City Hall coffee brings Jenkins to Meriden


Photo by Pat Leopold
Wayne Ledbetter, right, chairman of the Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners, Ron Ellis, second from right, chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Central Committee, and Richard Malm, third from right, vice chairman of the BOCC, were among those on hand for Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins’ appearance last Thursday afternoon at Meriden City Hall.



by Rick Nichols
Possible reductions in their pensions were uppermost on the minds of at least some of the individuals who showed up at Meriden City Hall last Thursday afternoon in spite of the weather to make U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kansas) well aware of their worries.
Dubbed “Coffee with Your Congresswoman,” the one-hour event gave the Republican lawmaker a chance to hear the things constituents wanted to tell her and field questions from them as well. Three men and one woman arrived at the building wearing T-shirts that read “Stop the Rush to Pension Cuts! – We Earned Our Pensions!” and had the congresswoman’s undivided attention in short order.
According to one of the men, roughly 400,000 Americans stand to be adversely affected if the Central States Pension Fund, which reportedly is on the brink of insolvency, is allowed to carry out a plan to drastically lower the monthly payments made to many pensioners in order to stay afloat. Jenkins appeared sympathetic and indicated that she was willing to do whatever she could about the situation, but she stopped short of making any guarantees. “I understand your concerns,” she told the group.
Another man wanted to know why it was so difficult for someone to begin receiving the Social Security disability benefits due them and was encouraged by Jenkins to get in touch with her staff. They are well familiar with the process involved and can usually find a way to cut through the government’s “red tape,” she said.
Still another man asked Jenkins what she was personally going to do to help push legislation that would benefit millions of Americans through Congress. She replied by saying, “We have a divided government right now whether we like it or not,” but she went on to suggest that the chances of coming up with a bill a substantial number of both Republicans and Democrats could support largely depended on the ability of the Republicans to find “a lead Democrat” who was willing to co-sponsor the measure.
The congresswoman then spent several minutes discussing her involvement in a brainstorming group known as the Problem Solvers Caucus, which was organized a few years ago and is comprised of both Republicans and Democrats. She said members get together for breakfast twice a month and occasionally get together for dinner, thus enabling them to become better acquainted with each other on a personal basis. She said the group has continued to grow in size and now has more than 100 members.
Pressed to provide an example of what Congress has accomplished recently, Jenkins pointed to the passage of a long-term transportation plan and the termination of the controversial No Child Left Behind Act then President George W. Bush signed into law in 2001.
All in all, Jenkins was optimistic about the immediate future with respect to the way she looks for Congress to operate. “No one should be discouraged. I think we’ve turned a corner, if you will,” she told her listeners. “I think it’s a new day.”
There was a man in the audience who asked Jenkins if there was any way the federal government could help veterans obtain the pills they need to enhance their health. She responded by urging him to contact one of her offices, noting that some members of her staff are veterans themselves.
The congresswoman used the opportunity the question gave her to sharply criticize the operation of the Veterans Administration under President Barack Obama. “We have people who are mismanaging the V.A. system,” she said. “It (this situation) must change.”
Asked about her view on President Obama’s decision last year to issue an executive order altering the status of many individuals who have illegally entered the country over the years, Jenkins replied, “I’m of the opinion he broke the law and the courts have agreed with us on this.”
The opportunity to quiz Jenkins and discuss any number of key issues with her also brought Jefferson County Commissioners Wayne Ledbetter and Richard Malm to the event. Ledbetter, the new chairman of the Board of County Commissioners, and Malm, the BOCC’s vice chairman, were joined in the City Council’s meeting room by Ron Ellis, chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Central Committee.
The congresswoman was accompanied to her Coffee by her chief of staff, Pat Leopold.

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Posted by on Feb 9 2016. Filed under The Independent, The Vindicator. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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