Congressman Todd Tiahrt from Wichita held a health care town hall meeting in Overland Park, KS on Saturday. Later he spoke to a group of Second District Republicans in Topeka, who were meeting at the State Capitol:
I just got back from a health care town hall meeting. My ninth. It was in Johnson County. You see the Congressman in Johnson County refused to hold a town hall meeting on health care unless you get a ticket so he knew who was coming, and come to a his small auditorium so he can control the situation. I opened the door. We ran ads … [see the video below]
Congressman Dennis Moore, who represents Overland Park where Tiahrt held his town hall meeting, has refused to hold town hall meetings since Feb. when protests started against Moore’s vote for the huge debt and pork in the stimulus. Moore’s vote on “Cap and Trade”, which likely will result in higher taxes and energy costs if passed by the Senate, also motivated more citizens to protest Moore’s votes in Congress. Moore claims he is a fiscal “Blue Dog” Democrat but protesters are telling him his votes do not reflect that claim.
Both Congressman Todd Tiahrt and Congressman Jerry Moran are running for U.S. Senate and Overland Park, a Kansas City suburb, is considered a battleground area.
In June Congressman Moran held a general town hall meeting in Overland Park. Because they are opponents in the Aug. 2010 U.S. Senate primary in Kansas, Tiahrt does not mention Moran in the video above, even though both have held town hall meetings on health care.
On Saturday, both the Tiarht town hall meeting and protest rallies at Congressman Moore’s office were planned, as mentioned in a recent Meadowlark article. How did the Kansas City press cover these events? What information about these events can be found online?
Tiahrt’s Health Care Forum
With recent interest in health care town forums, Kansas City media covered Tiahrt’s town hall meeting more than Moran’s back in June. But, there is not a lot of information that can be found online:
- Fox 4 Kansas City has a brief article and a video of the event online: Tiarht Health Care Town Hall Meeting Turns Mildly Heated. A woman asked if she was the only one in the room for public health care. Congressman Todd Tiahrt showed a printed copy of the 1017-page bill with his many marks on it from reading it. Another woman asked about “choice” of doctor, surgery and therapy. Lori Patterson from Fox 4 said those opposed to the Republican led meeting were in the minority. Tiahrt is heard saying, “Let’s be respectful,” as some in the audience with opposing views talked at each other. One woman spoke of the “public option” as a way to promote “real competition” but the audience could be heard disagreeing with her. Tiahrt said the taxpayers in this area are opposed to government taking over health care, but most want to address needed reforms. A woman outside the meeting said “it is our human right to take care of each other, and that’s what we need to do.” A man in a wheelchair asked how only legal citizens would qualify for government health care. He only wanted to “take care of the American people.” Patterson ended her report saying the debate rages on with many questions and no simple answers.
- KCTV 5 Kansas City has an online article and video from before the event on Saturday from reporter Dave Johnson. He reported some tempers flared outside before the event. Johnson quoted Tiahrt that everyone was invited to share their thoughts and concerns about health care. Johnson asked Tiahrt if he expected outbursts at the meeting. Tiahrt said “Kansas are pretty respectful. I’ll try to set some ground rules to treat each other with respect.” He said people at previous town halls had been passionate and intense but disruptions had been minimal. See below for a later KCTV 5 report.
- KMBC 9 Kansas City. Like KCTV, Channel 9 reported about the meeting before the meeting was held. Reporter Justin Robinson gave a preview of the event, and explained that Tiahrt was in the area because he was running for Senate. Robinson asked what the common questions were that Tiahrt had heard at earlier meetings. Tiahrt said people were concerned about their own health care first, and cost and loss of freedom second. Tiahrt said some health care reform was needed. I failed to record any later report by Channel 9.
- KSHB 41 Kansas City reported more than 300 people attended the Tiahrt event and pictures showed a standing-room only crowd. A man asked if anyone else in the room wanted government out of their pockets and out of their health care. Many were seen applauding. Nancy Hanahan wore a sign “The idea of putting government in charge of something to ‘save money’ is INSANE” but told reporter Marissa Cleaver she supported changing the system: tort reform, choice, medical savings accounts. Tiahrt is opposed to HR 3200: “people want to choose their doctors and I’m afraid they’re not going to be able to with this legislation.” A sign was shown “Don’t burn down the house to remodel the basement!” A small group was outside with signs supporting a public option. Kari Blackwell said “it’s the most rational way to get all the millions of people who do not have health care on health care. If you don’t want to join the public option, then don’t join the public option.”
- Kansas City Star. I cannot find any reporting by the Kansas City Star about this event, but Barb Shelly from their editorial board used a “midwest voices” column to discuss “Todd Tiahrt’s foray into Johnson County.” Shelly’s estimated the crowd size was 500 people. She quoted a “fact check” source to say one of Tiahrt’s claims was “Barely True.” Shelly sees Tiahrt as “the most partisan of politicians” but apparently sees nothing partisan in what the Democratically-controlled Congress is doing.
There were several Tweets about the event, but I cannot find any YouTube videos from this event at this time. [There is YouTube video from a Tiahrt Town Hall Meeting on Aug 20 in Coffeyville.]
Rallies For and Against Government Health Care at Congressman Moore’s Office
In addition to the Tiahrt Townhall meeting about health care, there were rallies outside Dennis Moore’s office in Overland Park, both for Dennis Moore and government health care, and against Dennis Moore and government health care.
Two estimates of crowd size came from Twitter:
amer_orphan: Just back Ks.Dem.Rep.Dennis Moore’s office: about 50+ pro socialist healthcare supporters compared to 300+ anti HR3200–No Rep. Moore #tcot
M_Batz: Picture from Recess Rally in Overland Park KS – around 400-500 showed – but no Dennis Moore http://twitpic.com/exp5q
But Kansas Democratic Party new media specialist Mike Nellis gave contradictory information but did not give actual estimates:
MikeNellis: Sounds like the teabaggers were a bit outnumbered by pro-reform advocates at Rep. Moore’s office this morning! #ksdp #hc09
Another source gave me estimates of 350 for the crowd size of those opposing Moore and 175 for the crowd size of those supporting him.
M_Batz, who estimated 400-500 for the Recess Rally, gave permission for his twitpic picture to appear here (click on picture to see enlarged version):
Both sides produced YouTube videos to promote their message:
Two videos were produced in favor of Dennis More and his view of health care reform:
protest82209: Dennis Moore Rally for Health Care
protest82209: Rally in Support of Dennis Moore & Healthcare: “We Love Dennis”
Six videos were produced against Dennis Moore and government health care:
GrandmaPatriot: Recess Rally, Dennis Moore’s Office: The “Angry Mob”
cmb7869: Anti Dennis Moore Rally/Anti Health Care Rally
nicholbi: Moore 08 22 09 – segment 1
nicholbi: Moore 08 22 09 – segment 2
[This video starts and ends with those opposing government health care, but shows several supporters of government health care too.]
thebatz1 “Where’s Dennis Moore?” Recess Rally at Dennis Moore’s Overland Park, Kansas Office
thebatz1: “Kill the Bill” Recess Rally at Dennis Moore’s Overland Park, Kansas Office
One picture sent to me by E-mail from the event shows a “missing” Dennis Moore on a milk carton:
KCTV 5 was the only TV station known to cover the protest rallies near Congressman Moore’s office, but I cannot find that video online. KCTV reporter Dave Johnson commented Tiahrt’s town hall meeting was for the most part “free of hot tempers.” A woman who identified herself as neither Republican nor Democrat wore a sign that said “Give me some meat” about health care reform but she said “I’m tired of pork.”
Reporter Johnson said the debate continued just a few miles away outside Congressman Moore’s office. In the video Johnson showed supporters of Dennis Moore on the north side of the street, and opponents of Dennis Moore on the south side of the street near Moore’s office. He gave no crowd estimates.
The KCTV 5 video showed some signs from both sides of the debate. A woman appeared on camera saying she wanted Dennis Moore to hold a town hall meeting on health care. Another woman said “we all voted for Barack Obama and this is what we wanted to happen.”
Johnson concluded his report quoting Tiahrt that health care reform should not be rushed.
Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill will host a health care town all meeting in Kansas City, Missouri later today.
- Health Care Debate Doubleheader in Overland Park Tomorrow, Kansas Meadowlark, Aug 21, 2009.
- Jerry Moran’s Town Hall Meeting in Johnson County, Kansas Meadowlark, June 6, 2009.