Wednesday, April 07, 2004

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."