When Rob Bishop finally held a town hall meeting in Layton, he told the people he was elected to represent, that they were “uninformed”: uninformed about the Bears Ears Monument, uniformed about Utah's air pollution problems and uniformed about Utah's funding for education.
On the Bears Ears Monument, he said: “There are no coal, oil or gas deposits within the monument boundaries and those who say there are, are liars.” Documents released by the Interior Department under the Freedom of Information Act show that indeed there are energy deposits in Bears Ears. Energy companies lobbied heavily for reduction of the Bears Ears Monument and even prepared the maps that eventually defined the extent of monument’s reduction. It was our Congressman, Rob Bishop, who was lying.
What is even worse are the reasons for the reduction and the lying about it. Bishop, Trump and Ryan Zinke, all now claim it was to develop badly needed energy resources. But under the original designation made by President Obama in 2016, energy companies could develop claims within the boundaries of the monument provided they obtain a permit which would require environmental protections. What Trump, Bishop, and Zinke accomplished with the monument reduction was to make it more profitable for companies to develop claims by taking away any restrictions on the damage they could cause.
Bishop gets 93% of his campaign financing from outside the State. Only 2% of his campaign funds come from small individual contributions. Oil and gas industries are his largest contributors. He works for them not for us.
He has little respect for anyone outside of his campaign contributors and holds a special dislike for anyone who supports public lands, even those who risk their lives fighting fires on those lands. Bishop uses terms like "Soviet Style," authoritarian,' and "asinine" to describe workers for the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management or the Park Service - harsh terms he never uses for those who actively try to subvert our democracy. He saves his venom for working men and women who follow the law. His demagoguery stirs resentment and hatred and can put federal employee’s lives at risk. It's unconscionable.
David Jenkins, President of Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship, wrote recently that Congressman Bishop is fanning the flames of radicalism in the west. Read the entire article here . At a Western States Land Commissioners Association last year, Congressman Bishop said: "If anyone likes the Antiquities Act the way it is written - die. I need stupidity out of the gene pool." This extremist rhetoric has no place in the U.S. House of Representatives and it isn't just Democrats who feel that way.
As for public education funding in Utah, Rob Bishop claims federal ownership of land is the reason for the Utah's poor funding of education. But that’s another lie. Prior to 1996, Utah was one of the highest states in the nation in per capita income spending on public education while the total amount of land owned by the federal government was greater then than now, by more than 18 million acres. You can read more about the changes in federal land ownership in The Congressional Report
Since 1996, several changes have been made to state tax law and those changes are the real reason why schools in Utah are underfunded. The homeowners' exemption from property tax was more than doubled, - the statewide basic property tax levy for schools was cut in half, - the basic property tax levy was allowed to "float," leading to rate decreases nearly every year afterward, and the State Constitution was changed to allow higher education to receive some of the income tax revenue previously dedicated entirely to K -12 public schools. Once that was accomplished it allowed the legislature to move the funds again, through sleight of hand accounting, over to cover highway repair and mass transit.
Schools took yet another hit in 2008, when the legislature voted for a flat tax structure lowering the highest tax rate from 7% to 5% costing the state as much as $1,800,000 a year.
Perhaps his most transparent lie was when he told us all: "Utah's air is cleaner now than it was when I was a kid growing up." Well, I grew up here too and I can never remember a day when the air was so dirty that I couldn't see Ben Lomond from our home in South Ogden let alone see the Oquirrh Mountains to the West.