25 May 2009

Another Baltimore Boondoggle -- An Examination Of Government Waste

Proposal To Scrap JFX Another Sign Of An Administration Out Of Touch


[boon-dog-uhl, -daw-guhl] Show IPA noun, verb, -gled, -gling. 

1. An unnecessary or wasteful project or activity.

2. Work of little or no value done merely to keep or look busy.

3. A project funded by the federal government out of political favoritism that is of no real value to the community or the nation.

–verb (used with object)
4. to deceive or attempt to deceive: to boondoggle investors (taxpayers) into a low-interest scheme.

I wanted to start of with the definition so that we are all on the same page. At times I have been accused of using words that may be unclear to some, but in this case, I think the use is quite appropriate. Let me show you how:


On May 17, 2009, a Baltimore Sun piece by reporter Edward Gunts revealed to us that Mayor Sheila Dixon's administration spent $60,000 on a study by an engineering firm to look into the feasibility of destroying a portion of I-83, otherwise known as the JFX. The portion in question is the last leg leading you into downtown. It actually has an off ramp that takes you right to city hall. That's all we need, let's make it harder, slower, more difficult to get into the city from outlying areas. Let's make this place more undesirable. The already declining population is not enough right?

Hmmmmmm...... is our government trying to become even more inaccessible than they already are by cutting of a major arterial inlet that leads us right to their front door? Interestingly enough, the off ramp that takes you to city hall takes you right past Baltimore Police Headquarters, another shining example of the failures and woes of this city, but I digress.

Wait a sec, you don't think the deep levels of low moral, lack of discipline and motivation, failure to act and derelict of duty represent a failure? Note, I'm not begrudging or disparaging the many hard working, honest police officers out there. My target here is the system and it's leadership, or more accurately, lack of leadership. How many officers do we need to see arrested for attempted murder, shoplifting, spousal abuse, etc., before we admit there's a huge problem within the department. Oh yeah, don't forget the KKK incident, but Bealefeld's brother got a pass on that one. And if that wasn't enough, after this piece runs, I'm sure some of the goons will act out in a way giving me even more material. Another false arrest perhaps, or maybe more harassment? Can you say reprisal and retaliation?

So back to the JFX and the $60,000 paid to look into destroying a perfectly functioning superhighway. The type of roadway many communities would die for. So many cities spend years begging the federal government for funds to build bigger and better highways. But Baltimore is seeking 1 billion dollars to destroy one we already have. And this makes sense in what universe?


As if it wasn't bad enough that in a time when we're closing down youth recreation centers, swimming pools and libraries, apparently for not having enough money, we spend $60,000 to look a concept that at best, would benefit only a tiny minority (mostly already wealthy developers), as compared to the city at large.

Drive through the neighborhoods of Baltimore, beyond downtown. One thing becomes readily apparent. The sad sorry state of our lousy roads. Pot holes, uneven surfaces, poor drainage, you name it, we've got it all. In many areas, the city is literally crumbling. We even have some bridges that have failed inspection and should be immediately repaired. Perhaps the administration ought to be spending money figuring out how to fix problems in areas that affect so many of us on a daily basis. Oh I'm sorry, that wouldn't put money in the hands of big developers would it? I guess creating lots of jobs and getting people to work repairing this broken city is just too high minded an ideal to even consider. I must be delusional right?

In seeking to understand why we would spend $60,000, in a down economy, to look at the pros and cons of destroying something that ain't broke, at the cost of over 1 billion more dollars, I'm simply left at a loss. Truly I weep for Baltimore. The penchant for accepting mediocrity in leadership is depressing.

Maybe I ought to look closely into the dating, social and love lives of the men over at Rummel, Klepper & Kahl LLP, the engineering team getting the money. Are any of them in a relationship with someone down at city hall?


moper said...

So the purpose of the city is to be accessible to people in outlying areas? The real boondoggle was building the expressways while ignoring mass transit, ripping up farmland and forest for pesticide-riddled lawns using US taxpayer money. Given what I believe is an unavoidable crisis in energy, the time is coming when those in "outlying areas" are going to have to live with the economic consequences of their choices. Thus, I believe it is a much better use of public money to improve already developed, and long neglected, urban areas in order to strengthen their attractiveness for investment and middle- and upper-class resettlement.

The Editors said...

Part of the purpose of the city is to maintain quality of life. Sustainable economics go hand in hand with this.

As a frequent patron of mass transit (several times per week), and even more frequent utilizer of walking bicycling (daily), I do see your point. It still doesn't justifying spending over 1 Billion dollars.

My point is similar your as expressed in the end of your comment. I would rather see the money go to improving the neglected areas. I may be slightly awkward and clumsy, but I'm tired of stubbing my toes or tripping over busted sidewalks on my daily walks.

Fixing and improving existing roads, sidewalks, urban forestry, etc., would go a long way towards attracting investors.

I say, leave the JFX alone, and let's repair decay and degradation that is so widespread. --AFJM

The Editors said...

Since you thinking building expressways was a boondoggle, do you suggest we spend billions demolishing them, with no viable alternative in place? --AFJM



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