Saturday, February 12, 2005

Pork in Portsmouth Confirmed

Porkopolis has confirmed (see Update on Pork in Portsmouth) Robert Forrey’s blog entry, and that Congressman Portman was instrumental in the having the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development (USDA) department approve the grant of $300,000.

No, you’re eyes are not deceiving you…murals in Southeastern Ohio are our new ‘cash crop’. Porkoplois has reviewed the Portsmouth Daily Times article referred to by Robert Forrey and included it in its entirety at the end of this post.

But there’s more...lots more. Click on the (+) to read the rest of the story.


This is the first of several posts that will follow several veins in this gold-mine of pork barrel spending. Porkopolis is dedicating a separate menu (see right panel under Special Series) to Pork in Portsmouth , ordered chronologically. Porkopolis has found and will document several other specific appropriations/grants centered on this development in Portsmouth.

Porkopolis has contacted Congressman Portman’s office requesting a total accounting of all Federal monies that have been directed to the City of Portsmouth that are related to the Portsmouth Murals Inc., the Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce, the Southern Ohio Growth Partnership Agency and development of the Portsmouth Welcome Center.

First, lets find out what the murals, have to do with the Department of Agriculture.

The grant came from the Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBS), Business Programs (BP). This program is managed by undersecretary Gil Gonzales ; the same Gil Gonzales who was called out in this Fox News story detailing the subsidizing of a caviar producer, cotton giant Calcot and Ocean Spray with Agricultural grants.

I’ve contacted Congressman Portman’s Portsmouth office and confirmed the $300,000 grant with an office supervisor their named Mary (she declined on giving her last name). In addition, a $100,000 Community Facilities Grant to Portsmouth Murals, Inc. is referenced in this USDA document. It appears that the $100,000 grant was issued in August of 2004 while the $300,000 ‘Business’ grant was issued in October of 2004.

Porkopolis is still searching for an official government document that refers specifically to $300,000 grant. As of now, the only documentation available is the Portsmouth
Daily Times article of Oct 21, 2004 and the verbal confirmation provided by Congressman Portman’s Portsmouth office.

However, t
here are several other press releases (Portsmouth Welcome Center To Receive $447,345 ; Portman Announces New Funding for Ohio River Scenic Byway Money Will Help Fund Welcome Center in Portsmouth; House Approves Funding for Portman-requested Projects for Southern Ohio) from Portman’s office on which Porkopolis will rant on in future posts. These also relate to the the project as a whole.

This USDA’s Rural Development mission is documented as the following:

Promoting a dynamic business environment in rural America is the goal of Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBS), Business Programs (BP). BP works in partnership with the private sector and the community-based organizations to provide financial assistance and business planning. BP helps fund projects that create or preserve quality jobs and/or promote a clean rural environment. The financial resources of RBS BP are often leveraged with those of other public and private credit source lenders to meet business and credit needs in under-served areas. Recipients of these programs may include individuals, corporations, partnerships, cooperatives, public bodies, nonprofit corporations, Indian tribes, and private companies.

As of September 30, 2004 this agency (according to page 22 of their annual report) had a total caseload of $6.7 Billion ($6, 773, 653, 944). This represented 10, 635 cases. (If you look carefully, the map’s color legend does not correspond with the dollar amounts associated with individual states on this graphic.)

The Rural Business Cooperative Service was part of a 2000 study by the General Administrative Office (GAO) entitled “Economic Development: Multiple Federal Programs Fund Similar Economic Development Activity”. The report was ordered by our very own George V. Voinovich, Chairman, Subcommittee on Government Management, Restructuring. Points
of Note from the reports Result in Brief section (pages 4 and 5):

Ten agencies and 27 subagency units administer 73 programs that can be used to support one or more of the six activities that we identified as being directly related to economic development. In some cases, a single program can be used to fund multiple activities, while in others, a single program can be used to fund only one type of activity. For example, within the Department of Commerce, the Grants for Public Works and Economic Development Program can be used to support all of the six activities except planning, while the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Water and Waste Disposal Loans and Grants Program provides funds that support a single economic development activity—providing water and sewer facilities and services.

… In each of the six activity areas, we identified programs that fund a similar
activity and also have the same applicants. For example, we found that local
governments can apply for 16 different federal programs for roads and streets activities. Some of this overlap reflects the fragmentation of agencies’ missions. For example, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and USDA both administer programs aimed at assisting distressed communities; however, HUD’s programs usually assist urban areas, while USDA’s programs usually assist rural areas.

Among the programs in which we identified overlap, such programs are differentiated by legislative or regulatory restrictions that target funding on the basis of characteristics such as geography, income and poverty levels, and population density (rural or urban).

Additional information—such as the existing coordination among programs, the effectiveness of the programs, and the implications for beneficiaries of changing the current programs—is needed to determine whether potential program overlap is necessary to meet federal priorities or is creating an environment in which participants are not served as efficiently and effectively as possible.

The last paragraph looks like bureaucratic speak for “We don’t want to step on
any toes, so lets just have another study”.

Come on! They start of by saying: Ten agencies and 27 subagency units administer 73 programs that can be used to support one or more of the six activities that we identified as being directly related to economic development.” How can that be anything but a model of inefficiency!!

In future posts, Porkopolis will delve deeper into the other federal appropriations for the City of
associated with the Welcome Center and the Portsmouth Murals Inc.

Article in it’s entirety from the Portsmouth Daily Times:

(Please not that this article is not available on the paper’s web site archives. Porkopolis contacted the paper, and they were kind enough to fax me a copy of the article. Porkopolis is looking into scanning the fax and including on this site for completeness.)

Center on its way? (By Anna L. Mallory, PDF Staff Writer, Portsmouth Daily Times, Portsmouth, Ohio : October 21, 2004, pg. 1)

The plans are drawn, and architects could be authorized as early as today to advertise for bids for Portsmouth ’s proposed welcome center.

More than $1.4 million is now available for renovation of the former
Kenrick’s Catalog Showroom.

Congressman Rob Portman, R-Cincinnati, awarded $300,000 of that figure to
Portsmouth Murals Inc. on Wednesday. He had announced
the appropriation of the money during President George W. Bush’s visit last month.

”This is an opportunity to see economic development of the best
kind,” he said. “To get visitors in, you’ve really go to have a destination…It brings people in here with money in their pocket.”

The idea of a welcome center has been brewing in the city
for more than a year.
Portsmouth Murals Inc. purchased the form Kenrick’s Showroom from George Clayton last year for $350,000.

Second Street facility with 12,500 square feet, has been abandoned since the store closed three years ago.

Southern Ohio Growth Partnership director Bob Huff said the facility is slated to have a space for community meetings on top of the restrooms, vending areas and a gift shop promoting the floodwalls murals.

The west side of the facility which has been granted more than $1.2 million in government funding, will have park benches and picnic tables for visitors who view the 2,000 feet of murals.

Local businesses have helped to kick in $400,000 of the total of the $1.6 needed.

Gil Gonzales, undersecretary with the United States Department of Agriculture [background 1, background 2], believes community organizers properly utilized grants available and he says the collaboration could help to “build the community form the ground up.”

Community officials are hoping the facility can be combined with revitalizing of Boneyfiddle Historic District to promote Portsmouth and help it prosper.

Before presenting the $300,000 to PMI, Portman, who organizers said is always a proponent for development in southeasetern Ohio , spent part of his day in Scioto County at a business he believes exemplifies what is needed to continue growth in the Portsmouth area.

Falcon Metal Technologies on Findlay Street works to produce machinery parts for government and private jobs.

Owner Dave Glenn, a Scioto County native, began the company in 2003 after buying out a Harrisburg company.

This is a really a microcosm of what needs to happen here in Ohio ,” Portman said of Glen’s latest venture.

Although the owner admits his company, which has employed up to 30 employees during its 18 months, is far from a large company, he believes it can continue to grow.

For the past 10 months, he has been waiting to see if he will be awarded the contract to make parts for military humvees, and is “working hand on” to create explosive-deterrent panels for the government.

Kelly Lawhorn, director of the Lawrence Economic Development Corporation, works to help him find government jobs available. The LEDC is a nonprofit agency that counsels clients and provides workshops.

Anna L. Mallory can be reached at (740) 359-3101 ext. 237, or


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