Posts tagged ‘Don Young’

Fight Arizona Pork

President Bush's call for Katrina spending to be offset by budget cuts has spurred a blogosphere effort to identify local pork urge Congress to cut the pork.  I am 98% behind this effort (the missing 2% being that the effort is spurred by a desire to spend the money somewhere else, rather than sending it back to taxpayers where it belongs).  Glenn Reynolds post that got the ball rolling is here.  His followup posts are here and here.  I will note the irony that I recently compared Don Young (of Alaska bridge to nowhere fame) to Huey Long (of multiple bridges to nowhere fame), given that we are looking to cut Don Young's pork to help Huey Long's old stomping ground.


Edward at Zonitics has already identified one of the most visible chunks of AZ pork, that is our earmarks in the recent highway bill.  These include nearly five million for a couple of pedestrian bridges, plus hundreds of millions for a rail system to run empty trains to compete with our empty buses.  Why does the rest of the country need to pay for Phoenix's growth?  Heck, we just took the money the feds saved us on this junk and spent it subsidizing a stadium for the Cardinals, for god's sakes.   I will note that of the mere 8 people who voted against the highway bill, 2 were from Arizona, including my 3rd district Congressman John Shadegg and libertarian Jeff Flake.  Flake, consistent with his libertarian principles (or in retribution for them?) represents the only district in the country without an earmark in the highway bill.

So, to push the ball forward, I will add another bit of Arizona pork.  I wanted to include some items form the energy bill, but I can't find a state by state impact.  But I can find, thanks to the environmental working group, a nice summary of farm subsidies to Arizona.  Here is a summary for the most recent year they have data:

Rank Program
(click for top recipients, payment concentration and regional rankings)
Number of Recipients
Subsidy Total
1 Cotton Subsidies   1,339   $103,125,972
2 Subtotal, Disaster Payments   1,966   $11,915,428
3 Env. Quality Incentive Program   254   $5,619,853
4 Wheat Subsidies   1,018   $5,192,003
5 Dairy Program Subsidies   128   $4,925,610
6 Livestock Subsidies   1,460   $3,050,869
7 Corn Subsidies   514   $1,500,291
8 Barley Subsidies   729   $660,236
9 Apple Subsidies   17   $271,523
10 Wool Subsidies   1,219   $259,616

And here is the same data but cut by recipient, with just the top 20 included:

1 Colorado River Indian Tribes Farm Parker, AZ 85344 $2,102,881
2 Ak-chin Farms Maricopa, AZ 85239 $1,499,278
3 Gila River Farms Sacaton, AZ 85247 $1,406,582
4 Catron Cotton Co Tonopah, AZ 85354 $1,156,539
5 Tohono O'odham Farming Authority Eloy, AZ 85231 $1,078,480
6 Bia Sacaton, AZ 85247 $1,064,062
7 Eagle Tail Farming Partnership Buckeye, AZ 85326 $1,045,584
8 Tempe Farming Company Maricopa, AZ 85239 $947,811
9 Fort Mojave Tribe Mohave Valley, AZ 86446 $938,843
10 P R P Farms Buckeye, AZ 85326 $899,098
11 G P A Management Group Tempe, AZ 85284 $893,672
12 Gin Ranch 94 Buckeye, AZ 85326 $889,764
13 H Four Farms III Buckeye, AZ 85326 $863,086
14 Brooks Farms Goodyear, AZ 85338 $861,762
15 Green Acres Farms Buckeye, AZ 85326 $812,583
16 Martori Family Gen Ptn Scottsdale, AZ 85260 $788,150
17 Falfa Farms 95 Queen Creek, AZ 85242 $779,426
18 Associated Farming 92 Laveen, AZ 85339 $749,947
19 A Tumbling T Ranches 95 Goodyear, AZ 85338 $709,455
20 Rogers Brothers Farms Ptnshp Laveen, AZ 85339 $706,305

I don't know all these folks, but I can say that all of the first three have extremely profitable casinos they operate.

I am writing my letter now to the my Congressman and Senators, and will post a copy as an update when I am done.  The ubiquitous NZ Bear has a data base he is building of pork identified.

Technorati tag:  .

The New Huey Long

Rep. Don Young (R-AK) is vying to become the new Huey Long.  As head of the House transportation and infrastructure committee, he is in prime position to bring home massive, unnecessary infrastructure projects to his district.  Huey Long, former emperor governor of Louisiana, is justly famous for acquiring funds to build some spectacularly unnecessary bridges over the Mississippi above and below New Orleans.

Representative Young seems to be headed for the same achievement.

If Rep. Young succeeds, tiny Ketchikan, Alaska, a town with less than 8,000 residents (about 13,000 if the entire county is included) will receive hundreds of millions of federal dollars to build a bridge to Gravina Island
(population: 50). This bridge will be nearly as long as the Golden
Gate Bridge and taller than the Brooklyn Bridge.

The Gravina
Bridge would replace a 7-minute ferry ride from Ketchikan to Ketchikan  Airport on Gravina Island. Project proponents tell the public that the bridge is a transportation necessity, though the ferry system adequately handles passenger traffic between the islands, including traffic to and from the airport.1  Some herald the project as the savior of Ketchikan because it will open up land on Pennock Island to residential development, despite the fact that Ketchikan's population has been shrinking.

Taxpayers for Common Sense have a great article here on how the whole earmark thing works.  Here is just a taste:

By the time
this is over, Congress will have packed this with a record level of transportation pork. The political formula was simple: $14 million was the minimum for every district. Anybody who sits on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee can expect $40-60 million, and House
and committee leadership will get $90 million or more.

If you look at it on a per capita basis,  the highest per capita earmark spending is ... in the home state of the committee chairman, Young (gee, what a weird coincidence):

In total dollars,
California is the biggest winner so far with nearly $1.4 billion in earmarks. Delaware receives the smallest share, with only $12
million. On a per capita basis, however, Alaska wins going away.
Based on the $722 million in earmarks for Alaska in the bill's current
version, $1,151 would be shipped north for every man, woman, and child in the state. Rep. Young's isn't done yet, however, and before this bill is law, Alaska's share of earmarks will likely increase
even more. Alaska did nearly as well last year; during the failed
attempt to pass a transportation bill, Rep. Young secured nearly
$600 million for Alaska, including $375 million for two bridge projects, Gravina Access project in Ketchikan and the Knik Arm Crossing in Anchorage.

Update: Via the Club for Growth, comes this related story of the $1.5 million bus stop in Anchorage.

Tom Wilson is faced with a problem many city administrators would envy: How to
spend $1.5 million on a bus stop.

Wilson, Anchorage's director of public transportation, has all that money for
a new and improved bus stop outside the Anchorage Museum of History and Art
thanks to Republican Sen. Ted Stevens (news,
) "” fondly referred to by Alaskans as "Uncle Ted" for his prodigious
ability to secure federal dollars for his home state....

The bus stop there now is a simple steel-and-glass, three-sided enclosure.
Wilson wants better lighting and seating. He also likes the idea of heated
sidewalks that would remain free of snow and ice. And he thinks electronic signs
would be nice....

"We have a senator that gave us that money and I certainly won't want to
appear ungrateful," he said. At the same time, he does not want the public to
think the city is wasting the money. So "if it only takes us $500,000 to do it,
that's what we will spend."

That is still five to 50 times the typical cost of bus stop improvements in