Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Enough to Give You an Upset Stomach

The “shenanigans” with state bonds are “enough to make you vomit.”

So says a now-retired State of Connecticut employee who oversaw bond-funded grants from the Department of Social Services for 19 years.

That statement should give us all pause.

State bonds are the state’s credit card. Just about every month, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy leads a meeting of the State Bond Commission to discuss which projects to put on that credit card. Most of these are low profile capital projects like school construction and road and bridge repair. Others are more high profile projects that raise taxpayers’ eyebrows, such as the $600 million New Britain to Hartford Busway.

Still others are what are called “pork” projects. One of those pork projects recently made many, including that retired state employee, feel sick to their stomachs.

What was it?

  • $300,000 for the New Haven People’s Center, an organization run by officials in the Connecticut chapter of the Communist Party USA.
The fact that your tax dollars are slated to help fix the roof at the Connecticut chapter of the Communist Party USA is odd enough, but even more peculiar is that state agencies do not have any documentation about the organization or the request for the $300,000.

So what’s going on?

Taxpayers, what we have here is an iconic example of an earmark. It reveals how your state government allocates money in a frivolous way.

  • This money for the Connecticut chapter of the Communist Party was not run through the normal process of vetting.
  • The People’s Center’s finances were not reviewed.
  • The project was never weighed against other projects.
  • It is not clear who exactly will have oversight of the state funds if they are approved.  
The good news – if there is any in this tale - is that this money hasn’t been approved yet. The good news is that this information is now out in the open before it can be quietly approved.

The next bond commission meeting is June 4.

Between now and then, I will continue to ask the following questions:

  • Why is this group getting our taxpayer money?
  • Doesn’t the state have thousands of better ways to spend this money?
  • Why doesn’t this group provide their own money for the repairs, via traditional fundraisers?
  • Why should your tax dollars be used to fund the roof repair of any political party? No party should get state funding.  
Shenanigans indeed. I hope this story did not create too much nausea out there, but I feel it is an instructive one. We need to send people to Hartford who value the taxpayers. In the meantime, I promise you that I will continue to fight for better accountability with your money.