Rep. Cleaver's Wannabe Boondoggle

Jack Cashill
Say what you will about Kansas City's Lamar Mickens-the 45 year-old honcho of a nonprofit listed as "Quality Day Campus Inc.," America's only corporation with a "Zodiac sign," Libra to be precise-but don't call him timid.

Mickens has earned his 15-minutes of fame by asking his congressman and mine, Emanuel Cleaver, for an earmark to help jumpstart his dream -- an "Epicenter" to "bring about stability and self reliance" in Kansas City's urban core. 

It wasn't the absurdity of the project that caught anyone's attention -- many of the 200 or so others proposed to Cleaver were just a silly -- but the price tag: $48 billion, as in "billion" with a B.  That is a lot to ask for, even if it just Obama money.  And the $48 billion, by the way, is only for the "first phase" of Mickens' proposed program.

A House Appropriations Committee rule mandates that lawmakers post each earmark sought as well as an explanation of "why it is a valuable use of taxpayer funds."

In his explanation of his earmark's value, Mickens promises that his mass scale urban reclamation project, obligingly shorthanded to the "E-Center," will succeed in "reducing, reversing and or eliminating poverty within underserved communities," a noble goal indeed.

Cleaver posted not just those earmarks he sought, but all those requested by constituents.  His office is claiming added transparency, but the superfluous postings allow him to obscure the organizations for which he actually went to bat.

http://www.house.gov/cleaver/pdf/earmarks.pdf

Of the seventeen known Cleaver earmarks to ease their way into the appropriations bill-there may be more - -the Mickens' E-center is not among them.  Those that did slip through include $1.2 million to study the effect of shock on cells, a $1 million study of energy and healthy homes, $1 million to replace Kansas City buses, and $800,000 to replace sidewalks in a local suburb.

I suspect that even for the "living constitution" crowd a $48 billion investment to end poverty must seem more in line with the founders' vision than an $800 plan to fix suburban sidewalks.
Say what you will about Kansas City's Lamar Mickens-the 45 year-old honcho of a nonprofit listed as "Quality Day Campus Inc.," America's only corporation with a "Zodiac sign," Libra to be precise-but don't call him timid.

Mickens has earned his 15-minutes of fame by asking his congressman and mine, Emanuel Cleaver, for an earmark to help jumpstart his dream -- an "Epicenter" to "bring about stability and self reliance" in Kansas City's urban core. 

It wasn't the absurdity of the project that caught anyone's attention -- many of the 200 or so others proposed to Cleaver were just a silly -- but the price tag: $48 billion, as in "billion" with a B.  That is a lot to ask for, even if it just Obama money.  And the $48 billion, by the way, is only for the "first phase" of Mickens' proposed program.

A House Appropriations Committee rule mandates that lawmakers post each earmark sought as well as an explanation of "why it is a valuable use of taxpayer funds."

In his explanation of his earmark's value, Mickens promises that his mass scale urban reclamation project, obligingly shorthanded to the "E-Center," will succeed in "reducing, reversing and or eliminating poverty within underserved communities," a noble goal indeed.

Cleaver posted not just those earmarks he sought, but all those requested by constituents.  His office is claiming added transparency, but the superfluous postings allow him to obscure the organizations for which he actually went to bat.

http://www.house.gov/cleaver/pdf/earmarks.pdf

Of the seventeen known Cleaver earmarks to ease their way into the appropriations bill-there may be more - -the Mickens' E-center is not among them.  Those that did slip through include $1.2 million to study the effect of shock on cells, a $1 million study of energy and healthy homes, $1 million to replace Kansas City buses, and $800,000 to replace sidewalks in a local suburb.

I suspect that even for the "living constitution" crowd a $48 billion investment to end poverty must seem more in line with the founders' vision than an $800 plan to fix suburban sidewalks.