Saturday, August 18, 2007

Florida county rejects pork

By Libby

This is almost funny. A local Florida county is trying to give back an $10 million earmark for federal construction funding they didn't ask for, that is earmarked for a highway exchange they didn't want.

The money for the interchange was the work of Representative Don Young, the Alaska Republican who was chairman of the transportation committee before the last election.

Officials of Lee County considered the project a low priority, environmental groups opposed it and the Republican congressman from the district never asked for it.

But the interchange, on Interstate 75 at a place called Coconut Road, would be a boon to Daniel J. Aronoff, a Michigan real estate developer with adjacent property who helped raise $40,000 in donations to Mr. Young at a fund-raiser in the region shortly before Mr. Young inserted an earmark for the project in a transportation bill.

Even better, the earmark was inserted in an 11th hour end run, after the bill has already passed both chambers.

A spokesperson for the developer disputed that the earmark was payola for political support and noted the proposal had been on the table for years. Hmmm, I'm sure the proposed exchange had no bearing on the developer's decision to purchase the property in the first place and they certainly had no vested interest in forcing the project to go forward in order to increase the value of the property. I mean, that would be just greedy.

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