Town hall meeting prompts Native American protests

By Jennifer Quilici
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 13, 1996

Despite protesting from environmental and Native American groups during the day at Congressman Jim Kolbe's office and the UA, Kolbe kept his appointment at the university last night to hold an open town hall meeting.

Kolbe addressed nearly 200 students, faculty, and community members during the meeting in the UA Senior Ballroom sponsored by Associated Students.

In this, his sixth term in the U.S. House of Representatives, it is the first time Kolbe has held a town hall at the university, which lies in Kolbe's district.

"I am delighted to do this tonight," Kolbe said.

Kolbe opened the session to questions and answers after giving a brief summary of the events going on in Congress.

He also discussed Medicare, Medicaid, the Immigration Bill, tax reductions, direct lending, welfare reform, farm subsidizing, and Social Security. He reserved the end of the meeting for a discussion of environmental issues.

But first, Kolbe said most of the debate in Washington right now centers on budget and appropriation bills.

"This is my future and I'm hopeful because these guys are doing their job, but I'm worried," said Jim Bretney, a history senior.

Kolbe said he understood his concern.

Kolbe said this budget debate is important to the university and university students because the federal budget allows for spending on research and loans given to academic institutions.

The most controversial issue seemed to be the telescopes on Mt. Graham, with some audience members pleading with Kolbe to remove them.

Many in the audience represented groups involved in protests earlier in the day, including Earth First! and the Student Environmental Action Coalition.

Gita Bodner, an ecology evolution graduate student, said Kolbe should face the fact that riders (attachments to legislative bills), such as the one Kolbe attached to allow telescope construction on Mt. Graham to continue, have held up the federal budget.

Kolbe said that these riders are important and are something the president and Congress must negotiate in order to get these bills passed.