U.S. Rep. John Garamendi, back in California from Washington D.C. for Easter recess, spent March 29 in a series of meetings, talking to his constituents on a variety of issues.
Garamendi’s “District Work Day” included multiple stops in Lake and Colusa counties, which the Democratic congressman said served as an opportunity for him to be as accessible to as many people as possible, and welcome a wide variety of information and opinions.
Garamendi’s 3rd District stretches from the Fairfield area all the way through western Glenn County, and takes in much of Lake, Colusa, Sutter and Yuba counties. In Lake County, Garamendi discussed issues mostly relating to those communities, including the algae problem in Clearlake, disaster recovery in fire-affected areas, and the bipartisan work he is doing to protect and expand upon Social Security and public education.
Following his afternoon Town Hall meeting in Clearlake Oaks, Garamendi met with mostly ranchers, farmers, and water officials in Maxwell to talk about the Sites Reservoir and the omnibus bill, which he supported, and Pres. Donald J. Trump signed into law, which includes $4.3 million in federal funding for the project’s feasibility study.
Garamendi finished his workday at a Town Hall at the Williams Upper Elementary School Thursday night, which was organized by Indivisible Colusa and the new Colusa County Democratic Central Committee.
Although Garamendi’s original intent of the Town Hall was to discuss local issues, the mostly democratic audience and question-and-answer approach drew the discussion into other directions, leaving Garamendi to paint the state of national affairs with a broad brush.
Garamendi said President Donald J. Trump’s White House is in constant chaos, the tax bill is a giveaway to the rich and hurts entitlement programs, that Trump created the DACA crisis, that Trump or his team may have colluded with Russians, and that Trump’s advisors could call for a first strike against North Korea.
Garamendi also agreed with his constituents in the meeting that called for a federal ban of military-style rifles, a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, and automatic citizenship for “green-card” veterans who serve at least two years in the military.
Garamendi did note that comprehensive immigration reform was needed, as well as better border security, but said that security could be achieved with fencing and the use of drones.
He was also highly critical of Trump’s staff appointments, including John Bolton as National Security Advisor, Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson as head of the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, and Mike Pompeo, as Secretary of State, although Garamendi said he was willing to “wait and see,” on Pompeo, after citing his immense dislike for fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Colusa County Veterans Services Officer Don Parsons, whose brothers served in Vietnam and sat through Thursday’s Town Hall meeting, along with Stephanie Ruscigno, a disabled woman who served in the Women’s Army Corps, confronted Garamendi on the Veteran Administration’s failures and spending abuses during the previous administration, and the House of Representatives’ failure to pass legislation that has been introduced several times over the past decade that expedites services and disability claims for Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange.
“Veterans are still waiting for the promises made over 50 years ago,” Parsons said. “We’re spending billions of dollars throughout the world taking care of other people, but we can’t take care of my brothers here,” Parsons said.
Parsons asked Garamendi to go back to Washington and demand Congress bring the 2017 Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017 “back into the light.”
“Get the votes and get it passed and get my brothers taken care of,” Parsons said. Garamendi said he has co-authored several bills on the Agent Orange coverage issue, and that Congress would likely take a look at them again so that Vietnam veterans might receive the services they need.
“If we wait much longer, there won’t be many left to serve at all,” Garamendi said.
Following the Town Hall meeting, Indivisible Colusa and the Colusa County Democratic Central Committee held a mixer at Louie Cairo’s to celebrate the county’s new “blue wave.” ■