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Saratoga chips, as potato chips were once known, were thought to have been "invented" in the 1850's by Chef George Crum at the ultra-fashionable spa at Saratoga Springs, New York. A feisty customer kept returning an order of fried potatoes because they weren't thin enough. Finally, in a rage, Chef Crum cut them so thin they were nearly opaque. He then immersed them in a pan of boiling fat till golden. Served thus, the patron loved them. And the rest, as they say, is history.

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Cover Story - Manzullo Holds Town Hall Meeting in Elizabeth

By Mike Kocal, Prairie Advocate News

ELIZABETH, IL - Representative Donald Manzullo presented his opinion and answered questions about the Congressional health reform bill, HR 3200, on Friday, August 14, 2009 at a town hall meeting hosted at Jo-Carroll Energy in Elizabeth. The meeting room, located in the lower level of the Jo-Carroll Energy facility, was crowded, and even the Congressman made note about the number of constituents that attended being much greater than other events he has held in the past. In fact, two sessions were held on Friday to accommodate the higher-than-normal attendance ­ one at 8:00 a.m. and the other at 9:00 a.m.

Over 150 citizens attended 2 sessions of Congressman Manzullo's Town Hall meeting in Elizabeth

Over 150 citizens attended 2 sessions of Congressman Manzullo's Town Hall meeting in Elizabeth. Manzullo told the crowd that "The proposed healthcare bill has 53 new federal bureaucrats. There is something dramatically wrong with a last-minute bill like this . . . It should be thrown out." Former State Rep. Ron Lawfer of Stockton commented after the meeting, saying "The best decisions are made locally, and that's evident when you look at Springfield and Washington DC."

The mood was noticeably calm at the town hall meeting, and Manzullo stated that most town hall meetings held by other Congressmen were civil, even though the media has reported on a handful of other meetings that were not as much so. Manzullo offered some humor to the crowd periodically, but the seriousness of the topics covered was most apparent.

Rep. Manzullo thanked his constituents for attending, and made a brief presentation on the bill, HR 3200, which he said was, "so complicated." He also said, "The bill is so bizarre," and "It absolutely does not make sense." HR 3200, which is 1,017 pages long, is the most complicated bill Manzullo has ever seen. When asked by one of his attending constituents what he thought should be done with the bill, he indicated that it should be thrown out. The majority of the crowd applauded his remarks.

Manzullo's position with the bill is clear ­ he opposes it, and confirmed he would not vote in favor of the bill. He also feels that the bill, as written, will not pass through Congress. He believes that HR 3200 would pose a risk to private health care coverage of 114 million Americans, hike taxes more than $800 billion on struggling employers who can't afford to offer insurance to their employees and on the uninsured who don't purchase health insurance, surge government spending by another $1.3 trillion over the next ten years, put another 4.7 million Americans out of work and establish new European-style government health bureaucracies to ration health care services.

Instead, the Congressman supports several reform initiatives that would make health care coverage more affordable and more accessible to Americans, particularly the 47 million uninsured. These reform initiatives include reforming the out-of-control medical liability system, creating refundable tax credits to help low-income Americans purchase health insurance, allowing for the creation of Association Health Plans (which would allow small businesses to pool together to provide for the same purchasing power as large companies), expanding tax-free availability to Health Savings Accounts, preserving high-quality health care through America's community health clinics and expanding small business tax deductions for health care expenses.

Dave Cory and Rep. Manzullo

(Left) Dave Cory of Apple River speaks with Manzullo after the first session. "I was pleased to be able to speak with him. I think he's doing a great job." (PA photos/Tom Kocal)

According to Manzullo, out of the 47 million uninsured, roughly 10 million are actually eligible for government programs such as Medicare. Manzullo stated he felt that by assisting those that were eligible with locating the program they qualified for, the number of uninsured would drop. He also pointed out that 6 million uninsured were eligible for employer-sponsored insurance and that there were 9 million uninsured individuals that earned more than $75,000 a year. 5 million uninsured are illegal immigrants and another 5 million uninsured are legal immigrants. This leaves 12 million Americans without affordable health care options.

One constituent asked the Congressman if there were any other nations that had a good healthcare system that we could use as a model for our own system. Manzullo referred to a graph that compared cancer survival rates after five years in the U. S., Canada, Europe and England. The U. S. held the top ranking in each category, in spite of the current U.S. healthcare system.

A large majority of attendees offered their support of the Congressman, although a few that favored the health care reform legislation politely asked questions and made comments as well.

A gentleman from Freeport was selected by the Congressman to ask a question, but was cut off after making a lengthy comment, speaking for almost two minutes, and not arriving at a question. The man said, "I think one thing that's very important to keep in mind is that right now if you pay your insurance premiums every month and you're on-time and you pay them in full, you're still just as likely to find your coverage dropped if you need health and life-saving treatment . . . they can over rule your doctor's advice about what kind of life-saving treatment is best for you."

He continued, "This is how the insurance companies are making so much money. They collect premiums and then they look for excuses not to give you what it is that you've paid for . . . forming imaginary citizens' groups . . . they're Astroturf-ing . . . and trying to scare people with . . . stories about euthanasia . . . " and, "to get people of good conscience fighting with each other." Some in the crowd applauded, but it was unclear if they were applauding the gentleman or Manzullo for moving on to the next question.

Rep. Manzullo stated early on that he wanted to be able to get to people's questions since time was limited, and he led the discussion accordingly. Manzullo read specific sections of HR 3200 and some amendments that did not pass committee. The exchange program, how Medicare would be affected by the bill and Tort reform were topics discussed by Manzullo, among several others.

Another gentleman from Elizabeth suggested that voters not re-elect incumbents to prove a point. Then, those that take seat in Washington know that the people will vote them out of office if they fail to listen to constituents. When the Prairie Advocate News asked for his name and further comment after the meeting adjourned, the gentleman said, "The government is worse, the media is second." He walked away anonymously.

Rep. Manzullo has a page at as well as on Facebook ( and Twitter ( He has set up these pages to enhance his online communication with northern Illinois residents and inform them of important updates in real time. Manzullo has also updated his official Congressional Website. Residents can sign up to receive Manzullo's email updates at

Manzullo said, "Communication with the people I represent has always been important to me, and the difficult times we face as a nation right now make it even more vital for me to hear from residents. I strongly encourage the people of northern Illinois to visit my web page and sign up for my email updates, as well as subscribe to my pages on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter."

View a feature video of Rep. Manzullo's 8:00 a.m. town hall meeting below.


Video by Tom Kocal - Produced by Brent Simmons