit which would be paid for by our children and grandchildren.

Copper Roof Replacement at Pacific County Courthouse; would cost considerably more than was originally estimated with rising costs of copper.  Inquiry if the Congressman could get the county some $$ help to replace the copper roof.  It being a historic building, must comply with regulations pertinent to historic buildings.  (Read more about it at this Daily World article, ‘Costs of New Roof Skyrockets’)
The discussions flowed covering various issues:
Historic Post Office in Raymond lacking accessibility for disabled; seems because the Raymond Post Office is considered a historic building, and it lacks accessibility for disabled, changes cannot be made to the building to be more facilitative without regard to the regulations governing historic buildings.  At this time, disabled citizens (wheelchair bound, or unable to manage the stairs) are unable to make access to the Post Office.   (Read more about this at Daily World article, ‘Baird Hears of Acces Woes’)

Illegal Immigration:  Someone asked the Congressman about illegal immigrants, and he responded by breaking it out into three categories;  a) illegal immigrants who are hardened criminals should be sent back to countries of origins, but how to do that – ask the country ‘hey will you take back so and so who is a hardened criminal?’;  b) illegal immigrants who are hired by employers knowingly as illegal and paid under the table should not be permitted to remain; and c) illegal immigrants who are hired by employers who have verified social security number and background and taxes are being paid out of wages – those illegal immigrants have likely been here number of years, working all of those years and some provision should be provided that permits them to remain on worker permit.  Congressman cited responsive employers like Coast Seafood who work to comply with current laws and have large number of immigrants employed.

Columbia-Pacific National Heritage Area Study:  Included was a concern expressed by owner of Rose Ranch regarding our area (Willapa region) becoming a National Heritage region. She identified probably 10 coalitions that have concerns should we become designated a National Heritage site. I have tried to blog some about this at Washblog, but am too underinformed to articulate the concerns well.
As the meeting wrapped up, I was at last able to ask my two questions;

1) Senator Cantwell obtaining $2 million towards Doppler Radar for SW Washington due to the December 07 storm (read more here) , and what was his position on that? He said fully in support. Then I pointed out that while the $2 million was great it was going to take a lot more $$ to build the Doppler, and where would that money come from, would he work towards that end. He said something about $2 million being a big drop, and likely the rest of the money might have to come from the State.

2) Last year, in your Town Hall, we talked with you about our son in Iraq because you had just gone national in your approval of the Surge, and I guess I wanted to have you inquire how he is doing. Before I could finish the sentence though, it seemed that Congressman Baird did remember and did ask how our son was doing. Which left me with a weak follow up, that really that was all I wanted was for him to inquire after our son’s well being. Then the Congressman went on to explain why he took the position that he did last year on the Surge and how it seemed to be working, violence was down. I actually did find myself saying that conditions did seem to be more favorable to our son’s (actually it is son-in-law) deployment this time, or at least I’m relieved that if he has to be there, it isn’t the year before, and that I hope he gets through this deployment and safely home.

After the meeting concluded, Congressman Baird, did come over to where I was sitting, and had some private words with me. He wanted me to know that he cares, that what I was doing as a mother was natural and he was glad that I was doing what I was doing; that what my son was doing was patriotic and what I was doing was patriotic; that when he is in DC the  groups that hold vigils in DC showing the 4,000 killed, he looks at each and every face and feels it deeply.

Congressman Brian Baird talking to Lietta, Town Hall Meeting in South Bend, July 1, 2008Congressman Brian Baird talking with Lietta Ruger, Town Hall Meeting, South Bend, July 1, 2008

(photo courtesy of Steven Friederich of the Daily World) 


For the most part the words he chose to use with me were agreeable, but I didn’t like the words about patriotic – and I wasn’t altogether sure he understood that I am among those military families opposed to the war in Iraq and have been speaking out against the war in Iraq.  Personally, I wouldn’t say the ‘Surge’ (of troops) in Iraq is working, that would really be beyond my ability to discern.  But it does seem the violence is down, and whatever strategies are being used, our son-in-law who is deployed in Iraq now in his second ‘stop-loss’, extended 15 month deployment seems to be less at risk than had he been deployed in Iraq a year earlier.

As Congressman Baird was shaking my hand and done with his part of the conversation, and before I could correct any misperceptions, others were coming around, and reaching out to me, whereby I offered my smiles of appreciation. Right about then someone else said to us, wait, wait, I didn’t get the picture, and then snap went the camera. I remember saying is this a photo op and we shouldn’t be smiling then. It was a confusing moment, and then there were 2 reporters wanting me to spell my name, wanting my son (son-in-law, I corrected) name which I never give, and the moment to correct any misperceptions that the Congressman might have about my position had passed.

More details of this Town Hall Meeting reported in the Aberdeen Daily World articles here and here.

Posted in climate warming, coastal storm 2007, December 2007 Storm, Doppler Radar, Pacific County, Pacific County Commissioner, Pacific ocean, South Bend, spartina, storm 2007, Town Hall Meeting, U.S. Representative Brian Baird, willapa, willapa bay | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »