Thursday, December 07, 2006

"And The Password Is. . ."

NYS Senate Releases List (sort of) Of "Member Items;" Now Go Find What Your State Senator Lifted From Your Wallet!

Where is Allen Ludden, longtime host of the game show, Password, when you need him?

The State Senate has finally released a partial listing of member item expenditures (to date) for 2006-07.

The New York Times reported that access to the Senate's list was originally passcode protected, and that some inquiries were referred to various State agencies, a few actually having the audacity to charge a fee for the release of information.

Today, you can read the document online, courtesy of Senator Joe Bruno and Acrobat Reader.

The PDF document, some 462 pages worth, lists projects, dollar amounts, and the Senator to whom the funds had been allocated through, not by Senator or Senate District (that would be too logical, and too easy for the public to scrutinize), but rather, by project name, alphabetically.

So, the list starts with "A Very Special Place" (we suppose that's as good a place to start as any), a senior care center on Staten Island receiving $24,500 through Senator John Marchi, and ends with "The Works" (what else would our State Senate end with but "The Works?"), $10,000 for a trip to Bangkok, Thailand by a dance/theater group, granted through Senator Thomas Duane.

Between A and W there were lots of goodies doled out by our State Senators, among them, $2500 to "World Police & Fire Games" for supplies and expenses (Senator Golden); $21,500 to the "West Nyack Little League" to pave a spectator area (Senator Morahan); $19,800 to the "West Islip Fire District" for the purchase and installation of a "Fireman Training Sound Effect Simulator" (Senator Johnson); $20,000 to the VFW Veness-Strollo Post in Batavia toward the purchase of a new roof (Senator Rath); $15,000 to Torat Israel Sephardic Congregation in Brooklyn for a carnival (Senator Kruger); $10,000 to Temple Beth Shalom in Flushing, Queens for building upgrades to the nursery school area (Senator Padavan); $100,000 to the Oneida County WWII Trip Inc. to coordinate a plane trip to Washington, D.C. to view -- what else -- the WWII Memorial (Senator Meier); $2000 to Oatka Festival in LeRoy, NY, for costs associated therewith (Senator Rath); $45,221 to Nelson Farms Consulting Group in Madison County, for"development of a trail exclusive to New York food, producers and agriculture related entertainment;" $100,000 to the Nassau County Firefighters Museum for construction of a diorama (Senator Fuschillo); $8200 to Conference House on Staten Island, "to continue the services of the Conference House including operating expenses to carry on public events and festivals, that have been funded in the past; including the Annual Sept. Celebration which commemorates the Peace Conference attended by Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Edward Rutledge and Adm. Howe" (Senator Marchi); $219,000 to an American Legion Post in Lindenhurst for repairs (Senator Johnson); $10,000 to Utica Monday Nite for operating expenses (Senator Meier); and the list (clearly partial -- we didn't see Senator Dean Skelos mentioned once in our quick scroll through the online document) goes on, and on, and on.

So, exactly what sound does a "fireman in training" make, anyway? Give this blogger $19,800, and he'll run around West Islip all day shouting, "Oooh. Ahhh. That's hottttttt..."

$100,000 for a diaorama, eh? Somebody please get Senator Fuschillo a shoe box, will ya?

And what did we learn through the Senate's piecemeal disclosure of member item pork? Well, for one thing, that quite a bit of taxpayer money is doled out to private organizations for purposes offering little, if any, direct benefit to the general public; for another, that in a time when New York is in debt up to its ears and property taxes go up, up, up to pay for essential services, the legislature is giving away far too much of our money for non-essential extravagances (trip to Bangkok? Ha! We didn't even get a trip to the Franklin Square Library); and finally, perhaps the most important lesson of all, that with all this money being handed out to the likes of Utica Monday Nite (what about Tuesday?) and Admiral Howe's annual celebration on Staten Island (and how), if your group or organization wants a piece of the member item pie next session, you'd better start working on those grant applications now. [Call your local State Senator for more information, or simply dial 1-800-Cash-Cow.]

Let's see -- $150,000 to The Community Alliance for a new keyboard, a bottle of Excedrin, and massage therapy for the hands. Better make that $300,000. After all, this blogger has two hands. . .

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