Thursday, December 30, 2004


This is the first post to Porkopolis. It will generally be a backgrounder on the blog’s purpose and genesis.

[Update: Local Paper's reporting on Porkpolis]

Porkopolis was born out of civic frustration. What really got me going was that I started actually reading through House of Representatives (H.R.) Bill 2673 ; better know as the Omnibus Spending Bill .


It was a 487 page behemoth. I quickly came to the conclusion that there was absolutely no way that my representative (Congressman Rob Portman, Ohio, District 2 had read the bill.

A big point of frustration for me was learning that the Medicare Presrcription Drug Benefit cost estimates quickly went from $400 Billion to $540 Billion immediately after the Bill went into law.

I had an opportunity to question Mr. Portman at a town meeting on the revised benefit estimates. He said that the revisions coming from the Executive branch were a total surprise to him and the Budget committee he sits on. I noted, “...Don’t the Republicans in the Congress talk to the Republicans in the White House?!?” He basically shrugged and answered something to the effect of "we worked with the numbers we had at the time".

I never got a chance to ask him the questions about that Omnibus bill before the meeting broke up. There were a lot of other constituents there and the primary conversation centered on how the Prescription Drug Benefit would be put into effect. I wrote a letter (see text below) to Portman shortly after that meeting. I’ve never heard from him or his office on this or any other matter I've contacted him on.

The most recent Omnibus Bill (H.R. 4818) was the straw that broke the camels back. It just continued with the special interest/pork barrel spending where H.R. 2673 left off. (I’ll be posting some analyses on the bill in a later post.)

With the Republicans controlling the Presidency, Senate and House of Representatives, it’s quite frustrating to see their promises on fiscal conservative policies not being adhered to.

This blog will be one citizen's attempt to hold his representatives feet to the fire. My only motivation is to work towards a more responsible and equitable government. I'm generally for efficient and effective spending; being well aware that we in our a society have benefits and responsiblities that come from our system of government. But as Justice Potter said when describing obscenity..."I know it when I see it" , the same can be applied to outright pork barrel spending.

The name Porkopolis is a convenient pun with allusions to Pork Barrel spending, Rob Port/Pork-man and the City of Cincinnati; once know as the meat packing capital of the Midwest. I’ll also comment on and analyze state and local issues as well.

General rules for commenting:

Please be respectful and factual in your comments. When in doubt, simply apply the Golden Rule. Obviously, abusers of this policy will have their comments deleted.

What you can do if similarly motivated:

If you're a neighbor of mine in the Ohio 2nd district, feel free to contact me via email address found on the Who?/Why? section of this blog. You can also forward my analyses and commentary to the editors of local papers along with copies to our representatives.

If you're not in the district, consider starting your own blog or participate through other citizens watch dog groups. You can find some of them in the recommended links section. Citizens Against Government Waste is a good place to start.

Text of February 28, 2004 letter to Congressman Portman written after attending Town Meeting:

February 28, 2004

Congressman Rob Portman
8044 Montgomery Road
Room 540
Cincinnati, Ohio 45236

Honorable Representative Portman:

Thank you for taking time from your family today to meet with your constituents at the Lebanon Town Meeting. As an individual who travels a lot for business, I well appreciate the sacrifices you and your family make traveling between Washington and Ohio.

Having said that, I would like to finish sharing my disappointments with you and the Republican caucus. Unfortunately the forum of the town meeting was to short because of the other commitments you had.

As I noted, the stewardship (or lack there of) over the money your district sends to Washington could use an overhaul. I still don’t buy your explanation on how the Medicare potential outlays quickly went from $400 Billion to $540 Billion. More specifically, I don’t buy that it was a total surprise. I would respectfully suggest that my neighbors and I elected you as a representative to watch over uncontrolled spending; and if you and your colleagues are not up to the task we will send someone else in your place that is more fiscally responsible. With all due respect, at least Democrats tell you up front that they intend to spend irresponsibly.

Along that line, you would have a hard time convincing me that you read the full text of the Omnibus Spending Bill (HR 2673). It’s over 487 pages long and overflowing with pork. I’m not naïve and know that legislation takes compromise. But compromise does not mean surrender. I’ve enclosed a randomly selected page for your review from the bill. I quickly added up over $5 Million of pure pork on just one page. This goes on for page after page. I can’t imagine that this is something you’re proud of putting your name to!

I’ve written you before to suggest that Congress should ‘eat its own dog food’ and apply the principals of the Sarbanes-Oxley law to itself. In essence, every representative should be required to read every proposed piece of legislation before they vote on it; much like CEOs and CFOs are required to fully review their company’s financial statements. My hopes would be that this alone would put sand in the machinery and slow down the shameful spending.

Now, I’m sure you get letters like this all the time complaining about spending in generality and think to yourself that the letter writer would be equally passionate about a spending cut near and dear to his heart. Well in an effort to break the mold, I would point out that on the same page 295 of HR 2673 is a project that I favor, but not through federal funding; the $400,000 for the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal to develop and implement an integrated curriculum…. This is an example of pure pork. If the Museum Center needs money, and it probably does, it should raise its admissions or lobby locally for a levy. I know all to well that the $400,000 the Museum Center will be getting from Washington probably started out as $500,000 in revenue from our district. The $100,000 difference was lost to the ‘friction’ of the Federal bureaucracy.

Finally, there is another issue on which you and congress have done a ‘half-ass’ job on and warrants your attention as my representative; the Alternative Minimum Tax. I left a copy of a recent BusinessWeek for your review with your colleague at the Town Meeting. The magazine has a cover story on this looming issue. I’m probably not telling you anything new. But I am expecting you, as a member of the Budget and House Ways and Means Committees, to proactively put together a plan of action to address the inequity.

Individuals like myself in the district will strongly support you if you come back to being the fiscal conservative we voted in. I would caution you not to take our patience for indifference.

I can appreciate that you have many individuals petitioning you on their issues. I also know that it comes with the territory of public service. Once again, thank you for at least scheduling and participating in the Town Meeting forum and all the best to you and your family.

I remain,

Mario Delgado


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