Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Collegiality, Livingston County Style

There have been quite a few articles of late discussing Mike Rogers' $1.4 million in earmarks for Livingston County.

This is the same Mike Rogers who railed against the omnibus spending bill as mortgaging "our children and grandchildren's future... Congress continues to wastefully spend their hard-earned tax dollars."  You will no doubt recall that Mr. Rogers is a veteran player of the "criticize and take" game in previous budget cycles.

Leaving aside the, ah, oddity of voting against a bill into which you had stuffed $17.6 million for your district, isn't part of a representative's job to direct spending to his or her district?  This is especially true when you represent a long-time donor state

On the whole, these earmarks are sensible and useful (not to mention co-sponsored with Democrats).  For example, Livingston County drivers -- regardless of party affiliation -- can agree that the Latson Road interchange is long overdue for completion.  Likewise, funding for research on sustainable agriculture, biotechnology projects, public transportation and water treatment is a smart and productive use of federal dollars.  

While fairly certain that I'll refrain from taking LivCo Road Commissioner Mike Crain's suggestion:
I believe the majority of Mike Rogers' earmarks will help our district in both the short term and the long term.  

And yet...  

... of the $1.4 million coming to Livingston County, over $800,000 of it is going to Cleary University, a private institution with branches in Livingston and Washtenaw Counties.  

Take a closer look at the way Mike Rogers allocated his earmarks for higher education:


Rogers earmarks


(earmark $/per student)





1,100 students

($727.27+ )



Lansing CC


20,394 students


3rd largest in MI


Oakland CC


46,579 students


Largest CC in MI; 14th largest in U.S.


So while I'm almost used to Mr. Rogers' general double standards, this little ploy to throw major public money to a minor private institution -- at a time when community colleges are educating roughly 45% of undergraduates nation-wide -- is a new low in hypocrisy.

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