Citing Safety, Andy Harris Gives Day's Notice for Town Hall
Rep. Andy Harris said 25 hours was enough notice for those with a "burning desire to come out and say something."
Readers asked and Patch got the answer.
When Congressman Andy Harris announced his Monday meeting with about a day's notice, some readers were disappointed with the last-minute scheduling. But the Republican representative's staff said the shorter notice is about protecting the congressman's safety.
Automatic phone calls to Kingsville and North Perry Hall residents announcing the meeting occurred within two hours after the media advisory was sent out.
Some readers commented that they would have liked to attend a meeting with Maryland's First District congressman, had they been given more notice.
Read a live blog of the meeting, LIVE BLOG: Rep. Harris Talks Debt at Kingsville Town Hall Meeting.
During the meeting, Harris said that his office "didn't send out the press notice in time," but that the automatic phone calls were released as scheduled.
"Our feeling is that if we call people up too far ahead of time, they'll forget," he said.
When asked if he believed more people would have attended the meeting had they been given more notice, he said, "That's possible, but if people really have a burning desire to come out and say something, they'll come out and say something."
Toward the end of the meeting Harris said another meeting was planned for the Perry Hall area on Dec. 19.
"How's that for advanced notice?" he said.
One of the congressman's assistants confirmed that a meeting is planned for Dec. 19 between 2-3 p.m. at the Perry Hall Library.
Harris' office gave about 30 hours notice before holding a town hall meeting at Chapel Hill Elementary School in Perry Hall in March. His office gave less than 24 hours notice before another event at the Perry Hall Safeway later that week.
Following the March meeting, Ryan Nawrocki, Harris' press secretary, said it was standard practice for the office to only give 24-48 hours notice to community members and media before events.
"We want to be as accessible as possible," said Nawrocki. "But since Gabby Giffords, we have to consider safety."
Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot during an event at a Safeway in January. While she survived the assassination attempt, six others were killed and 13 people were injured.
When asked if giving short notice to constituents in the name of safety was worth fewer people attending events, Nawrocki said, "It's a fine line between safety and openness in government."
Would town hall meetings be better attended if members of Congress gave more advanced notice? Tell us in the comments.