Repubs slam Napa wine train stimulus project, then take their own pork
Whether or not you like the Napa Valley Wine Train, the fact is that if downtown Napa is to be protected against another winter flood, like the one it last experienced on New Year’s Eve, 2005, some major infrastructure work is going to have to be done, including relocating the train tracks. Planning for that is in the works, financed by a $54 million grant from Pres. Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus package.
Flooded Wine Train Station at Soscol Ave.
Predictably, Republicans are criticizing this (and many other) projects as “wasteful” and “silly.” The Weekly Calistogan reports that the charge is being led by Arizona’s Sen. John McCain and Oklahoma’s Sen. Tom Coburn. From the article, this: “McCain and Coburn scoffed at the hefty price tag associated with the track relocation, noting mockingly in the section of the report titled ‘All Aboard The Wine Train!’ that one of the most popular meals served on the Wine Train is the $124 Vista Dome four-course lunch with a glass of sparkling wine.”
Sparkling wine! Fancy food! There must be some brie lurking around somewhere. Just the kind of effete symbols Republicans love to bash!
The Maverick: more of a hot dog kinda guy
But what’s that old saying about people who live in glass houses? Oh, right; they shouldn’t throw stones. Here are a few tasty little appetizers from Arizona and Oklahoma that are also enjoying funding from the dreaded stimulus bill:
There’s a project to renovate the “streetscape” in downtown Flagstaff by building a “multi-use trail.” For $500,000 in taxpayer money the new trail will include “landscaping and irrigation components [that] will enhance the grounds of the Visitors Center [and] improve the appearance of the downtown area…”.
Gee, I guess it’s more important to Republicans to “improve appearances” in a red state than to actually save lives and property from floods in a blue state. But wait, there’s more. Here’s another grant for $322,000 for the Arizona Commission on the Arts “to award between 19 and 21 Arizona Arts Job…to arts organizations in rural, urban and suburban areas…”. [Click on #16, "The Arizona Commission for the Arts."]
What kinds of jobs? Here are some of the listings that went up on the Arizona Commission for the Arts’ website after the federal stimulus money grant was announced.
I’m in favor of the arts, but isn’t it Republicans who are always against government funding of them? Well, I guess it’s more important for the Del E. Webb Center for the Performing Arts to hire a program services manager than for an American city to be protected against a flood. Or so John McCain would suggest.
And then there’s $110,548 awarded to the Desert Botanical Garden to add “94,000 [plant] specimens at two herbaria” and $168,091 to Arizona State University to study “peers and peer networks.”
Can you imagine if instead of ASU it was San Francisco State University? The horror! We’d be hearing all about “the homosexual agenda.”
And what’s happening in the great state of Oklahoma?
Glad you asked. They got $2.6 billion in stimulus funding. Don’t forget that Sen. Coburn’s complaint about the “wasteful, silly” spending was accompanied by this zinger: “[T]he money we spend ought to be a high priority for the American people as a whole.”
The state’s Transportation Secretary just announced that millions of Oklahoma’s stimulus money will be spent on “bridge projects, including “rehabilitation of more than three dozen bridges in the Tulsa area” in addition to dozens of others elsewhere in the state.
I guess when money is spent on bridges that need rehab in California it’s “silly and wasteful” but when money is spent on bridges in Oklahoma it’s a good thing.
And the state’s Indian tribes, a very powerful constituency, are to get $135 million even before they know what they’ll do with it, according to Oklahoma public radio KOSU, which reported that tribal leaders “are hastily coming up with suitable ways to use the money.” [If they offer me $135 million, I'll figure out something pretty cool to do with it, you betcha!]
Didn’t she take federal money for the “Bridge to Nowhere”?
Anyhow, you get the idea. It’s easy to make somebody else’s project look ridiculous. McCain and Coburn are just making trouble, criticizing something connected to California wine (a reliably odious concept to conservatives) in a reliably Democratic (Rep. Mike Thompson’s) district. Sad.