Friday, August 31, 2007

Representative Rob Bishop Town Meeting 2007

Last year I reported on attending a town meeting held by my Congressional Representative, Rob Bishop (R-UT). Last night I attended another town meeting held by Rep. Bishop. This time I hauled my 9th grade son with me. The meeting was slated to last one hour. Due to other commitments, we had to leave about 40 minutes into the meeting.

This year’s meeting had about two-thirds the attendance of last year’s meeting. I think two factors probably contributed to this. Last year was an election year and this year’s meeting was held later in the evening than last year’s meeting. As with last year, I was among the younger attendees. The average age of the attendees was probably quite a bit higher than my age. There was one other youth beside my son in attendance.

As with last year’s meeting, Rep. Bishop started off talking for about 15 minutes, trying to hit the hot button issues. He also took a couple of jabs at the Senate, although, these were milder than last year. He said that the House has passed 12 of its 13 appropriation bills to fund the federal government for the next fiscal year, but that the Senate has passed only one. Bishop admitted that he had voted against all but two of the House’s appropriations bills because all of them, except for the defense bill, appropriated far more money than President Bush requested, and Bishop argued that the President’s requests were already way too high.

As far as the defense bill goes, Rep. Bishop expressed extreme displeasure with the House leadership in giving the Armed Services Committee, of which he is a member, far too little money. He praised committee chair Ike Skelton (D-MO) and several other committee members, both Democrat and Republican, for their honest hard work in developing a good bi-partisan bill. He was disappointed that they were forced to cut some programs and underfund others due to House leadership priorities.

When it came to the question and answer period, I was very gratified that the one rude lady that kept butting into others’ questions last year was not present. The first guy to ask a question was a feeble older gentleman that asked the exact same question as he asked last year, part of which was about the general Social Security program, and part of which applied to a small subgroup that has been griping for years that Social Security shorted them a couple of thousand Dollars years ago. Rep. Bishop answered the question pretty much the same way he answered it last year.

A number of citizens brought up immigration issues. It was obvious that some of these folks were pretty hot under the collar about illegal immigration. Some made what I would consider to be rather absurd statements. Rep. Bishop’s answers were balanced. He said that there is no way we could deport 12 million people, but that even if we could, it would make no difference unless we first secured the border. He favored passing legislation to address specific problems and actually implementing existing legislation, rather than attempting a huge compromise bill, such as the one that failed in the Senate a few weeks ago.

I don’t know how many of the people at the meeting realized it, but one older distinguished looking gentleman in attendance used to be a rather influential Democratic politician in Weber County. I knew some history here, and I knew that he and Rep. Bishop had been on opposite sides of the aisle in the Utah State House of Representatives years ago. (Bishop served as speaker of the Utah House for eight years.) I doubt many in the room realized it, but when this man asked a couple of questions meant to agitate in favor of universal health care and federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, he was having some fun with his former colleague.

In turn, Rep. Bishop had a little fun with his answers. This gentleman asked if Rep. Bishop had seen the movie Sicko. Rep. Bishop responded that he saw no need to watch what amounted to propaganda, which is Michael Moore’s stock and trade. This man said he wasn’t surprised because he hadn’t met a Republican that had seen the film. Rep. Bishop responded that he chose not to watch pornographic films either.

Up to this point in the meeting, the discussion had been fairly polite, even though, some citizens had made extreme statements. One guy never asked a question, but simply rambled on about how he had lived in Canada for 25 years, that the Canadian health care system wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be, and that his wife had obtained her U.S. citizenship legally, etc. But everyone had been rather subdued. When Rep. Bishop made the comment about pornographic films, a small number in the audience vocally protested, a few people acted clueless, and most of the audience laughed out loud. I had to leave at this point, so I didn’t get to see if the meeting got any juicier.

One thing I noted about both this town meeting and last year’s meeting is that no active local politicians attended either meeting. I am left to wonder why that is. Is there some agreement that local politicans don’t attend these kinds of events? Is there concern that they would taint themselves by appearing? Is there a concern that they might upstage the congressman? If they’re supposed to be leading by example, the example they are demonstrating is that attending a congressional representative’s town meeting is not very important. Can anyone shed more light on this?

Although I sat quietly at the meeting and didn’t say anything, I think that it’s good for our elected officials to occasionally come down from their ivory towers and directly interface with the unwashed masses. Rep. Bishop is in a secure district. That is, unless he does something really stupid, a la Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID), he can probably be re-elected as often as he wants.

Rep. Bishop could probably get away with rarely having to talk with constituents in unscripted meetings. He could likely get away with treating constituents condescendingly. Although Rep. Bishop had some fun with a couple of questions, he treated each citizen with respect while being fairly forthright about his positions and where he disagreed with people. While people may have differing views, this kind of approach earns their respect.


Anonymous said...

Sicko and pornography, really shows how closed minded Bishop is on healthcare.

Once again Bishop only sent out information about this meeting to Republicans and independents.

Why should he be re-elected? Most of his answers are at best, "ARTFUL DODGING".

Unlike Rep. Matheson who understands that he represents all of his constituents, Rob Bishop only cares about those who vote for him.

I sure hope Steve Olsen runs again.

Reach Upward said...

Steve Olsen is a very interesting guy. I didn't care for the op-ed article he had published in the Standard Examiner following his loss last year. It came across as snide and condescending. The message was that people were just too stupid to vote for him. Candidates that hate and distrust people do not deserve to be elected. Now, it's entirely possible that Mr. Olsen wrote his sour grapes article in haste, but the attitide it portayed is no way to win people to one's cause.

Frankly, Utah's first congressional district is securely GOP. Everyone the Democrats have put up since Gunn McKay has served pretty much as an alternative for dissenting votes. None have gotten much mainstream traction, and Steve Olsen was no different. The Democrats could probably put up an LDS general authority in district 1 and still not get him elected.

People can whine and moan about this fact, but this will do little to win votes. Voters don't jump party lines to vote for whiners. The only thing to do is to dig in and try to prove to Northern Utahns that putting another Democrat in the House of Representatives is going to be good for them. Knowing the people around here and how they view what is going on in Washington, that's going to be a pretty hard sell.

Anonymous said...

It's Rob Bishop who knows your stupid reach, not Steve Olsen.

Obviously you haven't met Steve.

My last comment: You get what you deserve.

Anonymous said...

Well maybe one more last comment.

"The only thing to do is to dig in and try to prove to Northern Utahns that putting another Democrat in the House of Representatives is going to be good for them. Knowing the people around here and how they view what is going on in Washington, that's going to be a pretty hard sell."

Like Mark Foley, Tom Delay, Larry Craig, Duke Cunningham, Karl Rove..., should I go on?

Gunn McKay was a great congressman and if he is your example then why wouldn't a Utahn vote for a Utah Democrat.

Reach Upward said...

Anonymous, work on your English. Your comment "... who knows your stupid reach ..." should read, "... that knows you're stupid, Reach ...." If you're going to call someone stupid, at least don't make yourself appear stupid while doing it.

I did not say I voted for Rep. Bishop. I merely reported on my perceptions of the town meetings I have attended. I would have attended the town meetings regardless from which party my Congressional Representative hails.

I have met Steve Olsen. That's why I said he was an interesting guy. I merely said that I didn't like the op-ed piece he published in the newspaper following his loss. I'm free to criticize even politicians I like.

Speaking of which, I met Rep. McKay many times. He was a good and honorable man. I'm not sure why you think that simply because I reported on Rep. Bishop's town meeting that I like the GOP scoundrels you named. Both major parties have their fair share of jerks and knaves. Is it necessary to list filthy Democrats to prove such?

I'm afraid that I'm not a party line kind of guy; although, you seem to be advocating such a stance. I find myself voting for people all over the board, including Democrats, Republicans, and third party candidates that don't have a chance of winning.

When I say that Utah's first congressional district is firmly GOP, I am merely making a reasoned observation. I'm not arguing that this is what is best for the people or for the state. When I say that most people in the district would be hard pressed to think that adding another Democrat to the House is a good thing, I'm merely observing the sentiments of my neighbors. I'm not arguing that it's a good thing.

It seems, Anon., that you are projecting your ideological myopia onto me at a 180° angle. Sorry, but I'm just not that uncomplicated.

Richard W. said...

This is my first time on your blog and it is a great blog.
But, you can call me one of those "whiney" Democrats. I choose to call it as standing up and fighting for our voices to be heard. I also read Olsen's op-ed piece last year and I did not see it as "whiney".
What I do see is that Republican candidates, including Rob Bishop, have become very lazy in the past few elections and they take advantage of Utah voters.
I also see that elected Republicans continue to make mistakes and break promises (Davis County taxes), as they continue to vote for the "R" and not the candidate.
It is the Republican party, not the Democratic party, that treats the voters as "stupid and ignorant".
Like the anon comment above, you get what you deserve.

scott thompson said...

I’m extremely disturbed by Congressman Rob Bishop’s work ethic and views.

Last week I attended a Town Hall Meeting hosted by the Congressman in N. Ogden. A very good question was asked by a gentleman there about our health care crises here in America. What is his plan to deal with the out of control costs by insurance companies and doctors? And was asked if he seen the popular documentary that shows the lack of government response for our veterans, elderly, disabled and the disenfranchised that can’t get access to medical care and can’t afford it?

His answer was that he won’t see it the documentary. He then went on to compare this (companionate award winning documentary) to “porn.” And that the government shouldn’t do anything.

This was a very disturbing comment, because there were two young fathers with their two pre-teen aged sons with them there. (These dads were obviously there to educate their sons about government in action).

When one of these fathers spoke up and let him know that comment was “inappropriate.” He didn’t apologize and hurried and changed the subject to illegal immigration.

He then was asked many questions of how he was going to help solve this problem. Almost every answer was “I don’t know.”

I’m publically asking Steve Olsen who ran against Congressman Rob Bishop last year. Please run for Congress again. We need an ethical humble man like you that looks at all sides of issues to resolve the problems facing us Americans today.

Obviously Congressman Rob Bishop doesn’t care about these problems.

c t r said...

I don't see how you can be a good mormon and a Republican.

Everything I hear what the republicans say; doesn't even com close to what the Savior tought.

democrat said...

Republican party has turned into the party of hypocrites.

Anti gay -but gays
Anti rich-all rich
Anti big government- largest debt in history.
Pro guns- but workers can't afford
Pro marriage- highest divorce rate.
Anti abortion- force raped girls to have the rapists babies
pro education- take funds away for the rich.

Republican take from the rich and give to the poor. Call it "less government." Call it "Economic Development."

Reach Upward said...

The trouble is that the Democrats are no better. That's why I vote all over the spectrum.

democrat said...

No doubt, the Democrats have gained the moral high ground.

republican senator larry craig said...

I am not gay. I have never been gay.

Ezra Pound said...

The fact is that more than seventy percent of this nation does not agree with the current strategy in Iraq. And I'm here to tell you that our Army and Marine Corps are a reflection of the society from which they came, and the same percentages exist there.
So, just to clarify, we've got 1) a President with a 30% approval rating, 2) an American public which overwhelmingly wants an end to this war, and 3) soldiers in the Army and Marine Corps who overwhelmingly want a fundamental change in our nation's strategy. Congress, is there anything else you're waiting for?

"You can't talk to the ignorant about lies, since they have no criteria." --Ezra Pound