Congressman Rick Boucher Supports Earmarks

by Lewis Loflin

To quote the Bristol Herald Courier (June 9, 2008), "U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher (D. 9th VA) does not use the word earmark...(He)...eschews what has become a byword for pork-barrel spending."

This "Congressionally directed spending" is going to cost taxpayers another $2.7 million he claims to "single-handedly secured for 10 projects in his district." He says, "Members of Congress understand the priority needs of their congressional districts better than any other member of government." He endorses the pork-barrel (excuse me earmarks) process.

For over 20 years Congressman Boucher has overseen perhaps $500 million to $1 billion in government funding being poured into his district. The result? Among the highest poverty rates, lowest education levels, and worst income gap in the state of Virginia. In some counties as much as one-fourth of the population works for the government according to the Weldon Cooper Center in Wise, and a system of corruption that has seen entire county boards of supervisors jailed.



He brings home lots of pork to buy votes, but what he doesn't bring is change in the form of real private sector jobs and opportunity for the average citizen of our region. Estimates are that over 15,000 college graduates alone have fled this region in the last 20 years while local governments use tax dollars to fund Wal-Marts and strip malls.

The only job creation besides that are government jobs and legions of non-profits. They provide lots of "assistance," but do nothing to deal with why the same people are still needy after 40 years of welfare. They are simply a self-perpetuating industry in themselves ever eager for the next government grant.

"The most corrupt region is Southwest Virginia...more indictments for political and public office corruption have happened in this region than all other parts of the state combined."

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Governmental Studies

To quote the press, "Recipients of Boucher's earmarks range from local law enforcement to universities to a nonprofit providing assistance to the economically needy. Notably, no for-profit entities make the list."

But these non-profits are a business, in many cases setup by Boucher and local governments for the sole purpose of getting state and federal grant money. There's millions porked-out to private contractors and consultants, many whose main source of income is government.

To quote The Roanoke Times June 10, 2008,
To distant watchdogs targeting wasteful spending by Congress, some federal funds flowing to Southwest and Southside Virginia this year may raise eyebrows.

Such as $245,000 for awnings and infrastructure improvements at the historic farmers market in downtown Roanoke. Or $149,000 to control coyotes. Or $98,000 to expand the Bassett Historical Center.

Those are examples of targeted federal spending, or "earmarks," secured by the three veteran congressmen who represent Southwest Virginia -- Republicans Bob Goodlatte of Roanoke County and Virgil Goode of Rocky Mount, and Democrat Rick Boucher of Abingdon...

But other examples include $9.5 million for a flood control project deemed critical for the city of Roanoke; $3.2 million for a Virginia Tech research center studying technologies to prevent head, neck and chest injuries in combat; and hundreds of thousands of dollars to help small law-enforcement agencies upgrade their emergency communications systems.

Information about the earmarks comes from a database created by the nonpartisan watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense. The practice of directing federal spending through earmarks has been scorned by critics who charge that lawmakers excessively load up legislation with pet projects for their home districts.

But one person's pork is another's prize. And while Southwest Virginia's congressmen acknowledge flaws in the process, they also consider the earmarks directed to their districts important -- perhaps more important than an executive branch bureaucrat in Washington might realize. "I frankly think the members of Congress are far better situated to understand the priorities of their districts," said Boucher, who has served in the House of Representatives since 1983.

Bouchers most famous boondoggle was the $250 million Grundy-Wal-Mart Flood Control project.
and Virginia Politicians and Highway Pork

Congressman Rick Boucher
Representative Rick Boucher

Radford University received nearly $600,000 for two projects in financial year 2008, including "pre-disaster mitigation" and for a study "establishing the feasibility" of a graduate school in medical sciences, according to a database compiled by the nonpartisan Taxpayers for Common Sense. In other words this will not produce a single private sector job for the general public.

Other useless projects include: The New River Valley Airport in Dublin, Va., got $392,000 for "runway and taxiway rehabilitation." This useless airport produces nothing of economic value and like the Highlands Airport in his hometown of Abingdon, requires constant taxpayer bailouts.

The Allegheny Highlands Economic Development Corporation received $282,000 to "develop business assistance software tools" and the Allegheny County Sheriff's Department, the Craig County Sheriff's Office, and the Radford Police Department together received close to $1 million. They didn't mention what for.

Abingdon-based People Incorporated received $147,000 infusion into some "revolving loan fund." People Incorporated does do a lot of good work, but according to their website their "mission is to move low-income residents into the economic mainstream." That they fail to do for reasons outside their control.

Here is where the problem is: "Boucher said the cash will go into a loan fund to expand tourism opportunities." Tourism development is the biggest fraud ever conceived on the general public. Projects include nonsense such as luxury vacation cabins at a minor state park. Here are some more examples:

Pig

Congressman Boucher REALLY Loves His Earmarks

To quote Ed Frank, "It's been said that Members of Congress love their pork-barrel earmarks. But Congressman Rick Boucher of Virginia seems to have taken that love to a new level - he actually got married at the site of one of his earmarks this weekend. Check out this piece from AP"

Congressman Weds Girlfriend on Bike Trail By Associated Press, June 6, 2006

DAMASCUS, Va. -- U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher and his longtime girlfriend tied the knot on a bicycle trail, and for the wedding, shared a burrito and a piece of coconut cake. Boucher said he and Amy Hauslohner both enjoy biking, so they decided to get married on a former railroad bridge overlooking Damascus on the Virginia Creeper Trail. "It's one of our favorite settings," Boucher said Monday from Washington. Before the ceremony, the couple bicycled from Abingdon to Damascus on the trail. While biking the 10 miles back to Abingdon, they stopped at the Alvarado Train Station restaurant and shared a slice from a coconut cake at the counter.

As Ed continues: "Now check out Congressman Boucher's campaign website - Virginia Creeper Trail Wooden Trestle Improvement Project-Washington County At Rick's urging, the federal government has provided $750,000 to perform repair and upgrade work on the trestles of the Virginia Creeper Trail between the Towns of Abingdon and Damascus. Truly unbelievable. We wish the happy couple the best. Now, how do we get a federal earmark to fund our wedding gift to them?

pig

Citizens for Government Waste peg Boucher, a small porker compared to some Virginia pigs.

Jun 10 2008

The Citizens for Government Waste this week released the "Pig Book," an annual compilation of pork-barrel projects in the federal budget. It awarded Rep. Virgil Goode, 5th District Republican, with one of the group's "Oinker" awards for $98,000 that was earmarked to develop a walking tour of Boydton. "The town has a population of 474, and covers .82 square miles," the report states. "That's a lot of money for a short walk." The trophy title was pretty self explanatory: "This Pork Was Made for Walking Award."

Under the seven criteria the group uses to pinpoint waste, Virginia's $326 million in pork projects ranked 23rd out of the 50 states and the District in pork projects. Here is a breakdown of projects for Virginia lawmakers, which included no money for Rep. Eric Cantor, 7th District Republican, who apparently made no earmarks requests for the second year in a row Sen. Jim Webb (D) 121 projects: $254 million hasn't been in the Senate long and has already "outporked" veteran Sen. John Warner (R) 122 projects: $251.2 million.

Also notice the number of Republicans here as well: Jo Ann Davis (R-1st) 12 projects: $18.7 million Thelma Drake (R-2nd) 23 projects: $30.4 million Bobby Scott (D-3rd) 31 projects: $69.1 million Randy Forbes (R-4th) 18 projects: $18.5 million Virgil Goode (R-5th) 41 projects: $21.7 million Bob Goodlatte (R-6th) 11 projects: $2.3 million Eric Cantor (R-7th) zero Jim Moran (D-8th) 66 projects: $64.5 million Rick Boucher (D-9th) 19 projects: $14.6 million Frank Wolf (R-10) 17 projects: $47.6 million Tom Davis (R-11) 29 projects: $54.9 million.

The New York Times also singled out Boucher:

A Tale of Two Trust Funds By JOHN TIERNEY May 14, 2005 New York Times (extract)

Don't be discouraged by this week's report that traffic congestion is worse than ever across America. Relief is on the way from Congress, thanks to one of the designated 3,800 "high-priority projects" in the new highway bill. It's a new transit system guaranteed to free you from bumper-to-bumper traffic, as long as you have a horse.

This addition to the nation's transportation infrastructure is the brainchild of Representative Rick Boucher, a Democrat from the southwestern Virginia mountains that Daniel Boone traversed on the way to Kentucky. Mr. Boucher secured $750,000 of highway money for the "construction of horse trails and assorted facilities" in Jefferson National Forest.

When I expressed doubts to Mr. Boucher that these new horse trails would ease traffic on the roads, he replied, "That's fair to say." He didn't expect any commuters to use them. But he insisted this really wasn't an unusual use of money from the highway trust fund, and he had a point...

Do I Smell Pork? From the Scott County Virginia Star of Aug. 10, 2005:

$2.56 Million Going to D-B Project by Lisa Watson McCarty (extract)

The long-anticipated Daniel Boone Visitors' and Exposition Center earned a big boost Tuesday as Ninth District Congressman Rick Boucher announced receipt of some federal dollars to jumpstart the project...The federal appropriation comes on the heels of today's signing of the Highway Bill by President George Bush.

Boucher assured his audience yesterday that Bush's ceremonial signing of the bill in Chicago heralded good news for Scott County...When complete, the visitors' center will house an exhibit area that meets Smithsonian Institute standards for museum collections. It will also feature Daniel Boone and Revolutionary War era archives, a library for genealogical research and a theater...

As of 2008 it has produced nothing. And from the Roanoke Times:

Local boondoggle earned Times' support

Exposing The Roanoke Times' hypocrisy is just too easy -- kind of like hunting cows. The latest example has the editorial staff sanctimoniously chastising the "Bridge to Nowhere" in Alaska as a congressional pork-barrel highway project (Aug. 13 editorial, "Raise the gas tax for bridge repairs").

The editors know full well that they needn't look so far. They could pick the bridge to nowhere in our back yard known as the Smart Road bridge in Ellett Valley as an example of pork.

Oh, but wait a minute, that $100 million boondoggle was a pet project The Times pushed down the throats of the New River Valley. In fact, The Times' editors made a point of praising Rep. Rick Boucher for introducing a pork-barrel "set-aside" to help finance the Smart Road.

The Times lectured readers that the Smart Road would relieve congestion in the NRV and shorten the drive time to Roanoke. In reality, taxpayer-financed welfare for Virginia Tech was what the earmark was about.

With crumbling infrastructure and the Smart Road still unopen to traffic, The Times has gone curiously mute about the transportation necessity of the "Smart Road to Nowhere." Repeated hypocrisy is the reason that fewer folks take The Times' editorials seriously.

C.V. RADFORD

Travelocity: A warning for region? Travelocity.com got about $10 million in corporate welfare and decides to dump Clintwood, Virginia for India. Congressman Rick Boucher (D VA 9th) calls this a success story and that he deserves full credit.

Tobacco commission porks-out $14 million for regional economic development

The Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission approved more than $14 million in pork-barrel waste under the guise of "economic development" according to state Sen. William Wampler, R-Bristol. The commission met at Mountain Empire Community College, which like community colleges across the region, suffered a 5% budget cut because of shortfalls in Richmond. Among the idiotic projects they approved:

Another $6.1 million of a total $17 million to develop the so-called Southwest Virginia Artisan Center in Abingdon to be housed at Virginia Highlands Community College, whose academic programs also suffered budget cuts in 2007. Abingdon, about 14 miles from Bristol, is the wealthiest community in Southwest Virginia.

Some studies they won't produce claim the 29,000-square-foot center "could attract" tourists. "It will house gallery space, retail areas and offices for The Crooked Road and the Round the Mountain artist organization." These organizations have so far produced nothing. In other words it's an expensive taxpayer funded crafts shop that has nothing to do with tobacco farmers getting new jobs.

My favorite part is, "create 202 jobs during the construction phase." But how about after the construction phase? The Scott County Economic Development Authority garnered $4.3 million to build the $7.2 Duffield Regional Technology Center that "has the potential to create 125 to 150 jobs."

After years of these promises it's about time they deliver. Again it's more research into using coal for energy uses, which it already does. Duh. The Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center got $400,000 to develop an energy research and development program. Ref. BHC Oct 26, 2007

`Round the Mountain Celebrates One-Year Anniversary

2007-11-19 Kingsport Times-News extract.

ABINGDON, Va. November 8, 2007 In its first year, `Round the Mountain: Southwest Virginia's Artisan Network, an organization of artisans, agritourism and craft-related businesses, has grown to more than 200 members...`Round the Mountain was created in 2004, as a result of funding from Governor Mark Warner's Virginia Works Initiative and $100,000 in Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) funds...

For a $20-$40 annual membership fee, members are listed on the `Round the Mountain website www.roundthemountain.org in a web-based registry that is a searchable directory of artisans, galleries, studios, craft shops, farms, craft resources and craft events in the 19-county RTM region.

Plus, each member who chooses to participate is featured on an individual profile page where they can include their contact information, hours of operation, a description of their work, their studio or farm, a photo, and other locations where their goods can be purchased or seen. Members can also be included in the rotating "Featured Member" feature on the 'Round the Mountain' website homepage...

Why is this is worth over $17 million of our tax dollars? For more information visit www.roundthemountain.org and ask them.