Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Pat brushes off concerns of local pharmacists, supports oil drilling, abruptly ends Cleveland town hall

At the Thursday night public town hall in Cleveland County Congressman McHenry said should the President should have removed Attorney General Alberto Gonzales long ago.

While he blatantly distanced himself from the president, he also brushed off a group of local pharmacists who have been asking for McHenry to support bills to prevent them going out of business.

Four pharmacists in attendance told McHenry that local, hometown pharmacies were being phased out by government regulations. They said they have called McHenry's office frequently to ask him to support certain bills . . . they asked why doesn’t he?

The pharmacists explained that they are not getting reimbursed at a reasonable rate from government health programs. Also, they are concerned about the ability of internet pharmacies (that are being pushed by HMOs) to cut out local retailers by avoiding counseling regulations.

One pharmacist said, "I'm hearing this isn't your priority" from a staff member when they'd called his office.

McHenry asked, who said that? I expect my staff not to be rude. The pharmacist said, well, I won't tell you who. It's not that the person was rude. It's just that they said, and your actions confirm that this is not something you concern yourself with.

As it got heated, one pharmacist pointed out, I don't think anyone in this room wants to lose their local pharmacy.

They asked him specifically to sign on as a cosponsor to House bill number 671. McHenry replied, "Numbers mean nothing to me. I can't follow the bills by number." (But later when another person asked about a bill by number, he knew exactly what the bill was.)

The gathering was abruptly ended by the Congressman at 7:35, 8:35 almost an hour and a half hour early. McHenry announced the meeting's end when asked a question, "What does a terrorist look like? Describe a terrorist for me," by a Viet Nam veteran. He stared for a moment right at the gentleman and then refused to take anymore questions. The event was advertised to extend until 9 p.m.

Other questions and responses

Shelby resident Betsy Wells asked about the Iraq War. She mentioned her nephew, who joined the Army after 9/11, and is on his third tour of duty in Iraq. She explained that this young man had changed his life goal because of the threat to the country. She asked, with your constant support of George Bush’s requests for the War, why aren’t you in uniform fighting in Iraq?

McHenry's response: My life's plan in my 20s did not include that. I serve my country in other ways. I wouldn't want to say that my sacrifice is near what the troops have sacrificed.

Betsy: Are any of your brothers or sisters in Iraq? McHenry: No.

Betsy: Do you have family or cousins in Iraq? McHenry: Yes, (but he did not elaborate).

Betsy: “Would you support a withdrawal date for removing troops from Iraq? McHenry: Emphatic No. "That would mean we lose." He said, it's better to fight them over there than here.

Betsy: “Why are more Congressman’s children not serving?” McHenry: "I don’t have any children, yet." He said he hopes to have children some day "after I meet the right woman."

He said he's looking forward to the General Petraeus report.

He told citizens that he want the bi-partisan bickering to stop. Failing to distinguish between parties, he went on to say that the situation gone on for too long. The only thing to fix it, is "throw the bums out."

Connie Savell asked “Do you support drilling for oil off the coast of North Carolina?" As an opponent, she said to McHenry "what will our world look for our children?" McHenry was emphatic in his support for off-shore drilling. According to McHenry, not only would the derricks would be so far off-shore that they couldn't be seen by beach-goers, he also contended that oil drilling has been so perfected now, that there would be absolutely no leaks. He mentioned that during Hurricane Katrina the derricks in the Gulf of Mexico fell over but were so well-constructed that there no oil escaped.

Beth Sibley talked living near Houston where tar balls littered the beaches and the clouds of fumes and poor air quality. Yet, she asked, what incentives do you have to offer big oil companies who are making record profits to build more refineries?

McHenry blamed not oil companies but lawyers. He said the problem is the unlimited number of appeals allowed by current law. He supports a bill that would limit the number of appeals allowed. Trial lawyers are a big problem.

A young man asked what can be done to punish two elected leaders who disgraced their offices? Niphong & Gonzales (for perjury). McHenry said that the Niphong case is a state matter. As to Gonzales, McHenry stated in strong terms that Gonzales should no longer be the attorney general.

This report was compiled with the assistance of long-time Cleveland County Democrats Beth Sibley and Betsy Wells (nine years the county chair).


Drama Queen said...

Correction on the time. Betsy was out of town and Beth is moving so she missed the error in their original notes.

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