Delegation has dustup at Gallegly's office
By Kelly Feser Eells
It all started with an electronic petition,
urging Congress to "censure and move on." Today, MoveOn.org
is the nation's leading online political action group; it is
also the first to use "cyber-activism" effectively,
and is considered the model of online, grassroots politicking.
"The Internet's a very effective way to express your feelings,"
said Pat Hoffman, who is part of a local delegation of citizens
participating in MoveOn's nationwide "Let the Inspections
Work" campaign, and who was one of some 25 citizens who
rallied at Congressman Elton Gallegly's office last Tuesday.
"We had over 1,000 signatures collected from people in
this (the 24th congressional) district, and were just trying
to deliver our petition" - asking President Bush to "let
the U.N. inspectors have as much time as they need in Iraq"
- which had been faxed, along with "a list of the people
coming" to (Gallegly aide) Rose Adams, in Washington, D.C.
"But when we got there," Hoffman noted, "the
staff person who opened the door seemed really surprised to see
us. She kept shouting, 'Who are you people?'"
Hoffman's daughter, Ojai resident Ruth Cooper, "very calmly
made her way to the front of the group, said, 'No need to be
alarmed,' and explained that we were all constituents, just there
to deliver our petition."
Another woman, who, Hoffman concedes, may or may not have been
part of Gallegly's staff, "came out from another office
and said, 'you people have to get out of here, you're trespassing.'"
Chuckling, she adds, "Apparently, the visit to (Congresswoman)
Lois Capps office went a lot better."
Ojai resident David Howard, an Oak Grove School teacher, was
accompanied by four students, two of whom are from China. "We're
learning about democracy," said Howard. "So it was
sort of embarrassing for me to have had them see this,"
a gross misrepresentation of "one of our political institutions."
In addition, said Howard, "he (Gallegly) made very disparaging,
condescending remarks" about the delegation, reported in
a Jan. 22, Ventura County Star article. "To act like he
didn't know about this in advance, well, it's appalling. He was
notified and calls were made back and forth, and there were infinite
ways to set up a meeting, so for him to be playing dumb now..."
Hoffman concurs, noting that, "We'd offered to meet in a
church, anywhere, after being told that, because the office was
in the process of moving," the congressman would be unavailable
on Jan. 22. Though the offer was declined, "Rose (Adams)
was always very nice, very frank. She knew we planned on delivering
our petition; she knew we weren't expecting a powwow."
Apparently due to the move, the Ojai Valley News was unable
to make contact with Rep. Gallegly's office for comment.
Howard contrasted Tuesday's event with another MoveOn-led campaign,
"Say No to War," conducted last fall. "We're people
with very serious concerns about our own lives," he said.
"A group of us met with Lois Capps, who was very cordial,
standing outside her office talking with people. And she ended
up voting against the resolution" authorizing the use of
force in Iraq. "We're proud to have been able to meet with
MoveOn.org generated more than $1 million in online contributions
during that campaign, all of which was distributed between the
(mostly Democrat) members of Congress who voted against the resolution.
The Ojai Valley News
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