It must be an election year, because over at Rep. Ed Clere's Facebook site, most comments on right-to-work expressing opposition to the Parson's own ideology are being permitted to survive, sans the censorship of previous eras. Those of us who were scourged by deletion are deeply appreciative.
As for the town meeting described below by the C-J's Esarey (can't you just see Ron Grooms flailing ineffectually?), NAC's Jeff Gillenwater says it best, and I concur:
Yes, Ed, this is par for the course. Your constituents telling you one thing and you representing the chamber of commerce instead. Tolls, right to work, education... what's next?
Legislators get an earful from right to work opponents ... Legislators hold town hall meeting, by Jenna Esarey, (Special to the Courier-Journal)
A town hall meeting in Georgetown on Saturday gave three Republican Indiana legislators a chance to hear the thoughts of their constituents — almost exclusively about the contentious right-to-work bill.
State Sen. Ron Grooms and Rep. Ed Clere said before the meeting at Georgetown Elementary School that they hoped to be able to discuss a number of issues facing the General Assembly, including a statewide smoking ban and a law on human trafficking.
Grooms, Clere and state Rep. Rhonda Rhoads were accompanied by Dale Chu, an assistant superintendent of the Indiana Department of Education, who answered a few questions about education.
But most of the crowd of 75 at the session was there to voice opposition to the right-to-work bill, which would stop any requirements that employees pay fees to unions they don’t join.
“Indiana doesn’t need it,” Jeffboat employee Jim Kincaid, a member of Teamsters Local 89, said of the bill. “Any state it goes to it’s destroyed the economy. It’s just union busting.”
“We’ve got to stop the right-to-work stuff,” agreed Georgetown resident Bill Miller, also a member of Local 89. “It’s plain old simple union busting. They can wrap it up however they want.”
After opening remarks, the panel took questions from the crowd written on index cards before opening the microphone for further comments at the end of the session. While the first few questions read dealt with other pending legislation or teachers’ issues, the majority addressed the right-to-work bill.
The legislation has been hotly debated in the General Assembly, with some House Democrats staging a boycott over the issue.
Several in the crowd asked why the issue could not be put to a referendum, allowing voters to decide the issue. “There is a constitutional question on whether we could have a statewide referendum,” Clere said.
Emotions ran high in the room as quiet mutterings grew into vocal outbursts from some in the crowd.
When Grooms said the legislation was all about creating jobs, one audience member shouted, “Move to China.”
“I’m not going to tell you that right to work will be the cure-all for the state of Indiana,” Clere said. “We need to do everything we can to make Indiana attractive for job creation.”
Of the 11 people who spoke at the meeting, all addressed right to work. Several suggested that the best way to deal with the issue was to elect different people the next time around.
Kincaid drew enthusiastic applause near the end as he told the panel, “Do what you’ve got to do. But remember in November we’ll be there.”
At one point, Clere spoke briefly about jobs that could be created if his House Bill 1111, the Historic Preservation Tax Credit, were passed. It would raise the cap on statewide credits for the preservation or rehabilitation of historic properties that have been vacant for at least a year.
But people on hand were focused on the right-to-work issue.
“This is par for the course,” Clere said. “This is what we encounter at the Statehouse every day.”