Thus, the following is the first part of the political class insanity from November, 2012:
1) On October 23, 2012, the Bankrupting America Facebook page reported on an article from the Dayton Daily News. The Daily News reported that Greene County in Ohio had received Federal taxpayer money via the Department of Transportation to rehabilitate a covered bridge that is considered “historic.” Why is this a bad idea? Consider:
- The Stevenson Road Bridge is located in a lightly traveled area so fixing up the bridge was not essential to commerce, tourism, etc.
- The bridge is not on a road.
- It no longer is used by cars and trucks.
- It doesn’t lead to a park of any sort or any walking or biking trails.
- Apparently the only reason to use Federal taxpayer money to fix up the bridge, according to Catherine Wilson, director of the Green County Historical Society: “Covered bridges are pretty rare everywhere now. A lot of tourists visit them.”
But it seems that not all of the locals are please with wasting $610,000 on an unused, not vital bridge to nowhere. According to township trustee Jim Reed, spending on the nonfunctional, useless bridge that literally leads to nowhere will total more than the entire annual roads budget of the county and is just an insane way to use limited taxpayer dollars when many other urgent taxpayer needs exist:
“Those grants should be coming down for the basics – repairing aging water lines, sewer lines, roads/ These projects, because they’re somebody’s pet project, those are getting priority, and it makes absolutely no sense. There are roads – not county roads, but local roads in nearby jurisdictions — that are so rough, you need four-wheel drive to get to people’s homes. You can’t tell me that day-to-day travel projects aren’t more important than other frivolous projects.”
We could not agree with you more, Mr. Reed, kudos to a local politician that recognizes insanity when he sees it.
2) The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is one of those Federal government entities that keep on giving when it comes to insanity and wasteful spending. An October 19, 2012 Associated Press article reported that the TSA has moved to fire 25 employees at Newark Liberty International Airport and suspend 19 other employees, all of whom were accused of improper screening of checked luggage.
The alleged screening failures were uncovered in 2011 as a result of another TSA investigation. In that investigation, surveillance cameras were installed in one of the airport's 25 screening rooms to check for possible thefts of valuable belongings from the traveling public. Eight TSA employees were fired as a result of that investigation.
However, the cameras that were used to prove those thefts were left in place and uncovered how these 44 TSA employees were doing improper, and potentially dangerous or fatally flawed inspections. The main concern and reason for the TSA’s actions was that screeners failed to open up and physically check bags that had been flagged by X-ray machines.
The latest action raises to 52 the number of TSA employees at Newark identified in the investigation, making it the biggest single disciplinary action taken by the TSA at any U.S. airport. This breaks the record of 48 TSA employees that were cited in Hawaii previously for improper screening of luggage. Still feeling safe to travel yet?
But as we said above, the TSA continues to under perform and endanger the public in so many ways. Florida Congressman John Mica, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, cited what he called the TSA's "parade of failures:”
"Clearly this is not a Newark problem or a Honolulu problem, or a problem isolated to one or two airports. I lay the blame at TSA because it's a bureaucracy that doesn't know how to manage an army of 65,000 employees."
While I would agree with the Congressman’s assessment, I would also lay some of the blame on him and his Congressional peers who sit on these TSA committees. This TSA legacy of disgraceful performance has been going on for a while, it is about time that Congressional members finally did their job to fix the problem.
3) Staying with our TSA friends, an ABC News investigative report from October 23, 2012 found out what were the top 20 airports in the country for theft of personal property by TSA employees. The criteria was the number of TSA employees per airport for theft. ABC News based their report and analysis on a Freedom of Information request they had submitted to the TSA. That request also uncovered the fact that over 400 TSA employees have already been fired for stealing from the traveling public.
The top 20 airports, with the number of fired TSA employees at each, are as follows so be extra careful if you are traveling through these airports:
1. Miami International Airport (29 TSA employees fired)
2. JFK International Airport (27)
3. Los Angeles International Airport (24)
4. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (17)
5. Las Vegas-McCarren International Airport (15)
6. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and New York-Laguardia Airport (14 each)
8. Newark Liberty, Philadelphia International, and Seattle-Tacoma International airports (12 each)
11. Orlando International Airport (11)
12. Houston-George Bush Intercontinental Airport and Salt Lake City International Airport (10 each)
14. Washington Dulles International Airport (9)
15. Detroit Metro Airport and Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (7)
17. Boston-Logan International, Denver International and San Diego International airports (6)
20. Chicago O'Hare International Airport (5)
ABC News also did its own, real world test of theft at airports. They intentionally left behind an Apple iPad at a security checkpoint at the Orlando airport. The iPad was not turned in but could be tracked since it was set up to be tracked. The tracking process followed iPad as it moved 30 miles away to the home of the TSA officer last seen handling it.
When confronted two weeks later by ABC News, the TSA officer, Andy Ramirez, at first denied having the missing iPad. However, he ultimately turned it over after blaming his wife for taking it from the airport. Ramirez was later fired by the TSA. There was no information in the article by ABC News whether Mr. Ramirez or any of the dozens of people listed at the twenty airports above were ever criminally prosecuted or were just fired. One would think that criminal prosecution would cut down on the unacceptable level of thefts.
4) A September 19, 2012 Huffington Post/Money article, that summarized a report form the Newark Star Ledger, discussed a proposed law being considered by the state government of New Jersey. However, before we discuss the proposal, let’s review the financial situation of my former home state:
- New Jersey has been facing severe budget deficits for a number of years now as a result of out of control spending by the state’s political class for decades.
- The deficits have resulted in deep cutbacks across many parts of the state budget including parks, schools, etc.
- If New Jersey does not have the highest corporate and personal tax burden in the country, it is no worse than third or fourth.
- New Jersey’s unemployment rate has been close to 10% for a while, much higher than the national unemployment rate.
Come on, Ms. Spencer, this is what you are spending your time and New Jersey taxpayer money and resources on? Not on how to improve the failing public schools in the state, not on how to make the state government more efficient in the face of declining tax revenue, not working to reduce the overwhelming tax burden?
I have never seen a news report of any kind that says unsecured pets are a major problem. Trust your constituents to do the right thing from a human and pet safety perspective, you and your peers should be working on the major issues facing the state and it citizens, not a trivial and insane non-issue like this.
5) Reuters reported on October 17, 2012 that The State Department entrusted Libyan security tasks to a little-known British company, Blue Mountain, instead of the large firms it usually uses in overseas danger zones to protect the ill fated U.S. consulate in Libya, the site of the murder of the U.S. ambassador and three other brave American citizens.
Although the city where the consulate was located, Benghazi, had been plagued by rising violence since the civil war ended, security procedures at the diplomatic compound resulted in Blue Mountain guards patrolling with flashlights and batons instead of guns.
According to the Reuters report, the following details out how poorly protected our consulate and the Americans were:
- Blue Mountain hired about 20 Libyan men, including some who say they had minimal training, to screen visitors and patrol the mission at Benghazi, according to Reuters interviews.
- Some of the guards sustained injuries in the terrorist attack and said they were ill-prepared to protect themselves or others when heavily armed militants last month stormed the walls.
- The guards described how they were hired by Blue Mountain after only a minimal recruiting and screening process.
- The government had previous worries about some of the consulate guards before the recent attack, according to emails obtained by Reuters.
- One guard who had recently been fired and another on the company's payroll were suspected of throwing a homemade bomb into the U.S. compound in April.
More insanity tomorrow, stay tuned.
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