Saturday, June 20, 2009

A US senator from Oklahoma claims that the way Oregon is spending its portion of the stimulus package is not in line with the intent of the program

The Oregonian --

Senator Tom Coburn -- Republican from Oklahoma, is making the accusation that four out of five Oregon projects, and a project from Washington State University in Vancouver qualify as a questionable project.

Coburn claims that there is misappropriation of taxpayer money. For example,

Scappoose -- receiving $4.2 million to raise railroad tracks 18 inches to create a new traffic crossing.

Tri-Met -- 550 bike lockers and stalls cost of $1 million.

Tualatin -- $1.6 million to the end train horn noise inTualatin.

Eugene -- $2.25 million for a 1000 foot bike bridge and pedestrian path

Washington state -- $150,000 project at Washington State University in Vancouver, which will study the brain's reaction to cannabinoids , synthetic drugs that act like marijuana.

Just to name a few. Obama staff has dismissed nearly one third of Coburn's claims as being either faults or misleading. However, local officials are saying not to worry.

The question is do the projects listed above fall in line with the intent of the stimulus package?

"So my main message to all of you is I think you're up to the task; I think you guys will do extraordinary work with using these precious tax dollars that the American people have given up in order to deliver on the kind of economic growth -- short-term and long-term -- and job creation that's going to be so important.

But we're going to need to work really hard and we're going to have to make sure that every single dollar is well spent. We've got to go above and beyond what I think is the typical ways of doing business in order to make sure that the American people get the help that they need and that our economy gets the boost that it needs.

And so I've said before -- I know Joe [Biden] emphasized this to you earlier -- if we see money being misspent, we're going to put a stop to it, and we will call it out and we will publicize it. On the other hand, if the money is being spent as it needs to be spent -- to rebuild our roads and our bridges and our schools, and making sure that we are putting in place the kinds of infrastructure foundations that are necessary for economic growth over the long term -- then I think all of us will benefit and our voters and our constituents, the people we work for, are going to be extraordinarily grateful." Obama press release -- March 12, 2009


so does that fall in line with the intent of the stimulus package?
" So let me be clear, though: This is not a blank check. I know you've heard this repeatedly over the last few days, but I want to reiterate it: These funds are intended to go directly towards helping struggling Americans keep their health coverage, we want to make sure that's what's happening and we're going to work with you closely to make sure that this money is spent the way it's supposed to.

We will get the rest of this plan moving to put Americans to work doing the work America needs done, making an immediate impact while laying the foundation for our lasting growth and prosperity." Obama press release -- February 23, 2009


The "intent" was to maintain or have health insurance and to help put people back to work, not to fund state and local governments pet projects.

"It's all about priorities, says Don Tatro, a spokesman for Coburn. "Is a bike locker more important than a broken-down bridge? "

Spokeswoman Mary Fetsch defends the tri-Met project. "I don't know how much cycling happens in Oklahoma, but there is a phenomenal number here."

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