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December 19th, 2008
10:30 AM ET

Polar bear pork?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/12/18/mayors.pork/art.polar.bear.jpg caption="The mayors' proposal requests a $4.8 million polar bear exhibit at the Providence, Rhode Island, zoo."]Abbie Boudreau | Bio
CNN Investigative Correspondent

When you think of critical infrastructure projects, what do you think of? I would guess, most people think of crumbling roads and bridges, or renovations to schools and water treatment plants. Recently, the U.S. Conference of Mayors created a list of “Ready to Go” jobs and infrastructure projects. It’s more than 800 pages long. The group believes emergency federal money should be used to help start around 11,300 critical projects, and it’s asking Congress for $73 billion.

But the report seems to read more like a wish list for cities throughout the country. If you read the list carefully, you will find plenty of projects that are raising red flags. We found cities asking for millions of dollars to build skate parks, horse trails, a duck pond, and a dog park. We also found cities asking for a new, $1.5 million ride at a water park, a nearly $5 million polar bear exhibit, and a $20 million minor league baseball museum.

Don’t get me wrong, these projects all sound great if you live in that community, but should the federal government be using emergency money to pay for a $3 million mural in Long Beach, Calif.? My producer and I contacted many of these cities to ask about their projects, and all of them felt they were critical infrastructure projects, though several city officials told us these new projects would not necessarily create new jobs.

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Filed under: Raw Politics
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Nate, NM

    If the greedy banking industry, poorly managed auto industry, and unproductive congress members deserve federal money, i honestly believe these cities should too. Parks, zoos, and museums do create jobs; so far the other bail-outs have not.

    December 19, 2008 at 5:20 pm |
  2. hugh ~ cal

    Because of the unprecedented melting of polar ice, the polar bear is facing possible extinction, so it's better to save some in captivity as a viable way to save the species from disappearing forever. Like the california condor, if the captivity and breeding program was never initiated, the condor would have ended up like the dodo bird. This project will create jobs and revenue, while helping people understand that our planet is a fragile ecosystem that if altered dramatically, can lead to the extinction of some of the earths most precious animals.

    December 19, 2008 at 4:31 pm |
  3. JC- Los Angeles

    If worthless politicians want pork barrel approvals for projects like the polar bear exhibit, we should simply request that they hand deliver the cash to the polar bears.

    December 19, 2008 at 1:31 pm |
  4. Robin James

    Re: Polar Bear – Pork Barrell
    Miami needs money?

    Shouldn't someone consider how many millionaires per capita a city has before giving them millions of pork from us non-millionaires?

    December 19, 2008 at 1:10 pm |
  5. Judith-Florida

    Yes we need bridges,roads and most of all water pipes taken care of and we are the ones that want to keep animals at zoos for our pleasure to enjoy so they should all be upgraded.As far as wild animals leave them alone and enjoy the short life they have left.

    December 19, 2008 at 1:06 pm |
  6. Arachnae

    Out of 73 billion dollars worth of infrastructure projects, you have identified some 300-400 MILLION that you consider 'pork'. This is less than a half a percent of the total. Yet you label the entire list as pork.

    Just what we need – obstructionists using YOUR news reporting on a fragment of a percent of the total to delay vital spending our nation needs NOW.

    In the tradition of Keeping them Honest, I have to ask – Do you WANT the US to sink further into a depression? Will you be happy when it starts effecting YOUR bottom line?

    December 19, 2008 at 11:48 am |
  7. earle,florida

    Question: Do the people of this country know that we are on the verge of "Bankruptcy"? Yes, bankruptcy! Just this morning the President gave the auto-makers bail-out protection under "TARP"! I'd like to remind those of you with short memories that the "S&L" Bail-out Crises (1987-93) wasn't supposed to cost the taxpayers one cent. Guess what? The Resolution Trust Corp. (RTC) who brokered this bail-out with the same tools the "Fed & Treasury" are using today,did a status-quo job (predictable failure) .The final cost to the taxpayer was $124 Billion USD with a measely $26 Billion USD return (we were lucky to get that $26 Billion back), for a grand total public outlay of $150 Billion USD of taxpayers money! This "Pork Barrel" spending we're embarking on currently won't stop now ( run-away freight train), there will be a feeding frenzy at the "money trough",by every state, government municipality,city,towns,and whomever can raise a "Tin Cup",folks! We can't spend Trillions of dollars bailing out a "Ghost Infrastructure",without going "Bankrupt ", there is no one left to buy our debt! The world is in a financial crises, and must clean up their houses, before even thinking about buying someone else's delappitated equity! PS. These fools in congress are professional politicians by all-accounts ,and this phrase should explain:Their sworn code of ethics is solely based on the "Art of Deception" !

    December 19, 2008 at 11:39 am |
  8. Annie Kate

    In using emergency money the projects should be limited to things like roads, bridges, schools, and federal parks. The other for murals, polar bears, water rides, etc. should come out of the regular budget. No one is going to die if the mural isn't done or the polar bear exhibit done; but if a bridge collapses like one did this year people will die.....to me this should be the criteria. Everything else is pork for this bill.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    December 19, 2008 at 11:02 am |
  9. Joanne, Solvay, NY

    Leave the polar bears wild, not captive...and while the billions are being doled out, how about the shrinking polar bear population due to global warming? Is that issue on the list?

    December 19, 2008 at 10:40 am |
  10. Rohan

    Infrastructure projects should create jobs no doubt. Building bridges will give jobs to contruction workers but building museums will provide for long term income and jobs for the State. Such project should be promoted.

    December 18, 2008 at 10:51 pm |