Long to constituents: No town-hall meetings

U.S. Rep. Billy Long recently sent a letter to some constituents, noting he’ll rely on teleconferences rather than in-person town-hall meetings to hear from local citizens.

Some local bloggers (The Turner Report and Bungalow Bill’s Conservative Wisdom) have raised questions about the move, saying it limits the democratic process.

The text of the letter (posted by both blogs):

Thank you for contacting me about holding town hall meetings. I sincerely appreciate the benefit of your views.

America has a long tradition of Constitutional representative government where the people select people, out from the body of the general public, to go to the halls of institutions from the Courthouse to the White House to act as stewards of our local and national affairs in accordance with rule of law. These citizen-officials exercise their limited powers at the consent and pleasure of the public. In order to be responsive to the public it is necessary that our elected officials to listen to the public regularly; own halls are one way in which some representatives attempt to listen to the public.

With the advent of modern technology, we have more options available to us than we did at the beginning of our nation when meetings required expensive, slow, and exhausting travel over non-existent roads using beasts of burden. I have begun to use modern technology to bring together large numbers of citizens to get their views and keep them informed of what is happening inside their government. At my last Tele-Townhall event more than 12,000 individuals in the Seventh District participated in an hour-long event. I hope to repeat this process regularly because I want to be your eyes and your ears in Washington so that you will know exactly what is going on behind the scenes.

However, I understand that even with all our technology, events like the Tele-Townhall system have drawbacks in terms of one on one interaction and lengthy dialogue that can only be done comfortably in close informal settings. I frequently return to the Seventh District whenever the schedule of the Congress permits me to do so and have set aside blocks of time for individual meetings with constituents such as you. If you would like to meet with me individually, please contact my District Office at (417) 889-1800 and schedule a meeting.

Hearing the views of all Missourians gives me the opportunity to better understand how important issues could impact the people of Missouri and the future interests of the nation. For additional information regarding current legislation and my representation of the Seventh District, I invite you to visit my website at http://www.long.house.gov.

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