Friday, August 21, 2009
Politicians Eat Hotdogs, Talk Pork
At a town hall meeting at Daphne's Civic Center sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce Thursday night --after free hot dogs/sodas were given out to the public--representatives from federal, state and local governments talked about the importance of Eastern Shore cities (Spanish Fort, Daphne, Fairhope) working together to obtain earmarked federal grant money--particularly in areas like transportation/environmental protection. Commissioner David Bishop mentioned 3 mostly federally funded projects already underway: a new flood plain elevation study; new BRATS bus stations; and enhancements to the Fort Morgan park. He also mentioned the county's new public/private "Team Green" program--that aims at 100% waste recycling. State Representative Randy Davis warned of coming recession-driven state budget shortfalls --despite infusion of considerable federal "stimulus" money ("8% negative growth factor")-- but went on to tout road building projects: HWY 13 and 83, 13/ I10 interchange, HWY 181/13 resurfacing, etc. He also mentioned a bridge on the causeway was to be demolished later this year and praised the new Veteran's Cemetery coming to Spanish Fort ($880,000 in Federal money). In unusually candid remarks, Chuck Spurlock (State Director for Senator Jeff Sessions) said that "when it comes to bringing home the bacon, Alabama's (federal) delegation has always been unusually successful" --and credited "working together" as the main reason. He also talked about fierce national competition for "earmarks" --and emphasized the importance of local communities bonding together (regionalism) to reduce administrative costs and increase their chances for getting the grants. Congressman Joe Bonner mentioned the successes the towns of Foley, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach have had by banding together (GUMBO)-- and said the three Eastern Shore cities could help lead the nation out of recession with similar cooperation. A joint "Spirit of Cooperation Resolution"-- passed by the respective City Councils-- was then presented by Mayors Small, Kant and Bonner to the Congressman-- and a few questions taken from the audience that remained.