A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 23, 2009
Reverse Town Hall Meeting

A “town hall meeting” (often shortened to “town hall") is when a public official answers questions directly from the public. A “reverse town hall meeting” (or “reverse town hall") is when the public official asks the questions and the public answers. U.S. Vice President Al Gore used the “reverse town hall” when he was campaigning for president in 2000.

President Bill Clinton and Vice President Gore used the “reverse town hall meeting” since at least September 11, 1993. Critics of the “reverse town hall” note that the questions directed at the public are often staged, preventing an open flow of honest communication between the public official and the public.


Wikipedia: Town hall meeting
A town hall meeting is an informal public meeting. Everybody in a community is invited to attend, voice their opinions, and hear the responses from public figures and elected officials, although attendees rarely vote on an issue. In today’s heterogeneous communities with large populations, more often, town hall meetings are held so that people can influence elected officials in their decision making or to give them a chance to feel that their voices are being heard.

There are no specific rules or guidelines for holding a town hall meeting. If the turnout is large, and the objective is to give as many people as possible an opportunity to speak, the group can be broken down into smaller discussion groups. Participants all hear an opening presentation and then group-up to discuss an aspect of the presentation. Each group appoints someone to summarize their group’s discussion.

Google Groups: alt.politics.clinton
Newsgroups: alt.politics.clinton
From: (The White House)
Date: 14 Sep 1993 13:29:03 -0400
Local: Tues, Sep 14 1993 11:29 am
Subject: CLINTON: Texas REGO event 9/11/93

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
(Houston, Texas)
_________________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release September 11, 1993
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AND THE VICE PRESIDENT
IN NATIONAL PERFORMANCE REVIEW DISCUSSION
Texas Surplus Property Agency
Houston, Texas
10:39 A.M. CDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen.  And Governor Richards, thank you so much for your kind words and for your leadership and for being here and helping us out so much.  And thank you for what you’ve done in being so courageous, along with John Sharp, in fashioning this effort called the Texas Performance Review.
(...)
THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Ladies and gentlemen, we would now like to hear from you.  And we call this approach a reverse town hall meeting because we want to ask questions about how you have done it here in Texas in the Texas Performance Review, other parts of the state government, the land office and the city of Houston.

Let me ask a couple of questions here first.  How many people here are from, or worked on, the Texas Performance Review?  Could you raise your hands?  All right.  Very good.  How many many people here work in the land office?  Raise your hands.  How many people here work for other parts of state government? Could I see your hands?  How many people here work for the city of Houston?  Can I see your hands? 

Google News Archive
1 September 1998, Toledo (OH) Blade, “Vice President raises cash at Dayton rally; Gore defends president” by Fritz Wenzel, pg. 3, col. 5:
In what one Dayton school district official called a “reverse town hall meeting,” Mr. Gore faced hundreds of students, their teachers, and other district employees at Carlson Elementary School yesterday to ask them questions.

Google Books
Smashmouth: Two years in the gutter with Al Gore and George W. Bush :
Notes from the 2000 campaign trail

By Dana Milbank
New York, NY
Basic Books
2001
Pg. 19:
Another source of these stories for Gore is something his staff calls the “reverse town-hall meeting.” Invented last year, this format has become a staple of the Gore road show. Instead of a free-wheeling. Clinton-style town meeting, Gore does most of the talking, working with a stack of note cards referring him to various people who have been planted in the audience.

The meetings are essentially infomercials, but local TV stations carry them live, and they provide Gore with a constantly replenished source of real-people stories.

Dickinson State Digest
Tuesday, Oct. 9, at 7 p.m., in the Student Center ballroom, there will be a “Reverse Town Hall Meeting,” during which a group of panelists will ask questions of the audience on a variety of topics surrounding alcohol abuse. There will also be an opportunity for audience members to question panelists.
(...)
9/28/2007 8:54:40 AM

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Wednesday, December 23, 2009 • Permalink