One of the great advantages of tackling the Labor/HHS/Education appropriations bill first is that, while the earmarks are anonymous, the recipients aren’t. From figuring out where one of the beneficiaries happens to be, citizen journalists can ask the local representative about the earmark. And that’s exactly what a lot people are doing:
James Zellmer at Zmetro.com queried Rep. Tammy Baldwin about projects receiving earmarks in her district.
SEGM of A Mostly Political View phoned and emailed Rep. Melissa Hart about projects in her district.
Matt Duffy called the office of Rep. Tom Price about the $10 million that the state of Georgia is due to get.
Meanwhile, Chuck Simmins questions troubling earmarks in upstate New York, including these three that I found curious:
Unity Health System for facilities and equipment for the Park Ridge Hospital Emergency Center $400,000 [They did show a profit in 2005. Yet they get this gift from the taxpayers.]
Nazareth College for equipment and technology upgrades for the Math/Science Teacher Enhancement project $250,000 [And this college’s endowment is? Lots?]
Monroe Community College for the Advanced Technology Training Systems Program, including purchase of equipment $200,000 [This would be training for people who will then go to work at some of the biggest corporation in the area, like Kodak, Xerox, Baush & Lomb. You know, companies who could pay to train their employees but would rather have the taxpayers do it.]
Most interesting is the last item, the one to benefit Missouri. $100,000 of your taxes is going to Produce for Better Health Foundation a Wilmington based organization that promotes eating fruits and vegetables. However, the money will be used for a program in Cape Girardeau, MO, not Delaware.
I looked up Produce for Better Health Foundation on Guidestar, a mostly free online service that tracks nonprofits (and, if you register, you can find a lot of information about them, including PDFs of the public portion of their federal tax returns). The following excerpt is taken from the “Objectives for Fiscal Year 2005”:
The Produce for Better Health Foundation plans to focus marketing efforts on color and begin promoting 5 A Day like a brand. With this new marketing focus in place, PBH will begin to move 5 A Day from something important to know to something essential to do. The campaign will permeate retail, foodservice, and every PBH program. The color campaign also communicates the importance of eating a variety of fruits and vegetables for the purpose of achieving a variety of health benefits. The marketing direction also provides an umbrella strategy able to cover the fresh, frozen, canned, dried, and 100% juice industries to increase sales.
…Our strategic priorities are to: 1) Enhance the business climate for increasing fruit and vegetable consumption, 2) Be the health infomediary for fruits and vegetables and 3) Leverage partner marketing resources for greater impact on fruit and vegetable sales.