Rep. Denham holds Town Hall Meeting

FRESNO, Calif.

"It is going to take a meat axe to cut all of the different areas that we have to cut," he said.

Most of the 60 or so people in the audience applauded his calls for gutting funds for High Speed Rail, repealing health care reform and cutting Social Security.

"If we don't correct it right now there won't be anything left for my kids," Denham said.

Denham was joined by Fresno County Supervisor Debbie Poochigian, and Fresno City Council Member Larry Westerlund, both Republicans in calling for spending cuts at all levels of government. Denham said the session was also billed as an opportunity to hear from the public.

"We want to listen as much as we want to provide information and communication."

But, because the format called for written questions from the audience there was no opportunity for open give and take. Joseph Melton of Fresno said felt like he was being lectured to.

"I was disappointed because I thought a town hall meeting would be an opportunity for the representatives to hear from the people, but all they asked for was questions, so basically we had to hear from them which we do regularly."

Former Fresno School Board Member Ruth Gadebusch came to the meeting as a representative of the National Women's Political Caucus. She was also frustrated by the lack of interaction.

"I don't know that you'd call it a town hall when we don't get a chance to express anything, when it's limited to a question kind of thing."

But, Robert Merrill of Fresno said while his questions weren't answered, it was a good opportunity to for him to connect with the congressman.

"I think it's a very important thing for the first time to see the congressman in person and have a dialogue with him."

Denham also used the session to promote the first piece of legislation he's introduced in Congress, a measure to raise the height of the Exchequer Damn in Mariposa County by ten feet.

It would add a relatively small amount of storage capacity and Denham says it wouldn't cost taxpayers, because water users would pay for it.

In a show of bi-partisanship the Dam measure was co-sponsored by Democratic Congressmen Dennis Cardoza and Jim Costa.

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