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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hey, Congressman Brad Miller: IT'S NOT YOUR MONEY TO GIVE!!!

Look folks: I, for one, do want to see the proposed McMichael Civic Center for Wentworth (the county seat of Rockingham County, North Carolina) become a reality. As an active member of the Theatre Guild of Rockingham County and participant in several past productions, I can certainly vouch that a dedicated stage and associated facilities will absolutely be appreciated, for reasons too numerous to list.

But what Brad Miller, our representative in Congress, is doing to "help" make that happen is horribly wrong.

Miller has made a House Appropriations Request for this fiscal year that would allocate more than two and a half million dollars for the McMichael Civic Center. Here's a link to the PDF file of the request. I also took the liberty of converting it into a JPEG...

Can anyone tell me where in this request has Rep. Miller pointed to the place in the Constitution that allows for this sort of expenditure from the public treasury? 'Cuz I sure as hell can't find it.

Word on the street is that Brad Miller himself will be in Rockingham County in a few weeks to announce this misappropriation in person. I'll let you decide, friends and neighbors, if this smacks too much of election year pork-barrelin'.

Well, I for one believe that the people of this county should tell our congress-critter to take the money back to Washington... 'cuz we can and should be able to fund the McMichael Civic Center on our own! Yeah it might take a bit longer to see it come to fruition. But we'll be able to say that we did it ourselves. And that will do a helluva lot more good about this county's image and commercial viability than if we had sucked up to the tit that Miller is offering.

Congressman Brad Miller, heed the wisdom that Davey Crockett learned from Horatio Bunce: It is NOT yours to give!!

(Special thanks to Jeffrey Sykes for the heads-up.)


jhs said...

Chris: Another interesting thing is that the request went from $250k last month to the current $2 million. That type of inflation for the same request is a sign of pork at its worst.

Anonymous said...

Brad Miller did NOT put up this sort of request in a vacuum. He's a typical congressman, in that before he will lift a finger to spend public funds on ANY project, someone has to ask him to do that.

The person who asked him to request this funding is almost certainly a resident of Rockingham County, most likely a patron of the very arts and education that will use this facility, possibly a person with the financial wherewithal to fund the lion's share of the construction and maybe connected enough with Miller's constituents to sway significant votes either for or against him in the election this year.

What you are looking at (and bellyaching about) is a symptom of the lack of faith in the ability to do anything on their own that plagues may Rockingham Countians. Unfortunately, when you've been battered with the kind of unemployment and economic hardship this county has endured over the first decade of the 2000's, it's hard to get up the gumption to do anything on your own.

Aspirin will never cure a problem that radical heart surgery can fix. How long are we going to keep hollering "give me an aspirin!" before we're willing to endure the pain it's really going to take to take care of the problem here?

Ol' You-Know-Who a/k/a Political Pepto-Bismol (or should it be gastric bypass?)

Lex Alexander said...

The problem is that for every principled individual who values the aim but objects to the method, there are probably 20 voters who figure, "May as well get mine."

Chris Knight said...

Ol' You-Know-Who,

Our representatives are supposed to have principle and integrity enough to say "no, I can't do that" when asked to do something that is not Constitutional.

We elected, allegedly, responsible people. Not robots that rubber-stamp anything put before them.

jhs said...

The request was certainly made by RCC President Keys because he cannot raise the money needed to build the civic center because it is a boondoggle.

First he wants to put the building in the last open greenspace in Wentworth.

Second, the project has taken his attention away from the mission of the college - educating local residents. The renowned creative woodworking project has been axed. They are spending $500k a year in student fees on athletic programs that recruit questionable students from out of state to fill the rosters. These student fees should go to edify existing academic programs - worker training programs like the electronics or HVAC - programs that help local residents improve their skill sets. They are also attempting to inflate the college's academic credentials with the early college program, which they recently killed the 5-star rated child development center to provide space for. The center provided a laboratory for students in the child development program in addition to providing quality child care for local residents. Five months ago they were telling people there was a waiting list for new enrollments to the child care center - now they claim it is being closed because of low enrollment.

Third - Keys is also asking the county to put its credit behind a $14 million loan to finance the construction of the center. The county cannot finance loans to build needed public schools, even going so far as to push a sales-tax increase in 2008 for the state purpose of financing loans to build public schools. For Keys to ask the county to finance his loan shows how truly out of touch he is with the needs of Rockingham County.

This request by Miller is just an increment in RCC's attempt to finance the civic center the same way the county financed the horse park - securing chunks of funding in a hodgepodge manner. No one stops to talk about the increased annual operating budgets that these brick and mortar projects will require once they are built.

Ralph Campano said...

What people seem to miss year is that $5 Million of funding has been raised by private sources. The Dalton L. McMichael Family Foundation alone has made a $3 million donation.

The US Government portion is very small compared to private donations. Washington sends Billions to big cities, other communities and other countries every year.

The people of Rockingham County should welcome any form of US taxes coming back home. Every working citizen is sending their tax dollars all over the country and world.

This small federal contribution will create construction jobs and jobs for the people that work at the center; the project will facilitate business growth in the area; a first class facility will be provided for Rockingham County residents (including children) to learn the performing arts; and the people of Rockingham County will have their lives enriched with the performances held at this facility.

In addition to faciliting the arts, this center will promote busineses and job growth.

We should not be looking this gift horse in the mouth.

Ralph Campano

Chris Knight said...

"Washington sends Billions to big cities, other communities and other countries every year."

Washington should NOT be sending billions of dollars to ANYONE unless the expenditure is allowed for by the Constitution.

This is one of the bigger reasons why our country's finances is in the crapper.

jhs said...

Ralph: Since you live in Greensboro, what is your connection/interest in the McMichael Civic Center?