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Bishop Won't Adjust Schedule Following Shooting in Arizona

After 19 people - including a Congresswoman - are shot in Tucson, six fatally, Bishop says he is 'not contemplating any big changes.'

After 19 people — including a Congresswoman — were shot and six were killed in Arizona on Saturday at a constituent meet-and-greet, local Rep. Tim Bishop, D-Southampton, said he will continue to perform business as usual on the home front. 

Despite any perceived threats Saturday's shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, D-Tucson, may have placed in the heads of any public official following the shooting, Bishop is saying he won't let the violent acts stop him from doing his job. 

"I'm not contemplating any big changes in how I conduct myself," Bishop said on Monday. Indeed, Bishop is still scheduled to meet in Patchogue this weekend for community office hours, an opportunity for constituents to meet with him for 10-15 minute intervals to express their concerns to him face-to-face or, pending an excess number of visitors, a representative of his. 

"I think that it's very important that elected officials be able to continue to conduct themselves and keep close to their constituents," he continued. "At the same time, we have been advised by Capitol Police and the House Sergeant at Arms to take all prudent precautions and immediately report suspicious behavior."

On Saturday, following the shooting, the Capitol Police issued a press release warning members of the Congress to, "take reasonable and prudent precautions regarding their personal safety and security."

Bishop, who has been in office since 2003, recalled how the state of political discourse has changed since he arrived in office.

"It's sad that we have come to this point," he said. "An elected official cannot meet with the people he's elected to represent without having to be mindful of their level of safety. I used to call up Patchogue-Medford High School, or wherever, and ask if I could use the auditorium. It isn't that easy any more."

However recent history will show that Bishop is no stranger to answering to an incensed public. Over the summer of 2009, Bishop faced sharp criticism at a series of Town Hall Meetings to discuss the proposed health care bill. At one in East Setauket, someone called the Suffolk County Police to escort Bishop from the hall to his car. While Bishop said he did not fear for his personal safety, "If the (five) police officers weren't there, I certainly would have feared for my safety." 

One attendee from that meeting, Bob Meyer of the Suffolk County 9-12 Project — a local Tea Party organization — said the group was simply voicing their displeasure with Bishop's policies. 

"A lot of people were upset with what him and Nancy Pelosi were pushing on the American people," Meyer said. When asked, then, why Bishop was re-elected, Meyer said Republican candidate Randy Altschuler was not a good enough fit.

"We do not condone violence," Meyer continued. "We always make known, we're a non-violent group. We believe in changing the discourse of the nation through the political process, not through violent means. I think what happened in Arizona is a horrible tragedy. And it's shameless that some Democrats are blaming the Tea Party and Sarah Palin."

Palin, as many have pointed out, placed 20 crosshairs denoting Congressional seats which she targeted as ripe for unseating in the 2010 election. The map remains on her Facebook page.

Saturday's shooting has brought to grim reality the often divisive political discourse that has run through the political landscape, the media, and all the way down to the water cooler. However, Bishop said despite the charged environment he faced personally in of the summer of 2009, he would no longer call his district any more volatile than any other district in the country. 

"If you had asked me in June through, say December of 2009, I would have told you this is a highly volatile district," Bishop said. "But Randy and I went at each other as hard as we could, and we did so in a way that was civil.

"But any elected official who doesn't have in the back of their head what happened to Gabby (Giffords) — tragically — should realize that it could happen to anyone," Bishop said. "We are all human. We are all thinking that; we are all being advised to think that."

Bishop's personal relationship with Giffords stems back to a piece of legislation they worked on together about four years ago, Bishop said. They both represent districts with Air National Guard bases, and they teamed up to lobby funds for their respective bases.

Bishop and members of the Southampton Town Board are expected to take part in a "Peace in Politics" press conference at Southampton Town Hall. It was scheduled for Tuesday at noon, but the event has been . 

JJB January 12, 2011 at 10:58 PM
it worked in missourri
JJB January 12, 2011 at 11:06 PM
and if done correctly it will work. not a lawyer, so im not reading the full articles; but im sure if the tort reform was done correctly and not intrusively then it will work. law suits raise costs, and those costs go to the customers. some customers can not afford the services and are therefore not covered due to law suits. it is better to have companies competing for services and not ruled and governed by the men and women of congress; or persons appointed by the president
Mo Neill January 14, 2011 at 12:53 AM
oh yeah? would you mind telling us just how much health care costs have gone down? I'm from Missouri and you have to show me. law suits are a small, tiny part of the health care costs. I understand your compassion for poor doctors who have to pay high insurance out of their not shabby earnings. Compassionate Republicanism is by now a well known canard, a fiction, a cynical ploy of rhetoric without any substance.
David D'Agostino January 14, 2011 at 03:31 PM
It didn't. Missouri Tort Reform by the Numbers Malpractice Insurance Claims: the first year 2005 3,160 claims were filed and by 2008 malpractice claims plummeted by 62% to 1,215. Average awards were down by roughly 20% Malpractice Insurance Premiums: good news for Missouri doctors as their premiums were reduced by 14% from $190 million in 2005 to $164 million in 2009 Missouri Insurance Premiums: the most important news of all does not support the premise that malpractice lawsuits are the main factor in increased health care costs: overall patient insurance premiums in Missouri rose 15% from 323 million in 2005 to 371 million in 2008
David D'Agostino January 14, 2011 at 03:38 PM
From a 2010 report on the state of health care in Missouri. Missouri’s Uninsured One of the indicators that played a major role in both state ranking reports was the percentage of uninsured state residents. From 2006 to 2008, Missouri’s uninsured population increased from 668,000 to 739,000.5 This is a 10 percent increase over two years, with the percentage of uninsured Missourians increasing from 11.7 to 12.6 percent. Missouri spends approximately $5,500 per person on health care per year, which is the 21st highest amount among all U.S. states.1 Even at this spending level, many of the state’s health indicators fall in the bottom third compared to other states. This fact sheet examines two reports that rank Missouri’s health and indicate areas where the health care system works well and where it needs improvement.

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