Real Clear Policy: #WasteOfTheDay Week 119 73_WOTD_wk_119

May 22, 2023 12:50 PM




Portland Police Dept. Pays $495K Annually for Woke Consultants

May 22, 2023


The Portland Police Bureau in Oregon pays a consulting firm $495,000 annually to give police officers controversial and woke training that Portland cops have called “hilariously ridiculous” and a “colossal waste of time.”

The contract is with Rosenbaum & Associates LLC, who according to the City of Portland has served as compliance officer community liaison since 2015 and began a contract with the city in 2020. The firm’s current contract stipulates they receive $440,000 for their consulting services, with an expense and travel allowance of $55,000.

The training presentations given to Portland police officers are controversial, with many officers reporting the presentations espouse politically biased views on gender, National Review reported.

“Three training videos in question were rolled out by the bureau’s Equity and Inclusion Office as part of a new directive, ‘Interacting with Members of the LGBTQIA2S /Queer Community,’ that includes instruction on how to address people who are transgender,” NR reported.

The videos instruct, “it is wrong to ‘guess or assume a person’s gender,’ that pronouns may change over a long period or ‘it could be the next day,’ and that the ever-expanding LGBTQI2S acronym is increasingly being replaced with the term ‘queer community,’ which includes ‘people who engage in kink, polyamory, and sex work.’”

The officers who gave anonymous feedback on the training said they were “patronizing,” “childish,” “offensive,” “garbage,” and “unnecessary.” One officer wrote that the videos were “indoctrination masquerading as training.”

Another part of the training involved “one of the video subjects … speaking in front of a home with rainbow stairs and a Black Lives Matter sign in the window,” which officers commented was “highly inappropriate” after the violence in Portland in the summer of 2020.

Ironically, according to Rosenbaum, these critical comments only show the need for more equity training by him and his firm.

With out-of-control crime in cities and chronic police shortages in departments across the country, the last thing cities need to spend time and resources on is radical equity presentations that its officers find both laughable and insulting.



Renewing Farm Subsidies Expected to Cost $1.4 Trillion

May 23, 2023


The farming industry is the recipient of billions of dollars of subsidies and direct payments from the federal government annually. As Congress prepares to reauthorize a farm bill later this year extending these benefits, The Washington Post found that modifying these programs could save taxpayers billions.

Farm subsidies date back to the Great Depression, but the farm industry has since grown and modernized substantially, making the program outdated at best, and unnecessary at worst.

Direct government support for commodities like corn and soybeans adds up to about $49.3 billion over the standard 10-year forecasting window. Additionally, the government offers heavily subsidized crop insurance, of which taxpayers’ foot the bill for about 60% of farmers’ premiums. Tightening payout criteria could save taxpayers $24.4 billion over 10 years.

Extending the legislation as-is will be expensive, with the Congressional Budget Office estimating it will cost $1.4 trillion over 10 years. Most of the farm bill, however, goes towards food assistance programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP benefits).

Open The Books investigated farm subsidies in a 2018 report, and found the federal government paid $13.2 billion in farm subsidies to 957,109 recipients in 2017. Of those, 389 recipients collected over $1 million in subsidies, and $626 million flowed to urban areas.

The federal government needs to rethink if the billions in subsidies it gives to farmers is really necessary. 



Illinois Spent $195 Million on Immigrant Welcoming Centers

May 24, 2023


In 2023, the State of Illinois spent $195 million on Immigrant Welcoming Centers to welcome immigrants and refugees to Illinois, with plans to spend another $105 million on them in 2024.

An Immigrant Welcome Center is a “comprehensive service center for the integration of immigrants and refugees in Illinois,” according to the State of Illinois, and it “eliminates systemic barriers that immigrants may have in approaching state services.”

These centers help inform immigrants and refugees of state services and welfare benefits like Medicaid and SNAP. The state website lists 36 such centers throughout the state.

In FY23, the $195 million was funded with $115 million from the general fund and $80 million from other funding sources.

In FY24, Gov. J.B. Pritzker wants to spend $105 million on these centers, with $25 million coming from the general fund and $80 million from other funding sources.

Activist and former Illinois gubernatorial candidate Jeanne Ives exposed the $115 million in funding from the state general fund in FY2023 in a tweet.

These centers and resources will presumably be open to all immigration statuses, including illegal immigrants, as Illinois and Chicago are both sanctuaries for illegal immigrants that have announced they will not cooperate with federal authorities to enforce immigration laws. Governor Pritzker hopes to make Illinois “the most welcoming state in the nation.”

Welcoming immigrants is a laudable goal, but there’s no shortages of churches, community groups, and volunteer organizations that can support these immigrants more personally and meaningfully, and at a far smaller cost.



Throwback Thursday: Power Agency Spent $1.8M on Private Jet

May 25, 2023


Throwback Thursday! 

In 1985, the Western Area Power Association, a part of the U.S. Department of Energy, spent $1.8 million — $5 million in 2023 dollars — buying a luxurious private jet for its executives.

Sen. William Proxmire, a Democrat from Wisconsin, awarded the agency his Golden Fleece Award for this unnecessarily luxurious expenditure.

According to Proxmire, the power association alleged that it needed this seven-passenger executive jet because employees often traveled to remote locations and needed to quickly respond to emergencies, and it also claimed the jet would make travel more efficient.

Despite citing concerns about limited travel on commercial airlines to remote locations, once it got the jet, power association officials only visited these remote locations 25 times over 13 months, while over 60% of trips were to major passenger airline hubs like Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Salt Lake City.

It made even fewer emergency trips, with 25 emergency power outages in the first six months of having the jet, but zero trips to travel to those emergencies.

The agency’s last concern was efficiency. It contended that making its employees wait in check in lines, wait for baggage, and deal with flight delays and layovers was cause to purchase the jet. These are realities of air travel that every commercial passenger has to deal with, and they don’t justify a multimillion dollar jet on the taxpayers dime.

In all likelihood, Proxmire muses, the jet was purchased because the fiscal year was coming to an end, and there was extra money available. Agencies always want to spend all of the money their given, lest they demonstrate to Congress they can run on a leaner budget, which might mean a smaller budget next year.


Oakland Teachers Paid Up to $113,000 in Base Salary – Still Strike

May 19, 2023


Teachers in the Oakland Unified School District began their third strike in just over a year on May 4, demanding better pay. These teachers, however, are already well paid, and the district has offered substantial raises. Still, this strike is keeping 34,000 students out of classes just before finals.

According to the California Policy Center, strikes are now becoming commonplace in the district, with Lakisha Young, founder and CEO of the nonprofit parent group The Oakland Reach telling the San Francisco Chronicle, “Every time it’s time to negotiate, there’s always a strike.”

While teachers are ostensibly striking for better wages, data would suggest they are already paid very well. A California Policy Center analysis found the average salary of a full-time teacher in this district is $79,257. When benefits are included, their total compensation averages $105,569. 

According to salary tables from the district, base salaries for full time teachers start at $63,286, and top out at $112,977, excluding benefits. The district has already offered raises of 13-22% for teachers, but the union refused and claimed the district was negotiating in bad faith.

The strike comes as students are preparing for final exams and Advanced Placement tests. A teacher admitted the timing was meant to have a strong negative impact on students, to “send a big message.”

Students in the district struggle with basic math and reading, especially Black and Brown students. California Policy Center found among Black students, 19.8% meet state language standards and 10.7% meet math standards. Hispanic students are similarly behind, with 24.8% meeting language standards and 14.5% meeting math standards.

Students should not be used as a bargaining chip for better salaries, especially when teachers are already paid fairly. Unions should negotiate in good faith without purposely disrupting vulnerable students’ education at critical moments.

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