It looks as though there will be another town hall on the Coast without an appearance by any of its congressional delegation.
The organizers of a town hall in February at USM Gulf Park that drew about 200 people will host one at 2 p.m. Sunday in DeMiller Hall at 610 Water St. in Biloxi.
The group, South Mississippi Indivisible, will rally in front of Rep. Steven Palazzo’s offices in Biloxi and Hattiesburg at 4 p.m. Wednesday “to bring attention to the fact that the congressman is, once again, refusing to meet his constituents,” Shasta Moseley, the team leader, said in an email.
Indivisible leaders said they invited Palazzo and Republican Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker. Cochran’s office said he was on official travel overseas, and there were no public events on his schedule during the recess. Wicker’s office said he had been to South Mississippi for the Bicentennial Celebration South and would spend this recess making public appearances across north and central Mississippi.
Before the town hall was announced, Palazzo spokeswoman Jill Duckworth said last week the 4th District Republican representative “is currently overseas on official business meeting with senior military and diplomatic officials among our closest allies in Eastern Europe. When he returns, he will be attending several events across the district and hosting meetings with constituents in his office, as well as spending time with his three kids during their Easter break.”
Moseley said she and others from Indivisible have made several requests for a meeting but were told the congressman would be unavailable.
Ashley Kittrell and Kiara Taite were able to get a meeting with Palazzo on March 6 after the first town hall, but said he failed to answer many of their questions.
“We came with very specific questions and got very vague answers such as ‘I would have to take a look at that’ even regarding bills that had already been introduced,” Kittrell wrote in an email. “He claimed not to have seen the health-care legislation that even I had partially read, because it had been leaked to the press.
“Also, as I think I mentioned, I had to politely interrupt him several times because, when asked specific questions about how he would vote on bills, he would take every opportunity to tell us about himself, and repeatedly tried to convince us that he was ‘not a politician.’ Well, we were not asking if he was. We were asking how he would vote on several bills, but he continued to eat up time talking about himself without answering direct questions.”
She said they had emailed Palazzo’s office after that meeting to talk about having him at another town hall but didn’t receive a response, so they went to his office.
“A week passed with no response we decided to go to the office to meet (Palazzo’s scheduler) in person, since she claimed she would be around,” Kittrell said. “The door was locked in the middle of the day. We rang the bell, a staffer answered the door, asked for our names, and checked to see if she was in her office. Of course after he checked, he said she must have left the office for a bit. We again left our names and phone numbers for her to get in touch.
“Again a week passed with no response. I called the office, was first hung up on, dialed again, and spoke with her. She said that they were not planning to have any town halls and she did not believe he would be available for private meetings either.”