Since the November election, Congressman Jeff Denham’s indifference to voters in his own district has become increasingly evident. When his political party was out of power and all that could be done was obstruct, Denham quietly served as a dead weight anchor, accomplishing nothing and stopping others from moving forward to solve problems. Now that Congressman Denham has his preferred president, he’s ducked any leadership role on the issues and avoided constituents. The biggest controversy he’s engaged in since the election is his refusal to hold an in-person town hall meeting within his district.
Techniques of Avoidance
Teleconferences and mailers have replaced in-person town hall meetings. Since the election, he has sent one mailer asking for constituents’ opinions on what is important and held two “telephone town hall meetings.” Ironically, Mr. Denham discouraged citizen participation in both telephone meetings by the manner in which he set them up. He held the evening phone festivals without giving the public advance notice. Most people are busy with family activities in the evening hours. Caller ID identified the U.S. Government, not Jeff Denham as the caller. How many citizens did not answer their phones because they thought the caller was a scammer? Crooks are using the U.S. Government caller ID label to bilk citizens out of tens of millions of dollars. The Internal Revenue Service and Social Security Administration have repeatedly stated that they don’t make cold calls. Who would have expected a call from a their congressman under the U.S. Government caller ID? Why wasn’t Denham’s name on caller ID?
Controlling the Environment
Congressman Denham may have been shaken up by previous in-person town hall meetings with Tea Party participants. The local newspaper reported that Tea Party members screamed at him. Since the bad experience, Mr. Denham has sought out controlled environments to interact with constituents. The telephone conference limits speakers to one at a time. He can cut off a hostile caller, can answer questions without challenge to his statements, can deprive listeners of interaction between each other, and can start and end the meeting at will. He can also plant callers who will only make positive statements about his performance in office. During the last campaign, Congressman Denham substituted TV advertising and campaign mailers for personal appearances as much as possible. With lots of special interest money already, he sees no need for meeting ordinary constituents in public.
Real Reason to Avoid Town Hall
Thus far, President Trump’s policy decisions offer almost no benefits to the majority of Mr. Denham’s constituents. This may be the most important reason that Mr. Denham has avoided in-person town hall meetings—he has to be genuinely scared that those hurt by Trump’s decisions will scream much more loudly than the Tea Party did. In fact, he may be concerned about violence. There are rumors of out-of-town agitators. But between repeal of the Affordable Care Act, persecution of Muslims, and changes to the treatment of immigrants, Mr. Denham need not worry about angry out-of-towners. He would find plenty of his own constituents available to scream at any in-person town hall meeting. Perhaps he is wise to stay hidden.
mike birch says
Sheesh Bruce – pretty harsh! Let’s try to work together with Congressman Denham.
Bruce Frohman says
Sorry Mike. We can’t work with a Congressman who won’t meet with us. He was asked to obtain funding for the 132 Freeway five years ago. He has delivered nothing. I know of no significant accomplishment during his tenure. I have seen him deliver no benefit to his district. In sum, he has not done the job we elected him to do. I am sorry if my criticism seems harsh, but his performance is the worst of any Congressman that I have ever witnessed.
As of this writing, Mr. Denham fully supports repeal of the ACA and replacement with a plan that will throw tens of thousands of citizens within his district off of health care.
The excuse offered is that the plan is three part, with the worse part now. “It will get better. Trust us”. But there is no guarantee that part 2 and part 3 will ever be implemented.
The ACA was passed as one comprehensive plan. If the ACA is to be replaced, it should be replaced by another comprehensive plan.
Congressman Denham got $200 thousand in donations from his district in the last election, but over $1 Million from outside it. Just shy of 30% of total donations came from outside the entire STATE. While he didn’t have time for local Town Halls, he had plenty of time to sponsor a bill for the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians, in SONOMA County, many miles from his own district. Why did spend his taxpayer-funded time on that? Would the hundred$ of thousand$ he’s received from the Indian Gaming Industry in the past few years have anything to do with it? Make no mistake, Jeff Denham works hard at his job, for the people who employ him. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking you, the voter, are one of them.
Lynn Sarraille says
Dear Mr. Frohman, I am so pleased to have found a source of news of our valley. I’ll keep reading and greatly appreciate the wide scope of your articles. We have power if we are informed!