As promised, this morning our editorial board interviewed Rep. Norm Dicks, who is in town during the Congressional recess. If you missed watching the live video, here are the archived versions. (Even broken into two, each will still require your patience as it loads).
Despite the pleadings from some of our letter-writers and community columnist, don’t hold your breath for another town hall meeting anytime soon. Dicks was pretty clear he won’t host that type of forum to continue debating health care reform, at least until some “implementation” of the new measure has taken place. He was also pretty clear that any such meeting must be constructive, saying “civility needs to be reinforced” in the wake of last August’s heated town hall in Bremerton. He labeled the majority of that night’s crowd the 30 percent of voters who don’t usually back him anyway, and said that anger was not representative of the comments and questions he’s received.
Here’s my quick notes on some the other topics covered, with
some markers if you need a cheat sheet to help navigate the lengthy
— Earmark reform: “It’s moderate, sensible, but perserves our ability to protect our districts.” He also explained a program in development that would separate for-profit companies applying for federal contracts from the current earmark system, and how that could apply to defense contractors. (13 minutes or so in)
— Health care reform: “We had to do something.” Dicks was clearly in support of the bill, but did push for measures to make Medicare reimbursement more equitable across the states. He also said the bill could add 21 community health clinics, like Peninsula Health Care Services in Bremerton, to the district. (19 minutes)
— Town hall meetings: See above. (31 minutes)
— Stimulus funding: He’s a Keynesian, and wouldn’t be opposed to more stimulus spending on infrastructure, like wastewater system upgrades, or sometime like the old Civilian Conservation Corps model for outdoors projects. (37 minutes-ish)
— Climate change: “A huge problem,” with a primary threat for this region being ocean acidification and how it affects shellfish and other marine life. (41 minutes)
— Locally: Proposals to keep Hurricane Ridge road open year-round, add wilderness to Olympic National Park, and continued work at the shipyard (47 minutes)
We’d like to have Rep. Dicks in again this year as the campaign gets going, hopefully opposite Doug Cloud, the announced Republican challenger for the House seat. I’ll let you know, and until then we’ll let civility reign here on the desk as well.
— David Nelson