Rep. Mike Bishop (R-Brighton) spent some time in Ingham County Thursday to meet with small groups of constituents. The Republican congressman held a series of "listening sessions" in Stockbridge.
But a few people who felt left out believe their man in Washington isn't listening to them.
I met up with Congressman Bishop early in the day at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, and I asked him what he expected his constituents might want to chat about.
“Health care, jobs and the economy, and national security,” Bishop said. “That weighs heavily on people all the time.”
Bishop did touch on many of those topics in three separate listening sessions at the American Legion Hall in Stockbridge. But a handful of people who wanted to attend but could not voice their displeasure in a protest just outside.
Kirsten Fermaglich stood beside a makeshift clothesline on which were clipped the names of many others she says Bishop “left out to dry.” She said Bishop’s choice of venue made it inconvenience for most people to attend during working hours, an example of what she says is the congressman’s inaccessibility.
“So what we wanted to do was to visualize the obstacles for people in coming here to protest or to be in these listening sessions,” Fermaglich said. “(There are) difficulties that we have to face even just to talk to our representative, that we don’t think should be the case. That’s why we’ve called it a ‘clothesline’ protest, though it’s clearly not dry.”
Mike Bishop rejects claims that he’s aloof and disconnected. He says smaller sessions avoid non-productive shouting matches, the likes of which many of his peers in Congress are experiencing.
“You know, I believe there’s an element out there who just frankly does not want to be impressed by what someone does, especially in elective government,” Bishop said. “There will always be a protest. I can’t change their opinion. All I can do is do my job...and that’s what I’m going to do.”