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The ugly spectacle of hecklers shouting down a woman in a wheelchair in Red Bank last week is getting national play.

Last night, Keith Olbermann of MSNBC’s Countdown played a portion of the video Brian Donohue shot for his online Star-Ledger feature, Ledger Live, during the August 26 town hall meeting held by sixth-district Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. at the Red Bank Middle School.

The topic: national health insurance.

“If somebody were to parody the truly ugly behavior at some of these healthcare town halls, it might read like this,” Olbermann says in setting up the video.

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hot-topic1Congressman Rush Holt‘s town hall meeting on federal health coverage in Middletown Wednesday was a less raucous affair than the one held the night before in Red Bank by his House colleague, Frank Pallone Jr., today’s Asbury Park Press reports.

One reason: Holt held his in the 258-seat Middletown Arts Center. Another: Boy Scouts. The 12-district Democrat refused to take oral questions and instead had people write theirs down and drop them in boxes. Boy Scouts then chose the questions for Holt, according to the Press.

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Here’s Star-Ledger video reporter Andre Malok’s takeaway from Tuesday night’s town hall meeting of federal healthcare reform, held at the Red Bank Middle School.

An Asbury Park Press video is here.

If you missed it, here’s the redbankgreen article.


img_1265-2With the auditorium inside already packed, a crowd of more than 1,000 people snaked around the front yard of the Red Bank Middle School awaiting its turn inside. Three consecutive seatings were required to accommodate the turnout, with the final session beginning at around 10:30p.

Some came to yell ‘Get a job’ at their congressman. One came to ask him if he was a communist. Another spent $14 on a cab ride from Middletown to declare her own candidacy for his seat, on the platform of “if everybody gave up meat and chicken, people wouldn’t get sick.”

In the aggregate, most of the 1,300 people who swamped Tuesday night’s forum on a proposed federal health insurance plan came to vent their anger over the plan’s expense and expected impact on their continued access to quality medical services.

Through it all, sixth-district Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., a Democrat, stood his ground on the auditorium stage at the Red Bank Middle School, unwavering in his defense of the plan.

“I don’t believe that the majority are opposed to this,” he said, speaking of his own constituents, prompting one of many cascades of boos heard over the course of three seatings.

img_1515-2Attendees pro and con on health insurance reform tried to out-sing each other on ‘God Bless America’ prior to the start of the second session.
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