Members of Congress told to increase security, Rep. Cardoza says...Michael Doyle
WASHINGTON -- The shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on Saturday struck homewith California public officials of all stripes, reminding them anew of their ownvulnerabilities.
Shortly after the shooting, Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Atwater, said he and other House members received multiple e-mail warnings from Capitol Hill law enforcement officials.
“They told us to increase our vigilance, and to have more security at our public events,” Cardoza said, adding that “we will follow the recommendations of the police ...It’s a real problem,” Cardoza said of the security conundrum. “You want to be accessible, but I also care very deeply about the security of my staff and of the people who attend these public events.” Cardoza said security considerations contributed to his previous decision to relocate his Modesto and Merced congressional district offices to government buildings that already maintain a security presence.
He indicated security concerns also played into his earlier decision to curtail some public town hall meetings during the politically heated summer of 2009...
Cardoza refuses to hold town hall meetings on health-care reform
By: Badlands Journal editorial board
Modesto Blue Dog Democrat Dennis Cardoza, who was leaving Pelosi's office as liberals were streaming in, has more uninsured citizens in his district than any district in the nation. Cardoza, who wasn't among the four Blue Dogs who negotiated the deal but supports it, said the legislation will be "like an accordion for a long time, where members become concerned and then they get comfortable and then they become concerned. Everybody who has ever gone to the doctor has an opinion on what should be in this bill."—San Francisco Chronicle, Aug. 5, 2009
In a pair of dispatches to the Merced Sun-Star last week, Rep. Dennis Cardoza laid down his criteria for a health-care reform bill and announced that he would hold no town hall meetings over the congressional recess period because, in the words of his press secretary, "With what's going on now, there's no way to have a reasonable dialogue."
Cardoza is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, which is sitting on the fence on health-care reform at the moment. His district, ours, was reported last week by the San Francisco Chronicle to have the highest number of uninsured people of any congressional district in the country. The district’s median household income, according to 2007 figures, is a little more than $34,000, putting our district at about the median for the
top Blue Dog Coalition leaders. It is nearly identical to the 3rd CD of Louisiana, which, outside of New Orleans, bore the brunt of Hurricane Katrina in that state. The national median is a little more than $50,000. Where Cardoza’s district stands out, surpassing even representative Mike Ross’ Arkansas district and Charlie Melancon’s south Louisiana district, is in the poverty rate: Cardoza’s district’s poverty level was 22.7 in 2007. Ross and Melancon’s, high by Blue Dog standards, are about 18 percent. In 2007, the national average poverty level was 12.5 percent.
The congressional district Cardoza represents, ours, differs in another way from top Blue Dogs’ districts: Obama won here. Obama also won in the Maryland district where Cardoza now lives, where the median household income is $52,900 and the poverty rate is 7.7 percent.
Cardoza, whose wife was once a Merced County physician and is now a Maryland physician, gave constituents some cliches in a letter to the Merced Sun-Star on Aug.6:
The guiding principles for any measure that receives my vote include…:
The patient's right to choose their physicians.
Health care decisions determined by medical professionals and the patient.
However, his top priority was: “A mechanism to improve access to care and increase the number of physicians in the Valley.”
Having moved his family's physician to Maryland, he may be dimly hinting here that his price for voting for health-care reform for the nation is a medical school for UC Merced, paid for by federal funds. Will that improve the poverty level or the number of uninsured in the district? The Valley already has a medical school in Davis and the long-standing, significant presence in Fresno of UCSF medical school. In addition to the new hospital being built in north Merced, another hospital is now planned between Atwater and Merced.
On Aug. 8, Cardoza, announced, via the McClatchy Washington bureau, that he would not be holding any town hall meetings. Several supporters of health-care reform, meeting with his staff a week earlier, had specifically asked for a town hall meeting. Opponents of the reform have also asked for Cardoza, 50, to host such a meeting.
The tradition of town hall meetings in America is older than the Revolution.
According to Fox News, Republican and Democrat members of Congress have scheduled 300 town hall meetings across the nation, 19 in California. Rep. Pete Stark, 78, has the guts to go to Union City and Hayward, Rep. Sam Farr, 68, has the guts to go to Salinas and King City. Both Far and Stark’s offices confirmed today that they will be holding their town hall meetings.
McClatchy asserts at the bottom of Cardoza’s no-town-hall-meeting announcement that the U.S. Capitol Police “has advised all lawmakers to cancel their town hall meetings.”
Although no other news organizations have carried a similar story, the story is showing up on political blogs in different states. The only problem we found with this unattributed statement was that when we contacted the Capitol Police, they didn’t know anything about such an advisory.
It is possible the sentence was the victim of a malign copy editor but we recall how the same McClatchy Washington reporter, Michael Doyle, bought Cardoza’s story in May about why he would not be attending Michelle Obama’s commencement address at UC Merced for personal and family reasons. In fact, Doyle reported later, he was hosting a Blue Dog fundraiser at the Pimlico Racetrack in Baltimore MD on Preakness Day.
And people wonder why we call him the Pimlico Kid.
On June 28, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar held a town hall meeting on federal water issues at a large, packed hall at Fresno State. It was a contentious group. At one point, the growers shouted down Salazar’s point-man on California water. Salazar took over the podium again and told them to calm down. They did.
Cardoza was on the panel of Valley congressmen, along with representatives George Radanovich, Devin Nunes and Jim Costa. Cardoza gave us an example of what he calls “reasonable dialogue”: two federal resource-agency biological opinions on the Delta “are very much erroneous … the (Delta) pumps are not the problem;” all we’re doing is “sending what’s left of California water out to sea … crippling small farming communities.” This last statement elicited from the crowd a cry of “Genocide!” Cardoza called for another “economic” plan for water like he and Julie MacDonald cooked up for the critical habitat designation for 15 endangered species during the building boom. MacDonald, a high Interior Department official in the Bush administration, was investigated twice by the department’s inspector general and forced to resign for her extensive political interference with enforcement of the Endangered Species Act, mainly in California. Unlike Costa, Cardoza even lacked the grace to thank Salazar for coming to Fresno. Cardoza, along with Nunes and Costa, concluded their remarks by telling Salazar they were “the Portuguese Caucus” in tones so aggressive the next thing you expected was for them to start throwing gang sign. Other examples of Cardoza’s version of “reasonable dialogue” include the two rallies in 2003 he held against the critical habitat designation. In Merced, only one brave soul dared speak in favor of the ESA, which Cardoza was busy trying to gut in Congress.
In early 2000, in a Sacramento restaurant, he visited the table of a local environmentalist and a reporter and, when he discovered that the environmentalist was considering opposing UC Merced, he said, “Then we will do battle!” and stalked off to the company of a gaggle of yes-men in black suits.
1999, a controversy in Merced broke out about the city’s plan to cherry-bomb nesting Turkey Vultures out of a row of eucalyptus trees in town. The migrating birds are protected by international treaty and the controversy drew international media attention, Yet, Cardoza, a state legislator at the time, ran away from the issue, his staff claiming it was “local,” and therefore he would not become involved.
The Pimlico Kid has not reached the stage of political maturity at which he could host an American town hall meeting that was not stacked with a mob holding views identical to his. Given the plight of his constituents, he should be in favor of health-care reform.
But, as usual with the Kid, we are left trying to interpret what might be – if there is anything – behind the vague clichés and weird metaphors in his communiqués. Just playing the odds, we come up with the notion that finance, insurance and real estate special interests are at the bottom of it, with the recent addition of the accordion lobby.
We hope that people in the communities of the 18th congressional district will hold meetings to discuss health-care reform without the Pimlico Kid.