U.S. Rep. Hansen Clarke Answers Questions in Community Town Hall
The congressman took written questions on a litany issues from a crowd of about 50 in Cleminson Hall at Grosse Pointe South Wednesday.
U.S. Rep. Hansen Clarke, a Detroit Democrat who represents the five Pointes, held a town hall forum at Grosse Pointe South Wednesday and continued to call for a “federal trust fund” for his beleaguered city.
The plan, which Clarke said has 30 supporters in the House of Representatives, would divert all federal income tax paid by Detroiters away from Washington and into a fund that could be used to lower the debt burden of both the city and Detroit Public Schools.
“This is not about Detroit, this is about creating jobs and building manufacturing opportunities all across this country,” Clarke told a crowd of about 50 in Cleminson Hall at Grosse Pointe South.
Clarke, a former state senator who replaced scandal-ridden Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick in January, also touted how he worked to make sure homeland security money was spent in Metro Detroit.
Rather than take questions directly from the audience, Clarke had visitors write their questions down on index cards and then two Grosse Pointe South students asked the questions.
When asked about the Michigan film tax credit, the congressman's response was brief: “It makes my job so much easier to talk about investing in Detroit when Detroit is being showcased around the country and around the world.”
But Clarke, whose staff self-imposed a three-minute limit on each of his responses, spoke at length on the Occupy Wall Street movement. He seemed to sympathize with the basic concerns of the protesters, and said he’d like to move toward an America where people “really have freedom, and I think the only way you can really be free is when you’re not under water on debt.”
The questions asked by the student moderators seemed to be very indirect — rather than a specific question, Clarke was simply asked for his “thoughts” on social security and health care, two very broad topics.
On health care, Clarke made some personal remarks about his health, saying that switching to a diet low in meat has helped the 54-year-old congressman deal with his hectic schedule. He went on to say he’d like to change the American health system from one that “just manages diseases” to one that “helps promote some of those integrated types of medical treatments” that are less costly and often more effective.
Clarke said he supports anti-bullying legislation, but that “legislation won’t change somebody’s heart, their patience, their level of understanding,” making bullying a complex issue with no catch-all solution.
Clarke is up for reelection in 2012, and announced his intentions to seek the seat in District 14 following the redistricting that seriously affected his current district.