Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Congressman Changing the Culture of Washington (A Satire)

Congressman Lamar Kennedy released an open letter to his district. We reprint it here in its entirety.

Voters of the 13th District—

Two years ago, in the historic election of 2010, you elected me on my promise to help change the way that Washington works and restore fiscal discipline in our country. I heard you. You were tired of the backroom deals and the frivolous congressional earmarks that have led us to the brink of fiscal ruin. I am pleased to report to you on my efforts over the last two years and what they mean for the district.

Lushland County Flooding
One of the primary challenges in my first term was last year’s flooding in Lushland County. Inadequate levees and outdated pumping stations left some of the most productive agricultural land in the nation under two feet of water following unprecedented torrential rains. Local farmers and the businesses that support the agricultural sector were devastated.

Leaders from the Lushland farming community immediately approached me to lobby the White House and FEMA leaders for a disaster declaration. I demurred. Such decisions are in the purview of the experts in the executive branch. I was pleased that a middle-level FEMA official flew out from Washington, DC to hover over the area in a helicopter and make a statement to the local media. We were all disappointed when the disaster declaration was denied, but it is not my role as a member of Congress to attempt to influence bureaucratic decisions such as this.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has conducted an initial cost-benefit study to determine whether a flood mitigation project is warranted in Lushland County. Using established protocols USACE has determined that a flood mitigation project is not economically feasible and I have accepted this decision. My predecessor likely would have sought an earmark to begin work on this project and force the USACE to return this fertile area to a productive state. I refuse to engage in the practice of earmarking that supports the pet projects of members of Congress. In fact, you elected me to eliminate earmarks, and I support the Republicans’ moritorium on the practice. My sympathies are with the agricultural community in Lushland County. But restoring fiscal sanity in this country requires shared sacrifice and the people in Lushland are—I have no doubt—proud to bear their share of the burden of returning fiscal sanity to Washington.

Patton-Schwartzkopf Base Closure
Many in our district have been concerned about the future of Patton-Schwartzkopf Military Base. Patton-Schwartzkopf was under consideration for closure in an attempt to streamline military operations and save the taxpayers’ money. The local economy—especially the economy in the neighboring city of Gila—and many of the local businesses in the area, who employ thousands, depend on the base.

I am pleased to report that I did not lift a finger to lobby in support of the base. Doing so might have led me into the kind of backroom dealing that you elected me to eliminate. While I am disappointed about the decision to close the base I know that we here in the district are willing to lose our friends, our businesses, and our jobs to benefit the overall national goal of reducing the federal deficit.

The planned investment by Hiliott Hotels in a hotel/convention center complex in Gila has been cancelled. Corporate leaders indicated that their business plan relied heavily on the presence of Patton-Schwartzkopf and that without the base the hotel/convention center would not be economically viable. I applaud their business acumen and support their shrewd business decision-making.

Major State University Cancer Research Center
We are all proud to have Major State University in the district. Go Manx Cats! Among its distinguished programs is the Sartelli-Farfalla Cancer Research Center. Path breaking research at the Center is changing how physicians diagnose and treat this dreaded disease, and several local biotechnology firms have capitalized on discoveries made at Sartelli-Farfalla, adding high paying jobs to our economy.

Responding to a major new initiative at the National Institutes of Health, Major State entered into a competition for major funding to improve the Center’s research facilities. The proposed improvements would expand the Sartelli-Farfalla’s research capacity and allow them to attract nationally recognized faculty.
The President of Major State and major supporters of the Center approached me to send a letter of support to NIH. They urged me to indicate my “solid support” for the planned improvements and “strongly encourage NIH to give very serious consideration” to their proposal. In the old Washington the practice of writing such letters was known as “lettermarking,” a kissing cousin of earmarks. I steadfastly refused to write the letter of support.

At every turn I have refused to promote the interests of our district. Changing the culture of Washington begins with the principled decisions of one man and the sacrifices of one community. I am that man and we are that community. Together we are changing the corrupt culture of Washington, DC. This is the New Washington that we are building together. I look forward to continuing to serve you in the years to come.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Cheese Factory on the Dylan Ratigan Show

On Wednesday Jimmy Williams and Dylan Ratigan invited us to share our perspective on earmarks.  Two quick observations on the experience: Mr. Ratigan talks a lot, and his guests do not.  Enjoy!