Real Clear Policy: #WasteOfTheDay Week 38 122_wk_38

November 5, 2021 10:28 AM



NY MTA Bus Command Center Already Falling Apart

November 1, 2021


New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority spent $86 million on a new state-of-the art bus command center in June 2019 that still sits vacant because the roof leaks, the heating system is faulty, and the bathrooms are bug-infested, The New York Post reported.

The Brooklyn facility was supposed to replace an older one across the street and serve as a “war room” for bus dispatchers, who have refused to work there until the problems are fixed, the newspaper reported.

Some dispatchers worked there for a few months last winter but left when the heat didn’t work and the building’s electrical system couldn’t handle the space heaters.

The building was slated to cost $55 million and be completed in 2017, but the budget and timeline were both exceeded, ultimately finishing in June 2019 at $86 million due to issues with the building’s drainage and sprinkler systems, The Post said.

With all the issues, MTA rep Aaron Donovan told the newspaper that the command center will open “in the first half of next year.”

This is as the MTA borrowed $2.9 billion from the Federal Reserve's emergency credit line for states and local governments, saying it needed to close budget gaps that were created by the pandemic.

This is the second time the MTA turned to the central bank as it faces a steep drop in ridership from Covid-19, Bloomberg reported.

A broke transit agency mismanaging its projects and borrowing from the Fed is a recipe for disaster that makes waste of taxpayer funds.



NYC Mayor Used NYPD Security Detail to Run Errands

November 2, 2021


New York City taxpayers first heard in February 2020 that they had paid for Mayor Bill de Blasio and his security detail to watch a Red Sox game in Los Angeles while he was running his soon-to-be failed presidential bid.

At the time, The New York Post estimated that the campaign trips from May 16 to Sept. 20, 2019 cost taxpayers $358,000. While a 49-page report from the city’s Department of Investigation estimated a lower cost of $319,794, it also found that de Blasio uses his NYPD detail beyond his presidential campaign to run errandsduring his mayoralty.

“In practice, what is happening is that it’s not security,” said DOI Commissioner Margaret Garnett, the New York Post reported. “It’s essentially a concierge service, primarily for Dante.”

De Blasio’s son, Dante, now 24, had declined an NYPD protection detail but then regularly requested and received rides to and from his job in Brooklyn after graduating from Yale University, the DOI report found.

While he was a college student between 2015 and 2019, the police often accompanied him on trips to and from New Haven, the report said.

De Blasio’s daughter Chiara, now 26, also received help during her move from her Brooklyn apartment into Gracie Mansion in 2018, the DOI commissioner said.

Even one of de Blasio’s brothers was picked up from the airport and driven nearly two-hours to New Jersey to pick up a rental car, the report found.

The DOI probe found this amounted to “potential violations of the New York City Conflicts of Interest Law, lapses in best practices, corruption vulnerabilities, and inefficient uses of public resources.”

While the report cited no dollar figure for the inappropriate security costs over the years, the allegations are clear that much taxpayer money was wasted driving around de Blasio’s family on unofficial business.


Dem Plans For Universal Pre-K, Childcare Would Shift Costs to States

November 3, 2021


Congressional Democrats – during most of the fall in 2021 – backed the $3.5 trillion bill dubbed the Build Back Better Act and tried to make a promise to Americans that states are expected to keep for universal pre-K.

The 10-year spending plan for the so-called “human infrastructure” would have been a massive expansion of the social safety net. So much so, that critics called it a hammock.

It included $200 billion for universal preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds, a program supporters say would benefit about 5 million children from families of all income levels and save the average family $13,000 when fully implemented.

But states would have been required to foot about 50 percent of the bill, according to CNN.

The failed spending plan also included $250 billion to fund childcare up to age 5. That would be spent giving every family help in some form, planning to keep the cost of child care at or below 7 percent of most families' income.

In August, moderate Democrat Joe Manchin joined every Republican senator in voting in favor of an amendment that prohibited using federal funds to teach critical race theory in pre-K, elementary and secondary schools. The amendment, sponsored by Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, passed 50-49, Newsweek reported

However, once again, states would have been required to pick up the tab for half the spending on this federal spending initiative. Shifting costs to states is one more way the reconciliation bill played fast and loose with the $3.5 trillion estimate.

Thankfully, it didn’t have enough support in Congress. However, many of the projects will likely be resurrected by Democrats in future bills.



In 1977, DOT Tried — And Failed — To Forecast Transit Scenarios

November 4, 2021


Throwback Thursday! 

We’re four years from date that the U.S. Department of Transportation in 1977 tried to forecast transportation needs in one of four hypothetical scenarios — and are nowhere near any of them coming to fruition.

The DOT spent $225,000 — over $1 million in 2021 dollars – on a report to forecast transportation needs in the year 2025 under four separate scenarios—where the U.S. undergoes an Ice Age, becomes a dictatorship, is transformed into a hippy culture or blossoms into a society the authors deemed "the American Dream."

For this wasteful and nonsensical spending Sen. William Proxmire, a Democrat from Wisconsin, gave a Golden Fleece award in 1977.

“In its imaginary setting, its pursuit of the obvious and its predictions of the future, this is perhaps the most speculative, impractical and redundant study ever paid for by the government,” Proxmire said in giving the award.

The study predicted if there were an Ice Age, a "very large number of people" will be forced or attracted to move to the South and Southwest to escape an undesirable climate, Proxmire said then.

If there were urban guerilla warfare, cities would need more transit police, automobile use in afflicted regions would become risky, and damage insurance rates would rise, the study noted.

The cost per gallon of gasoline in 2025 would be $1.70 in an Ice Age, $1.50 in a hippy society, $1.85 under a dictatorship and $1.05 in a "success" future, the DOT determined.

The current national gas average is $3.28 per gallon.

Proxmire argued that a better use of taxpayer funds would have been for the DOT to examine the transportation implications if Congress were to abolish its futuristic research division.


Civilian Climate Corps Program Will Cost $10 Billion

November 5, 2021


While Congressional Democrats pushed funding “human infrastructure” in a now-failed $3.5 trillion package that would have a massively expanded of the social safety net, the plan also included plenty of changes to combat climate change.

Included in the Build Back Better Act, the climate change proposals were initially part of the bipartisan infrastructure deal but were cut from that package in June, CNBC reported.

President Joe Biden’s plan is to transition away from fossil fuels and mandate that a portion of the country’s electricity come from renewable sources, like wind and solar power.

It called for new polluter fees, created new consumer rebates for home electrification and weatherization, provided clean energy, manufacturing, and transportation tax incentives and grants, and electrified the federal vehicle fleet and buildings, according to CNN.

The bill included tax incentives for clean energy and electric vehicles, CNBC reported.

The package also spent $10 billion on a “civilian climate corps program” for young people to produce more jobs addressing climate change.

Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema objected to the $3.5 trillion price tag.

Manchin said the maximum he’d support is $1.5 trillion, while Sinema hasn’t committed publicly to a number, Reuters reported.

Among the provisions that Manchin opposed is the $150 billion "clean electricity performance program," to pay utility companies that increase their renewable energy supplies by 4 percent every year, CBS News reported.

Manchin is chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and said he’s “very, very disturbed” by climate provisions that could eliminate fossil fuels, CNBC reported.

The #WasteOfTheDay is presented by the forensic auditors at

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