published Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Chuck Fleischmann mostly faces backers in town halls

by Chris Carroll

When congressmen take to the town hall circuit, they often say they’ll talk with constituents from all walks of life to get a better idea of their district’s needs.

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann was no exception. In an Aug. 23 news release, the first-term Chattanooga Republican said he would meet residents from “all over the district” to “best represent them in Washington.”

But out of eight town hall meetings held in Hamilton County last week, seven were in dead-red Republican territory, according to the latest election data.

“It’s a very smooth political move,” Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Paul Smith said. “He has big weaknesses, so he’s playing to his strengths.”

Jordan Powell, Fleischmann’s press secretary, denied political gamesmanship.

“Chuck heard from people all across the spectrum of beliefs and viewpoints,” Powell said.

While Fleischmann’s 3rd Congressional District has chosen a Republican representative since 1994, local voting numbers paint a more complex picture. Last November, Democratic nominee John Wolfe won the most votes in 39 of 128 Hamilton County voting precincts (Wolfe earned 32 percent of votes districtwide, while Fleischmann netted 48 percent in the general election).

Fleischmann included only one of those precincts — downtown — in his series of town hall meetings last week. The downtown meeting was held at 4 p.m. at the EPB building.

Collegedale, East Brainerd, Hixson, Lookout Valley, Red Bank, Signal Mountain and Soddy-Daisy hosted the other seven meetings. In last November’s general election, Fleischmann received 52 percent of the votes in those areas, and Savas Kyriakidis, an independent who described himself as more conservative than most Republicans, picked up 22 percent, records show.

Powell said urban residents could visit the congressman’s downtown district office and added that the other seven town hall sites were favored since they’re outside the immediate downtown region and “closer to people’s homes.”

At the meetings, a few residents challenged Fleisch-mann’s voting record, but only a couple dozen people attended each town hall — a possible byproduct of scheduling all the meetings during normal business hours.

The congressman compensated for that with Thursday evening’s “tele town hall” that attracted 11,000 people, a figure that came from the telecommunications company hosting the call, according to Powell.

By holding 16 town hall meetings in one week, Fleischmann bucked a national trend. Lawmakers nationwide held just 500 constituent meetings this summer, according to the Associated Press, compared to about 650 in 2009 when President Barack Obama’s health care reform bill incited vehement arguments and denunciations at town halls across America.

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chrisbrooks said...

You don’t need to tell Chattanooga’s working families that times are desperate. The very facts of their lives are all the evidence they’ll ever need.

As our Chattanooga’s poor and working families continue to struggle with the fallout from the Great Recession and the most severe job loss in the United States since World War II, many of us are left wondering if there is any light at the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately, the news seems grim.

The lack of payroll employment combined with the number of jobs needed to keep up with the growth in the working age population has resulted in a shortfall of 11 million jobs and a market in which the number of unemployed far outstrips the number of available jobs by the thousands, hundreds of thousands and, in some industries, the millions - a situation that has resulted in the longest spells of unemployment on record.

The desperation of unemployment is no stranger here in our city. In Chattanooga alone, over 23,000 people are unemployed - which is more than the amount of people living in the entire city of East Ridge and more than twice the population of the city of Red Bank.

If the pain and sacrifices of the Great Recession were shared equally between working families and the rich, that would be one thing, but this hasn’t been the case. The people that caused the Great Recession, Corporate America, are currently posting the greatest profits in the history of the world. In fact, 88% of the economic recovery has gone to corporate profits while only 1% - one out every hundred dollars - has gone to the wages and salaries of the families who need it the most.

With the rising surge of profits for Corporate America, you would think that Working America would stand to benefit, too. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. The share of income going to the majority of households, the bottom 99.5%, has dropped dramatically since the 1970s, while income gains to the top 1% have rapidly accelerated. Today, the share of total income going to the top 1% of annual income earners is skyrocketing.

The evidence is in. These are desperate times for many people.We at Chattanooga Organized for Action believe that poor and working families deserve justice. Unfortunately, it seems that  our District Representative to the United States House of Representatives, Congressmen Chuck Fleischmann, doesn’t seem to know that we live in desperate times.

What’s worse, Chuck isn’t on the job for working families.

September 8, 2011 at 8:51 a.m.
chrisbrooks said...

While Chuck Fleischman claims to be on the job for Chattanooga’s unemployed and poor people, we know better. Representative Flesichmann held sixteen town hall meetings last week. He called for voters in his district to come and voice their concerns. Volunteers with Chattanooga Organized for Action answered that call and pressed their Congressman on his anti-job and anti-worker voting record.

Among those dedicated citizens were the elderly, members of the clergy, college students, and the unemployed who made painstaking efforts to take time out of their day to confront Fleischmann on his actions and their terrible consequences.

Instead of answering his constituents concerns, Fleischman had other plans. Over the Labor Day weekend Chuck wrote an email blast to people across the entire nation attacking his own constiutients in an effort to raise money for his re-election campaign. Instead of meeting the needs of Chattanooga’s unemployed and poor people, Chuck Fleischman is cynically using their pleas for help for his own personal gain. 

In his e-mail blast, Fleischman called the everyday, grassroots people who demanded accountability out of their Congressperson “hired guns”. What’s more, Fleischman claims that COA volunteers shouted and disrupted his town hall meetings, a claim that just isn’t true.

“I was, however, disappointed in the efforts of the Unions to disrupt these meetings. At almost every turn, hired guns working for Chattanooga Organized for Action and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) were there to shout and wave signs and act more like children than responsible adults who wanted to participate in a dialogue.” - Chuck Fleischmann

Chattanooga’s working families need their Congressman to be on the job. Unfortunately for them, Chuck Fleischmann is more concerned with calling his own constituents “childish” and “hired guns” than he is in helping working families.

While you don’t need to tell Chattanooga’s working families that we live in desperate times, it seems like someone should tell Representative Fleischmann. When working families and the unemployed let their Congressman know about their struggles, he turned their pleas for help into cynical attacks in an opportunistic attempt to bankroll his campaign for re-election.

Maybe Chucky doesn’t know that we live in desperate times. Maybe he just doesn’t care.

September 8, 2011 at 8:54 a.m.
ibshame said...

I don't blame Chuckie for trying to dodge any SERIOUS questions on his record or I should say lack of record on job growth in our area. It's pretty much a given,anyone with an R besides their name is going to win in Hamilton County. How else could anyone explain electing a guy who refused to attend even one debate? Until someone better comes along to launch a REAL challenge to Fleishmann it will continue to be that way. Chuckie is just doing what he got away with doing last Nov. Why change the game plan now? Fool me once, shame on you; Fool me twice, shame on me. Chuckie believes he can fool the people twice.

September 8, 2011 at 10:01 a.m.
librul said...

Censorship is such a black eye, even for this pitiful rag.

September 9, 2011 at 10:05 p.m.
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