Town hall broadcast with a wide reach: Matt's Memo

NBC 3 Anchor Matt Mulcahy and Rep. John Katko

There has been a political clamoring from the left since the election of President Trump. Organized groups across the country have sought to hold members of Congress accountable. They have demanded representatives hold public town hall style meetings.

Several issues have driven the desire for public forums. The push from the Trump Administration and Congressional Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Healthcare Act led the way. The President's policies on immigration, travel and refugees also stirred anger. Then there was the lingering sting of defeat for those in the Democratic party. They vowed to resist. The have publicly persisted.

That political tension has provided the underpinnings a limited number of town hall sessions across the country that were reminiscent of the town halls that accompanied the origination of Obamacare. In those years the party tables were turned. It was mostly republicans or Tea Party supporters who antagonized democratic representatives. We saw some events in Central New York where participants vigorously challenged Democratic Congressman Dan Maffei.

After the inauguration of President Trump in late January, activists in Central New York began calling for a public session with Congressman John Katko. They claimed he was not accessible. He denied the allegation. He had organized several conference call style town hall meetings. A person would get a call at their home asking if they wanted to participate. Rep. Katko claimed he could reach more people by using that technology instead of talking to smaller groups in person. He did promise to get around to a public town hall once the schedule of a busy Congressional session eased off.

That town hall is finally going to happen. Not only will Congressman Katko take questions from an assembled audience, but he will also answer the questions live on broadcast television to tens of thousands who chose to watch. We are carrying that town hall broadcast on both WSTM-TV NBC 3 and WTVH -TV CBS 5. It airs Monday May 15 from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

We are working hard behind the scenes to prepare for the town hall broadcast. Meetings, discussions and cooperation between the staff of Onondaga Community College, our broadcast and digital staff and Rep. John Katko's office are fine tuning details in advance. We are working hard to provide a fair opportunity for a range of voices from across the 24th Congressional District to have the chance to ask Rep. Katko a question and listen to his response in person.

What should not be lost when evaluating this effort to connect the community with their congressional representatives is the reach of the broadcast. Other town halls you have seen on the news are a couple dozen people crammed into a fire hall. Maybe a couple hundred spilling over from a city hall meeting room. This live broadcast and stream has the reasonable potential of being viewed by tens of thousands. We look forward to presenting it Monday night.

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