Rep. Darrell Issa’s opponents presented him with a no-win situation Tuesday night in Vista.

The representative of the 49th Congressional District could either attend a town hall meeting organized by local labor groups under the cover of grassroots origins, or he could skip it and fuel the narrative that he is out of touch and ignores his own constituents.

Protesters have been holding rallies outside his office for weeks, with the message that Issa needs to meet face-to-face with his constituents, and hear their concerns  – largely focused on keeping the Affordable Care Act.

One concern is the right of citizens to ask questions of their representatives, and constituents in the 49th say Issa’s town hall meetings conducted over the telephone just don’t cut it (and that the questions he does answer are cherry-picked). Last week, constituents went as far as crowdfunding a full-page ad in the Union-Tribune, inviting Issa to attend the Tuesday night meeting.

The U-T estimated hundreds or perhaps more than 1,000 people showed up, and dozens spoke to the crowd about how the Affordable Care Act helped them avoid bankruptcy, homelessness and death, and about their concerns over the treatment of Muslims and President Donald Trump’s connections to Russia.

So Issa’s choice was to have a Rep. Jason Chaffetz-like town hall, where he faced aggressive questioning from tons of angry constituents, or skip it, which he ultimately did, saying he had a previously scheduled meeting. (It appears he met with Solutions For Change, the North County-based homeless services group.)

Earlier in the day, Issa did address a crowd of protesters and supporters, answering questions about health care, his plan to replace the ACA, immigration and whether he would support an investigation into the president’s connection with Russia. But that was an impromptu meeting during a workday, and hardly a chance for his constituents to ask him questions.

One VIP who did attend the Tuesday town hall was Issa’s opponent for the 49th District, Democrat Doug Applegate, who was posted outside the Jim Porter Recreation Center on Tuesday night to talk to voters, but “not make it about him.” Applegate announced in late November that he plans to challenge Issa again in 2018.

Applegate’s campaign gave me a flier listing all the partners for Fight4OurHealth, the campaign behind the town hall, which included a half-dozen unions and health care advocacy groups, and said Oceanside City Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery even played a part in organizing Applegate’s appearance at the event.

So while the message most people heard after Tuesday was that Issa doesn’t meet with his constituents, it wouldn’t be accurate to describe the town hall he skipped as a grassroots effort.

The town hall was organized and paid for by unions and health care advocacy groups, but to be sure, dozens of angry North County residents did most of the speaking, and they have a right to talk to and ask questions of their representatives.

Issa’s Health Care Bill Provides Coverage, But What’s it Cost?

Issa released his latest proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday, which would allow Americans to purchase the same plan federal employees have access to.

The Union-Tribune’s health care reporter dissected the 10-page bill, and found that while it wouldn’t force people with pre-existing conditions into high-risk pools, Issa’s bill would not maintain subsidies for buying health care, or continue funding for expanded Medicare:

“The text of Issa’s draft bill does specifically allow enrollees to deduct the total cost of their yearly health insurance premiums against their personal income taxes. But Richard Kronick, a health policy professor at UC San Diego who has worked with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said deductions are most useful to people who make enough money to land in high tax brackets. Most Americans who currently get Obamacare subsidies are many rungs further down on the economic ladder, he noted.”

inewsource also examined how repealing the ACA could affect residents throughout the county, and spoke with Issa about his views on health care.

“Issa likened purchasing health insurance to buying car insurance. He said it should be an individual decision — and the consequences for that decision should be borne by the individual,” Cheryl Clark and Joe Yerardi write.

North County’s SANDAG Representatives Largely Silent After Measure A Forecast Debacle

A group of SANDAG board members is calling for an investigation into the forecasts and figures the agency used to sell a sales tax increase, which voters ultimately rejected in November.

The forecasts are directly related to the $18 billion the agency said Measure A would raise to fund transportation projects around the county. But VOSD’s Andrew Keatts found that SANDAG knew all along the measure could not generate $18 billion.

Seven of the 21 board members told SANDAG they want an independent investigation into who knew about the faulty figures, and when they knew it.

Poway Mayor Steve Vaus and Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear were the only North County leaders to sign the letter (Blakespear wasn’t a member of the SANDAG board before the election).

Notably missing from the list are North County’s other mayors who supported the tax increase, like Oceanside’s Jim Wood, Carlsbad’s Matt Hall or Vista’s Judy Ridder.

Other board members who didn’t respond include Sam Abed, Jim Desmond, Terry Sinnott and David Zitto.

KPBS reports that the board will take action on an investigation this Friday.

Also in the News

• Once relegated to industrial areas, Oceanside will allow breweries to open in commercial parts of Coast Highway. (Union-Tribune)

• The Encinitas Planning Commission opted against a full ban on new bars downtown, to curb issues with drinking and noise. (Del Mar Times)

• Carlsbad approved a loan to a developer who will build 50 affordable apartments for veterans in the Barrio neighborhood. (Union-Tribune)

• Escondido set its priorities – the highest being its pension obligations. (The Coast News)

• The Don Diego clock at the Del Mar Fairgrounds has been detached and the building that supported it removed. (The Coast News)

• An Escondido family was split when the mother was deported to Mexico. (Union-Tribune)

 Encinitas may allow marijuana farms. (Union-Tribune)

Correction: An earlier version of this post said Chuck Lowery helped organize the town hall in the 49th Congressional District. He helped coordinate Doug Applegate’s appearance at the event, not the event itself.

Ruarri Serpa is a freelance writer in Oceanside. Email him at and find him on Twitter at @RuarriS.

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