Friday, June 03, 2011

DC Mayor's Gay Forum;
Lesson for Mark 'No Town Halls' Leno

One stark reason why out California state Sen. Mark Leno receives criticism from me is his failure to ever hold a single town hall meeting in his long career as a Democratic politician.

I've blogged about his staff offering the excuse that he's simply too busy with the state's perpetual budget crisis, to spare an evening hosting a town hall forum with his gay and straight constituents. If President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton and hundreds of Members of Congress can hold regular public forums, I see no reason why Leno can't follow their examples and put on regular town halls.

After all, Leno regularly takes a hiatus from his budgetary duties to attend photo-ops on Harvey Milk Day, a bar celebration for the Bay Area Reporter's anniversary, Equality California rubber chicken galas, receive an honorary degree from the American Conservatory Theater, and put in brief appearances at any event where he gets a few minutes of time at the mic, but takes no questions or challenges from voters.

While Leno hides behind pathetic excuses for not organizing, and certainly not in June when it's Gay Pride Month, Washington's Mayor Vincent Gray found the time away from his city's major fiscal troubles and constant battles over home-rule issues with Congress and put on a town hall meeting for the gays.

From Rick Rosendall, who maintains the Gay and Lesbian Activists' Alliance informative and entertaining Forum blog:

Earlier this evening [June 2] Mayor Gray attended a Town Hall for the GLBT community sponsored by the Washington Blade. The meeting was also broadcast by Channel 16 of the Office of Cable Television. The meeting was moderated by Kevin Naff of the Washington Blade with the first half hour consisting of questions submitted in advance via Facebook, Twitter and comments left on the Blade web site. This was followed by a half hour of questions from the audience. 

Rick links to a vid of the town hall meeting, which was broadcast on the DC government's cable channel. Leno should watch it and learn a lesson in how to be a public servant and use town halls as a tool of democracy.

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