Combs Spouts Off

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Join Porkbusters!

Posted by Richard on September 19, 2005

Porkbusters logo Glenn Reynolds and N.Z. Bear have a plan to "mobilize the blogosphere in support of cuts in wasteful spending to support Katrina relief." I’ts called Porkbusters, and here’s how it works: Bloggers everywhere identify pork in their states or districts, post about it, and add it to the Porkbusters list. Then, everyone — bloggers and readers — calls or writes their senators and representative asking them to cut those specific expenditures to fund Katrina relief. Letters to the editor calling for those cuts would also be a good idea.

So, here are a few Colorado projects I’d put high on my list of pork to cut. They’re all "earmarks" or other additions made by a senator or congressman that weren’t requested or recommended by the relevant agency:

  • The 2005 highway bill gives the Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD) $3 million for a bus maintenance facility, $4 million for bus replacement, another $1.67 million for bus replacement, $2 million for Union Station "Multimodal Renovations," and another $4.6 million for a "Union Station Inter-modal Center." No, I can’t explain the distinction between multimodal and inter-modal. Let’s just tell RTD they need to fund this stuff from their farebox and tax revenues.
     
  • The highway bill allocates smaller amounts for buses and bus facilities to Aspen ($585,200), Snowmass Village ($250,800), and the Roaring Fork Transit Authority ($627,000). Folks, all three are in the Aspen area, the most expensive and exclusive ski resort in North America. The local joke is that the billionaires are driving out the millionaires. I think those billionaires and millionaires should build and maintain the bus system that brings their hired help to work, don’t you?
     
  • The highway bill also has lots and lots of highway "earmarks" (pork). Let’s just pick a few egregious ones: $4 million for a Wadsworth Bypass (SH 121) railroad grade separation, $1.6 million for the SH 121 – Bowles Ave. intersection, $3.2 million for SH 83 – SH 88 interchange reconstruction, and $3.2 million to improve and widen SH 44 from Colorado Blvd. to SH 2. I picked these out because "SH" means "State Highway." For the moment, let’s not even mention all the pork projects involving US highways and interstates. Can we at least draw the line here, and declare that a State Highway is the state’s responsibility?
     
  • Enough highway bill pork. The Defense appropriations bill includes $6.5 million in "Operation and Maintenance" funding for "OEA – UCHS – DCH Fitzsimmons (sic) Medical Center." This is money not requested by the Defense Dept., so I’ll bet the "Operation and Maintenance" classification is a joke.
     
  • The Energy appropriations bill includes $1 million for something described as "Council of Renewable Energy Resources Tribes (CERT) [Intergovernmental Activities]" — whatever a renewable energy resource tribe is, I don’t think I want to fund its intergovernmental activities. Sounds like meetings and conferences.
     
  • Labor and HHS appropriations bill includes $2.5 million to Colorado Springs Junior Achievement to fund an "Enterprise Village." Mind you, I like JA’s goal of teaching young people about business and entrepreneurship. But should one of their lessons be "go to the government with your hand out whenever you need something"?

OK, that’s a half-dozen recommendations (some involving multiple line items) — I’d better quit there. If you’re a Colorado resident, write or call Sens. Allard and Salazar and your congresscritter and ask them to all agree, on a bi-partisan basis, to forgo these specific spending items (and other "earmarks") in order to fund Katrina relief. You can get contact information for your representatives by going to this page and entering your ZIP code under Elected Officials. Write a letter to your local newspaper about this, too, encouraging others to join your effort.

If you’re from some other state, you can find state-by-state lists of transportation pork at this page and search CAGW’s "Pig Book" by state at this page.

If you’re from some other country, wish us luck and don’t gloat. I bet you have the same problem.

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5 Responses to “Join Porkbusters!”

  1. politigal said

    You’re right about RTD. After all the money it’s getting from FasTracks, why should RTD need any more?

  2. Fritz said

    The Fitzsimmons Medical Center is the VA Hospital in Denver and is not operated by the Department of Defense but by the Department of Veteran Affairs. O&M is absolutely an accurate description of what the funds are for.

  3. Anonymous said

    Sorry, Fritz, you’re a bit behind the times. From Wikipedia:

    ”The Fitzsimons Army Medical Center (formerly the Fitzsimons Army Hospital) was a medical facility of the United States military during the 20th century located on 577 acres (2.3 km²) in Aurora, Colorado, east of Denver. The facility closed in 1999 and the grounds are currently being redeveloped for civilian use as the Fitzsimons Medical Campus.”

    The acronym “UCHS” in the Defense appropriations bill should be “UCHSC” – the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, which is in the midst of moving all its facilities to Fitzsimons. “DCH” could be Denver Children’s Hospital, which is also moving to the Fitzsimons campus. “OEA” doesn’t match anything associated with Fitzsimons, but there are scores of “Office of…” gov’t agencies with that acronym.

    None of Colorado’s remaining Veterans Health Administration facilities and offices are at Fitzsimons, although that may change. There is no VA Hospital in Denver.

    So, knowing all that, does this appropriation (not requested by the Defense Dept., remember) still seem reasonable?

  4. Try Again? said

    Denver has a VA hospital. It is just east of University Hospital and sits between University Hospital and Rose Hospital. There has been talk of it moving to Fitz.

  5. Gary Harmon said

    Combs,

    Can you call me at the Daily Sentinel, 970-256-4254?

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