March 1, 2009 10:23 PM

Pork barrel

What's with this?? (this is just some from 2008 that went through)

$245,000 by Senate appropriator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), and Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) for construction of the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center in Prosser, Washington. According to its website, the Culinary Center’s purpose is to educate and promote the areas of viticulture, enology and culinary practices, showcase the quality of Washington’s wine industry, and increase the state’s tourism industry. The website also states that wine in Washington is a $3 billion industry. Taxpayers should not be soaked for a new wine center.

$295,470 by Senate appropriator Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) for renovations to the International Peace Garden in Dunseith. Spanning the border of North Dakota and Manitoba, the International Peace Garden boasts 150,000 flowers, terraced walkways, and the 120-foot Peace Tower. In September 2007, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) offered an amendment to eliminate this earmark from the Senate version of the transportation bill. Sen. Coburn argued the money would be better spent on road repairs, calling it “morally wrong” to spend money on wasteful projects while citizens are dying on the nation’s roads. Unfortunately, the amendment failed by a vote of 32-63.

$328,300 by Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) for the Big Sky Economic Development Authority, for historic preservation of the Cobb Field facility in Billings. Home to the Minor League Billings Mustangs, Cobb Field was built in 1948 and is currently undergoing modernization, including a new scoreboard all paid for by taxpayers. A September, 2006 article in Satisfaction Magazine noted that owning a Minor League Baseball team can be quite profitable: “But a well-run baseball operation can turn a net profit of 5 percent to 10 percent a year, according to interviews with team owners and consultants. Then there is the equity play: Minor league teams have been appreciating in value by 3 percent to 5 percent annually in the past decade, with some instances albeit rare ones of owners selling for 10 times their original investment after holding the team for just five years.” According to the Mustangs’ website, 95,309 people attended a game at Cobb Field in 2007. An increase of $3.45 per ticket would have removed the burden to the taxpayers.

$49,000 by Rep. Michael Ferguson (R-N.J.) for Woodbridge Township for construction of a Woodbridge Historical Museum.

$3,000,000 added by the Senate for the Kimberly Process. According to the Global Policy Forum (GPF), the Kimberly Process was initiated in 2000 to set up “an internationally recognized certification system for rough diamonds and establishing national import/export standards. In November 2002, 52 governments ratified and adopted the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme, which was fully implemented in August 2003.” The GPF called the system “flawed from the beginning ” because it is voluntary and self-regulated. Both the Word Diamond Council and governments that signed on to the certification process have failed to monitor and regulate the diamond trade, according to the GPF.

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