See today's Democrat-Gazette story about Lt. Gov. Bill Halter's telephone "town hall" meetings to take questions on the lottery?
His office tells me that, after last night's round of calls, 37,000 people have listened to Halter take questions about the lottery. They figure that's the equivalent attendance of 600 "real" town halls held around the state, with a good deal less effort. (They might even be optimistic in thinking 60 people would root themselves out of their den to go hear a politician give a talk. The beauty of a phone call is that you don't have to get dressed or leave home and you can hang up any time.)
The taxpayer-financed calls need not include a scrap of overt politicking to be overtly political. Nurturing grassroot contacts is valuable. I expect we'll see more politicians on the line, like it or not. I do wonder whether a politician builds any ill will among the roughly 90 percent of people who are called with an invitation to participate but do not.