The Representatives of the 19th District in Washington have just recently held a telephone-town hall on Thursday, January 14 where Senator Dean Takko, Representative Brian Blake and Representative J.D. Rossetti heard feedback directly from citizens within the 19th Legislative District about their ideas and comments.
The citizens were able to sit and listen into the meeting, and if a constituent wanted to ask a question, they would press the pound button followed by the number 3, at anytime during the meeting.
Rossetti started the meeting, "you may have seen in the mail a survey that we put together with different questions about the district and your priorities. We had about 500 responses so far and we have a couple of the questions and some data for you just to kind of give a perspective of how things came in," said Rossetti.
The first question was: "do you know anybody that was laid off during the recession," of which 80% of respondents said yes. The second question was "do you have children or grandchildren in public schools or in college," 60% responded with yes. The third question was "does your family have health coverage," 97% of which said yes. "So I thought that was worth sharing as well," said Rossetti.
The questioning session began and the first caller who had called about how to better organize the hospice to better serve people asked, "I recently lost my mother but the problem was the lack of coordination with hospice. I was wondering if there could be something done to help organize that, so that a person out of his depth can spend more time with their loved one and try to figure out what's wrong?"
Blake responded by saying that more should be explored on the issue, and gave his contacts so that the man could call in to Blake and talk about it another time, because he did not have a solid answer at the time.
The next caller asked about a specific case where his friend is not getting assistance from the Veteran's Administration. "Yes, my name is Tom and I live in Aberdeen and I've been working for months to try to help my friend that is in a homeless shelter in Kelso, Longview. The Veterans Administration should be paying him approximately $550 a month, this gentleman is in his 70's. He is homeless and sick and living on $50 a day. We can't get seem to get any response from the VA. Takko responded, "okay, when we have specific people with specific problems, if you want to contact me with the specifics our state Veteran's Administration looks into those kind of problems and are pretty successful with getting through and getting something done," said Takko. Takko then gave his number so that he could be contacted later, about the specific incident.
Another caller called in asking about the second amendment, "according to the digest, there is a bill that prohibits the manufacture, possession, purchase, sale, or transfer of assault weapons and large capacity magazine. This sounds to me like a blanket prohibition for anything that looks dangerous. This is totaly against the second amendment and I would really like to go on record opposing this," said the caller.
Blake responded to the question about the second amendment, "I'm a strong supporter of the second amendment and the entire bill of rights. I think some of the efforts to resolve guns are misdirected and we've got to find ways to attack crime instead of legal gun owners," said Blake. Takko spoke up on the matter as well, "one thing that we're not addressing at the local, state or federal way is mental illness. Most of the high profile incidents really involve someone with a mental illness problem and that's where I want to focus on. "
One caller inquired about what can be done to lower sewer rates in her local town of South Bend, Rossetti addressed the issue: "first I want to let you know the Mayor of South Bend is diligently working on your behalf to try to find a solution on a local level and she has been working with us legislators for a solution we could provide on a state level as well. We've created a capitol request, it provides sewer rate relief. This would pay off some debts and allow for your rates to be lowered as well," said Rossetti.
There was a citizen inquiring about a specific item on his water bill, " on my water bill I get a storm water management fee. It's been increasing since I've lived in Kelso. I've contacted the state to find out where the money goes to. Apparently we have a lot of money sitting in a bank somewhere because it is not being applied to the people of Kelso. The same with the base for the sewer. 9/10 people do not use the water that they are being charged to process," the citizen asked. Representative Blake answered his question: the storm water fee is a local charge on your bill and that is used to process storm water otherwise known as rain water, to over time construct treatment facilities and clean up that water before it gets to the rivers. The money is spent based on local decisions," said Blake.
After an hour the meeting was over and the Senator and Representatives listed their contact information again for those listening.