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Earmarks – pork or vital public investments? You be the judge

Post by John Henrikson / The News Tribune on March 11, 2009 at 2:47 pm with No Comments »
March 11, 2009 2:47 pm

You can knock Sen. Maria Cantwell for supporting Sen. John McCain’s call to strip all earmarks from the omnibus spending bill, then turning around and supporting the bill, complete with nearly 100 earmarks she supported. (See Les Blumenthal’s story.) But when you look at the details of what such spending would support in our area, it’s hard not to feel some ambivalence.

Others in Washington’s delegation staked out their positions clearly. Sen. Patty Murray, who ranks no. 12 in the Senate in securing earmarks in this bill, made a floor speech defending such “congressionally directed spending.” Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, true to his declaration of a unilateral earmark moratorium, did not sign on to any.

Sen. Cantwell did not offer an explanation for her seeming contradiction, but here is a reasonable defense: I don’t like the way earmarks have been abused. I’ve supported recent reforms, and along with President Obama support further reforms. But for the moment, they are part of the game and I’m not doing my job for constituents if I don’t play that game and help get money for projects that might otherwise get shut out.

Would that make her a hypocrite or a realist?

Below is the itemized list of earmarks for Pierce County and the region. Whether they are pork or progress may depend on where you live.

&bull $2,439,000 for Howard Hanson Dam

&bull $2,351,250 for Pierce Transit Peninsula Park and Ride

&bull $1,900,000 for Shaw Road Extension Project, City of Puyallup, WA

&bull $1,807,000 for Mt. Rainier National Park

&bull $1,425,000 for Enumclaw Welcome Center Intermodal Transit Facility

&bull $1,235,000 for Downtown Tacoma Intermodal Center

&bull $1,100,000 for Pierce County Alliance Washington State Methamphetamine Initiative

&bull $1,000,000 for Pierce County Alliance for an anti-methamphetamine initiative

&bull $1,000,000 for Safe Streets Campaign Pierce County Regional Gang Prevention Initiative

&bull $957,000 for Mud Mountain Dam, WA (Fish Passage)

&bull $950,000 for Salishan HOPE VI, Tacoma, WA for the neighborhood rehabilitation and improvement and community investment

&bull $800,000 for Gig Harbor Fish Passage

&bull $750,000 for Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

&bull $500,000 for City of University Place for Sewer Infrastructure

&bull $500,000 for Crystal Judson Family Justice Center in Tacoma

&bull $475,000 for a University Place Pedestrian Overpass

&bull $380,000 for Tacoma Goodwill for construction of a Work Opportunity Center

&bull $237,500 for Boys and Girls Club of South Puget Sound, Tacoma, for construction of a teen center

&bull $190,000 for Tacoma Community College facilities and equipment

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