By Susan Serbin, Times Correspondent
Published: September 28, 2017
SPRINGFIELD >> For the third time in seven days, citizens gathered on the sidewalk outside the Sproul Road office of Rep. Pat Meehan, R-7. It is no surprise that building owner Frank McKee is sensitive to activists who disregard the “Private Property” sign and park in his lot. After a short, unfriendly exchange between McKee and an organizer, cars were moved and everyone stayed off the lawn.
Yesterday’s noontime assembly focused on possible elimination of “safety net” programs that could result from the most recent initiative of the current administration.
“The House Budget Committee’s 2018 plans, presented by Speaker Paul Ryan, would pave the way for trillions of dollars in tax cuts to the wealthy and big corporations, while cutting trillions of dollars from public services working families rely on, such as Social Security, health care and education,” said a flyer from Americans for Tax Fairness and distributed to those gathered.
The Philadelphia Unemployment Project, a city non-profit, led the hour-long presentation with information on the impact of the proposed budget, particularly on Meehan’s 7th District constituents. Through social media, about 20 people with various affiliations turned up with signs and causes.
Kimberly McCollum spent more than an hour driving from her home in Harleysville. Although miles away, inconvenient and not directly connected to the Delaware County core, Meehan is her representative in Congress.
“I’m particularly poorly represented as an immigrant,” McCollum, 29, said.
She is, in fact, a “dreamer,” having come with her parents to America from Honduras. Recent announcements by President Trump on DACA worry her. She said she watches what the president does more than listening to words or reading the tweets.
“I could lose friends and family. I rely on a responsible Congress to use the rule of law instead of racial ideology,” said McCollum, who had plenty of allies in the crowd for her cause.
One of those was Jen Hallam of Upper Darby, whose sign read, “I stand with immigrants and refugees,” and included a cheerful Statue of Liberty representation.
Hallam consistently attends the sidewalk events. She has previously been interviewed at rallies about cutting Planned Parenthood funds and defeat of the health-care plan. A freelancer in the film, television and editing crafts, Hallam said her interests go beyond one cause.
“I have always been interested in issues of social justice and equality. I believe strongly in critical thinking,” said Hallam, suggesting it is often absent. “Often (these issues) come down to human rights and human kindness. But Draconian laws take away protections and eat away at human beings. People can die; young people are sent away to places they don’t know; and life is made harder. It makes me angry.”
The motivation is very similar for Rona Klein of Glen Mills. She and colleagues have established Individuals for Action, a standalone group which coalesces with other organizations.
“Since last March we have been holding a gathering here every fourth Friday of the month. Many people were upset by the (2016) elections. But also because Meehan will not hold a town hall meeting,” said Klein, acknowledging the congressman’s telephone town halls with public participation.
Meehan accompanied Speaker Ryan, R-Wis., for a town hall-style meeting with workers at an Aston plant yesterday, and provided a comment on the budget issue.
“Congressman Meehan has expressed concerns with the budget to the House leadership. He’s listening to input from his constituents and talking to his colleagues as the process continues,” said Communications Director John Elizandro
“Every month there are so many issues – DACA, hurricanes, health care, climate change. We want a forum. I send out emails, they circulate and we organize speakers. Our organization is non-partisan; it’s for everyone,” said Klein.
It is probable that tax reform, resurgence of health care or even the “take a knee” trend will rise to the top of trending issues. According to Klein’s fourth Thursday schedule, just pick one. A group will be at 940 W. Sproul Rd. Just park on the public street and don’t walk on the grass.