I’ve been so busy talking about House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s land deals, reading and working on replies to a ton of wonderful responses from citizen journalists (I kind of like “Citizen Muckraker” better, but that’s just me) to our request for help in investigating Congress (about which more soon) that I’ve missed the party on Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., who represents me in the House. Glenn Reynolds highlights a Washington Post piece (which ran in the Business Section, which was a little odd) about Moran’s securing $37 million for a company that tried to develop magnetic technology that would make submarines less easily detected. In the end, the company tried to develop magnetic technology to make the small boats Navy SEALS use (which can be dangerous in rough seas) safer; instead, the Navy chose to buy better seats to keep the SEALS safe. Sounds almost like the company, an Alexandria, Va.-based firm called Vibration & Sound Solutions Ltd., had a solution in search of a problem. The company’s president and his wife donated $17,000 to Moran.
Moran, who’s famously promised, “When I become chairman [of a House appropriations subcommittee], I’m going to earmark the s*** out of it,” at a Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Arlington on June 9th, also has an interesting personal financial history, as Armed Liberal noted back in 2002, and helpfully reminds us with a compendium of Moran links at Winds of Change.
I get to see a new bit of Moran’s handiwork every day as I walk to my Metro stop–Metro, of course, is the Washington area mass transit system, which includes buses and a subway system–thanks to a $1,672,000 earmark he secured…
…to improve traffic circulation and transportation facilities in Pentagon City. Among the list of improvements, the funding will go towards installing canopies over the two escalator entrances located on each side of S. Hayes Street at 12th Street, constructing a new elevator entrance to the Metro station and pedestrian passageway below S. Hayes Street, installing shelters, street furniture, wider sidewalks and well marked crossings, and providing designated space for Kiss & Ride, shuttles, taxi service, and tour bus parking.
Here’s one of the two entrances to the stop with a nearly completed canopy:
…and here it is in a wider view:
Now, the main attraction in the area for which Moran secured this earmark is the Pentagon City Mall (as we locals call it) or the Fashion Centre [sic] at Pentagon City, which is the official name. It’s a pretty busy mall, especially in the summer–it’s a stop on most bus tours of Washington, D.C.
Here you can see Macy’s, one of the mall’s anchor stores, in the background, while the other Metro entrance ringed by a fence with construction underway:
You can kind of get an idea of what the stops looked like before the project began–canopy-less concrete walls…
On the scale of things, of course, this is chicken feed–what’s $1.6 million among friends? It’s hardly Teapot Dome or Watergate, or even on the order of the above linked Post story. But does earmarking federal money to improve the outdoor aesthetics and traffic patterns of one of the country’s most prosperous shopping malls strike you as a high priority project?