On July 21 our Indivisible Ulster Faso Friday group of six went to Congressman Faso’s office at 721 Broadway in Kingston to fill out comment sheets in the office, which we have been doing weekly since January. We were told we could not go up to the congressman’s office, where we had been filling out our comment sheets, but sent to a first floor conference room. This is the second time we have been asked to use this room. Over the last month, we have been told that there are threats of violence against the congressman’s office, and thus access to his office has been denied.
Today we were told by George Christian, who describes himself as the district manager for the Kingston area, that Dain Pascoccello, chief of staff for Faso in Washington, wanted us to be informed that we would no longer be permitted in the building on Fridays. We were told we should fill out our comment sheets and drop them off at the entrance to the building.
We object to this on a number of grounds. First, since Congressman Faso has avoided public town halls where his constituents would have an opportunity to question his policy decisions, to listen to our stories, this has been one of our few avenues outside of phone calls to make our voices heard. Second, as constituents we should have access to our congressman’s office, not just for our respectful, peaceful group but to bring to his attention our points of view in hopes that he would consider our needs when he votes on matters that affect our lives. Third, we believe that access for all constituents to voice either support or concerns is essential in a democracy where our representatives are elected and supported by taxpayers.
The response from Faso’s office
Ms. Adin falsely claims that Indivisible Ulster has been banned access to Congressman Faso’s Kingston office.
Every Friday, various groups, including Indivisible Ulster and Citizen Action have organized protests outside Congressman Faso’s Kingston district office. Our Kingston staff has worked diligently to ensure that individuals at the protest can leave statements for the congressman by setting up a window office at the entrance of the building. This balances the rights of individuals to have their voices heard while minimizing any adverse impact increased foot traffic has on businesses in the building.
Some individuals, like Ms. Adin, want to be treated differently and she was informed that her group of individuals would have to follow the same procedure as everyone else follows on Friday. Although she objects to this procedure, it is a reasonable approach which takes into consideration constituents bringing casework issues to our office, as well as other tenants in the building.
Finally, it should be noted that Congressman Faso met with Ms. Adin’s group on April 10. I have also had meetings with their group. And, on Saturday morning, I received an email requesting another meeting with me to better understand our Friday procedure for the Kingston office. I responded this morning stating that I would be happy to meet with the group and I would try to fit them in my schedule this week. Ms. Adin was copied on both emails. It is also important to note that Congressman Faso has had over 300 meetings with constituents since January.
District Director, Congressman John Faso