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.