John Kline finally held another town hall meeting. Kind of…

John Kline conducted one of his tele-town hall “meetings” Tuesday evening.  I received the call.  Unfortunately, I was at another meeting and couldn’t listen to Kline.

This was the second time I have been called for one of his tele-meetings.  The first time happened back in March of 2006. I wrote about it then: John Kline Would Make A Perfect 18th Century French Aristocrat.

I was disappointed that I couldn’t listen this time.  Fortunately, a lot of other people I know received the call too and were able to listen. 

When I wrote about the first tele-town hall meeting I participated in during the 2006 elections, I questioned whether it was real or a staged campaign commercial. Back then, the questions seemed to be asked by people who supported John Kline’s positions.  A similar concern was expressed in an email I received this morning.

The email comment revolved around the similar wording used by callers regarding health care questions compared to John Kline’s stated position on health care.  Another concern that was expressed was from a person who questioned whether the people calling were actually residents of CD2.  Specifically mentioning a caller claiming to be a town’s resident, who was not found by doing a quick record search. 

Unless Kline’s staff wants to release the process for the conference call, we don’t really know whether there was a bias built into the presentation.  I might assume it, but I don’t really know.  For all I know the “meetings” are fake and prerecorded.   Unless there is proof otherwise, it is a possibility.  There are a couple questions to be asked.  Does anybody know any of the people who asked questions?  Did anybody who received the call out of the blue get into the call to ask questions?  Curious…


2 thoughts on “John Kline finally held another town hall meeting. Kind of…”

  1. These Tele-town Hall meetings have been around for awhile and Rodney Smith was one of the original marketers. According to his website, his service is described as “A Web-based control screen enables the elected official to see the name and location of every person they are speaking with, and to invite each person to ask their questions. Elected officials can also pose questions to the entire group, and tally the answers that constituents makes via their phone’s keypad. Features include :
    — List Submission – Prior to conducting your Tele-Town Hall event, you will be asked to submit a list of households to be contacted and invited to participate in your LIVE conference. You may choose to use an internal contact list, work with a list vendor that fits your needs, or Tele-Town Hall can purchase records on your behalf through negotiated rates with several national list vendors. In addition, you may upload a more complete list and then design an event to target only a specific subsection of that list (by zip code, city, county, age, or other unique characteristics included in your list). Regardless, you retain ownership of this information and will receive all data back after your event (including TTH internal tracking numbers), so that the results of your Tele-Town Hall can be integrated back into an existing contact database.
    — Pre-Record Messages – Prior to your event, the Speaker will place a call into our automated prompt line to record two messages. The first message—the Introductory Prompt—will be played by the Tele-Town Hall system when a live person answers the phone, and will invite this person to remain on the line to participate in the conference. The second message—the Answering Machine Prompt—will be played when an answering machine receives the call. Tele-Town Hall can provide sample scripts for these messages, however, you are free to customize them as you choose.
    – Pre-Screen Questions
    – Transfer to Voicemail

    Kline was one of the first to tap into this approach since he noted in 2006 before his first Tele-town Hall meeting that traditional town halls “have become partisan battlegrounds,” and while the phone calls can be made any time, it limits organized opposition and disruption.

    Whether Kline uses Smith’s TeleTownHall or another service I do not know.

    But Tele-town Halls are becoming more commonplace … President Obama used one and recently in the First District, Tim Walz did … however, Walz did it differently by advertising a toll-free telephone number with pass code and which voters initiated the call).

    The obvious question is how were you selected ? Had you previously contacted the Congressional Office and requested to be involved in any Tele-town hall meetings (I believe they must include you) ? Or, were you randomly selected based on your zip code (which they probably have a very good idea which zip codes Kline gets his most voters) ? Of course, they could just consider you as part of a “selected focus group” of citizens in the District.
    Regardless, I would think that it would be entirely within your rights to make a formal request of Congressman Kline’s office as to why you were selected. Assuming this is a public meeting and thus paid for via his Members Allowance and subject to franking rules.

    Since you did not participate, do you know if anyone stated that they were asked to take a survey in which you would key in your answer to selected questions ? If so, will the results be published ? Also, were you informed that your personal answers would be tracked via your phone number?
    If anyone left a personal message, the Kline Congressional Office would now have your opinion on any issue that was mentioned … such that they can use that information for target mailings … for example, if you asked questions about low milk prices, they might send you future mailings on agricultural issues. Although that contact would be appropriate, it would be very very illegal for the organizers to share any results with the Kline re-election campaign. Conversely, if you voiced a complaint, you may never hear from them on any issue (if so, then talk to your neighbors and ask them to let you see any mailings that they get from Kline’s Congressional Office as well as his re-election campaign.)

    Regarding the names of the questioners, I am sensitive to privacy concerns … while some may be willing to voice a question, they may not want the public to know who asked it. And if you think that the questioners were planted, that criticism is there in traditional town hall meetings.

    Are you aware that Kline did tell the bloggers that write at idonthateamerica that he would be willing to meet with a small group of DFLers to discuss healthcare.
    May I suggest that you coordinate a meeting ?
    But instead of bringing DFLers , why not make it interesting and select from this list of 240 signers of physicians, medical students and healthcare professionals in Minnesota that support a single payer system. Kline would have difficulty rejecting a meeting if there were 30 or so people that would have direct knowledge of the problems that they encounter everyday.

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