Daily Digest

Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s telephone town hall meeting on health care had 10,000 participants.

Congressman John Kline is emerging as a voice of Republican leadership.

Kline says hit the reset button on health care reform.

Congressman Keith Ellison and Congresswoman Betty McCollum spoke in favor of health care reform during a weekend rally.

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann will hold a town hall meeting on health care Thursday in Lake Elmo.

Congressman Tim Walz talked to farmers about milk prices.

Gay couples ask Minnesota’s senators for help changing immigration laws.

Minnesota arts organizations are lining up for federal economic stimulus money.

A Minnesota House Committee gets an update this week on the outdoors and cultural projects funded by a sales tax increase.

Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller says next month’s leadership summit could be helpful.

A Lego model of the Minnesota Capitol is on public display.

The state Department of Natural Resources is marking the 75th anniversary of its State Fair building.


The contest for governor could also determine some congressional races.


Gov. Tim Pawlenty urged Florida Republicans to seize on the political opportunity Democrats have given them with health care reform.

  • Bill Prendergast


    You announce the Bachmann event as “a town hall meeting”–which means that constituents get a question and answer session with Michele Bachmann.

    Are you sure that’s going to happen? Because the last time Polinaut and MPR billed a Bachmann event as a “town hall meeting”–that didn’t happen. It was instead what Bachmann calls a “forum”–no questions from constituents allowed/a one-way presentation by Bachmann and a guest speaker.

    If you click on the link you have put in the Bachmann item–you will see that what is being announced is one of these one way “forum” events, not a “town hall meeting.” In the past, Bachmann has not taken questions from constituents at such meetings.

    The fact that the local news media keeps billing Bachmann speeches as “town hall meetings” is becoming a story in and of itself–another story about local media letting politicians off the hook for not answering live questions from constituents. They can rely on your reporting to claim they held “town hall meetings” when in fact all they did was “present a speech.”

    This is becoming more common on both sides of the aisle, in the summer of the “angry town hall meeting.” The live town hall meeting may go the way of the dinosaur, as conservatives organize to shout down elected officials and fellow citizens.

    Bachmann was ducking unscreened questions from constituents *long before* this summer of incivility. She pioneered the use of “teletownhall meetings” which are not town hall meetings at all–but a format similar to talk radio, where critical questions can be cut out completely by partisan call screeners. Again: she adopted this method of dealing with critical constituents *years before* this summer of town hall meeting discontent.

    An event where constituents are not allowed to ask live, un-screened questions of their elected official–before a live audience–is not a “town hall meeting.” You shouldn’t report it that way unless you know that that is going to happen–that kind of reporting helps the politician to deceive the voters about what is happening, and what has happened in the past.

    Here’s a story idea for you. Why don’t you call up all of the MN delegation–not just Bachmann–and ask whether they will be taking live, unscreened questions from constituents, before a live audience at these events you are billing as “town hall meetings?”

  • Tim Pugmire

    You are correct. The event is billed as a public forum, not a town hall meeting. You’ve obviously spent a lot of time considering the distinction.

    I talked to Dave Dziok, press secretary for Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, earlier this afternoon. He assured me the congresswoman will be taking questions from the forum audience. Dziok also said those questions will not be screened.

  • Bill Prendergast

    Thanks, Tim.

    Just before I checked Polinaut, I got off the phone after speaking to Rachel Horn, Bachmann’s press person at her Woodbury office. She also told me that attendees would be given an opportunity to ask Bachmann questions at this upcoming forum.

    Thanks again for following up on this. I have spent a lot of time on this distinction, because in the past it has been the case that people showed up at Bachmann forum events and been told that she would not be taking their questions.

  • Bill Prendergast

    One more thing, Tim:

    According to the Bachmann Bulletin (an email I received today) Michele is holding another forum tomorrow (Tuesday) in St. Cloud. No word on whether she’ll be taking questions from constituents at this forum (Which I didn’t hear about until today, via an email from the Bachmann office. It wasn’t listed in of your press announcements of her upcoming public “town hall” events–or in any other press announcements I read about “town halls/forums”.)

    What Every Woman Should Know about Social Security

    With special guest, Cristina Powell, U.S. Social Security Administration

    Tuesday, August 25th

    Registration begins at 10:15 am

    Seminar runs 10:30 am to noon

    Great River Regional Library

    1300 West Saint Germain Street, St. Cloud

  • http://www.minnesotacentral.blospot.com Minnesota Central

    He assured me the congresswoman will be taking questions from the forum audience. Dziok also said those questions will not be screened.

    Mr. Prendergast raises some very valid points and should be recognized for doing so.

    Yet, I am trouble by the statement above. Stating that questions will be asked does not mean that it is an open forum. Unless people are allowed to go to a microphone unfretted and all questioners are allowed to speak, there still can be manipulation of the message.

    One of the advantages of TeleTownHall meetings is that they know your telephone number and can check if you have made a donation or on their “good” list … then those calls go to the top of the list. It’s manipulation. As is who gets into the “forum” … Bachmann got her nomination to be the Republican nominee by a “surge” of supporters to the caucus which then gave them delegates at the district conventions. The same thing could happen here if her supporters line up the earliest or are given entrance tickets.

    Would you be open for a story idea ?

    I suggest that it would be an interesting story to look at the film of the Walz Open Town Hall event — which he extended for I believe 40 minutes since not all the questioners had an opportunity to be heard in the allotted two hours — and the two Collin Peterson events. What is the breakdown between “Critical questions opposing reform”, “Critical questions supporting reform” and “Informational questions”. If the data reveals that these candidates took a lot of “opposing reform” questions then it can be called an Open Meeting. Then look at Bachmann’s event … now it is possible that her constituents might truly not want any of the proposals being discussed, yet if there are only minimal ones supporting it, then the merits of the “Forum” should be questioned … as it could be that not all the voices are being heard … possibly based on the desire not to confront the Bachmann loyalists … or from realizing that nothing can be said to change the Congresswoman’s mind.

  • http://www.minnesotacentral.blogspot.com Minnesota Central

    The late notice of the What Every Woman Should Know about Social Security meeting is not new.

    When Bachmann was in Israel it was reported that she would be holding this type of event … but the date, time and place had not been included in the article.

    I doubt that they waited until the last minute to request a meeting room at the Great River Regional Library … and I wonder what the Fire Marshall rates the maximum occupancy of the room … surely there must be a larger facility such as a school or civic center.

    Obviously, this is done to control the crowd and still allow the elected official to state they held meetings in the district.

    Down here in the First District, we have experienced a change in how meetings are announced. I would constantly call Gil Gutknecht’s office asking for dates and places for when he would be holding meetings in a 60 mile driving range … they would always say they would get back to me .. and sometimes the day before, or the day of, I would get an email that an event was taking place … too late to actually attend. Now with Tim Walz, the events are announced well in advance.

    Now, a question for the event : Will Congresswoman Bachmann discuss privatizing Social Security ? Better yet, will she comment on the resolution approved by the RNC this summer that advocates privatizing Medicare ?