Boasts, Prevarications, and a Rattlesnake
On Tuesday August 7th ten members of Florida For Peace traveled to Kissimmee, FL to meet with Senator Bill Nelson at the public library. They represented over fifty groups from from all parts of Florida.
When the group arrived a staff member directed us to a conference room where the senator was waiting. A local news crew had a camera set up. After shaking hands and sitting down, Senator Nelson mentioned how he was having town meetings, three just yesterday in Jefferson, Pinellas and Pasco counties.
Lydia Vickers - CODEPINK Tallahassee, Co-Founder/Florida For Peace - began by stating she had traveled to all eight of his offices around the state and had meetings with his staff and thanked the Senator for meeting with us.
Senator Nelson began by thanking us for coming from all over the state to see him. He then talked about what he termed as townhall meetings, two of which he had the previous day in the Tampa Bay area. He said that 150 people had attended one meeting and 130 had attended the other one and that no one had brought up the issue of the Iraq War... MORE
FROM Hillary (Not Clinton)
Today I called Senator Nelson's offices in West Palm and in Davie to ask when and where Senator Nelson would be having Town Hall meetings in our area, and both told me that he would be having NO town hall meetings "this far south this time around." Josh in West Palm told me that their office covers SEVEN counties, and they "do not get him at all this time."
The folks in both offices were quite apologetic, so please be nice, but we need them to pass along to the Senator and his schedulers that he needs to listen to constituents in ALL areas of the state. Please call the offices and ask why we in South Florida don't rate town hall meetings...
Miami-Dade 2925 Salzedo Street Coral Gables, FL 33134
Phone: 305-536-5999 Telephone Fax: 305-536-5991
West Palm Beach 500 Australian Avenue Suite 125 West Palm Beach, Florida 33401
Phone: 561-514-0189 Fax: 561-514-4078
Broward 3416 South University Drive Davie, FL 33328
Phone: 954-693-4851 Fax: 954-693-4862
PLEASE CALL Senator Nelson's district office in Fort Myers. (239) 334-7760 and ask him to do a Town Hall meeting!
Last Tuesday Holley Rauen, of EPEC and CODEPINK, and I were part of a delegation of ten peace activists from around the state who met with Senator Bill Nelson to discuss Iraq. The meeting was arranged through CODEPINK's Florida for Peace Campaign, which is designed to focus on Senator Nelson and urge him to vote to end the war. Nelson voted for President Bush's war resolution in 2002, and has voted to fund the Iraq war every year since. You can imagine that the ten of us did what we could to sway the senator to get him to come out strongly against the war, to vote against funding the war and to vote to bring the troops home now.
Nelson responded that his position on Iraq was "evolving". He stunned us by saying he held a town hall meeting with 187 people in Pinellas County (St. Petersburg) the day before, and not one person asked him about Iraq. ??? Not one question about the issue that is upper most in people's minds? And the Tampa-St. Pete area has active peace and anti-war organizations. ??? This didn't seem right to us. Here is the answer from Deidra Lynch of Code Pink Orlando: ..... "Florida's Senator Bill Nelson's office is falsely reporting that he is touring the state doing 'Town Hall' meetings, yet his meetings are not being announced publicly until just hours before he arrives. Most of the meetings have been with city and county officials, not the public. These 'invitation--only' audiences with selected press are lulling Floridians into believing that he is concerned about public sentiment. His office has even refused to announce his travel schedule or place any requested alternative press members on the pre-notification list. This is open government? NO, this is public relations spin!" ..... Deidra is right.
It appears Senator Nelson is trying to evade and avoid his constituents who want to talk to him about Iraq. Apparently hebelieves that one hour with ten people is sufficient to discuss the number one issue of concern in the minds of his constituents across the state. WE NEED TO LET HIM KNOW THAT IS UNACCEPTABLE! I spoke to his staffer in the Fort Myers district office on Friday and asked about his Southwest Florida schedule. She said he would only be in Fort Myers briefly, he was not holding office hours or any town hall meetings. When I asked about 'supposed' Nelson town hall meetings actually being closed to the public, she said [paraphrasing] We want as many people as possible to come to the meetings. We give the public plenty of notice. WE CANNOT LET SENATOR NELSON COME INTO SOUTHWEST FLORIDA AND LEAVE WITHOUT SPEAKING TO HIS CONSTITUENTS ABOUT IRAQ. WE MUST INSIST THAT HE MEET WITH US ON THIS NUMBER ONE ISSUE OF IMPORTANCE.
PLEASE, on Monday call Senator Nelson's district office in Fort Myers. (239) 334-7760. Be polite, but firm. In your own words tell the staffer that you would like Senator Nelson to hold a town hall meeting for his constituents in Southwest Florida this month, or that you would like him to hold a special meeting to discuss the war in Iraq. Remind them this is the most important issue facing our country today. Americans are continuing to die in Iraq everyday. We want to discuss with him what he can do to end the war and restore peace to the MiddleEast. ETC. The staffer should ask your name and phone number so they can get backto you whenever Senator Nelson is going to hold a town hall meeting here. Tell them you hope it will be this month during his congressionalbreak.
IF WE CAN GET A FEW DOZEN CALLS INTO HIS FORT MYERS OFFICE (334-7760)THAT WILL SERVE NOTICE THAT HE CANNOT GO BACK TO WASHINGTON WITHOUT TALKING TO US ABOUT IRAQ. If we do nothing, nothing will happen. The Florida for Peace Campaign has opened the way for dialogue with Senator Nelson on Iraq. This was just a beginning. We must continue this process for peace here in Southwest Florida. If you've written, emailed and called before, you know how important it is. If you have not done so yet, please do it now. 334-7760
Environmental & Peace Education Center
Florida for Peace
by Deidra Lynch -- Orlando, FL August 10, 2007 -- Florida’s Senator Bill Nelson's office is falsely reporting that he is touring the state doing "Town Hall" meetings yet his meetings are not being announced publicly until just hours before he arrives and most of them have only been with city and county officials, not the public. These "invitation-only" audiences with selected press only are costing Florida taxpayers and lulling them into believing the he is concerned about public sentiment. His office has refused to even announce his travel schedule or place any requested alternative press members on the pre-notification list. This is open government? NO, this is a PR spin!
Senator Nelson, who is on vacation from Congress was pressured in June by leaders in the Peace communities across the state to hold true "Town Hall" meetings in August to meet with his constitutents about the 25 billion dollars of the Iraq debt that Florida now owns. Enough is enough, it’s time to come up with a plan to get us out of this endless war and the only way that's going to happen is to stop the funding. Florida For Peace members said they feel like Senator Nelson has been supporting the war sine the beginning and they want him to be one of 67 senators to override a presidential veto and bring the troops home now.
After occupying all eight of his offices with representatives of over 50 different peace organizations including Vets for Peace, Military Families Speak Out, Grannies for Peace and CODEPINK to name a few, Senator Nelson finally agreed to meet with Florida for Peace, "We were ecstatic about the opportunity to speak with him and discuss the costs of war, the needs of Floridians, the treatment of our returning veterans and the horrendous rate of female soldiers returning as victims of sexual and physical assault by their own comrades which is 20% to 2/3 depending on the source" said Lydia Vickers of Florida for Peace. We had hoped for true “Town Hall” meetings in August but apparently Senator Nelson doesn’t understand the true meaning of the term.
Originating in New England when everybody in town showed up to speak their piece and then vote on an issue, today's "Town Hall" meetings are now held so people can influence elected officials in their decision-making process, often in large conference centers where people from every part of the community attend to express their opinions. No point of view is excluded or censored which is the very “Essence of Democracy” in action.
When Governor Schwarzenegger made this mistake, he was called on the carpet in "Governor corrupts 'town hall' " by Dennis M. Clausen:
"In his classic essay, "Politics and the English Language," George Orwell warns us that such abuses of language involve more than just semantic differences. "If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought," Orwell writes. "A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation even among people who should and do know better."I know it's hurricane season and we face this with half of our disaster equipment still in Iraq with many of our national guard but Senator Nelson's corruption of the "Town Hall" meeting strikes deeply into the center of my heart and raises my radar even more. This week’s PR spin by Nelson gives me even more to worry about then what’s brewing over our very warm waters right now.
According to Orwell, politicians corrupt language, and then a corrupted language corrupts the culture ---- which in turn makes it easier for politicians to further corrupt the language. The vicious cycle feeds off itself like a hurricane gathering strength over warm tropical waters.
When we reverse the meanings of certain bedrock democratic institutions and traditions like town hall meetings, and these corruptions of language go unchallenged, we are well on our way to a total corruption of our political culture."
*Dennis M. Clausen is a professor of American literature at the University of San Diego .
Fri 8/10/07 TODAY IN FLORIDA
- coffee with holmes county elected officials
Thu 8/9/07 TODAY IN FLORIDA
8:30 a.m. EDT
- franklin county town hall
10:30 a.m. EDT
- gulf county town hall
12:00 p.m. EDT
- meeting with gulf county elected officials
1:30 p.m. CDT
- tour tyndall air force base (panama city)
4:30 p.m. CDT
- bay county town hall
Wed 8/8/07 TODAY IN FLORIDA
- lunch with jefferson county elected officials in monticello
- tallahassee media availability
- meet with wakulla county elected officials in crawfordville
Tue 8/7/07 TODAY IN FLORIDA
- meet with code pink and florida for peace representatives in kissimmee
- lunch with osceola county elected officials
- orlando office hours
Mon 8/6/07 TODAY IN FLORIDA
* 11:00 a.m. - pinellas county town hall meeting
* 12:00 p.m. - lunch with pinellas county elected officials
* 2:00 p.m. - pasco county town hall meeting
* 5:00 p.m. - meet with florida citrus growers