When Monte Ogden was a teacher, U.S. House Representative Rob Bishop taught just down the hall at Ben Lomond High School in Ogden, Utah.
“We broke bread every day in the faculty room,” Ogden said of the former teacher.
Bishop was elected to Congress in 2002. The teachers who ate lunch with Bishop recently took a poll among themselves.
“Not a single one of us now would vote for Rob,” Ogden said.
Perhaps some of the teachers’ concerns may have been expressed at a Washington Terrace, Utah town hall in late April by the Trump resistance group Indivisible Ogden. (Ogden is a major Utah city.) It was meant to draw attention to Bishop not holding a town hall since the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump. Both constituents and experts on issues percolating in Washington, D.C. spoke next to a cardboard cutout of the congressman.
As of June 13, there had been five full weeks of consecutive days of recess since the Jan. 20 inaugurations, aside from other days off, according to the House Majority calendar.
Among the concerns raised: that Bishop, who is known for promoting the local role in national issues, received 92.6 percent of his donations from outside Utah, according to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. (The state’s two senators, Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, are also in the top 10.)
When Terri Martin, a Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance organizer, pointed that out, she also noted that Bishop said the following to Western state land commissioners two summers ago about folks who support a law giving presidents authority to proclaim monuments:
“If anyone here likes the Antiquities Act the way it is written, die. I mean, (get the) stupidity out of the gene pool!”
He added that it was “the most evil act ever invented.”
Constituents expressed problems with even being able to hear from their representative.
As a student, Darren Bingham flew to D.C. twice to meet with Bishop.
No luck, he said.
“I’ve seen him in the hallway, avoiding me,” said Bingham, who as a Logan resident in attending Utah State University, was a constituent of Bishop’s.
Bingham has otherwise tried for three years to meet with the 14-year congressman, he said.
Chris Jensen of South Ogden donated “thousands of dollars” to Bishop’s campaigns. However, Bishop never returned his calls or emails.
“I will make sure it doesn’t go there in the future,” he said.
Debra Badger of Ogden described herself as an “alarmed Utah Republican.”
“I never thought this is the way to communicate with my legislators,” she said while motioning to the cutout before speaking to it.
“This has got to be a first,” she said. “When you were teaching U.S. government, is this how you taught your students how government works?”
Genevra Prothero of Syracuse called Bishop’s office about Betty Ramos Castro being deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement after Trump asked the agency for more aggressive enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws. That meant for a teenager (Castro’s son) with cerebral palsy and epilepsy and an 86-year-old woman (Castro’s mother) without a caretaker.
Prothero said she never got a call back.
“Why do you only care about your call from ConocoPhillips and not the human race?” she proposed, mentioning a donor from the oil and gas industry.
A billboard went up in Ogden that saw two milk cartons with a photo of Bishop that reads, “Have you seen this congressman?” Jim Hutchins of Ogden raised funds for it. The $2,400 needed was raised in just three days.
“We need a representative Republican,” Hutchins said, “not a cardboard Rob.”
John Armstrong is a physics professor at Weber State.
“I’m a scientist studying the atmosphere and I can tell you that climate change is real,” he said. “I would like Rob and Republican Party in general to respect the work of scientists.”
He added that Bishop’s Public Lands Initiative, federal legislation Bishop said sought a compromise between local and national interests and energy development and conservation, “is not about protecting land.”
“It’s about states’ rights versus federalism,” Armstrong said.
Shaun Chapoose is the chairman of the Ute tribe in Utah. He traveled about 200 miles from Vernal, Utah, for the town hall. The PLI impacted him “directly,” he said, because the bill meant for the designation of more than 100,000 acres of wilderness and conservation areas in exchange for the acquisition of a large natural-gas facility and future development of a ski area. But ultimately, Chapoose opposed the PLI, he said, because the chairman in a tribe that is the second-largest in North America was not included in PLI deliberations.
Laura Holdrege, Children’s Health Insurance Program and Medicaid enrollment coordinator for the Utah Health Policy Project, made it clear that the non-partisan organization opposes the Affordable Care Act being replaced by the Republican health care bill that on May 4 passed the House.
Whitney Duhaime is the vice president of Denials Management, which helps clients get the claims they should receive from their health insurance company. She pointed out that more than 50 percent of Americans get insurance through their employer, including 59 percent of Utahns. And with a loss of the ACA in favor of the GOP bill, she added, employer plans will not have “10 essential health benefits” as found in the current health care law.
“Every legislators’ office I spoke with did not understand that or how the American Health Care Act would replace that… including (Bishop) staff members Lee Lonsberry and Hans Buckwalter,” she said of meeting with staff of Utah’s six federal delegation members. “Our legislators are betting that we don’t know what we stand to lose, and it’s time we prove them wrong — that we do know what we stand to lose.”
Josh Hobson of Park City expressed his disagreement with the threats of budget cuts from Trump, which could be approved by Congress, regarding the Centers for Disease Control and Protection and the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Rob, I know you disagree with it,” Hobson said, “but you are mortgaging our future.”
Danae Snow of Ogden said she was homeless a year ago because her child’s emergency neurosurgery was required the year prior and they were uninsured.
She added: “I’d like to ask Rob Bishop, look into my daughters’ eyes and say ‘you don’t deserve equal pay. Look into my son’s eyes and say you don’t deserve clean air to breathe.”
Teresa Holmes of Ogden said she was wearing a “huge” pin for Peter Clemens, Bishop’s challenger last election cycle, last summer at the Weber County Fair. That didn’t stop Bishop from asking “you aren’t going to vote for me?” Holmes said.
Judith is a 19-year-old Weber State student who was born in a “not-so-good part” of Mexico City, she said. She passed a physical test and had a perfect score on her citizenship test, but is not a U.S. citizen. That means she got no assistance via Free Application for Federal Student Aid, though she had a good GPA and accumulated more than 300 hours with the American Red Cross.
“I’m not (a citizen) even though I’ve lived here more than half my life,” she added.
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