Saturday, March 04, 2006

Some Pork Headed My Way (paca)

One of the political blogs I read regularly is Charging RINO, which is a moderate Republican blog. One of his leading fights is about government waste and pork, especially in the current fight to reduce or eliminate funds in the Senate that are earmarked by Senators to go to some place, usually their home state; i.e., pork. I saw a little blurb in one of the Honolulu newspapers that our Senator Inouye has gotten $21 million of fed money to head this way for repairs to the UH library, which is about two buildings over from where I sit. He specifically puts in the phrase "requested by me" so that we all know who brought home the bacon.

Now, the library needs repairs. Last year there was a flood in the Manoa Valley, where the Manoa stream jumped its banks and ran for a few hours right through the biochem building, under the office I sit in, and right into the library. The library is built with pretty much a moat around it. There are these dips where you can walk down into the basement on either side. The stream ran right into the moat, swamping the bottom floor and the one above it. It destroyed a whole server farm, most of the gov. docs, classrooms, and closed the library for the rest of the semester. The cost of repairs is in the tens of millions of dollars. The biochem building is still closed.

All that said, here are some reasons I still don't like the federal money going here.

1) The library is still designed with a moat around it. Nothing has been done to prevent this exact same thing from happening again in 20 years.
2) The State of Hawaii has the money to do all the repairs itself. The great political fight right now in the State legislature is over what to do with a state surplus that exceeds $200 million. We've got the money to fix the library ourselves. Our Republican governor wants to give the whole thing back to Hawaii tax payers. I understand this, but it seems like if we do that, then we are essentially giving money back to Hawaii residents and taking money from the other 49 states to repair a Hawaii state university.
3) This money comes from a Homeland Security bill. What does the UH library have to do with Homeland Security? Nothing, of course.

I respect Sen. Inouye. He has a Congressional Medal of Honor for his service in WWII. And the story of the Japanese-American battalians fighting in WWII, while all their families were living in internment camps, is one of the great heroic stories of the war. But this is still the wrong decision. At best, the Federal govt has a legit interest in getting the government docs section up and going, but the rest can and should be paid for by Hawaii itself.

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