September 28th, 2005



Cleaning up after Katrina is going to be expensive, even if we don't try to play King Canute with New Orleans. Adding that on top of all the money Congress is already wasting is going to hurt the budget. Various people are pushing a "Porkbusters" meme, asking Congressmen to cancel their pork projects to compensate for the costs of Katrina repairs.

To do my part I started digging through the web site of our Congresswoman, Kay Granger. So far the best bet for expendable pork looks like the planning funding for the "Trinity River Vision" project. She doesn't seem to have much in the way of specific line-item projects, her announcements are about defense contracts and grants. You'd think someone on the Appropriations committee could bring home more bacon. Possibly she's honest. Or the pork goes to swing states.

Anyway, from what I've heard about the TRV I'm not that fond of it anyway. They're announcing well in advance which areas will be affected, so when they actually try to claim them through eminent domain the "fair market value" will be rock bottom. The picture above is an example. The yellow region is part of Fort Worth near downtown that's slated to be part of the new flood plain. Too bad for anyone who'd invested in property or a business there.

The TRV is mostly future-vision at this point, there's not much going on except some studies. Rep. Granger announced the 2005 budget would have "$500,000 to continue improving neighborhood access to the Trinity River and $725,000 in economic development funds to go towards design and construction. The bill also includes $950,000 for the Corps of Engineers’ Upper Trinity River Basin study. Much of this funding will provide for design, planning, and completing the environmental impact statement for the Trinity Uptown Project." (see 11/30/04 press release at this link).

So I sent this email:

Dear Congresswoman Granger,

I'm very concerned by the damage done by Hurricane Katrina and want to help the victims. At the same time, the expense of the repairs could hurt the economy if it drives the federal deficit up. So I'm one of many people urging that less urgent programs be cut back to offset the cost of Katrina relief.

Would you be willing to sponsor a reduction or postponement of the $2,000,000 FY2005 appropriation for Trinity River Vision design and studies, with the money being shifted to Katrina relief?

Thank you for your time,

Karl Gallagher
Saginaw, TX

No answer yet, though I did get a press release that she's been appointed to the committee investigating the response to Katrina.

Update: Lack of answer here.