Sunday, 19 May 2024

Thompson discusses budget, responds to protest at annual event

Congressman Mike Thompson (left) and former District 3 Supervisor Louise Talley served up dinner on Saturday, March 28, 2009. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.




LAKEPORT – Mike Thompson hosted his big annual ravioli feed Saturday and gave residents an update on the latest in Congress and the issues on his plate.

The event took place Saturday evening at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Lakeport.

At the fairgrounds entrance a small group of protesters gathered at 4 p.m. to welcome those who came to the event, which ran from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

James Henderson, Dave Rinker, and David and Nancy Morgan, all of Lakeport, and Lucerne resident Donna Christopher held signs with slogans like “Ron Paul for Liberty”; they also had a pitchfork and Christopher's own homemade “TARP fork” to demonstrate their displeasure with the government in general and, in some cases, Thompson in particular.

“It's like our politicians don't want to hear us,” said Rinker, who added that he wanted the Federal Reserve audited because he said it's the source of 95 percent of the country's problems.

He said his problems were with government at large.

“Mine's with Thompson,” said Christopher.

Relating to the TARP bailout last fall, Christopher said, “First he voted no and then he voted for it.”

She said a better solution would have been to buy the troubled institutions outright, which would have benefited taxpayers more. Anything that's so big it can't be allowed to fail is too big, she said, referring to companies like AIG.

Henderson added that the government shouldn't reward people for being dishonest.

Inside, about 500 people came to participate in the annual event, where Thompson thanked community members for all of their support. “You make doing my job so much easier.”

He said right now – in the face of some of the toughest challenges the country has ever seen – he needed voters' friendship and support more than ever.

Thompson said he believed the country will come out of its current struggles bigger and better than ever. “It's just going to take a while to do it.”

He gave a brief rundown of issues, from unemployment to the health care to the economy, and pointed to what he said are promising signs, among them better results on Wall Street.




From left, James Henderson, Donna Christopher, Nancy and David Morgan, and Dave Rinker protested outside of the event. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.




Regarding President Barack Obama's proposed budget, Thompson said, “This is the first honest budget we've had,” a statement which received applause.

Health care, education and renewable energy are three big issues Thompson hears about a lot from constituents.

On the topic of green energy, Thompson gave Lake County kudos for showing the way with its recently launched 2.2-megawatt solar project. That solar project powers the movement of wastewater to The Geysers where it is injected into the steamfields, which in turn replenishes the supply of steam needed to produce geothermal power.

“Thanks for showing us the way to do that,” he said.

Thompson also had some new numbers relating to what the county can expect to see from federal stimulus money.

He said that local education is slated to receive about $4 million, plus more than $1 million for transportation.

The stimulus will help create or save 8,000 jobs throughout the First Congressional District, he said.

To make the recovery work, he said, the country needs to go in “all shoulders to the wheel.”

Thompson also gave a report on his March 25 telephone town hall.

In his 19 years in elected office, Thompson said he's conducted many town halls, and usually gets between 40 and 50 peoples. The telephone town hall – which isn't meant to replace the traditional ones – had an estimated 9,156 who participated. Those numbers were for people who remained on the line for at least 20 minutes.

He also received 200 voice mail messages afterward, most of them offering good, constructive comments and questions.

Asked after the event about his reaction to the protesters outside, Thompson said he understands their concerns and frustrations, but he stood by his choices relating to the TARP bailout.

“You can't just let everything fall off the edge,” which is what would have happened had Congress done nothing, he said.

“If we hadn't passed the stimulus it would have been terrible,” said Thompson.

The stimulus, he added, won't turn everything around. Instead, it will help stabilize the economy.

What gets lost in the numbers discussion, he said, is the toll on people struggling in the current economic climate.

He said he didn't hear from the protesters when President Bush was giving tax cuts to the rich and not including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the federal budget.

Local clubs that assisted with the event included Rotary Interact and 4-H.

Thompson collected e-waste again this year, and nine refurbished computers were donated to local nonprofits through the efforts of Steve Wyatt, owner and chief executive officer of Computer Recycling Co., who collects the older electronics throughout the seven counties in Thompson's district.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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