What’s Wrong with Coudersport?
By David Gerber and Keegan Gibson
Be careful what you wish for.
Several left-leaning advocacy groups have protested Senator Pat Toomey and pressured him to hold a public town hall meeting during this August recess. They say Toomey’s resume for job creation is about as full as PNC Park during the average Pirate’s game.
Just yesterday, some protesters from Philadelphia attempted unsuccessfully to meet Toomey Monday in Williamsport.
Toomey has relented. He is now planning to hold a public town hall meeting where he will address the federal debt, jobs and the economy. He’ll field questions and solicit input from citizens tomorrow, August 31st, 1:15 PM at the Gunzburger Building auditorium located in Coudersport, Potter County.
It’s is a town of 2,600 located some 200 miles northeast of Pittsburgh and 260 miles northwest of Philadelphia near the Pennsylvania/New York border. It’s the former headquarters of the Adelphia cable company.
While the folks in Coudersport undoubtedly have concerns about the jobs crisis, the group that initially criticized Toomey’s lack of town halls is now criticizing his choice of venue. It turns out that isn’t very easy for protesters to travel up to “God’s Country.”
“Pennsylvanians across the state have been calling on Senator Toomey to hold a town hall to hear our concerns about the state’s jobs crisis,” said Henry Lipput, an unemployed worker from Pittsburgh who has been out of work since November.
“It’s hard to believe Senator Toomey is serious about hearing from his unemployed constituents when he’s chosen to give only a day’s notice to hold a town hall meeting in such a remote part of the state.”
The string of protests have been coordinated by the American Dream Movement, a progressive group founded by Van Jones after controversies over past activism forced him to leave the Obama administration.
Toomey’s office explained that event details for a second town hall were being finalized at the time the critical press release was sent out. It will be held Thursday, September 1st, at 10:45 in Jim Thorpe, Carbon County, conveniently located along the PA Turnpike’s northeast extension between Allentown and Hazleton.
Toomey has been a target for protests since as he was appointed to the 12-member congressional panel that will devise a plan to reduce the federal debt.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania’s other Senator Bob Casey has been on a CODEL in Pakistan. More than one Republican we interviewed snarkily asked whether ADM was planning to protest his lack of town halls as well.
(Casey held a meeting in Coudersport during last year’s August recess – the riveting video is below).
Lynsey Kryzwick, a spokeswoman with the firm Berlin Rosen, said it was, “because of his voting record in Washington. The Senator’s August schedule of meetings with corporate lobbies reflects his priorities to protect tax breaks for CEOs and corporations instead of focusing on meeting with and supporting legislation that would help unemployed Pennsylvanians who are struggling to find work.”
“Seems like the only open meeting that’s been on the Senator’s schedule all month – yet will be very difficult for many constituents to attend.”
“Do you have plans to cover the town hall in Potter County?” she asked.
Here’s Casey in Coudersport: