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Gainsville, FL Truth Hearing

A coalition of the Alachua County NAACP, Central Labor Council of North Central Florida, Gainesville Area National Origination for Women, Graduates Assistants United (GAU), American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 2779, Physicians for a national Health Plan, United Faculty of Florida, Gainesville Women’s Liberation and the Alachua County Labor Party was formed in January to organize a Congressional Healthcare Hearing.

Planning: Representatives from the above groups along with representatives from the Coalition of Black Nurses Association and Healthcare is a Human Rights groups met twice a month for planning and strategy to publicize and mobile people to come to the hearing.

Publicizing: Members would table and flyer at the following locations: (also would talk with people about HR 676)

Events/Festivals: The Santa Fe Spring Arts Festival and the 5th Avenue Spring Arts Festival, Gainesville 4th of July Fireworks

Flea and Farmers’ Markets: Downtown Farmers and Flea Market at the Hippodrone, Wednesday afternoons and the Farmers Market on US 441 North Saturdays mornings.

Meetings: CWA Union Meeting, Save Alachua General Hospital, and North Florida Central Labor Council General Meeting,

Demonstrations: Picket in front Region Blue Cross and Blue Shield Offices on June 7, 2007, where the City Proclamation was read that June 6th, 2006 was National Health Insurance Day in the City of Gainesville and we had a SpeakOut where people told their experiences in dealing with insurance companies. Signs along the road read “HONK if you been denied Healthcare!” The live 6 o’clock lead to the local news was noisy with car horns sounding as the reporter stated “by the noise out here, the protesters had definitely struck a chord with the passing motorist.”

Op Ed Pieces: The Gainesville Sun 2 times. The Satellite (local opinion/arts and entertainment magazine)

Street Corner Sign Waving: Corner of University Avenue and Waldo Road.

Healthcare Surveys: 10 boxes were located throughout the community with health care surveys. Surveys had “I would like to Testify, Please contact me” boxes with a place for their names and contact information. The Boxes were located Public Health Department, Doctor’s offices, Public Library, Civic Media Center, Books Inc. Café and Book Store, Senor Citizen Community Centers. Also surveys were mailed to our data base, Church Group mailing list. Healthcare Surveys were also collected at Festivals and Organization meetings and were always on our table at all tabling events.

Post Cards to Local Representatives and Senator’s: The one tool that was used at all locations and mailings were post cards. The Post Cards were for either Representative Cliff Sterns or Senator Bill Nelson. The cards were a way to approach people to ask for their signature and explain HR676. We tried to keep the signed post cards to create a mailing data base to publicize the Congressional Hearing. We had collected over 750 postcards before the hearing.

Conference Call with Representative Cliff Sterns – We organized a conference call w/ representative Cliff Sterns with people from all the endorsing groups and had a local newspaper reporter present for the call. (Sterns declined to come on line 45 sec. before the call but had his representatives handle the call instead.)

News Paper Signature Advertisement for Congressional Hearings. – A 5/4 page ad for the Congressional Hearing was Gainesville Sun the Sunday before the Congressional Hearings. Names were places in the ad to endorse HR676 for $10 to pay for the ad.

Public Service Announcements: We put public service announcements on the radio to advertise the hearing.

City Proclamation: The Mayor of the City of Gainesville signed a proclamation declaring that June 6, 2007 was National Health Insurance Day. The language could not include any specific legislation but did say single payer heath system.

Alachua County Commission Resolution in Support of HR676 – We lobbied each county commissioner giving personal testimony of experiences with insurance companies. The County Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution endorsing HR 676.

Press Releases: For all public events, demonstrations and conference calls, as well as the Congressional Hearings press releases were issued. Phone calls to the media followed the press releases to ensure they were aware of the events or issues.

Film: At the Hippodrome Cinema we showed the film “Damaged Care”. We tabled in the lobby with flyers, signature ads, post cards and healthcare surveys.

The Congressional Hearings:

The Hearing was held at the Thelma Boltin Community Center on Saturday, July 8th, 2007 from 9:30 am to 12:30pm. The hearings were attended by over 200 people with Representative Corrine Browns’ representative Glenal Bowden and Senator Bill Nelson’s representative Mary Chiles along with members of the Alachua County and City of Gainesville Commissioners receiving the testimony. The hearing was facilitated by former mayor of Gainesville Penny Wheat.

All people were to sign in at the door. A preliminary list of people who had already contacted us from all the preceding events, advertisements and tabling was coordinated before the hearing. After the signing in at the door, people who wanted to testify had to go to the testify table and sign-in to testify. The list of who would testify was modified and amended according to who showed up.

The front of the room had a table for testifiers and a table for elected officials to receive the testimony. The testifiers were given 5 min. to testify enforced by the facilitator. 3 testifiers at time were called up to the table to testify. The next 3 testifiers were called to move to the side of the front to facilitate the change in panel of testifiers. A runner between the facilitator and the testifier sign-in desk kept the facilitator updated who to call to be on deck next.

The event was taped by a professional videogragher. A separate video booth was set up in the lobby for people who did not want to testify in front of the audience. The video booth was also used for people that wanted to testify but because of time constraints, were not able to testify in front of the audience.

Within 72 hours every person that attended the Congressional hearing had received a phone call from Larry Thompson of the Alachua County Labor Party getting their feedback. At the next Labor Party meeting more than 50 people attended, 30 of which had never been a Labor Party meeting.

To get involved in this fight to win H.R. 676, call the Alachua County Labor Party at 352-375-2832. Copies of our Hearing are available on DVD. Email us at: aclp@floridalaborparty.org.

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