-- Congressman Rick Boucher, 9th District Virginia
Of their districts.
First, a revealing exposé in this morning's Washington Post:
Murtha's Earmarks Keep Airport Aloft
State-of-the-Art Pennsylvania Facility Sees Few Travelers but Lots of Funding
By Carol D. Leonnig, Washington Post Staff Writer
Johnstown, Pa. -- The John Murtha airport sits on a windy mountain two hours east of Pittsburgh, a 650-acre expanse of smooth tarmac, spacious buildings, a helicopter hangar and a National Guard training center.
Inside the terminal on a recent weekday, four passengers lined up to board a flight, outnumbered by seven security staff members and supervisors, all suited up in gloves and uniforms to screen six pieces of luggage. For three hours that day, no commercial or private planes took off or landed. Three commercial flights leave the airport on weekdays, all bound for Dulles International Airport.
The key to the airport's gleaming facilities -- and, indeed, its continued existence -- is $200 million in federal funds in the past decade and the powerful patron who steered most of that money here. Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) is credited with securing at least $150 million for the airport. It was among the first in the country to win funding from this year's stimulus package: $800,000 to repave a backup runway. [link]
When confronted with the fact that this is, without doubt, a complete waste of taxpayer dollars, there's this response:
"Murtha spokesman Matt Mazonkey defended the public spending and said it is unfair to weigh the airport's low volume of passengers against the federal dollars invested in the facility."
It's unfair for taxpayers to judge the facility's viability.
Or, as Congressman Boucher (put it, "I frankly think the members of Congress are far better situated to understand the priorities of their districts."
Congressman Murtha knows what's best for his district. So shut up.
Let's turn to our own backyard here in Southwest Virginia.
To Congressman Boucher's pet airport.
Little used and over-funded Virginia Highlands Airport sits a mere 28 miles (and just 29 minutes down I-81) from a real facility - Tri-Cities Regional Airport. A map:
Unlike Boucher's little neighborhood airport.
But guess which got an earmark appropriation from Virginia's 9th District congressman in the most recent government appropriations bill?
And not just an earmark. 1 million, three hundred thousand earmarks.
From his website list of appropriation requests (see "Boucher Requests Funding for the 9th Congressional District (April 3, 2009"):
Project Name: Virginia Highlands Airport
Recipient: Virginia Highlands Airport__________________
"I frankly think the members of Congress are far better situated to understand the priorities of their districts."
A virtually unused airport in Boucher's backyard is going to receive $1.3 million when a real airport, with real airplanes flying in and out all day every day is just a half hour away.
A half hour away.
Expect a Boucher apologist to explain:
"A Boucher spokesman defended the public spending and said it is unfair to weigh the airport's low volume of passengers against the federal dollars invested in the facility."
It's all about their districts and their priorities. They know best. And shut up.
Not far down the road from Boucher's breathtakingly wasteful boondoggle, on Tax Day, a large gathering of concerned Americans assembled to address such madness.
The Tea Party revolution was born.
- - -
A special note: Though he was reported to be just down the street at the time of the Tea Party rally, Boucher was not in attendance. He has his priorities.
A special note to Boucher's lackies: Before you write to tell us that Virginia Highlands Airport serves a different purpose (it being for "general aviation"), first explain the earmark. Here's Boucher's excuse for the $1,300,000 expenditure:
"The funding will be for Virginia Highlands Airport for engineering services and land acquisition related to a project which will lengthen the runway at the airport. Explanation of the Request: The funding will be for Virginia Highlands Airport for engineering services and land acquisition related to a project which will lengthen the runway at the airport."