Colorado Congressman Ed Perlmutter is postponing his next scheduled “Government in the Grocery” meeting in order to discuss any safety concerns grocery store owners and local law enforcement might be weighing in the wake of last week’s shootings in Arizona.
Democratic Rep. Perlmutter has for years occasionally camped out in District 7 grocery stores to speak with constituents and has celebrated the insights he gains from casual conversations held amid banging shopping carts, rows of cereal boxes and stacked gallons of milk.
“He loves these meetings,” Perlmutter Spokesperson Leslie Oliver told the Colorado Independent. “People talk about policy concerns but he also gets people who lost their passports or veterans who lost benefits, everything.”
Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was conducting a similar face-to-face-democracy meeting, one she called “Congress on Your Corner,” at a Safeway store earlier this month when she and her staff and constituents were gunned down in a tragic spree that gripped the nation.
Perlmutter said he is committed to continue holding his grocery store meetings. Although he had planned to hold his next session at the end of this month, Oliver said that meeting is being postponed.
“We wanted to pull people together and see if they had concerns,” she said, adding that Perlmutter had received no complaints and had so far fielded no calls with concern on the part of store owners or local authorities. She said he simply wanted to be “proactive.”
“We’re allowed to do this only with the store owners’ permission. We’re sure they’re thinking about safety after the shootings so we just thought it was best to meet and talk. “
In a release, Perlmutter said that “Government in the Grocery” is “about being available to listen to the hardworking people in the 7th CD in a less formal setting.”
“This kind of access is essential to the fabric of our democracy,” he said.
Oliver said Perlmutter has on several occasions run bills in Washington that were conceived in bustling grocery store aisles. She cited homeowners insurance and recent credit card reform legislation as two examples.
“The meetings provide a different kind of interaction. They’re less formal even than town hall meetings. Those draw people who are seeking out their representatives. At the grocery stores, it’s lots of people buying milk who are just suddenly reminded of things they want to talk about.”
A February 12 Government in the Grocery meeting is still on Perlmutter’s schedule. Perlmutter has held more than 70 grocery store meetings since being elected.
“We have to be mindful that we’re going into private businesses. We have to make sure we’re doing that in a safe way that allows democracy to go forward,” said Oliver.
“We can’t live in a bubble.”
[Image: Perlmutter, 7thCD constituents, and all-natural breakfast link sausage ]