Thursday, December 29, 2011

No Time for Modesty

If you picked up the PC today, the lead story is a fluff piece praising the glories of Mike Chenault, the speaker of the AK House of Reps.  "I was the best fit for the job" explained the not-too-humble north-roader.  Jumping in with the alleluias was Kurt Olson, SOLdotna's representative to the state house.

Mike is proud to have brought home the bacon to the Kenai as the peninsula received a record amount of funding from the 2011 governor's budget.

Well, I guess that's what politicians are supposed to do - acquire the most money for their constituents.  Of course, if it was a democrat running up the government tab, everyone would be crying about those tax-and-spend liberals. Of course, if record amounts of money went to bush Alaska, most Kenai Peninsula folks would whine about the government handouts Natives were getting.  But it's a good thing when we benefit from republican legislators who spend state money like drunken sailors.

Not that money shouldn't be spent.  Roads, schools, solid waste facilities, prisons and ports are needed, aren't they?

It's kinda funny, when Mike and Kurt obtained money for peninsula roads, there were strings attached.  The money could only be used on central and north peninsula roads - not for roads in Homer or Seward.  Well, Gary Stevens, the senate rep from Kodiak, Homer and Seward, had the audacity to challenge Gov Parnell's proposal to roll back taxes on the oil company record-breaking profits.  Chenault and Olson are all about giving back a $billion a year to the oil companies and without requiring the companies to explore or drill or hire more than they already are.  It's easy to see that some of the bacon that Mike brings home is a reward for being Parnell's cheerleader.

And then there's the Goose Creek Prison in the MatSu Borough that was approved and built while Mike was in the House and the speaker.  The prison cost over $240 to build (and it is not quite finished yet).  It was built where there are no utilities, so another $20 million was spent getting power lines and septic. Oh, and it will cost $25 million a year more than it would cost to just leave the 1000 prisoners it would house in Colorado where they are currently serving their sentence.  This waste of state money happened under Mike's watch.

Then there's the port fiasco. Estimates now are exceeding a cool billion dollars as to the final cost of the expansion.  It's been one cost over run after another. All under Mike's watch. Just why wasn't this built here on the Kenai in Seward - with roads and rail in place and a true ice-free harbor, it was really the best location for the port.

Let's not get started on the Knik Arm Bridge or the Susitna Dam.

But some connected people are making a ton of money, so how do you say thanks to Mike for not being a good steward of the states money?  Money for Mike's constituents.

The state desperately needs to come up with a process that independently evaluates true need, cost-effectiveness and does so not as a reward to good old boys or corrupt bastards, but on what is really needed.

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