News from Down South

I listened to the Massa press call today. Every reporter who asked a question was from the Southern Tier, except me. So, naturally, almost every topic discussed was directly related to the Southern Tier.

Bob Recotta from the Corning Leader asked a couple of questions about healthcare legislation. One was about co-ops, and Massa doesn't feel that he knows enough about the current Senate bill (which was just amended) to go into specifics, but he thinks that any co-op will need hundreds of thousands of participants to work. Massa also said that he wouldn't vote for the healthcare bill in hopes that it would be modified in conference. "I vote on what's written on a piece of paper."

Gary from WPIG radio ("Sizzlin' Country") in Olean, and Rick Miller from the Olean Times-Herald asked about disaster relief for that area. Other than another letter from Massa, Schumer and Higgins, there's nothing new to report. Rick asked if Massa thought the Obama administration was dragging its feet because of Massa's opposition to healthcare legislation. Massa said he'd be "stunned" if that was happening, and also noted that Schumer and Higgins have the same request as Massa.

In addition to a personal visit to Gowanda, where he found the athletic field "ankle deep in mud", Massa's also dispatched a staffer to talk to the superintendent there about the district needs.

Massa opened the call by noting that town hall meetings are his most visible activity, but he also tries to make in-district visits that are relevant to pending legislation. For example, HR 1132 continues some tax benefits for shortline railroads. Massa traveled on the Western New York and Pennsylvania Railroad with some local officials to better understand shortline railroads.

I asked Massa if he thought that there was less misinformation, such as questions about death panels, surfacing in his latest town halls. He said a "small minority" of constituents still ask about things like that, and refuse to believe him even after he reads from the bill.

Even so, "if I'm willing to the best of my ability to explain my position, most people are open to disagreeing with me in a civil [way] if they're going to disagree."