Mt. Shasta area residents take concerns to LaMalfa Town Hall

Indivisible Shasta, submitted
Mount Shasta residents Pam Masterson and Lynda Hardy attended the Town Hall event April 19, 2017 with Congressman Doug LaMalfa, held at Sequoia Middle School in Redding. Submitted

Dozens of Siskiyou County residents lined up as early as 2:30 p.m. for the town hall meeting with Congressman Doug LaMalfa held Wednesday of last week at 5:30 p.m. at Sequoia Middle School in Redding.

Many arrived for the April 19 event with umbrellas and folding chairs, anticipating hours of waiting in the rain. When asked why he was attending, retired school superintendent Dick Holmes explained, “It is the only community-minded thing to do. I’m very concerned about the direction our country is heading in.”

Members of southern Siskiyou County’s Indivisible Shasta, part of the national Indivisible movement, passed out a “Town Hall Questions” sheet. Indivisible Shasta chair Joanne Steele said the questions included are of concern to all citizens nationally. They covered President Trump’s war powers authority, investigations into the Russian involvement in the presidential election, and Trump’s refusal to release his taxes.

“If given the opportunity to question Congressman LaMalfa,” noted Holmes, “I’m going to ask him to support Congressional action to force Trump to release his taxes before any kind of general tax reform is discussed.”

Well-known southern Siskiyou County doctor Jack Saunders was in line early, hoping to ask the Congressman about his position on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, which is expected to again come before Congress.

“Medicaid expansion has been a boon for small rural hospitals,” stated Saunders. “Without it, we’ll be at risk of losing the rural hospitals that serve everyone. I’ll be asking LaMalfa to pledge no rollback of Medicaid expansion.”

Members of the Siskiyou Progressives organization also arrived early, ready to question Congressman LaMalfa. Ann Powers of Dunsmuir expressed concerns about President Trump’s actions. “I want to see Congress rein in Trump,” she said.

Siskiyou Progressives member and organizer Marcie Rey passed out hundreds of green and red “Agree” and “No” signs for people to use to express their opinions, hoping to limit disruptive behavior during the town hall session.

Inside, two lines were formed, one for comments and the other for questions. Many expressed dismay that LaMalfa took two comments to every one question.

“We came to hear LaMalfa’s answers,” explained Lorissa Saunders of Mount Shasta. “The format meant that the congressman was off the hook two-thirds of the time. He only had to smile and nod rather than face the many tough questions that people were unable to ask.”

Healthcare was of major concern to many of the commenters and questioners. Participants expressed anxiety about losing services for drug rehabilitation, continuing support for people with pre-existing conditions and cuts to subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, if Congress moves forward with repeal and replace.

The crowd, though boisterous and noisy, listened carefully to questions and comments, and responded with claps, cheers and rousing applause. A small group sitting near the back that was not associated with any organized Siskiyou County group produced much of the random noise reported by other news outlets.

LaMalfa’s answer that drew the strongest crowd reaction was his views on climate change. He stated that he does not agree that humans are causing global climate change. The crowd’s responses of, “You disagree with science!” and “Pull your head out of the sand” drowned out his response.

The crowd was boisterous, but Congressman LaMalfa seemed pleased with the result, suggesting that there might be more town halls in the future.

Indivisible Shasta will stay in touch with Congressman LaMalfa’s office, and will report on plans for future town halls.

“We have offered to assist in setting up a town hall in Siskiyou County,” reported Indivisible member Nancy Van Susteren. “We’ll help him set one up any where, at any time.”

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