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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, April 27, 2017 2:50 pm

Indivisible plans town hall, with or without congressman

BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

Indivisible Indiana Third Congressional District has invited Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd, to a town hall meeting in Angola on May 13.

It appears that Banks' attendance is optional at the forum, which will be from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the Steuben County Community Center.

Indivisible organizer Judy Rowe wrote in an invitation to Banks' office that "arrangements are made, the media notified and the event will proceed regardless of participation by our Congressman."

Banks told Political Notebook that he does not plan to be there because the date falls on Mother's Day weekend and he has other plans.

Rowe wrote to Banks' scheduler: "Elected officials have a duty to offer periodic communication with their constituents in a public forum. Citing security concerns, Congressman Banks has chosen to avoid that obligation by severely limiting the number, location, and notice of public meetings."

Since taking office in January, Banks has had an open house at his Fort Wayne office and public forums in Portland and Decatur.

Indivisible is a nationwide network of activists opposed to President Donald Trump's policy agenda. Its chapters have scheduled town hall meetings for other members of Congress who did not show up.

On April 22, for instance, an Indivisible chapter had a forum in Victorville, California, for Republican Rep. Paul Cook. In Cook's absence, Indivisible placed a cardboard cutout displaying his image on a stage, and some people directed their comments and questions to the cutout, the Daily Press of Victorville reported.

On April 18, an Indivisible chapter sponsored an "Empty Chair Town Hall" in Wichita Falls, Texas, for Republican Rep. Mac Thornberry, who did not attend, the Times Record News of Wichita Falls reported.