Pa State WAMs $110 Million July Dec 2008 "never-before released records" Right to Know what government is doing and spending

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bobguzzardi's picture
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AP’s Marc Levy reports on “never-before released records….” “…$110 million between July to December - more than $430,000 on average for each of Pennsylvania's 253 lawmakers.” http://www.centredaily.com/news/state/story/1356841.html

Marc Levy is outstanding journalist who journals, not editorializes, and this news report is an example journalism at its best. I have blogged on outstanding public servant, Open Records Office Executive Director Terry Mutcher who has set the standards for Penna. citizens' Right to Know what its government is doing http://crnblog.org/?p=2204

It appears that a goldmine of information about the notorious WAMs,the Pennsylvania equivalent of Earmarks, has been opened up by Governor Rendell in one his better moments. WAMs are used to generate political support and not only politicize economic decisions, they also distort political decisions on basis of recipients’ economic self-interest. Political self-interest and economic self-interest coalescing is not good news for The Forgotten Taxpayer.

AP: New light shed on lawmakers' secretive grants By MARC LEVY

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Tens of millions of tax dollars that support Pennsylvania lawmakers' favored causes are directed by legislative leaders through a secretive process that appears to benefit some leaders' constituents the most, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.

Never-before-released records obtained by the AP through a request filed under the new state Right-to-Know law revealed some counties that are home to top legislators were targeted to receive disproportionately more legislative grant money during the last half of 2008.

The records, released by the governor's office, show legislators lodged special grant requests totaling more than $110 million between July to December - more than $430,000 on average for each of Pennsylvania's 253 lawmakers.

The money enables lawmakers to take credit for bringing home checks to their hospitals, water and sewer authorities, civic and cultural organizations, clubs, schools, local governments and police and fire departments.

Top legislators who agreed to speak to AP insisted the grants are distributed fairly.

But the AP analysis found that tiny Greene County, 56th out of 67 Pennsylvania counties in population and home of last year's House Democratic leader, Bill DeWeese, was slated to receive more than $3 million, or about $82 per person. That made Greene County No. 1 in grant dollars per person and No. 6 in total dollars.

No. 2 in dollars per person was Carbon County - home of House Speaker Keith McCall, who was the Democratic whip last year - with an average of $50 per person in requests. Carbon County, 40th in population, also was expected to receive about $3 million - making it No. 7 in overall dollars.

On the Republican side, House GOP grant requests helped put Jefferson and Delaware counties - respectively the homes of Minority Leader Sam Smith and Mario Civera, the ranking Republican on the Appropriations Committee - in line for more money than most counties with similar population
...

“Still, much remains secret. For instance, the newly released documents do not connect each of the 2,300-plus grant requests to a legislator, or group of legislators, that sought them. Instead, the grants are generally listed by the caucus that requested them and the county of the recipient.”

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politeia's picture
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This walking around money is the "legally" sanctioned buying (or retaining) of public office.

The primary purpose is to keep constituents happy and thus get re-elected.

Between this and the way the General Assembly redistricts the geography of their districts all the time to ensure they have the most members of their party in their districts (Democrats and Republicans work with each other to do this) - we get stuck with the same politicians year in and year out.

You ask me, strict term limits are called for as power corrupts and the more time an individual spends in the General Assembly, the easier it is to get caught up in greed and graft - for which members of the General Assembly seem to get busted for in one fashion or another all the time.

This also goes to reckless spending and is one reason Rendell is looking to raise our state taxes 16% in an economy where a lot of people are hurting.

=================

Brotherhood of Thieves

~ As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.

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