June 23, 2008

"Pork Barrel" Spending

I started to read Tom Prohaska's article in the BuffNews today about casino slot revenue distributions, and was immediately halted after reading the first paragraph. It stated, "the Niagara County Legislature rolled out the pork barrel last week, allocating $50,000 from the county’s share of Seneca Niagara Casino revenue to a variety of local projects and events."

Now, we've all heard the term "pork barrel" before, but I always assumed that it was the use of taxpayer dollars to fund projects within a specific elected official's district. So I looked it up.

Merriam-Webster defines pork barrel as "government projects or appropriations yielding rich patronage benefits".

Wikipedia states that
the term pork barrel politics refers to "government spending that is intended to benefit constituents of a politician in return for their political support, either in the form of campaign contributions or votes."

Answers.com says that it's "a government project or appropriation that yields jobs or other benefits to a specific locale and patronage opportunities to its political representative."

Since the definitions seem to center around "patronage", I looked up patronage. In political terms, I got "the control of or power to make appointments to government jobs or the power to grant other political favors."

So I looked at the source of funding again. Yep, it's casino dollars, not government dollars. Then I looked at the recipient list again. The Niagara Falls Veterans Memorial Commission, the Niagara Community Center, Twin Cities Community Outreach, the Aquarium of Niagara, the Harley Owners Group rally in Niagara Falls, the Celtic Festival and the Pirates Festival and the Barker Business Association.

What I'm trying to do is connect the use of the term pork barrel and the organizations getting the casino cash, and quite frankly, I'm not getting it. How is dispensing a few bucks to a Veterans monument leading to patronage? Or giving money to a community outreach program? Especially when it's not government dollars, as every definition of "pork barrel" included.

By no means do I not believe that there is patronage at every single layer of government, but is funding community-benefiting events or causes with slot revenues pork barrel spending? Personally, I don't see it. And even though we've disagreed with Prohaska from time to time, he is generally thought to be a pretty competent journalist. That's why we have to wonder about his choice of words on this one.

If there is true pork barrel spending, by all means, do a detailed expose on it. Otherwise, don't make stuff up, Tom. It really kills your credibility.


Anonymous said...

Credibility? Prohaska? Rolling out the pork barrel is an editorial. It is not news. I would like to find a source for local NEWS, but it is extremely difficult.

Richard Strongbridge, Ph.D said...

Vote em all out!!

gop shill said...

I agree with Anon. We can debate whether it's pork, but I'm getting sick and tired of Prohaska' repeated editorializing in his articles. If you want to write a weekly wrap up column like Mark Scheer that opens the door for your opinion, then by all means do it and I'll read it.

But stop with the comments in the articles. You're overt hatred for the Majority is getting tiresome.

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute. The let Lewis pillage NCCC but suddenly they find money for these things??? Someonw has misplace priorities.

Larry S said...

Rolling out the pork barrel would be a legitimate commentary if it was in fact pork money. And what about a detailed analysis of where the other $50 million in casino dollars has gone? The county gets $100,000 and it's front page news? Puh-lease.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps this could be viewed as pork barrel spending when filtered through a different lens...could not that same money have been used to lower our collective tax burden, or at the very least hold the line on taxes? Why does the legislature feel compelled to spend it the minute it arrives?

The Hog rally? Really?

How does money to the Barker Business Assoc. help anyone but the businesses in Barker? Is that not pork barrel spending? Granted, there may be no patronage involved, but clearly the legislature is picking winners and losers.

When did it become the government's job to support community events? If I show up at one of those events and spend a few bucks to support whatever worthy cause, have I not -- in effect -- supported it twice? Once knowingly, the second time without being asked.

Don't be so narrow in your definitions of pork. Spending money when you don't have to might also qualify.

Anonymous said...

Last Anon:

You have managed to miss the point. The money is casino money and has limitations on how it can be spent. It can NOT be added to the county's general fund. Although it is "government" money because it passes throught the government, it is not "taxpayer" money in that it is not money collected through taxation. It is collected from people that feel the need to gamble away their money in a foreign nation that does not collect taxes.

Anonymous said...

oik oik, fatty

fat tony said...

Given the state of this community and the relatively small amount of money we are talking about, I have no problem supporting with this. It's unfortunate we don't have a lot of big businesses left to underwrite these types of quality of life events so if governmetn can help in a small way, that's not so bad.

I'd hate to see this get out of control, though. More of this money should be spent on things that generate economic activity.

Bottom line: Better to spend $50K on this than waste in on Homeland Security Director patronage job for one of Lewis' friends.

Anonymous said...

Amen, fat man. At least the community can get some benefit from this, unlike Greg and his buddies running around the woods playing toy soliders with our tax dollars.

Anonymous said...

What's is amazing to me is that people are so quick to criticize some of these projects. That motorcycle rally will bring thousands of people into Niagara Falls spending $$ on food, lodging, gas, entertainment, etc. These are the types of events we should be sponsoring.

Turk 182 said...

Oink. Oink. Oink. Show me where there was a written rationale for why these particular projects were shown. Hobbes, it's pork when the money is spent in a completely abitrary manner based more on political clout than the merits of the project. Were other organizations invited to apply? If so, why were they turned down? What was the criteria?

And just like what is going on at the state level, what is the method of accountability to make sure these dollars are used properly?

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised at Prohaska - he a farm boy, he should should know the differece between pork from beef.

Anonymous said...

Hobbes you fat porker, why not cut some taxes? motorcycle rally's will cost more for police than its worth, cut cut cut, not spend spend, but its the local gop way.