Doolittle returns to district to host town meetings | SierraSun.com

Doolittle returns to district to host town meetings

David Bunker
Sierra Sun

Nearly four months after a tight re-election to his ninth term as a U.S. Representative, John Doolittle, R-Roseville, kicked off a town hall meeting tour of his district this week.

Although Truckee was not among the town hall forum stops ” which included Quincy, Susanville, Orangevale, Placerville, Auburn and Grass Valley ” Doolittle stopped briefly in Truckee Wednesday to discuss local and federal issues.

And he promised to hold a town hall forum in Truckee on a return trip to the district at a later date.

After a stiff challenge to his incumbency in November, where he was criticized by competitor Charlie Brown as being out of touch with his district, Doolittle has kicked off a series of changes to assure he has closer communication with his constituency.

Apart from the town hall meetings, Doolittle announced he is establishing satellite offices in Quincy and Susanville, and may open up more part-time offices throughout the district as funding allows. The offices are intended to provide constituents greater access to their representative in Washington, Doolittle said, and will offer regularly scheduled hours one or two days each week. Truckee is one of the locations under consideration for a future satellite office, he said.

“I’m trying to be as good a representative as I know how,” Doolittle said.

He said he intends the satellite offices to allow him to “be the face of the federal government” throughout the far reaches of the district.

The congressman has also set up weekly conference calls with reporters from his district to keep the public up-to-date on congressional issues affecting the district.

So far, district residents attending Doolittle’s town hall-style meetings have voiced concerns over the impending termination of federal funding for rural schools and roads. The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 is set to expire, leaving rural counties without critical funding that in previous years came from logging taxes.

The funding is received by both Placer and Nevada counties, but more rural counties like Sierra, Plumas and Alpine are in dire need of the funding.

Doolittle said funding for the schools will be added into an emergency supplemental appropriations bill that will fund the War in Iraq. The bill is expected to pass soon, he said.

“Because this is a dire situation, it should pass quickly,” said Doolittle.

However, he is discussing a long-term solution to the funding shortage with his district during the town hall forums.

A proposed reauthorization of the act, funding schools by selling off hundreds of thousands of acres of public land, has little chance of passing, he said.

“In my mind, the biggest part is not the short-term program but how we need a replacement for the timber-receipt program,” said Doolittle. “It’s definitely owed to these counties because the federal government owns all this forest that comes off of the tax rolls.”

As part of Doolittle’s promise to stay in closer contact with his district, he said he will return to Northern California as often as his congressional schedule allows.

In the meantime, Doolittle said he sees many issues upon which he and California’s other federal representatives, including Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein, can agree.

“We’ll do the best we can to work together, for the nation and California,” he said.