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November 18, 2008

Welch to Host Electronic Town Meeting

Peterwelch Looking for something to do tomorrow night? Why not spend an hour on the phone with your congressman?

For the second time this year Vermont's lone congressman, Democrat Peter Welch, is asking Vermonters to join him via telephone to discuss the economic crisis and what Congress can do.

The Wednesday night telephone town hall is the second Welch has hosted this year. A June town hall drew more than 4,000 people.

Welch will answer Vermonters' phone questions from his DC office, and listen to Vermonters' ideas about how Congress can help working families during the economic crisis.

"As the fallout from the credit crisis hits Vermonters in the pocketbook, I want to hear from them how Congress can help cushion the blow," Welch said in a statement. "Now is the time to work together and think creatively about how we in Congress can help families struggling to make ends meet and get our economy back on track."

Vermonters wishing to participate in the call should dial 1-877-229-8493 and use PIN code 13785 anytime during the hourlong forum, which will begin at 7 p.m.

When I read the title of this post I thought it meant there would be an online town meeting format and am disappointed to learn it does not include such, particularly since my circumstances do not allow me to tie up a phone line for too long, however I do not have such limits when it comes to online access.

Sounds like a conference call. Can all 4000 people speak at the same time?

I've spoken with Welch's office, and here is how the call is further described:

"It'll work kind of like a radio show. The Congressman
will be on the line and callers will be able to press *3 to ask a question. We'll have folks asking for those callers' names, and then we'll patch them through one by one to the Congressman. So hopefully he'll have a chance to answer a lot of questions during the hour."

And, to Morgan's comment — the office is working on an electronic town hall via the web.

Appreciate the follow up information on both counts Shay. Thank you.

Re: an online town hall forum, I would recommend they consider doing such on an ongoing basis and also incorporate using some of the various tools available for holding events like this: e.g., either going with a live video broadcast (like what is available via using tools such as Ustream) -- which could include some form of live chat or online submission form or e-mailing or IM'ing of questions and comments to be answered and responded to -- or using the live blogging tool CoverItLive, which could include all of that, including a live video feed of Congressman Welsh during the event; both of which could then be archived and available online afterwards.


In fact there is no reason why future telephone conference call "radio show" formatted versions of the town halls could not also be done at the same time as suggested above, without the need for holding separate events.

Doing such would help make these events more like true virtual public town meeting, ones which could be more readily accessible to more people than possible when only done by phone in the format they are currently employing.

I am certain there are those in Vermont who can help advise as well as assist the Congressman's staff about doing such if need be.


Thanks for posting. I've alerted Paul Heintz at the Congressman's office to this thread of discussion as they are looking for advice and ideas on how to make better use of the internets. We've used CoverItLive here at Seven Days and it's a great program.



You're welcome Shay. Good. Thanks. Yeah, I know and I have used it some as well. Agreed.

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