August 20, 2019
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Bruce Poliquin is not accessible to all his constituents

George Danby | BDN
George Danby | BDN

We have found that U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin is not accessible for people in his district to tell him what they think about the many issues that affect us in our community.

Poliquin’s office recently moved to a location inaccessible to those with handicaps and essentially closed to anyone who wants to talk to members of his staff, especially about policy issues.

Food AND Medicine has been leading a group visit almost every Tuesday since January, and when we arrived last month with a member in a wheelchair, we found the lights off, the doors locked and a sign on the door that read “Meetings By Appointment Only.” When one of us called the phone number listed on the door to make an appointment, it was routed to the Presque Isle office. We were dumbfounded.

We had informed his staff that we would come that day with someone who uses a wheelchair. Several of us went back the next day and again found the doors locked.

This is not the Maine way. U.S. Sens. Angus King’s and Susan Collins’ offices are open to constituents.

We have been told, “It’s a casework office, not a legislative office.” Apparently, the representative’s office in the second-largest city in his district isn’t a full-service office.

As of July 9, Poliquin’s webpage for the Bangor office touts his assistance to seniors, veterans, families and community members, and states, “Please be sure to stop by and say hello!”

If you have a disability, that would be hard to do at his Bangor office, and the signage tells you that the office is closed unless you made a prior appointment.

The Americans With Disabilities Act requires federal buildings, including congressional offices, to be accessible to all. Poliquin’s previous office on State Street was accessible. This one is not.

Poliquin consistently tells those of us who wish to meet with him to discuss the many issues that directly affect so many of us living in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District that he meets with “job creators” and veterans. Perhaps they can contact him some special way. But what about the more than 100,000 Maine people who would lose health insurance under the House bill for which Poliquin voted?

In addition, neither Poliquin nor his staff responds to our concerns when we go to his district office in Bangor. Staff’s typical response to our questions about his stance on any issue has been “I don’t know.” If one of us gets a written response, it’s often in the form of a standardized letter and doesn’t coincide with the issue about which we expressed concern.

Does Poliquin know or care what you think about the American Health Care Act and health care programs such as Medicare and Medicaid that affect you and your family? Does he know or care what you think about major tax cuts for the wealthiest of Americans? And what about other education, bank regulation and other matters?

Poliquin does not publicly discuss his views on various issues before he votes. The job of a person representing us in Congress is to build consensus through discussion, discourse and debate, and to meet with all constituents including students, seniors, homemakers and others in the diverse 2nd District he was elected to represent. Poliquin is not doing his job.

Melissa Berky is registered nurse and former certified nurse midwife. She lives in Bangor.

 



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