Oregon state Senator Diane Rosenbaum held a joint town hall with retiring state Representative Carolyn Tomei on Wednesday, April 9th, 2014. From the get-go, the standard meeting control strategies were being employed. The town hall was scheduled to be an hour and a half, according to the Tomei newsletter. After starting 10 minutes late, the first 23 minutes featured the legislators fluffing about their “accomplishments” in the recent short legislative session. Then they started taking open questions from the floor.
But something interesting happened after the 5th question. The politicians attempted to switch gears; Rather than continue to take open questions from the floor, they decided to ask everyone to state the topic of their question before being called on. There were 9 people who were called on to say what their question was about, while a staffer in the back took a quick note. This was, of course, an attempt to “screen” questions.
The videographer was the 3rd one in this line, and when they called on him to say what his question was about, they proceeded to single him out and embarrass him in front of the whole crowd by asking who he was and if he was a constituent. They didn’t do this to anyone else. The videographer’s question dealt with unethical behavior from Floyd Prozanski, leading up to and during the SB1551 gun bill hearing during the last legislative session.
The first of these pre screened open questions was about a weed shop opening up in Sellwood. Then there was a question about nurses in schools, which they parlayed into someone else’s Cover Oregon issue. Then they went back to the videographer.
After letting the gal talk about the medical marijuana shop for 3:43, the legislators were trying to shush the videographer 2:30 in, most likely because they did not like the content of his questions and concerns. The videographer listed several unethical and shady things that were done by Floyd Prozanski and the Oregon State Police, and asked Rosenbaum and Tomei if they thought this type of behavior was ethical or if they would publicly condemn it.
They immediately tried to ignore the question by saying “That’s a great question, and we’ll get back to you”. Nuh uh. The videographer pressed them and the politicians began to ramble on with vague rhetoric. The videographer continued to press them for a direct answer. Rosenbaum then claimed that during the gun bill hearing there were several people who shouted and interrupted people who were giving testimony. Either Rosenbaum is outright lying, or she is ignorant on the matter, as no such thing happened during the testimony. Another lady in the audience chimed in to let the politicians know that she was there too, and that there was no interrupting of anyone’s testimony. As they continued to dodge the original question, they threatened to have the videographer kicked out.
Are the politicians in a race to see who is the most unethical? What started off as an issue about Floyd Prozanski’s ethics, we now have to call into question Rosenbaum and Tomei’s ethics. They single out and embarrass a constituent in front of the crowd, they try to deflect his question, they never answer his question, and they threaten to kick him out simply for wanting his question answered.
All the while, they never publicly condemn Prozanski’s shady tactics.
They took one more question from the floor, which was a softball question about the number of employees with the Department of Revenue, then they shut down the questions and started with their going away party for Tomei, where allowed speeches from secretary of state Kate Brown and former governor Barbara Roberts, who felt the need to talk about a story where she had nose surgery and Tomei had come over to help change her bandages.
All in all, out of an hour and a half town hall, they spent 35 minutes taking a total of 9 open questions, and left several people hanging who didn’t get to ask their question, due to the “celebration” for Tomei. Clearly, they wanted as little interaction with the public as possible and no more questions from the floor.
Hmm, wonder why.