Roberts Rules of Order Assassinated by Senator

A town hall meeting should be fluid, animated and passionate, not canned, sterile and scripted.

I saw a notice about U.S. Senator Murphy's “town hall” in the Manchester JI and noticed the quotation marks around "town hall".  (lot of noticing, here)  Well, the quotation marks are appropriate, because this was anything but a town hall meeting; it was more like a lecture. 

Questions had to be written down ahead of time and were screened by an aid.  The aid read a question and Sen. Murphy followed by rambling on for several minutes, never directly answering the question, nor allowing any followup.  The name of the questioner was never given, so we don't even know for certain if the questions actually came from people at the meeting!

After about 45 min. of this, someone got up and objected to the format, pointing out that this was more like a lecture than a town hall meeting; that, there was no back and forth, no follow up, etc.

At this point, the audience became animated and vocal, joining in the objection.  Then, Mayor Leo Diana got up and lectured those in attendance, shaking his finger and scolding them for having the audacity to speak their minds! 

This caused folks to become even more animated and vocal, (finally adding some interest to the otherwise dull, boring event), as the mayor was treating them like children!   He then threatened to have people removed by police, who, mysteriously showed up about ten minutes later. Talk about contempt for the People; how dare they have the audacity to speak out!

Murphy said, "I'm not trying to shut down debate, here, . . . the reasons why we had this forum . . . there are a lot of other things people want to talk about in an open forum like this . . ." THIS WAS NOT AN OPEN FORUM, AT ALL. IT WAS A LECTURE BASED ON SCREENED QUESTIONS SELECTED BY HIS AID.

My idea of a town hall meeting is people standing up, looking the senator in the eye, asking their questions and getting a straight answer back while being looked in the eye, along with input, interjection from others in attendance, and follow up.

If Mayor Diana can't take the political heat, he should stay out of the political kitchen.  And Senator Murphy should study history to learn what a town hall meeting is really all about or start billing these events more honestly.  A town hall meeting should be fluid, dynamic, animated and passionate, not canned, sterile and scripted.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Palin Smith February 27, 2013 at 11:01 PM
Hi Jerry....The NRA has nothing to do with the gun rights advocates who attended this town hall or any other 2nd Amendment rally in the state. Many of my friends are angry that the NRA has done absolutely nothing to help in Connecticut. I neither own a gun nor am I a member of the NRA. I am one of the pioneers of the CT Tea Party. Perhaps YOU might label me as a "tea bagger". I believe I'm serving the best interests of my country by documenting the history of what's going on. Letting people see the FULL picture, rather than those snippets on the news. Those news cartels colluded with the politicians in the 1960s to fabricate a threat in SE Asia that sent 55,000 young men to an early grave. It took 15 years to finally wake those fine young men. It's unfortunate you had to serve in an unjust and unnecessary war in Asia. The same breed of politicians who sent you to foreign soil to kill for America are still in charge. Their names have changed, but whether they're Republicans or Democrats they are all the same. It's also unfortunate that you've been a victim of an insidious plot to transform you into a subservient drone. Jerry, there is no freedom without the 2nd Amendment. The founders knew that and so do we.
Palin Smith February 27, 2013 at 11:04 PM
Dear Jerry...Epilogue...... I'm sorry you had to attend a wake. You probably lost a friend, colleague or a family member, But let me tell you from the bottom of MY heart......we will continue to do what is needed so that some day in the future I will not be forced to attend a wake for the late great USA. I hope you understand. And it is with much respect that I applaud your service to OUR nation.
Jeffrey Clark February 28, 2013 at 12:24 AM
A town hall meeting should be "animated and passionate"? What is your motive in pushing for an animated and passionate town hall? Are you trying to achieve what happened in the summer of 2009 so that you can shout down your member of Congress and have it endlessly played on FOX News? If that's your aim, is it because the member of Congress is a Democrat and you don't align with his views? I have to wonder if you would want an equally animated and passionate town hall if the member of Congress was a Republican or was more closely aligned with your views. Would it be okay with you if he was then shouted down and talked over? A town hall of the nature you're seeking breeds chaos, causing no one's voices to be heard. A town hall should be civil and respectful, with no cross-talk and shouting. If you want to ask followup questions or debate your member of Congress, call his office. Don't do it in a public setting where a gang-style mob can shout down the Congressman.
Checker1 February 28, 2013 at 12:49 AM
There are other videos of this entire event on Youtube. Mr. Murphy stayed after the event and answered the questions that were posed to him, and even while doing that, some of the same people shown interrupting him and taunting him during the first video would still not let him finish his answers. That level of discourtesy is uncalled for. It seemed in the video that there were also people telling the people who kept trying to shout down Mr. Murphy to sit down. I appreciate the mayor's attempt to intervene and try to restore order to this event. Collectively, we ought to be able to get our points across without shouting people down, and without causing a disruption. Elected officials are going to stop doing these type of events at all if people shout them at them. As a society, we are better than a shout down, or we should be anyway. The Senator stayed late and answered questions for quite some time.
Palin Smith February 28, 2013 at 12:56 AM
Jeffrey Clark...I've heard the phrase, "ignorance is bliss". You must live a very tranquil life. Elizabeth Esty (D) CD 5 held a public town hall meeting exactly one week ago tonight. Even with double the crowd, she was not afraid of addressing her constituents on the one over-riding issue of the day - gun control. There was no chaos. Don't make excuses for other elected officials, Mr. Clark. People who attended Esty's event in Waterbury went away feeling greater respect for her than they felt for Murphy last Sunday. And do you know why I know that? I was there. I was there for people like you. You gotta show respect to earn respect. Here's the videos from one week ago. Enjoy. http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5wsVsNCEygqLkYonwL7VBXWp8fdgIz_8
Palin Smith February 28, 2013 at 01:04 AM
Senator Murphy is not a sissy. He can handle any heat. The discourtesy you saw was serious discussion to others. As a nation we've been too civil and too politically correct for too long. That's why the country is in such bad shape. The people who were dozing are now awakening. Isn't it grand to see so much enthusiastic participation in democracy? In the 1800s politics was a blood sport. It's subdued now. Looks like we're headed back to some sanity.
Richard Collette February 28, 2013 at 04:35 AM
William Boylan is on point with this. The whole conversation would have gone much smoother if they simply allowed the audience to walk up to the mike, in line and ask their questions. Nobody would have had to raise their voice if Senator Murphy did not create the atmosphere for confrontation. No favoritism, no wondering what the source is. And if the majority of the people there wanted to talk gun control, So What! Majority rules. Just because you don't have the confidence to speak up and be heard and and take responsibility for what you are saying, doesn't mean the rest of us have to be so sheepish. Calling the majority of us who were shut out of the conversation "nuts" is ridiculous. No one was "low brow". There was no name calling, there was no shoving. We were holding the Senator to account. The people voiced their opinion or asked questions regarding gun control were not talking about conspiracy theories. We were discussing facts. You're surely not going to believe it but I had met none of these people before the meeting and I didn't know a whole lot about the second amendment before January of this year. Under Palin Smiths youtube account you can find video of the entire meeting, just chunked up into each question because youtube won't allow the whole thing to be posted. Also check out the Etsy town hall there, which was run in a far better manner.
Ajent Oranje February 28, 2013 at 01:07 PM
@Keffrey Clark - really? Shouting down your member of Congress?? LOL Reading comprehension eludes you. Do you work for Murphy? He rambled on for 45 minutes unopposed. Its supposed to be a Town Hall. Murphy was the one "shouting down" his constituents. A town hall of a DIALOGUE breeds chaos?? No, it doesnt. The ones that are MONOLOGUES breed chaos. Please educate yourself.
Ajent Oranje February 28, 2013 at 01:14 PM
@Jerry O'Connor - With all due respect...your analogy doesnt hold water. "However I do not believe that the 2nd Amendment supersedes the rest of the U.S. Constitution nor that it mandates that the rights it guarantees must be unlimited and unregulated any more than the 1st Amendment protects someone making a false scream of "Fire!" in a crowded theater." Using your own logic, we already have the same laws for the 2nd Amendment. Just because you can own a gun doesnt mean you can walk into a crowded theater and start shooting either. A better analogy of what is going on here would be, how would you feel if you needed to get a background check and get fingerprinted before you were able to even APPLY for a protest permit?? How would you feel if you had to PAY for that permit, and then, you were only limited to 10 protesters at your protest or rally, because after all, why does anyone need more than 10 protesters to get the same message across? See how ridiculous that sounds? Thats the gun grabber lobby logic. We already have laws on the books against the 2nd Amendment. They work very well. No law however works with criminals. Its like whining we need new laws after Madoff and his scam. We already had laws and regulations in place... they just werent followed or enforced by the SEC.
Ajent Oranje February 28, 2013 at 01:15 PM
@Jerry - and just to add, Im not an NRA or GOA member. Im just a regular citizen who exercises his 1st and 2nd Amendment rights.
Ajent Oranje February 28, 2013 at 01:22 PM
I dont understand your logic in this. In no way, shape, or form, does a politician EVER have the only 1st Amendment right in play in a public forum. Im pretty sure the 1st Amendment doesnt mean what you think it means.
Ajent Oranje February 28, 2013 at 01:30 PM
Thank you for your service Mr. Dumas. 100% agree with you. Im also tired of these politicians being out of touch with reality and Americans. I found it comical in the last election how they portrayed Romney as out of touch, and yet, the only ones I see out of touch with reality and Americans are the career politicians such as Murphy, Malloy, Pelosi, Reid, Biden and Obama.
Ajent Oranje February 28, 2013 at 01:32 PM
Im sorry if you think we should just sit back and lose our Constitutional Rights just because you think we are shouting down. I didnt realize we had to be bending over quietly while we lose our rights. I wonder how you would react if there was a movement to ban any other religion except Catholicism. After all, according to Liberal logic, we dont have unlimited freedoms and rights with the Constitution. We can certainly ban and limit rights according to your kind.
Robert Chambers February 28, 2013 at 02:35 PM
Wow Tina, do you ever go outside by yourself? What exactly do you think is going to happen? sure people are passionate about their rights, it's when you STOP being passionate about your rights you see them whittled away and removed. The 2A folk that I have seen have been asking two basic questions of Murphy and crew. "Will any law you are proposing have stopped what happened in Newtown? If not, why are you proposing it" and "How many laws were broken by the deranged man in Newtown and why do you think adding a few more laws will make a difference?" These are valid questions in my opinion and I've YET to hear a coherent answer that makes sense. I suspect the legislature and certainly the governor have to appear to "do something" even if that "something" won't avert another tragedy like Newtown. Being a democratic republic REQUIRES people to be involved with the process. Sadly this has not been the case lately and we wind up with a majority of representatives that do not represent us. Calling the police because you are asked hard questions is the mark of a coward.
Robert Chambers February 28, 2013 at 03:00 PM
I agree, you and your family have had REAL skin in the game, the majority haven't and look at the political process as more of a hobby than anything. I hope your son is improving after his service... defending the country is not a spectator sport and I thank him and you for putting yourselves out there to protect us.
William Boylan February 28, 2013 at 03:31 PM
Thank you, Robert. Always Faithful (Semper Fidelis), Bill
Palin Smith February 28, 2013 at 06:06 PM
Robert Chambers wrote: "Calling the police because you are asked hard questions is the mark of a coward" I strongly disagree!!! Chris Murphy is no coward. Nobody is a harsher critic of his policies, than me. When he was US Rep. Murphy has never had police at any of his events. Even after the Gabby Giffords tragedy he never required police protection. I had a conversation with him about that once in Thomaston. The police were requested by the Mayor. Don't anybody ever say that Murphy is a coward. He is an ideologue who stands by his principles. How many Republicans do you see standing by their principles? Republicans are more readily identified as political cowards, especially in Connecticut. That's what this movement to protect the Constitution is all about!!
Brooke February 28, 2013 at 06:33 PM
I was thinking just this the other day. If we actually got away from a party system, people might actually pay attention.
Brooke February 28, 2013 at 06:39 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=_T-F_zfoDqI I just saw this video today and I think it sums up a lot of what I am trying to get people to see and hear.
William Boylan February 28, 2013 at 06:43 PM
Robert is correct, it was Mayor Diana who called the police. When I questioned Murphy about the police presence, he said that he always had a police presence, though. If he had a police escort, I did not see it until after Diana called the cops. I'll give Murphy credit, he didn't cower away when pressed, but had he not been pressed, he never would have allowed the dialog after the meeting. Robert is also correct when he says that Republicans should stand by their principal, as does Murphy. Caving under media pressure, in my book, is cowardly.
William Boylan February 28, 2013 at 06:49 PM
Good link, Brooke.
Robert Chambers February 28, 2013 at 07:02 PM
@Palin - I was talking about the mayor not Murphy. I have issues with Murphy but it was the mayor that called the cops after the "sermon" turned into a passionate discussion as William described.
tina bourke February 28, 2013 at 07:43 PM
hi you guys, I saw your last comments and against my better judgement decided to simply ask a couple questions. Devil's advocate here only; did you not see any double standards when the women was pointing and escalating at the senator as vs. pointing out the mayor's action? Also, since you are talking about rights, look once again at the video and did you not notice all the other people surrounding the senator who wanted their questions asked and spend time with him? All this while you monopolized his time? Did they have any rights in your humble, honest opinion????? You can see them waiting in the back round as you surrounded and yelled at the senator.
Palin Smith February 28, 2013 at 07:50 PM
I always advise my friends to make at least one new frioend at any town hall meeting. I made 4 last Sunday. After the meeting we went to Pepe's and shared hunch and lively conversation. If we don't reach out to strangers how will we ever better understand each other? Some politicians seek to divide us - pit one side, one race or one issue against each other for political gain. That is vulgar! We are all human. As Americans we have much in common. Let's discuss the differences to meet on common ground. How about you?
Checker1 February 28, 2013 at 10:43 PM
I certainly don't think anyone should "sit back and lose their constitutional rights" at all, and I made no statement to that effect. I must admit that in my nearly 50 years, "liberal" is one word that has ever been used to describe me by anyone. It is amazing to me that anyone could feel they know about "your kind" based on a paragraphy someone writes. All I am saying is that you don't make friends and influence people by shouting them down, and more will be accomplished with civility. People can get their points across in an intellectual and reasonable manner without creating a scene, and it will carry a lot more weight if it is done that way. Nothing is accomplished through a shout down.
William Boylan February 28, 2013 at 11:27 PM
Checker1, This did not start out as a shout-down. In between questions, I stood up and said, "Excuse me, Senator . . ." and the aid just kept on reading the question as if I didn't exist. THAT is what upset people, most.
Palin Smith March 01, 2013 at 04:33 AM
This video clip shows how Rep. John Larson (D) CD1 conducts his town hall meetings. Good old-fashioned free exchange of ideas, information and opinions. Compare that to the stale and sleepy Murphy meeting until Bill arises. http://youtu.be/vRNCwnAiXtc
Palin Smith March 01, 2013 at 06:02 AM
We attend town hall meetings not to change the incumbents' minds but to affect the audience, good or bad. Many fence-sitters accost us after the meetings. I advise everyone to make at least one or two new friends at each meeting. Talk to your seated neighbors to sense where they're coming from. Many people are desperate to find ways to do something to stop the reckless direction Murphy and his ilk have steered the country. Town hall meetings are like political learning centers. The people who try to stifle lively exchanges by shouting, "sit down", are your sheeple gentry for the most part. For every motivated person in the crowd, hundreds others wish they could attend. And in time they will! Forward the videos to all your friends and family. Most people don't realize how incompetent our elected officials have become.
Palin Smith March 01, 2013 at 06:16 AM
Tina......Senator Murphy specifically invited 2nd Amendment advocates to meet with him after the formal presentation. And that's who he spoke to. Murphy will be in New London and Fairfield as he closes out this set of town halls in March. Murphy has never avoided contact with his constituents. Unlike Joe Courtney and Rosa DeLauro, Mr. Murphy and Rep. Jim Himes (D) CT4, both relish contact with the public often. Call it a representative democracy or a constitutional republic, or whatever else, cherish our system of free access and free speech. You'll not find anything better.
Jill March 01, 2013 at 02:01 PM
People are upset because what Murphy, Malloy et al are doing is trying to turn them into criminals and felons for owning a legally made product ( most of which were produced right here in Connecticut). NOONE is going to register their guns. Pres Reagan signed a federal law making it illegal to require citizens to register their firearms. So these anti gunners will use their illegal laws to come into your homes and forcibly confiscate your guns. Yea , people get upset about things like that.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something