Much has been made about the time spent by members of Congress during the August recess.
Many people not familiar with the comings and goings of these individuals dismissed the period as a long vacation for elected officials on the public "dole" at a time when the nation faces serious economic problems.
But is this the case?
Only a comprehensive examination of all 535 Senators and Representatives can provide all the information confirming or disputing the vacation perception.
It's possible that some enjoyed more leisure time than others. However, in the past few days, Congressman Mike Honda of the San Jose area made available his schedule for the August recess.
Judge for yourself whether the Congressman enjoyed a bevy of Mai Tais under a palm tree at some remote Pacific isle or if he was working for his constituents.
Here's how Honda's four-week recess broke down:
This past week was spent with a congressional delegation that traveled to China to promote trade and energy policy with the U.S.
Of the remaining three weeks, Honda
--served as the keynote speaker or panelist at eight community events;
--participated in two town hall meetings;
--met with three community ethnic organizations
--toured three clean energy and high tech plants
--met with three local government groups to discuss local issues and related federal government responses
--visited several local agencies and nonprofits that had received federal grants to learn about the implementation of those funds
--held office hours virtually every day for meetings with local citizens, interest groups, nonprofits, and public agencies to discuss their issues and the federal role (if any) in helping them meet their needs.
Congress, especially the House of Representatives, is organized so that these elected officials can hear from their constituents in the hopes of articulating their issues in Washington.
That's why so many return to their districts most weekends.
It may well be that some might quibble with the selection of those who received Congressman Honda's attention during this period. But one would be hard-pressed that this time could be considered a "vacation.
P.S.: After returning from China, Representative Honda spent one day at home without any meetings before returning to Washington today. That was his "vacation."