Thursday, April 29, 2004

GOOD QUESTIONS

Nick Johnson raises some great questions about the Pork Forest in the Des Moines Register

Sunday, April 25, 2004

What about the forests we already have?
Former Iowan now Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist Ron Schara discusses the Iowa rain forest in Sunday's paper ("Things at home could be better", 4/25/2004). He jokingly suggests additional projects along the same lines -- "How about a range of the Rockies in south Florida? Maybe fields of blooming cactus in Maine?"

He also mentions the $50M in federal money for the project could be better spent restoring Iowa's wetlands, or preserving Iowa's actual forests (neither of which would likely cost near that much).

At some point the question is going to be asked: Is the Iowa Environmental/Education Project the most ridiculed project receiving federal financial assistance in history?

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

A Modest Proposal
I ask you to consider the difference between $50 million and $9,345.79 over at today's Tusk and Talon.

Monday, April 12, 2004

The Des Moines Register ran a big article on the Pork Forest on Sunday.

My favorite line in the whole article is the very first one?

The people planning to build an indoor tropical rain forest in Iowa promise big things: A colossal complex that would supplant the Iowa State Fair as the state's biggest tourist attraction.

Uh, yeah. Right.

Or, as David Oman, the project's director stated: This is being positioned to be our Gateway Arch, our Seattle Space Needle, our Sydney Opera House.

Probably so. Overbudget. Over-priced. They are gimmicks that are visited by people who already happen to be in the area, but cause almost nobody to drop what they are doing and plan a trip to St. Louis, Seattle, or Sydney (Australia). None, to my knowledge, spurred private development nearby.

Bemoaning the fact that the Vision Iowa doesn't have the funds to pick up the remaining $90 million (ha ha, it'll be two or three times that), the article tells of fundraising efforts amongst wealthy celebs.

The fund-raising push has unfolded in places such as Los Angeles, Atlanta, Boston, New York and Chicago, Oman said. A "trusted intermediary," he added, has contacted Buffett. Efforts by The Des Moines Register to reach Buffett last week were unsuccessful.

Project leaders also have approached Hollywood celebrities - from actors to musicians to producers - who share an interest in environmental causes. They don't provide names.

Consultants have talked with officials at the Discovery Channel and National Geographic about televising regular educational programs from the complex, said John Picard, a Los Angeles environmental consultant for the project.

"There has been a very warm reception, and doubly so because it's in Iowa," Oman said.

Oh so Hollywood celebs are interested in helping? Which ones? Important ones. Who? We can't say.

Why am I reminded of John Kerry saying unknown foreign "leaders" supported his candidacy. Celebs will attach their names to anything that can get them attention. But in this case, they aren't willing to even say, "Yeah, they talked to me. I think it's a great idea."

Instead, what the Register reports (sheepishly, I suspect) is that: So far, however, no new donors have stepped forward.

Some "warm reception, and doubly so because it's in Iowa." If they gave absolutely nothing after becoming doubly impressed, I'd hate to have seen the collection plate when they were still merely singly-impressed. Count me as unimpressed.

(Also posted at Tusk and Talon)

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

The Soaking the Taxpayers Award

Citizens Against Government Waste gave a big award to Chuck Grassley for "Soaking the Taxpayers" by getting $50 million for the PorkForest. Read about it in the Pig Book (PDF).

Hey, they even have a Waste Blog!

More Articles On the PorkForest

This time, ABC News has a huge feature focusing on the PorkForest entitled "Are Your Taxes Headed To The Pork Barrel" - An excerpt:
Meanwhile, in Iowa farm country — known for corn and soybeans — something new will rise up: a rain forest. Federal funding will pay $50 million toward the cost of a 4.5-acre indoor rain forest that is part of the Iowa Environmental Project in Coralville. The federal portion is nearly a quarter of the full projected cost of $180 million.

"This is soaking the taxpayers to the tune of $50 million," Schatz said. "It is the poster child for pork this year."

According to the project's Web site, the indoor rain forest will help "a global understanding of how life works on Earth and how we can lead truly sustainable lifestyles in harmony with all of nature."

A Tropical Boondoggle?

Humorist Dave Barry recently wrote that the Iowa rain forest project proves Congress is "as trustworthy with money as a crack addict." Citizens Against Government Waste calls the project a tropical boondoggle that will soak taxpayers.

The project's chief administrator, David Oman, says the rain forest complex — which will also include an aquarium, a theater and outdoor trails — will create thousands of jobs.

"This will be the national environmental center for the United States," said Oman. "This project is a good investment. It will create a world-class environmental center, the only one like it in the U.S."

Before the rain forest can be built, toxic waste in the area will have to be cleaned up, and taxpaying businesses that stand in the way will be displaced to make way for the project. Some business owners are not happy.

"The people of Iowa don't like tax waste to start with, and to have it within our own boundaries is embarrassing to us," said Roger Duffery, a local business owner.

A Coralville resident also questioned the spending allocation.

"If they want to spend that money on a rain forest, they should actually spend it on a rain forest," said resident Dorothy Lewis.

The final irony in Iowa — the No. 1 pork-producing state in the nation — is that while American taxpayers are kicking in $50 million for the Iowa rain forest, Iowa taxpayers have not kicked in a dime.

"The state commitment is still being worked on," Oman said. He acknowledged that the Iowa taxpayer contribution is "zero, to date."

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

PorkForest is hiring

From Tuesday's Press-Citizen...

Thursday, April 01, 2004

The PorkForest is.... well..... just read this.....