9/19/2005

Daily Kos: Compassionate Conservatism at work

Compassionate Conservatism at work
by kos
Mon Sep 19th, 2005 at 17:47:46 CDT

Rep. Don Young of Alaska hates the gulf coast:

In any case it won't die: the idea that Alaska, to help Hurricane Katrina victims, should forfeit the dough it got in the federal highway bill for the Knik and Gravina bridges.

The New York Times: "Surely Rep. Don Young, the Alaska Republican who is chairman of the transportation committee, might put off that $223 million 'bridge to nowhere' in his state's outback. It's redundant now -- Louisiana suddenly has several bridges to nowhere."

The Wall Street Journal: "That same half a billion dollars (for the two Alaska bridges) could rebuild thousands of homes for suffering New Orleans evacuees."

No doubt to make Alaskans look bad, city leaders in Bozeman, Mont., are investigating whether they can give Katrina victims the $4 million they got in the federal bill for a downtown parking garage.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., raised the charitable pork idea on the Senate floor last week, although he stopped short of endorsing it.

So, how about it, Mr. Chairman?

"They can kiss my ear!" Young boomed when Sam Bishop, Washington correspondent for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, asked him about the many pleas to redirect the bridge money.

"That is the dumbest thing I've ever heard," Young went on, noting that Louisiana did quite well in his highway bill.

And, the congressman said, he helped the seafood industry donate more than $500,000 for hurricane victims. (That was at the "Seafood Invitational," a charity golf tournament Sept. 9 in Roslyn, Wash., Bishop reported Friday.)

"I raised enough money to give back to them voluntarily," he said, "and that's it!"

It's particularly important to note just how useless those Bridges to Nowhere are.

Yet due to funds in a new transportation bill, which President Bush is scheduled to sign Wednesday, Sallee and his neighbors may soon receive a bridge nearly as long as the Golden Gate Bridge and 80 feet taller than the Brooklyn Bridge. With a $223 million check from the federal government, the bridge will connect Gravina [population less than 50] to the bustling Alaskan metropolis of Ketchikan, pop. 8,000.

"How is the bridge going to pay for itself?" asks Susan Walsh, Sallee's wife, who works as a nurse in Ketchikan. She notes that a ferry, which runs every 15 minutes in the summer, already connects Gravina to Ketchikan. "It can get us to the hospital in five minutes. How is this bridge fair to the rest of the country?" [...]

Included in the bill's special Alaska projects is $231 million for a bridge that will connect Anchorage to Port MacKenzie, a rural area that has exactly one resident, north of the town of Knik, pop. 22. The land is a network of swamps between a few hummocks of dry ground. Although it may or may not set the stage for future development, the bridge, to be named "Don Young's Way," will not save commuters into Anchorage any time, says Walt Parker, a former Alaska commissioner of highways.

$233 million to connect 50 people on an island with regular ferry service to the mainland, and $231 million for a bridge that will connect Anchorage to 23 other people.

And to Don Young (and presumably the rest of the state's all-Republican congressional delegation), those bridges are more important than rebuilding the gulf coast.

Daily Kos: Compassionate Conservatism at work

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