Group’s ‘pork report’ says state, local governments wasted $260M

Thursday, April 24, 2008 at 2:15am

A conservative think tank says state and local governments in Tennessee funded $260 million in wasteful spending in 2007, including a $70 million “biofuels boondoggle” and $6.5 million for eradicating boll weevils.

The Tennessee Center for Policy Research’s 2008 “Pork Report” presented what the group calls the wasteful spending projects, the vast majority of which, numbering about $240 million, resulted from state government coffers.

“Lawmakers went hog wild,” said Drew Johnson, the group’s executive director.

The expenditures the group particularly questioned included $70 million for a program to develop ethanol made from switchgrass.

Other spending items the Tennessee Center for Policy Research criticized included:

  • $6.5 million for boll weevil eradication. The group says boll weevils currently do not threaten crops in Tennessee.
  • $1.4 million for financially failing golf courses.
  • $1.2 million for a “barge to nowhere,” or a ferry that crosses the Tennessee River between Houston and Benton Counties. The group claims just 23 paying passengers used the ferry on average per day.

Tanner endorses Clinton

U.S. Rep. John Tanner (D-Union City) endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) Wednesday for president, giving Clinton a coveted superdelegate that will likely determine the party’s nomination.

Tanner’s endorsement comes on the heels of Clinton’s victory against Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in Pennsylvania’s primary Tuesday.

Tanner said Clinton is the best candidate for the White House at a time when “nothing less than our financial liberty and economic freedom are at stake.”

“Hillary is a smart, pragmatic leader who understands the grave situation our country faces, with a $9 trillion debt, much of which is borrowed from foreign countries,” Tanner said in a statement. “Now, more than ever, our nation needs a leader like Sen. Clinton who can work with others to return to fiscal sanity.”

Tanner’s endorsement is Clinton’s first among the state’s five Congressional Democrats, who are all superdelegates.

U.S. Reps. Jim Cooper of Nashville and Steve Cohen of Memphis have endorsed Obama while Lincoln Davis of Pall Mall and Bart Gordon of Murfreesboro are uncommitted.

Clinton said she was honored to have Tanner’s endorsement, especially since the West Tennessee Congressman is a co-founder of the Blue Dog Coalition, which is a group of fiscally conservative Democrats.

“John is known as a common sense, results-oriented leader, and I look forward to having him join me in spreading my message of change and experience across America,” Clinton said in a statement.

Senate panel approves open records bill

The Senate Finance Committee gave its unanimous approval Wednesday to the first major change to the state’s open records law in 25 years, sending the measure to the Senate floor.

The Finance Committee approved the bill after Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle of Memphis backed away from a move to require good government groups involved in the open records bill to disclose where they received their funding.

But there are major differences between the Senate’s version and the House’s.

In the House’s bill, those differences include giving large municipalities seven days instead of five to respond to a records request, much greater latitude on what fees a governmental entity can charge, as well as notifying an elected or appointed official that is the subject of a records request.

The bill was scheduled for a hearing in the House State and Local Government Committee Wednesday but was delayed until next week.

Filed under: City News
By: skeptic1 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Barge to nowhere...there is more to that story

By: morpheus120 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Wow. A report about wasteful government spending from a right-wing, anti-tax "think tank". Who would've thunk it?I wonder what the bizpigs who pay Drew Johnson's salary have to say about him going after golf courses. Oh, wait. The "financially failing" courses are probably the only ones that working class people can use. False alarm... all is right in right-wing fantasy world.

By: slacker on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Dang.. I really bought into the boll weevil thing.

By: Dragon on 12/31/69 at 7:00

From the report - it comes to about $731 per weevil.It's interesting reading., working class people can't afford to drive out to the boonies, much less the green fees. We could close the golf courses and not hurt education.

By: skeptic1 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

How about the ferry at Cumberland City. Same deal...just going on a lot longer

By: tv8527 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Morpheus you are a poster child for what's wrong with this state & YOUR party.

By: dnewton on 12/31/69 at 7:00

To the list of wasteful spending. I would like to add the recently purchased land all over the state for the next industrial park. There is over 100 square miles of industrial parks in the state(just on the state economic development web site) that are mostly grass and trees. Many of the poorest counties are spending millions of tax dollars to attract the next industry that will never happen. The actual land available for the next industry is probably closer to 186 square miles which is enough land to move about 40% of all US manufacturing to the state of Tennessee. There are over 1200 sites available now within Tennessee. All of this is being done via special condemnation privileges given by the legislature and via the taxing power of the local governments. Chambers of Commerce can now line up in the governors office and beg for new transportation infrastructure like roads and interchanges to these new acquisitions so that they can have the advantage over other sites.

By: Time for Truth on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Don't forget the MCC. I think the state is involved in this one. It will make the list at some point. Am I starting to sound like id?

By: HokeyPokey on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Isn't "conservative think" an oxymoron?