Some of the Most annoying pork barrel earmarks are the ones were Congressmen and Senators use public dollars to create tributes to themselves.
For example there is the $200 Million for the John Murtha Airport which gets a total of THREE commercial flights a day. This tribute to the Living Pork King John Murtha is literally the airport to nowhere. Or Charlie Rangel, who directed almost TWO MILLION Dollars for a City College project named the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service.
These “monument to me” pork barrel projects are quite common. There are claims that half the state of West Virginia is named after Senator Byrd. According the the Swine Line, Republicans have made the issue the cornerstone of their call for additional earmark reforms, but Democrats are not too happy about it:
Monuments to Me: Crumbling Infrastructure?
Today’s Roll Call has an illuminating article about the behind-the-scenes struggle in the House over Appropriations Chairman David Obey’s (D-Wisc.) intent to block earmarks for “Monuments to Me!”: that is buildings, roads or facilities that will bear the name of the member of Congress who earmarked the taxpayer money for it.
In this case, the culprit is Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who is apparently miffed that Obey intends to deny her request for an earmark for the Maxine Waters Employment Preparation Center. If you have ever been privy to one of Maxine Waters’ outbursts, be glad you were not in the meeting…and be afraid for Obey.
Appparently Obey is attempting to quietly preempt a bid by some Republican lawmakers to pass a statute that would ban the practice altogether:
An amendment by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) banning “monuments to me” passed on the Federal Aviation Administration authorization bill last month with just two Members voting in opposition, and a similar McCaul amendment passed on the military construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill last year.
McCaul had promised to offer his amendment on every appropriations bill this year, with the first bills scheduled to hit the floor this week.
Republicans have made the issue the cornerstone of their call for additional earmark reforms, targeting funding for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York and the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport in Johnstown, Pa., among others. The Murtha airport in particular has received significant attention in recent months because of the millions Murtha has steered to it and the dearth of passengers it handles….
Further on in the Roll Call article:
“If that in fact is happening, it means there’s a recognition among an increasing number of Members that these ‘monuments to me’ are a really bad thing that the public believes is emblematic of waste and self-dealing,” Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.) said.
“If this is the Obey policy, it is a big victory for us,” said Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), the only appropriator who does not request earmarks and one of the chief critics of earmarks named for Members.
Kirk said the growing opposition to “monuments to me” reflects mounting concerns by the public about the record deficit and the fact that some of the most powerful Members who have projects named after them also are facing ethics clouds.
Roll Call reporters Steven T. Dennis and Tory Newmyer made good use of a quirky little feature we have on our CAGW website called Byrd Droppings, which lists many of the roads, facilities, and buildings names after the Grand Daddy of Monuments to Me, Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.):
But longtime appropriator and former Senate Appropriations Chairman Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) may be the most memorialized of all. The anti-earmarking group Citizens Against Government Waste has devoted a section of its Web site to chronicling more than 30 home-state projects named for him, including the Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam, the Robert C. Byrd Academic and Technology Center, the Robert C. Byrd Clinic at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, the Robert C. Byrd High School, the Robert C. Byrd Visitor Center at Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, and several roads and highways.
Check out this old YouTube chestnut in which Byrd whimsically describes his facility at getting taxpayer money to name facilities after himself. And, lest we all forget who else is fond of absconding with your tax dollars to erect Monuments to Me, check out this video of Rep. Don Young, in which he states that he and (former) Sen. Ted Stevens are the second largest economy in the state of Alaska (it runs 9:40, but the good stuff starts at about 2:30 into the clip