October 6, 2005

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Reader/reporter Evan Dawson emails:

Today I had the chance to speak with Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-Clarence, NY) regarding his views on the pork-for-relief proposal. Reynolds was in town to talk about new federal plans to deal with gas gouging and energy conservation. During his response, he referenced several projects for which he earmarked money in the transportation bill. One is a road safety improvement. The other project is known in Rochester as Renaissance Square; it will be a combination of an underground bus terminal and an upscale performing arts center. Reynolds helped secure three separate earmarks that total roughly $8 million for the project. Elected leaders have tied the arts center to the bus terminal in order to make it eligible for these kinds of transportation earmarks.

Rep. Reynolds had this to say: “When you look at the road and bridge projects, I don’t think people of the 26th District, on the type of money that I was able to bring back, are gonna want to say, ‘Let’s stand aside.'”

Regarding Renaissance Square and road safety improvements: “I don’t think those are luxury items that were brought in on the federal transportation bill.”

On why giving up the earmarks is a poor idea: “If we moved that money and voluntarily gave it back, it comes out of the state’s allocation, and the state would be penalized on the formula that we put together in order to participate in these types of dollars. Are there questionable projects that are in that bill? Sure there are… But I think the projects that I brought in, and others I’ve seen by neighboring districts, are vitally needed road improvements that are part of our transportation planning, and also come out of our transportation formula for New York. I think there are good ways to find cost savings to pay for Katrina. I think taking it away from local projects isn’t the answer.”

I’d like to reiterate that as a reporter, I take no position on the pork-for-relief proposal. I just want to make sure the public has ample information on this issue. I’ll continue to provide responses as we get them from elected leaders.

Thanks.

Evan Dawson
13 WHAM Reporter
Rochester, NY

Tom Reynolds is, I stress, no relation. And I’m glad to see local media asking questions like this, even if I don’t like the answers much. Just remember this if Reynolds runs on an anti-spending platform.

Meanwhile, reader Steve Cooper emails:

I contacted my congressman Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) asking about cutting “pork” from the Transportation Bill to help offset the costs of Hurricane Katrina. I received a letter back from him touting his support for the Katrina spending bills and that there was “no pork” in those measures to cut?!? Not one mention of the Transportation Bill or any real concern about the excessive spending spree that Congress has been on. I plan to call back and hold their feet to the fire on this and will pass on any further responses.

Good. There sure seem to be a lot of Republicans who aren’t interested in cutting pork.

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