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IDemo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-21-08 02:58 PM
Original message
Mayors' infrastructure request full of pork, critic says
(CNN) -- A report to Congress that requests $73.2 billion to pay for infrastructure projects around the country includes plans for a polar bear exhibit, an anti-prostitution program, a water park ride, zoos, museums and aquatic centers, CNN has found.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors went to Capitol Hill earlier this month with a report listing 11,391 infrastructure projects proposed by 427 cities. The mayors claimed the proposal would create 847,641 jobs in 2009 and 2010.

The more than 800-page document is titled "Main Street Economic Recovery: 'Ready To Go' Jobs and Infrastructure Projects."

"Our plan calls for investments that will stimulate our economy by quickly creating jobs, fixing our aging and crumbling infrastructure, increasing our global competitiveness, and further reducing our carbon footprint," Miami, Florida, Mayor Manny Diaz said at a news conference last week. Accompanied by other big-city mayors, he held up a copy of the hefty report to stress its importance.

Just a few of the "infrastructure" requests being made:

* $20 million minor league baseball museum in Durham, North Carolina;

* $6.1 million for corporate jet hangars at the Fayetteville, Arkansas, airport;

* $20 million for renovations at the Philadelphia Zoo;

* $1.5 million program to reduce prostitution in Dayton, Ohio.
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jwirr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-21-08 03:25 PM
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1. IMO none of that is infrastructure. Streets, sewers, schools, etc. are. nt
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aquart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-21-08 03:56 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. But I'd still give the zoo its money.
I'm like that. Baseball museums, not so much.
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jwirr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-21-08 04:03 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. The Zoo can be justified as humane cost for animals. The history
of baseball will still be there when we get the basics fixed.
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Davis_X_Machina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-21-08 03:28 PM
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2. That's what 'stimulus' looks like....
John Maynard Keynes:
If the Treasury were to fill old bottles with bank notes, bury them at suitable depths in disused coal mines which are then filled up with town rubbish, and leave them to private enterprise on the well-tried principles of laissez faire to dig them up again there need be no more unemployment and, with the help of the repercussions, the real income of the community and its capital wealth also would probably become a great deal greater than it actually is.

These projects are, you will agree, at least better than burying bottles full of bank notes... as for hangars, zoos and ballparks, the WPA built them, too.
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IDemo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-21-08 04:13 PM
Response to Reply #2
5. Sorry, but the definition of infrastructure is fairly easy to understand here
Edited on Sun Dec-21-08 04:14 PM by IDemo
The basic facilities, services, and installations needed for the functioning of a community or society, such as transportation and communications systems, water and power lines, and public institutions including schools, post offices, and prisons.

If your city or state feels strongly enough that it needs to construct or improve entertainment venues such as zoos, ballparks, or museums, it is perfectly free to raise taxes or sell bonds to do so. There is simply no justification for pretending that these things in any way fall under the definition of infrastructure.
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Davis_X_Machina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-21-08 04:49 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. But...
...spending to build them qualifies as stimulus.

There may not be enough 'shovel-ready' infrastructure projects to make a difference.
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IDemo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-21-08 05:15 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. The intent of the spending plan and the amount of "shovel ready" projects
Edited on Sun Dec-21-08 05:17 PM by IDemo
is discussed here:

Oberstar Boosts Stimulus Plan (H.R. 7110)
House package pledges $30 billion for infrastructure

September 26, 2008

By Jim Berard (202) 226-5064

The House of Representatives late today approved a plan to stimulate the economy with a major investment in our Nations infrastructure. The bill provides some $30 billion for highways, bridges, transit, and water projects across the country, and is expected to create or sustain more than one million jobs.

The vote on the stimulus plan was 264-158.

Below is the record statement of House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman James L. Oberstar (Minn.) in support of the package.


I rise in strong support of H.R. 7110, the Job Creation and Unemployment Relief Act of 2008.

This bill invests in America -- in the roads, bridges, transit and passenger rail systems, airports, locks, dams, waterways, and environmental infrastructure that enable our economy to work and keep our citizens safe. This is the infrastructure that, too often, we take for granted, until it fails.

This bill recognizes the critical importance of meeting our nations transportation and environmental infrastructure investment needs, and provides $30 billion toward that end. This $30 billion investment will yield lasting benefits in terms of reduced travel times, higher productivity, increased competitiveness in the world marketplace, and cleaner water.

With more than 800,000 construction workers out of work, and the construction industry suffering the highest unemployment rate (8.2 percent) of any industrial sector, this bill puts America back to work. It will create or sustain more than one million good, family-wage jobs jobs that cannot be outsourced to another country, because the work must be done here in the U.S. on our roads, bridges, transit and rail systems, airports, waterways, and wastewater treatment facilities.

For highways and bridges, the bill provides $12.8 billion. State Departments of Transportation (DOTs) have a tremendous backlog of highway projects that could be implemented quickly if these additional funds are made available. For example, State DOTs often have open-ended contracts in place for resurfacing projects, which means that work could begin immediately upon receipt of additional funds. In addition, many State DOTs have projects already in process that could be accelerated if additional funding were provided. According to an Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) survey of State DOTs, states have more than 3,000 projects totaling $17.9 billion which are ready-to-go and can be out to bid and under contract within 90 days.

Although I have heard the administrations economists discount the stimulative effects of infrastructure investment, they may want to check with the State DOTs. In August, State DOTs informed the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) that they had $8 billion of highway projects that could advance before next week (September 30) if funding were available. Regrettably, FHWA only had $1 billion available to distribute to the States through its August redistribution process.

Not only will these additional funds be put to use quickly, they will be put to good use, to meet urgent highway and bridge investment needs. For instance, consider the ready-to-go projects of just one State DOT, Missouri. With funding provided by this bill, Missouri could accelerate repair work on the Brownville, Nebraska bridge over the Missouri River. The 1,903-foot bridge is 70 years old and is structurally deficient. The bridge has a sufficiency rating of 3, which is even lower than the rating of the I-35W Bridge which collapsed in Minnesota. This rating reflects such a serious condition that if its rating drops to 2, the bridge will be closed. If the bridge has to be closed, residents will have to make a 123-mile detour. Missouri could also accelerate the replacement of a structurally deficient and obsolete bridge with the construction of a new bridge over the Osage River at Tuscumbia, Missouri. The current bridge is a two-lane, 1,083-foot structure that is 75 years old and is also rated a 3 (serious condition). If this bridge has to be closed, residents will have to make a 40-mile detour.

For transit, the bill provides $3.6 billion for capital investments, and $1 billion for relief from high energy costs. Due to high gas prices, transit agencies across the country are experiencing increased demand for transit services, yet they are struggling to meet this demand due to the impact high fuel costs have had on their own operating budgets. In 2007, 10.3 billion trips were taken on public transportation the highest number of trips taken in 50 years. Ridership has continued to climb in 2008, with a 4.4 percent increase in trips taken during the first half of 2008 compared to the same period last year, putting 2008 on track to beat last year's modern record ridership numbers. Additional funds could be put to immediate use by transit agencies to meet this demand while at the same time creating much-needed jobs and economic activity.

For Amtrak, the bill provides $500 million. Similar to transit, Amtrak is experiencing record ridership and revenues in fiscal year 2008, and demand is growing across Amtraks entire system for intercity passenger rail service. With this additional funding, Amtrak will be able to refurbish rail cars that are currently in storage and return them to service, and fund other urgently needed repair and maintenance of its facilities.

For the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), the bill provides $600 million. This funding will allow the AIP program to keep pace with inflationary cost increases, and begin to address the investment gap in airport safety and capacity needs. Ready-to-go AIP projects that would be funded by this bill include runway and taxiway rehabilitations, extensions, and widening; obstruction removal; apron construction, expansion and rehabilitation; Airport Rescue and Firefighting equipment and facilities; and airside service or public access roads.

For environmental infrastructure, this bill provides $6.5 billion for Clean Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs). Under this administration, funding for the Clean Water SRF program has been cut repeatedly and funding is now one-half of it what it was a decade ago, despite the fact that the needs continue to grow. These cuts have created pent-up demand in the States for project funding. In addition, wastewater treatment facilities must meet new treatment requirements, including requirements to control nutrients, sewer overflows, stormwater, and nonpoint sources. Aging infrastructure must be replaced or repaired. Additional funds could be put to immediate use in many States, creating family-wage construction jobs and economic activity. A recent survey by the Council of Infrastructure Financing Authorities and the Association of State and Interstate Water Pollution Control Administrators identified more than $9 billion in ready-to-go Clean Water SRF projects that cannot be funded within existing appropriation levels.

For the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the bill provides $5 billion to invest in the nation's water resource infrastructure. This investment will provide jobs, help American products compete on the world market, reduce the risk that larger sums for disaster relief will be needed in the future, and restore precious ecosystems. For example, the infusion of additional construction capital could be used for the construction of the second 1,200-foot lock at Saulte Ste. Marie. If the second lock were completed, then the incident that occurred earlier this week would not shut down traffic between the Upper and Lower Great Lakes because there would be a second point of transit. The existing Poe lock (that failed) is the only 1,200-foot lock between the Upper and Lower Lakes.


I'm not seeing museums or prostitution control measures here anywhere.

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