Among the local Congressional delegation, probably no one's run into more rambunctious Town Hall madness than Gene Green. Sheila Jackson Lee has had some of it, of course, but as long as the cameras are running she's happy.
Green's town halls, which usually attract a couple of dozen people, are now being hit by 150 or so. He's now requiring attendees to prove their constituents, but before that anyone could come in. And did.
We chatted with Green about it all.
Hair Balls: Should I be yelling these questions at you?
Green: Oh, I know. Sometimes I feel like saying 'I can hear whether you like it or not without you screaming 'Liar.' '
HB: Do you think they're finally overplaying their hand?
Green: I'm hoping so. I say this at everyone we've had..I've done these 20 years, and typically we partner with civic clubs, and you know there are 20, 25 people, and if we do a town hall we'll get another 15 to 20 in. So the venues are pretty small. So when you try and cram 150 people in -- and the first four we did we didn't do the IDs, so it was an organized effort nationwide; they would literally get there an hour and a half before the event and take up all the chairs. But now we've got it where if the folks are mad at me, at least I know they're my constituents instead of someone from The Woodlands or Kingwood.
We had one guy who came three times from The Woodlands and he just happened to mention to my wife he was going to come to all of them and one night I recognized him, the second or third time, and I told him "You're from The Woodlands -- Why are you standing up in front and yelling like a banshee?' So anyway, even the conservative bloc says I'm doing the best i can to control it, but we'll see how it goes. We got one more tonight and one more in about 10 days in Pasadena.
HB: You gotta go Barney Frank on someone.
Green: Well, you know, I cannot compete with Barney's one-liners, though. In fact when I try humor it doesn't always work. Barney does real well. 'What planet do you spend most of your time on?' I love it.
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HB: How strange has it gotten?
Green: We had one over in a predominantly Hispanic, Mexican-American neighborhood and of course the Border Watch people, for whatever [reason], come out to all of them...They were out waving these American flags and had this van or bog ol' truck with a flatbed and had a couple of guys singing songs made up about President Obama. So when I got there I was thinking 'This is theater.'
I didn't realize the kids in the neighborhood who heard about it decided to come down and confront these folks. And the Houston police officers had to keep them apart. But when I did the town hall meeting and came out, someone had gotten some mariachis out there and they were playing and I was walking out with a constituent and I said, 'Man, this must be a circus out here.' We had this choir, we had the mariachis and so it is good theater.
Green's town hall tonight is at Meadowcreek Village Community Center, 5333 Berry Creek Drive, at 7 p.m. Feel free to bring your mariachi band. Or Obama/Hitler poster.