Thursday, March 12, 2009

Your pork, my bacon

Following up on last week's column, the money earmarked for San Joaquin County by Rep. Jerry McNerney is now a done deal. The bacon's coming home in the form of several projects:

• $454,000 for studying projects in the Lower San Joaquin River, like flood control and habitat restoration
• $950,000 for an Interstate 5-French Camp interchange project that will benefit the Stockton Metropolitan Airport
• $950,000 for studying a very complex Interstate 205-Lammers Road interchange
• $5 million for maintaining the Deep Water channel that feeds the Port of Stockton
• $1.34 million for studying improvements to the shipping channels connecting the Port of Stockton and San Francisco Bay
• $4.79 million for a CALFED program to identify Delta levees that need shoring up

All of these pass the Second Thoughts sniff test for legitimacy. No pork spending here. Unless, of course, you don't live in our neck of the woods. If you call the plains of Kansas home, these projects are probably look like more over-the-top spending of precious tax dollars, big government run amok.

Some federal earmarks no doubt waste money. And the whole process strikes many as a form of legal corruption and vote-buying. It's an uncomfortable compromise, at best.

But at least in San Joaquin County, the requests for federal funds aren't off-the-cuff wishes. There's a vetting process involved where projects are prioritized — or, as county supervisor Leroy Ornellas put it last week, “(McNerney) didn’t dream these up. These are all projects that various communities and cities have (put forward).”

So, bacon or pork? It mostly depends if it's landing on your plate or someone else's.

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