Oink, oink. Sports pork is adequately represented in this list in my opinion:
On Monday, the U.S. Conference of Mayors went to Capitol Hill to ask for a handout, or as they put it: "We are reporting that in 427 cities of all sizes in all regions of the country, a total of 11,391 infrastructure projects are 'ready to go.' These projects represent an infrastructure investment of $73,163,299,303 that would be capable of producing an estimated 847,641 jobs in 2009 and 2010."
A wish list that is 11,391 projects strong! What vital infrastructure projects would cash-strapped taxpayers get for their $73 billion? Here's a sampling:
- Hercules, Calif., wants $2.5 million in hard-earned taxpayer money for a "Waterfront Duck Pond Park," and another $200,000 for a dog park.
- Euless, Texas, wants $15 million for the Midway Park Family Life Center, which, you'll be glad to note, includes both a senior center and aquatic facility.
- Natchez, Miss., "needs" a new $9.5 million sports complex "which would allow our city to host major regional and national sports tournaments."
- Henderson, Nev., is asking for $20 million to help "develop a 60 acre multi-use sports field complex."
- Brigham City, Utah, wants $15 million for a sports park.
- Arlington, Texas, needs $4 million to expand its tennis center.
- Miami, Fla., needs $15 million for a "Moore Park Community Center, Tennis Center and Day Care" facility. The city is also desperate for $3.6 million to build a covered basketball court and a new tennis court at Robert King High Park. Then there's the $94 million Orange Bowl parking garage you are being asked to pay for.
- La Porte, Texas, wants $7.6 million for a "Life Style Center." And Oakland, Calif., needs $1 million for Fruitvale Latino Cultural and Performing Arts Center.
And you thought infrastructure investment meant roads, bridges and schools. It is clear that any infrastructure stimulus money given to the country's mayors will lead to thousands of tennis centers to nowhere. News alert for mayors: We are officially in a recession. American families have to get by with less, and so do American cities.
That's the view of Robert Poole, who goes on to describe the opportunity costs of these plans. His bottom line:
It was very nice of the country's mayors to hand taxpayers a wish list worth $73 billion. But before taxpayers give them a dime, let's see the mayors rank those 11,391 goodies -- I mean "infrastructure" projects -- based on effectiveness and potential return on investment for taxpayers.
"Stimulus shouldn't be an excuse for pork" is the title. I'm not tickled about bringing up the dark side of the sports business, but there it is, brother.