The purpose of Sen. John DeFrancisco's town hall meeting last Tuesday was to explain what had happened this summer in the New York State Senate, and, for the most part, he accomplished that.
"The meeting met what I was trying to do," DeFracisco said. "I wasn't there to necessarily satisfy everybody, but just be able to answer questions and explain my position."
There were, by my estimation, about 70 members of the public present at West Genesee High School Tuesday evening for the meeting, and representatives from many different media outlets. Even four Camillus police officers on hand, in case things took a turn for the worse a la Dan Maffei's recent health care forum.
But the audience was generally respectful, and even the psuedo-questions -- the hands raised for the opportunity to tell the Senator that, with all due respect, it was time for him to go -- were relatively polite.
People were upset, frustrated after five weeks of hearing about a standstill in the senate, and DeFrancisco said he expected people to use the meeting to vent frustration.
"I can understand people being upset with what they knew," he said, adding that the perception people had of the coup did not necessarily mesh with the reality.
But what he didn't expect to encounter were basic questions about the function of government at the state level.
At one point, the Senator had to explain to an audience member that the senate and assembly were two different entities, and what had gone on in the senate had not affected the assembly.
"In answering the questions I think I had to explain the process and the inner workings of the senate or the assembly, as a background of what happened," DeFrancisco said.
Sitting in the audience, I noticed only a handful of faces familiar to me from board meetings or other local government functions. I took this as a sign that people from other communities had come to Camillus for the meeting. While that may be true, it also became clear that many of the audience members were not all that familiar with politics.