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— Praising the community spirit among people in the northeast Benton County area, U.S. Congressman John Boozman said the very room in which the Town Hall meeting was being held was a perfect example of people helping one another.

Boozman commended the Northeast Benton County Volunteer Fire Department and the Garfield community and their fund-raising efforts to build the community room: “It’s about people helping people. I don’t think there’s any entity representing that any better.”

Boozman was one of three legislators invited to the meeting, but was the only one in attendance and the only one to respond to the invitation at all, said Mary Freeman, who mailed the certified letters of invitation.

There were about 75 people attending the meeting sponsored by the cities of Garfield and Gateway, Lost Bridge Village, Ventris Neighborhood Association and NEBCO. Laura Hamilton and Lida Schnitzer, Garfield and Gateway mayors, were present, as were Arkansas Senator Cecile Bledsoe and Representatives DonnaHutchinson and Duncan Baird.

Not all people present were supporters of Boozman.

“I keep coming waiting for an apology,” Patsy Wootten of Springdale said, explaining that she formerly supported Boozman but was upset by his vote on the TARP bill. A supporter of Bernie Skoch, candidate for the seat now held by Boozman, Wootten passed out pamphlets promoting Skoch.

Boozman’s vote for the TARPbill sparked complaints.

“I’m a little ticked at you about that,” one woman said about Boozman’s vote for the TARP bill.

Boozman said he researched the subject and sought advice from a number of people before voting for the bill believing it was best for the country that it would prevent job loss. He said the money was a loan and the banks would have to repay the money.

“I think every day when an elected official gets up in themorning, he needs to ask what he can do to help create jobs and protect pension plans,” Boozman began the meeting by saying.

“Economy is the number one thing going on right now,” Boozman said.

Healthcare, government spending and illegal immigration were the focus of many people’s questions and comments.

“We need healthcare reform, but we need common sense, freemarket reform,” Boozman said, adding that it needed to start with tort reform and that people need to be able to go across state lines to purchase health insurance.

“Competition creates lower costs and better service. That’s the way of capitalism,” he said.

Saying that Medicare would be insolvent by 2017, Boozman said that 10 percent of that is waste and fraud and pouring more money into it wouldn’t solve the problem.

As for the healthcare bill, one man said legislators should “get off their golden parachutes” and have the same insurance they want to give the people.

Boozman concurred: “I’m on the same insurance plan the government employees are on.”

“It’s an honor to be here,” Boozman concluded. We are so blessed to live in this part of the country.”

News, Pages 1 on 10/21/2009

Print Headline: Congressman hears praise and complaints

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