Based on what didn’t make their top-10 list, it seems like programs designed to help battered women, victims of torture, or programs to help reduce criminal recidivism rates are not the worst uses of taxpayer dollars. They do mention that not making the list is not an implied endorsement. It just implies that they’re not as big of deals as the ones they’re worked up about.
So, what gets them worked up? The West Mississippi River Road plank road project outside the Mill City Museum. This is the #3 largest piece of wast in MFF’s book:
#3: Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board
Grand Rounds Scenic Byway plank road replacement–The city can’t keep up with filling all the fresh potholes in Minneapolis, but wants to use your tax dollars to pave a street with wood.
Pave a street with wood? Who’d do that? Well, actually, that was done. This project, as I understand it, is to undo what was done (unsuccessfully), so the opposite of what the Minnesota Freedom Foundation suggests. They plan to switch the road from a wood surface to concrete to make it safer and more durable.
Here’s a picture of the offending site from just after the road was closed this past October:
Which is how the site looks today as well. The road is closed because the road was hosed. Money has been secured to get it reopened and make it safer. Here is how the project is described on Keith Ellison’s site:
Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway Plank Road Replacement, Minneapolis, MN
Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board
2117 West River Road North
Minneapolis, MN 55411
LEGITIMATE USE OF TAXPAYER FUNDS:
Funds will be used to refurbish, Plank Road, a wooden road surface located in the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Zone in downtown Minneapolis, is part of West River Parkway and the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway system. The project will enhance the ability to drive on the Scenic Byway and allow travelers access safely to and through the historic downtown Byway district.
Since MN’s Reps from the congressional districts surrounding Minneapolis (Bachmann, Kline, and Paulson) have sworn off earmarks, the taxpayers in their district get to see a portion of their federal tax dollars going toward funding projects like this. These same Representatives voted in favor of rebuilding the 35W bridge after it collapsed (the Senate and US House both voted unanimously to appropriate $250m in emergency funding), so they seem to understand that roads are more considerably more valuable when they’re complete. While they didn’t get a chance to vote directly for this project, it would be interesting to see if the same logic would apply in this case.
To me, this seems like a strange choice by the Minnesota Freedom Foundation to include on their bad earmarks list. Perhaps it made the list because they think the money goes toward the opposite of what it really does? Or, perhaps they didn’t want to suggest that helping battered women, victims of torture, or crime prevention are bad investments by adding those earmarks to their list?