On the second Saturday at 10 am, Congresspersons, Senators, and the President participate in Community Dialogs. As the result of a campaign previously launched by the Alliance, federal legislation requires all of these officials to participate in these monthly forums (while allowing for the chief of staff to occasionally stand in). Alliance members and others go to the forums to express their support for HR 101.
The Dialogs are carefully structured and moderated to assure that they are orderly and give constituents a fair opportunity to communicate with their representative. The moderator is a neutral, well-respected journalist. District residents who want to speak write their name and address on a card and place it in a bowl. The moderators select speakers randomly by taking cards from the bowl.
The forum begins with a 10-minute report from the official concerning their recent activities and their plans for the future, and concludes with the official giving a 10-minute response to the comments and questions that were presented during the Dialog.
District residents make comments or ask questions on any topic. Each speaker is allotted two minutes. If they ask a question, the official can use the rest of the speaker’s time to answer the question -- or the speaker can interrupt by saying “thank you” and use the rest of their two minutes to comment. If anyone exceeds the time limit the moderator signals to a technician to turn off the mike. Speakers can ask the audience to indicate support on an issue by raising their hand.
Community organizations distribute literature at tables. Participants stay after the Dialog to discuss issues informally. The officials are responsible for recruiting the moderator, securing a location, arranging logistics, publicizing the event, and arranging to have it streamed live on the Internet and cable TV.