Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

Bridge to Nowhere explained 

Barack and Biden both voted for this. Probably a case of I'll vote for yours if you vote for mine.

Republicans responded in kind, saying that as an Illinois senator, Obama had requested nearly $1 billion in pork projects through legislative earmarks.

"The only explanation for their hysterical attacks is that they're afraid that when John McCain and Sarah Palin are in the White House, Barack Obama's nearly $1 billion in earmark spending will stop dead in its tracks," McCain-Palin spokesman Brian Rogers said. Palin touts stance on Bridge to Nowhere

Palin and the Legislature both were criticized by some conservatives for not making more effort to slow growth in the state's operating budget.

At the same time, Palin deserves credit for trying to impose some objective criteria on the capital budget, which is essentially a huge exercise in earmarking by individual legislators, said Sen. Fred Dyson, R-Eagle River.

"I thought she showed some guts in doing that and really irritated some folks," said Dyson, adding that he disagreed with some of her decisions.


The bridge was intended to provide access to Ketchikan's airport on lightly populated Gravina Island, opening up new territory for expansion at the same time. Alaska's congressional delegation endured withering criticism for earmarking $223 million for Ketchikan and a similar amount for a crossing of Knik Arm at Anchorage.

Congress eventually removed the earmark language but the money still went to Alaska, leaving it up to the administration of then-Gov. Frank Murkowski to decide whether to go ahead with the bridges or spend the money on something else.

In September, 2006, Palin showed up in Ketchikan on her gubernatorial campaign and said the bridge was essential for the town's prosperity.

She said she could feel the town's pain at being derided as a "nowhere" by prominent politicians, noting that her home town, Wasilla, had recently been insulted by the state Senate president, Ben Stevens.

"OK, you've got Valley trash standing here in the middle of nowhere," Palin said, according to an account in the Ketchikan Daily News. "I think we're going to make a good team as we progress that bridge project."

One year later, Ketchikan's Republican leaders said they were blindsided by Palin's decision to pull the plug.

Palin spokeswoman Sharon Leighow said Saturday that as projected costs for the Ketchikan bridge rose to nearly $400 million, administration officials were telling Ketchikan that the project looked less likely. Local leaders shouldn't have been surprised when Palin announced she was turning to less-costly alternatives, Leighow said. Indeed, Leighow produced a report quoting Palin, late in the governor's race, indicating she would also consider alternatives to a bridge.

Cindy's: As a Governor, Palin reportedly lobbied for other earmarks. In a country that gives away a bazillion (sorry don’t have an exact amount) dollars worth of earmarks for every congressional session, she better lobby for earmarks. It’s not like congress votes at the end of the year to return the excess taxes collected because they couldn’t spend it all. It’s gonna get spent. Better have your hand out, or you aren’t doing the right thing for your constituents. Senators like Obama and Biden vote to spend the piggy bank. Senators like McCain do not. Heritage Foundation" In opposing Senator Coburn’s amendment to defund the bridge, one prominent Senator told a closed-door meeting of conservatives that the plan was simply impractical. Many of the earmarks, he claimed, are counted towards a state’s equity bonus and thus are part of the state-by-state allocation formula. Defunding the bridge, he said, would direct at most $75 million to Louisiana, with the remaining $148 million returning to Alaska as money the state could use at its discretion for road projects. press release 

September 21, 2007, Juneau, Alaska - Governor Sarah Palin today directed the
Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to look for the most fiscally
responsible alternative for access to the Ketchikan airport and Gravina Island instead
of proceeding any further with the proposed $398 million bridge.
“Ketchikan desires a better way to reach the airport, but the $398 million bridge is
not the answer,” said Governor Palin. “Despite the work of our congressional
delegation, we are about $329 million short of full funding for the bridge project, and
it’s clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge
between Ketchikan and Gravina Island,” Governor Palin added. “Much of the public’s
attitude toward Alaska bridges is based on inaccurate portrayals of the projects here.
But we need to focus on what we can do, rather than fight over what has happened.”
The Department of Transportation has approximately $36 million in federal funds
that will become available for other projects with the shutdown of the Gravina Island
bridge project. Governor Palin has directed Commissioner Leo von Scheben to
review transportation projects statewide to prepare a list of possible uses for the
funds, while the department also looks for a more affordable answer for Gravina
Island access.
“There is no question we desperately need to construct new roads in this state,
including in Southeast Alaska, where skyrocketing costs for the Alaska Marine
Highway System present an impediment to the state’s budget and the region’s
economy,” said Von Scheben.


Article from CNN

Kyle's reply: I had heard Alaska (she) took the money anyway too, but I don't know all the particulars. Guess John McCain will have to set her straight on earmarks? (By the way, my posting was about a faulty teleprompter.)

This may shed a little light on the subject...especially the underlined part.

CNN: Bridge to nowhere abandoned, Sept. 22, 2007 

The $398 million bridge would have connected Ketchikan, on one island in southeastern Alaska, to its airport on another nearby island.

Gov. Sarah Palin said Friday the project was $329 million short of full funding.

"We will continue to look for options for Ketchikan to allow better access to the island," the Republican governor said. "The concentration is not going to be on a $400 million bridge."

Palin directed state transportation officials to find the most "fiscally responsible" alternative for access to the airport. She said the best option would be to upgrade the ferry system.

Which is probably why the road to the bridge is being improved? 

Ketchikan is Alaska's entry port for northbound cruise ships that bring more than 1 million visitors yearly. Every flight into Gravina Island requires a 15-minute ferry ride to reach the more densely populated Revillagigedo Island.

The town -- seven blocks wide and eight miles long -- has little room to grow. Local officials have said access to Gravina Island, population 50, is needed for the town and its economy to grow.

...Under mounting political pressure over pork projects, Congress stripped the earmark -- or stipulation -- that the money be used for the airport, but still sent the money to the state for any use it deemed appropriate.


I think the problem with earmarks is that as a mayor, governor, senator, etc. you are trying to get the most for your constituents at another taxpayer's expense. To cite an example closer to home, it is rather like our school district trying to justify increasing 4K, 5K half day to full day, and non-resident students so their school district budgets will be increased by state aid. The district does not really care that that increase comes at other taxpayers' expense.

Even the Senator from Illinois has requested earmarks. 

"Senator Barack Obama on Thursday released a list of $740 million in earmarked spending requests that he had made over the last three years, and his campaign challenged Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to do the same."

$740 million divided by 3 years = $246 million/year.



Kyle's reply: Whether the teleprompter was or was not malfunctioning, or " Perhaps there were moments where it scrolled slightly past her exact point in the speech"  she did a great job. I in no way inferred Thanks, but no thanks was a slip of the tongue or memory lapse!

As for the earmarks and the "Thanks, but no thanks" line, at this point, I would have to say, I don't know enough right now to say she lied. If she did lie, I am very disappointed. It would seem very odd to me, however, that her speech would be approved by the McCain campaign if it were as simple as you state. Since his whole campaign is about fighting earmarks, and this issue is well known, it seems odd that he would open his campaign up to such things. But then, Obama picking a running mate, who criticized Obama for his lack of experience, quipping that the Presidency was not suited to on the job training during the primary and whose son is a Washington lobbyist is a little odd too.

I have not been able to get a clear picture of the time line of events surrounding the Senator's bridge earmark request and the awarding of the monies and what role the governor plays in all of that. Is earmark gathering primarily the function of the Senator or is the Governor involved in selecting the project?

Is the process akin to our stimulus checks? With the legislature arranging the payment and we are to use that check, whether we thought it a good idea or not, to go buy something to stimulate the economy? Our family said in effect, thanks, but no thanks, to blowing it on a big screen TV and put it in the bank. The check was given to me, I hardly was going to refuse it--even though I did not like the idea of a stimulus check in the first place.

I think she mentioned on Friday that the ultimate price tag of the bridge turned out to be far more than the Federal portion supplied, so as governor, she said no to the bridge. Maybe the total bridge cost was not know during her campaign for governor. 

The CNN piece I posted earlier made it seem that the money was released to Alaska to be used as needed. I don't pretend to know how earmark monies are actually delivered.  

I think the media will pick this apart and then maybe we will know more.

Kyle's reply: I really cannot comment on all of this, you are hook, line, and sinker Democrat, and I am a Pro-life, Constitutional Conservative. Our differing world views color our perceptions.

I do take issue with your assumption, however, that the reason I cannot get a time line on the earmark money is because I don't want to. I am not a full time reporter. I am a wife and mother and have family obligations. For heaven sakes, she was only just named a week ago. I was in Cedarburg this morning until 1pm and then had to attend to a family matter. Tonight is another commitment.

As a governor, or mayor for a more local example, what would her constituents think of her if she turned down Federal highway money? What would Brookfield residents think if Mayor Speaker turned down Federal money for widening Greenfield or Calhoun? The taxpayers of Brookfield would be livid.

I would like to hear what really happened with the bridge--the whole scenario. It is just at this moment, I don't have time to look into it. I too look forward to the debates. As for the heartbeat away from the presidency argument, that also works for your side of the ticket. (A thought that terrifies conservatives is that Nancy Pelosi is 2 heartbeats away from the presidency at any moment in time!)

Now if you will excuse me, I have to go frost a birthday cake. :)

P.S. By the way, none of the Bridge to Nowhwere/earmark subject even related to the topic the original blog piece was about. I was just responding to Contrarian's rant.

Can we stay on topic?

Sunday Journal article:

"I know the governor of Alaska has been saying she's change, and that's great," Obama said. "She's a skillful politician. But, you know, when you've been taking all these earmarks when it's convenient, and then suddenly you're the champion anti-earmark person, that's not change. Come on! I mean, words mean something, you can't just make stuff up."

McCain has vowed to wipe out earmarks, which are targeted funding for specific projects that lawmakers put into spending bills. As governor, Palin originally supported earmarks for a controversial $398 million Alaska project dubbed the "bridge to nowhere." But she dropped her support after the state's likely share of the cost rose. She hung onto $27 million to build the approach road to the bridge.

Under Palin's leadership, Alaska this year asked for almost $300 per person in requests for pet projects from one of McCain's top adversaries: indicted Sen. Ted Stevens. That's more than any other state received, per person, from Congress for the current budget year. Other states got just $34 worth of local projects per person this year, on average, according to Citizens Against Government Waste, a Washington-based watchdog group.The state government's earmark requests to Congress in her first year in office exceeded $550 million, more than $800 per resident. Palin actually reduced the state government's requests for special projects this year in the wake of President Bush's demand for a cutback in earmarks.

ME It is misleading to quantify the earmark amount in terms of per person. Alaska has a very small population--the size of Delaware, yet their roads need to be much longer because of the size of the state. In other words, every road/bridge they build, the burden to Alaska taxpayers is far higher per capita than say a Wisconsin. Alaska is after all much larger than Texas, but has the population of Delaware.




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