Saturday, March 25, 2017

Why did U.S. Representative Norma Torres hold her town hall at the Merton E. Hill Auditorium, rather than the Gardiner Spring?

Do our politicians want to hear from us, or do they want to hide from us?

Over the last few months, there have been a number of instances in which Congresspeople have been accused of hiding from their political enemies. The general argument is that it is the duty of a Congressperson to listen to his or her constituents.

But is that standard universally applied?

On March 4, the Daily Bulletin ran an article about two upcoming Town Halls for Congresswoman Norma Torres.

The other town hall for residents of Torres’ district is scheduled for March 25.

Note the "residents" qualifier. We'll come back to that.

Torres herself announced the town hall a few days before the event.

The key part of the announcement is the following:

Please RSVP below. Space for the event is limited, and entry will be on a first come, first serve basis.

Of course space is going to be limited for something as important as a Congressional town hall, because many, many people are going to want to come to it. Therefore, the Torres office chose to hold the town hall in an auditorium - specifically, the Merton E. Hill Auditorium. We'll get back to this.

On the surface, the setup sound great. First come first serve, for people within the district. I even saw a bit of the event on Facebook Live.

But Facebook Live didn't show the whole story.

My suspicions were aroused when Matt Munson wrote this.

I think it should be illegal for elected officials to exclude people from their events in public facilities just because they are from the wrong political party if the event is paid for with tax money. Only way one should be legitimately excluded is (felony or they do not live in the district).

I'll grant that this video is in some respects over the top (why would a MAGA person call someone a Communist? Aren't Communists good this month?), but it does appear that some people were let into the event without having to go through all of the "give your address" stuff (see 8:40 into the video), while other people were examined much more closely. Apparently the ones who were examined more closely were judged by the color of their (red) caps.

As the MAGA people claimed, Norma Torres' folks were setting up an un-Constitutional "border" to keep people out of the event. Why do you even need tickets to get into a town hall?

Well, you can't let everybody in, Torres supporters will argue. The Merton E. Hill Auditorium can only hold so many people.

Gosh, it's too bad that there isn't a larger facility that could provide the capacity to host a town hall. But even if there were such a facility, I'm sure that it would be a long distance away.

Oh, like two buildings over.

The smaller red box in the northeast corner is the Merton E. Hill Auditorium, where the town hall was held.

The larger red box is the Gardiner Spring Auditorium, the main auditorium on the Chaffey High School campus. As you can see, it is much larger.

It should be noted that when the high school itself has events with a lot of attendees, they hold them at the Gardiner Spring. Choir concert? Theater production? They're held at the Gardiner Spring.

So it makes absolutely no sense for a U.S. Representative to hold a town hall at a facility that is so small that it's unsuitable for a high school theater production.

Unless, of course, you don't want people to come to the event.

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