Real Clear Policy: #WasteOfTheDay Week 83 110_wotd_wk_83

September 16, 2022 12:50 PM




Expert: CA Spends $54B to Fight Climate Change With ‘No Realistic Plan’

September 12, 2022


The California State legislature voted to spend $54 billion to fight climate change even though one expert has said “there’s no realistic plan for implementation.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom pushed the deal in the legislature, CalMatters reported, with only about three weeks left in the session.

The package of bills will prevent the state’s last nuclear power plant from closing, add new restrictions on oil and gas drilling, and require the state to no longer add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by 2045.

The Golden State will have to cut emissions at least 85 percent by 2045 and offset the rest of the emissions by planting trees or “using still-unproven technologies like direct air capture, which collects gasses after they’ve already been discharged into the atmosphere,” The New York Times reported.

But the state isn’t even on track to meet its 2030 goals, according to Danny Cullenward, policy director at CarbonPlan, a nonprofit group that evaluates climate programs.

He said regulators in the state were holding out hope that a cap-and-trade program that imposes a ceiling on emissions from large polluters would work but hasn’t.

“If these new targets force state regulators to go back to the drawing board and come up with a credible new plan to cut emissions, that’s great,” Mr. Cullenward said, The NYT reported. “But in my view they still don’t have a realistic plan for implementation, and that’s the most important part.”

Among the $54 billion in spending is $6.1 billion for electric vehicles, $14.8 billion for transit and rail projects, more than $8 billion to clean up the electric grid, $2.7 billion to fight wildfires, and $2.8 billion in water programs to help the state deal with drought, The Times reported.



NYC May Spend $312M to House Migrants

September 13, 2022


As thousands of migrants from the southern border are bussed to New York City, officials in the Big Apple have had to put them up in 14 hotels as it struggles with housing its own homeless population.

The city has said it needs more than 5,000 hotel rooms. Providing this high-cost housing could cost NYC taxpayers $312 million each year, according to The New York Post.

While Department of Homeless Services signed a $139 million contract with the city, “City Hall shelled out an average of $147.67 per day in rent,” The Post reported.

Assuming the federal agency is reimbursing the city at a similar rate, providing 5,800 hotel rooms could add $312.6 million in new spending to the city budget. That doesn’t include costs, like providing food and medical care.

While the city is struggling to provide shelter for the homeless population, the surge of immigrants in recent weeks has forced officials to make emergency deals with 14 hotels.

Since May, more than 6,000 migrants have come to NYC, seeking shelter, including at least 750 on buses that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he began sending there earlier in August.

On one day in August, five buses from Texas arrived with migrants. Before that, the most buses to arrive in the Big Apple in a single day was three.

That five-bus caravan carried 237 passengers, including 14 children, all of whom were accompanied by their parents, city officials said.

The Texas buses began arriving in NYC after Abbott in April started relocating migrants to Washington, DC, to protest what he calls President Biden’s “irresponsible open border policies.”



Chicago Aldermen Spend Secretive $5M on Website, Anti-Policing Efforts, and More

September 14, 2022


In Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s proposed 2022 budget, she offered each of the city’s 50 alderman a $100,000 sweetener to spend in their wards almost any way they want, The Chicago Tribune reported.

The mayor billed the $5 million “microgrant fund,” as a flexible “tool” to meet the individual needs of the city’s diverse wards but it could also be seen as a bargaining chip for city council support for the $16.7 billion budget that they ended up passing.

How some of the aldermen spent that money is coming to light and some of it could have been better spent. But it was only discovered after The Tribune asked for the contracts, and only some were released.

The Tribune has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for all existing contracts.

Freshman North Side Alderman Andre Vasquez is spending $23,000 for a new 40th Ward website, The Tribune reported.

The website designer will take least 50 to 80 hours per month for at least seven months, starting in June, to complete the website, according to city records.

That averages out to around $60 an hour, assuming it takes only 50 hours per month for seven months.

Vasquez told the Tribune that only two bids were submitted, and he selected the higher one because “it would provide the most accessibility to the most amount of people.”

He also paid an advocacy group $15,000 “to engage residents about their perceptions of how safe they are and 'think through' public safety solutions that don’t involve policing,” the newspaper reported.

Organizing Neighborhoods for Equality Northside, a progressive advocacy group, will send door-knockers to canvass neighborhoods until September to “engage 40th Ward constituents on what makes them feel safe and unsafe.” The door-knocking will target low-income renters and immigrants, as well as young people. The form also promotes thinking of solutions to crime beyond law enforcement.

“We are eager to think through public safety resources and new solutions with neighbors so that we can move beyond punitive, harmful ways of policing,” the program description says.

Vasquez also allocated $15,000 each to community groups Centro Romero and Indo American Center for similar door-knocking but specifically for Latino and South Asian communities, respectively.

Because of shortages in the Chicago PD, on the other side of the city, 19th Ward Alderman Matt O’Shea is hiring private, unarmed security to patrol business corridors in the Beverly area.

The Beverly-area business associations that will hire private security groups from Moore Security, Security Logistics Group, and Law Dogs.

O’Shea said the plan was developed with input of the Chicago Police Department, security experts and the business community.

“In the face of troubling CPD staff shortages, we as a community must do all we can to support, appreciate and respect the profession if we expect people to seek the job‚” O’Shea wrote.



Throwback Thursday: In 1977, Smithsonian Creates Obscure Dictionary

September 15, 2022


Throwback Thursday! 

In April 1977, Sen. William Proxmire gave The Smithsonian Institution a Golden Fleece Award for spending $89,000 — $435,124 in 2022 dollars — to create a dictionary of Tzotzil, an obscure and unwritten Mayan language spoken by a few hundred thousand people in southern Mexico.

Proxmire, a Democrat from Wisconsin, gave awards for wasteful and nonsensical spending, eventually handing out 168 Golden Fleece Awards between 1975 and 1988.

Even worse, the dictionary recorded the specific dialect only spoken by about 10,000 people, providing very limited usefulness, Proxmire said.

“To top it off, there are no Spanish definitions in the dictionary and thus, as acknowledged in the volume’s introduction, it is essentially useless to even this tiny band of peasants,” the senator said at the time. “All this adds up to spending the taxpayer’s money in a way that doesn’t make sense in any language.”

The person who compiled the dictionary said it was “soon to collect dust on library shelves.”

Proxmire said, “That helps me make my final point. I am not saying the dictionary is useless or without merit. But we must have a set of priorities when it comes to spending public funds.”

This came on the heals of The Smithsonian being criticized by the General Accounting Office for creating two private corporations “to convert millions of the taxpayers’ dollars into ‘private money,’ which it then allegedly spends outside the reach of federal restrictions,” Proxmire said.



San Francisco Building $95M School Despite Fewer Students

September 16, 2022


While there are thousands of empty seats in San Francisco schools, school officials are going forward with a plan to build a $95 million elementary school to open in three years, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.

If that makes no sense, the details don’t make it any clearer.

The school board insists it will need this school in the future despite the 3,000-student enrollment decline is has seen recently, because there will be more school-age children when 80,000 new housing units citywide open by 2030.

But even that plan isn’t set in stone, the Chronicle reported. Only about 4,600 of those units were completed last year and with a slow-down in residential building, there could be fewer than that this year. That’s compared to the 10,000 units built in a year in 2016 and 2017.

The new $95 million school in the Mission Bay community will be needed, school officials argue. There are already more than 500 public school students living in the Mission Bay community, with another 200 expected to move in when the rest of the development is finished.

“When we’re talking about construction, I think it would be a mistake to be looking at school enrollment over the next two or three years when we’re really talking about the next 20 to 30 years,” said Supervisor Matt Dorsey, who represents the Mission Bay area. “For what we’re going to be talking about over the next decade or two, there is going to be a lot of growth coming.”

Why not wait until there’s an actual need for it, or when enrollment starts to climb? Why spend $95 million now on something that may not end up being necessary?

“This project is forward thinking,” said school board President Jenny Lam. “It helps to build long-term assets for the district, such as linked learning hubs, professional development spaces in partnership with community in service of our students and educators.”

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