Ask Burgess | Private Eye | Salt Lake City Weekly

Ask Burgess 

Pin It
click to enlarge news_privateeye1-1.png

It's such a broken record on my part to default this space to being critical of my two congressmen. But, I shall do so until I don't. Rep. Chris Stewart, who—between his former career in the U.S. Air Force and now as a U.S. congressman—has a near lifetime of working for you and me (in theory), represents me via our downtown office located in the marginalized Democratic slice of his district. No one I know has ever seen him in downtown, and yet, he's my rep. He will be on the government dole long after he denies Utahns the similar privilege of having any social dividends provided by Dyadya Sem, I mean, Uncle Sam. If you speak Russian better than I do, I apologize if I have that wrong.

My other congressman, Burgess Owens, is a treat, too. I live in Murray, which sits within the marginalized Democratic slice of his district. I've never known or heard of Owens visiting anywhere north of Utah County—let alone Murray, so I don't soon expect to bump into him at the Ice Haus or Mariscos Ensenadas 2.

As near as I can tell, Owens' earnings as a U.S congressman are the first dollars he's gathered directly from our government, so he's not so used to never having to worry about a paycheck as Stewart is. I don't pity him, though.

It was our governmental systems of courts and laws that allowed this wayward Floridian via Ohio to dismiss most of his $1.7 million in debts via bankruptcy claims. That's all well and good, and legal, too, but hardly becoming of a man who constantly cites "meritocracy" as the true path to achieving the American Dream. Uh, Burgess, why do you merit the good will of the government and of the people, but you cannot live by God's grace and share it? A regular NIMBY this guy, as he wiggles his way in, then shuts the door behind him.

I have a couple of doozies representing me. I use that term loosely since neither actually does represent me. It wouldn't be half so bad, but neither Owens nor Stewart has ever spoken as to what they can do for the people of Utah; rather, each speaks broadly of the evils of persons who are not members of the under-siege GOP. For all the bitching they do about Nancy Pelosi, each should say a private prayer of thanks to her, for without using her, neither would have anything to say, and each would be selling MLMs.

Last week, I was watching Family Feud or America Says or something equally enthralling when my phone buzzed. I peeked and was numbed to discover that Burgess Owens himself was ringing me up. I usually don't answer calls that aren't in my contacts, nor those in all caps, but when REP OWENS called, I couldn't resist. I was asked my name and where I lived, then told that if I was willing to stay on the line, I could participate in a telephone town hall with Burgess and that if I wanted, I could ask him a question. Well, he's never coming to A Bar Named Sue on south State, so I stayed on and submitted a question. It was near the top of the hour and the one-hour meeting was just starting.

Owens was soon playing nice with the callers while tempering those niceties with appeals to watch out for socialists and liberals, and hearkening to his days of being a child of "racism who grew up in the Jim Crow South." Owens always refers to the Jim Crow South. He was in the Jim Crow South, but not so much of the Jim Crow South. His good fortune (he calls it "meritocracy") made him the son of a prominent black businessman, who did not grow up feeling the poverty or the pain of many of his citizen neighbors, and who, by virtue of being considerably more athletic and better educated than most of his fellow Floridians, received a scholarship to the University of Miami that yielded him degrees in biology and chemistry, plus an NFL career. How does that background lend authority to today's hot topic of Critical Racial Theory or CRT?

Here's what he has to say about CRT: "It is evil."

Yeah, that's it. No critical thinking applied, no description of what it is or is not (I'll give anyone who can accurately describe CRT to me in more than three words via email a $10 gift certificate). If you're good at math, then you know Burgess Owens just earned $58,000 per word for each word used to describe CRT. If he keeps talking, he may earn enough to get himself out of the financial holes he found himself in. Or he could just shut up since, just calling it "evil" is hardly enlightening, but is what we've come to expect from our downgraded elected politicians these days.

To no one's surprise, he wasn't asked my question but simply fed him questions that stoked his talking points. My question distilled to, "Divisiveness is a critical problem, yet all of your tweets and messages decry and put down people like me. I don't hate God as you claim. I don't hate family as you claim. I'm a Democrat, not a demon. How can you claim to want bipartisanship when you are the definition of division?"

So, here's another deal. Each week, we will publish a question for Burgess Owens. Right here. Send your questions to me at The author of every question published will get a $25 gift certificate from the City Weekly Store. Every submission becomes eligible for a weekly drawing. Just one request: Don't ask him his favorite color. He's already been asked that one.

Send comments to

Pin It


About The Author

John Saltas

John Saltas

John Saltas, Utah native and journalism/mass communication graduate from the University of Utah, founded City Weekly as a small newsletter in 1984. He served as the newspaper's first editor and publisher and now, as founder and executive editor, he contributes a column under the banner of Private Eye, (the original... more

© 2024 Salt Lake City Weekly

Website powered by Foundation