Powell Butte, OR – In the largest, unified public demonstration to address a specific member of Congress in recent history, the Occupy movement will convene throughout Congressional District 2 in eastern Oregon Monday, December 5, to demand Rep. Walden hold accessible town halls. In Bend, La Grande, Medford and Hood River, church groups, educators, and labor unions will join the “99%” in simultaneous mid-day rallies and marches calling for a more representative democracy.
The demand of Occupy Congressional District 2 (CD2) is for Walden to announce to the media a town hall to be held during the Congressional recess this December, and Walden’s commitment to appear at five public town halls across the 2nd Congressional District by April. Organizers stipulated that he should give the public at least three weeks’ notice of the date, time and location for the town halls, citing the Congressman’s track-record of holding “electronic town halls” under short notice that do not allow for the public to ask questions and only appearing at closed meetings or events.
Oregon’s 2nd Congressional District is comprised of 20 counties covering more than two-thirds of the state in area, mostly east of the Cascades. Both of Oregon's Senators hold town halls in each county in the state every year. Banners will ask, “Where’s Walden?” in Monday’s demonstrations.
“He might as well be a thousand miles away,” said Allen Hallmark of Grants Pass. “We can’t see him. He comes to Jackson County to hold fundraisers with rich donors at the country club, then flees. Getting a meeting with our Representative shouldn’t be this hard.”
Organizers of Occupy CD2 site multiple examples of trying to meet with Rep. Walden and being repeatedly denied. “During the federal debt ceiling negotiations this summer, we invited Rep. Walden to a Town Hall to talk about jobs and the economy and he never showed up. We had to hold the Town Hall without him. When we mailed his office our questions, we never got a response,” shares Kathy Paterno of Powell Butte.
“This August, when Members of Congress were supposed to be home meeting with their constituents, we called Walden’s office to ask about public events where we could meet with our Representative. We were told he only does private meetings and ribbon cuttings. When asked how to get a meeting, we were told to submit a request online. We never heard back. Our country is in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and we can’t even meet with our Representative in Congress?” shared Hallmark.
Occupy CD2 aligns with the Occupy Wall Street movement, sharing deep concern that the economy is largely run by and for a small percentage of very wealthy people, which provides them more of a voice than the 99 percent of Americans who are not being represented in Washington.
"Walden is a symbol of all that is wrong in Washington D.C. Our representatives no longer 'represent' us," said Corie Lahr of Hood River. "All too often, Democrats and Republicans ally with Wall Street, not our street. If Representatives were doing the jobs they were elected to do, they would want to know what we think."
Occupy CD2 planners think Walden's voting record shows that Walden does not represent the majority of Oregonians. For example, Walden voted to preserve $700 billion in tax cuts for the richest Americans while voting to end the Medicare program that protects senior citizens from medical bankruptcy.
“Why, in 2010, did he vote to defund the enforcement arm of the Security and Exchange commission whose purpose is to regulate the untrammeled greed and recklessness of Wall Street firms?” asked Glen Scheele of La Grande. “That’s actually a rhetorical question -- his campaign donor list will supply the answer.”
Occupy CD2 planners are concerned that Walden’s 2010 campaign contributions include many companies among the Fortune 500, including Koch Industries, communications giants Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, the American Bankers Association and equity investments firms.
"We may not have the money to pay for fancy campaign ads or lobbyists to influence votes, but we are the 99 percent and we demand our stories and our frustrations be taken seriously," said Paterno.
This is not the first time District 2 constituents have been vocal with Walden. Last May, rural Oregonians "Foreclosed on Walden" at his Bend office, supplying a symbolic Notice of Default and Foreclosure on the grounds that Walden failed to “execute his duty to look after the financial and social health of his constituents in, and the residents of, the State of Oregon." The Notice delivery and subsequent rally highlighted Walden's voting record that preserved military and oil industry tax breaks while cutting funding for emergency home heating assistance for low-income households and for the Women, Infants, and Children food program.
Participants in Occupy CD2 state the nonpartisan movement seeks to reclaim democracy and return political power to voters and taxpayers. Protesters pledged to remain non-violent, respecting persons as well as property during Monday's demonstrations.