With Congress in its August recess, U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers has been traveling the 3rd Congressional District, giving speeches and touring an assortment of Alabama businesses. On Tuesday, he spoke to the Anniston Rotary Club.
“Good things are happening, and I want you to be aware of that,” Rogers, R-Saks, told the audience.
Here’s one that caught our eye.
In May, Rogers and U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham, co-sponsored the Rural Septic Tank Access Act. That’s right, a bipartisan action by members of Alabama’s delegation. And, yes, this is a big deal considering the number of Alabamians who live in sparsely populated regions and whose septic tanks may be faulty. The Rural Septic Tank Access Act provides for grants for construction and repair in underserved communities.
That’s real leadership 3rd District residents need to see from their congressman. But you know how we found out about it? By reading Sewell’s website. Rogers’ website posted eight press releases in May: two touting his “Mornings with Mike” events and one each about the Space Force initiative, the Defense Bill, the Farm Bill, Memorial Day, National Police Week and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The Rural Septic Tank Access Act wasn’t mentioned.
Sewell’s website even included a comment — from Rogers.
“I am proud to join my friend and colleague Rep. Sewell on this important legislation,” Rogers said. “Access to working wastewater systems is a bipartisan issue. Rural America can’t be left behind, and this legislation ensures that folks in our districts and across America have a way forward from failing wastewater infrastructure.”
Problem is, Rogers unfailingly speaks only with media that he considers havens from criticism — specific radio stations and websites, for instance — and rarely holds open meetings with residents of the community he represents. The Star’s reporters and editorial board would welcome regular visits from the congressman to learn more about what he’s doing in Washington. Granted, the Star’s editorial board might disagree with some of his party’s policies, but there’s absolutely no reason why items such as the Rural Septic Tank Access Act shouldn’t be publicized for the good they may do.
That, though, doesn’t happen. And the excuse he gave to Rotarians this week about holding few town halls — “I’m not at all intimidated about doing town hall meetings, I’m not going to be part of a sham that’s set up just to bring protesters from out of town” — is ludicrous and, frankly, insulting to the people who vote him into office. They deserve better.
Rogers is a seven-term Republican congressman in a Republican-dominated district in one of the reddest states in America. His young Democratic opponent, Mallory Hagan, is a first-time politician with a steep, if not insurmountable, learning curve. There are good things happening in the 3rd District, but Rogers is spoiling opportunities to let his supporters know about them. And that’s on him.