Friday, March 27, 2009

Childish Posturing has Consequences

The other day Representative Frank LoBiondo gave a speech on how important beach replenishment funds are to shore communities. Naturally he denounced Governor Corzine for cutting state funds for it, though press accounts did not share where he thought additional money should be cut from the state budget.

This week, Frank Lautenberg, Frank Pallone, John Adler, Albio Sires, and 14 other members of Congress also supported beach replenshment -- this time, they wrote a letter urging that the Obama Administration allow stimulus funds to go to "shovel-ready beach renourishment construction." It seems such projects are not eligible for funding. (Also, Frank Pallone also has a great floor speech on beach grants.)

Now, why in the world wouldn't stimulus money be applied to such worthy projects? I think it's obvious: Congress"men" like Frank LoBiondo love to posture against the stimulus bill, complaining that buying cars for the federal government, fighting sexually transmitted diseases, and building scientific facilities are wasteful. So after Republicans repeat and repeat those arguments, who's going to stand up for spending money on beaches, when it's obvious some jerk will appear who'll say it's just moving sand around for people goofing off? I just wish Republicans would grow up sometime, we'd all be better off. This week, we saw the Jersey Shore would be.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Facebook

Frank LoBiondo announced his Facebook page. I don't see anything on his wall yet, but he promises:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Seeking to establish an ongoing dialogue with tech-savvy residents, U.S. Representative Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02) today expanded his presence on the Internet to include a “Facebook” page and welcomed all South Jersey users of the free website service to “friend” him in order to receive regular updates on issues important to them and the 2nd District.

“An essential element of my job is communicating with people – my constituents – back home in South Jersey. As Congress is called into longer sessions in Washington, it has made it more challenging to maintain a continuous conversation with residents. As different technologies and methods evolve, it is pertinent that I examine and employ what would work effectively and efficiently to be as accessible as possible in as many ways as possible,” said LoBiondo.

LoBiondo will use his new “Facebook” page to keep residents informed of important committee hearings, his position on key votes, and upcoming public events in South Jersey that he will be attending.


Of course, because he is a politician you can only "become a supporter" not "friend" him, but it's close enough for government work.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Beach replenishment funding

According to the Press of Atlantic City, Frank LoBiondo complained about beach replenishment funding; specifically he said that if Governor Corzine's plan to spend $18 million instead of $25 million risked federal matching funds:

"These federal dollars will be lost if the partnership commitment is not kept. And they’re dollars we may never ever get back again," LoBiondo said. LoBiondo said other states will benefit from the governor’s budget decision at New Jersey’s expense.

"The competition for these federal dollars for beach replenishment is literally hand-to-hand combat," he said. "If we falter for a second, I guarantee you there will be coastal communities on the East Coast, the West Coast, the Gulf Coast and the Mississippi that will suck up these dollars in a fraction of a second."


Coastal Broadcasting News also has a summary.

Fair enough, and I am all for government spending for public benefit. Still, after so many years of Republican complaints that the state spends too much, it's a bit tough to take the view that some beach spending is unnecessary in a great crisis. I wish LoBiondo had said what he would cut instead.

Friday, March 13, 2009

LoBiondo on Mercury Dangers

We all remembee the Kiddie Kollege disaster in Gloucester County, where a day care center was located in a place contaminated by mercury. Recently the Philadelphia Inquirer has an article on Congressman Frank LoBiondo drawing attention to Mercury dangers.

"As the report demonstrates, future mercury exposures are preventable if the correct public health officials, teachers, and parents have the facts and take action,"


Generally speaking, if you want environmental regulations, you should vote Democratic, but there is no doubt incompetence and neglect exists with both parties. The bottom line, though, is that without regulation companies will not clean up their pollution. that said, LoBiondo earns more credit from me here for his stance on this issue, and I hope he does follow through with legislation if it is necessary. His spokesman pointed to this government website:

http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/mercury/mercury_report.html

which is an important report on mercury dangers.

LoBiondo sponsors Employee Free Choice Act

If a majority of workers sign up to have a union, you'd think there would be a union. No, under current law, a majority of workers signing up triggers another election, where they have to vote for the union again. Obviously this state of affairs only exists for employers to try to intimidate the workers.

It's good to see that once again Frank LoBiondo is sponsoring EFCA, so that if a majority of workers sign up to join a union, they join the union.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Will Frank LoBiondo block defense contracting reform again?

Today, President Barack Obama announced major new reforms of defense procurement, which will include both Presidential orders and (we hope) bipartisan legislation. I've ranted about the Deepwater Scandal, where my Congressman Frank LoBiondo helped stop reformers. The result was that billions of dollars were wasted by Lockheed-Martin and Nothrop Grumman on Coast Guard equipment that didn't work. The sad fact is, this is a very common outcome of such contracts: Off the top of my head, I'd name the Lockheed-Martin Presidential helicopter and Lockheed and General Dynamics littoral combat ship projects. These kinds of management disasters soon add up, according to Obama:

Recently that public trust has not always been kept. Over the last eight years, government spending on contracts has doubled to over half a trillion dollars. Far too often, the spending is plagued by massive cost overruns, outright fraud, and the absence of oversight and accountability. In some cases, contracts are awarded without competition. In others, contractors actually oversee other contractors. We are spending money on things that we don't need, and we're paying more than we need to pay. And that's completely unacceptable.

Last year, the Government Accountability Office, GAO, looked into 95 major defense projects and found cost overruns that totaled $295 billion. Let me repeat: That's $295 billion in wasteful spending. And this wasteful spending has many sources. It comes from investments and unproven technologies. It comes from a lack of oversight. It comes from influence peddling and indefensible no-bid contracts that have cost American taxpayers billions of dollars.


"Contractors actually oversee other contractors" is a major part of what wrong in Deepwater. Obama's new presidential memorandum should help, but Congress also needs to act:

Second, we must make investments to keep our country safe while cutting back on the waste and inefficiency that isn't. And that's why I'm so pleased to support the goals of the bipartisan effort on procurement reform that has been led by our own Carl Levin and John McCain in the Senate. They have done extraordinary work trying to push this issue to the forefront. We want to see if we can partner with Senator McCain and Senator Levin to get this done as soon as possible. And thanks to Secretary Gates, some of the reforms that they've talked about are already beginning to take shape. And I've asked him to work with Senators Levin and McCain on developing this legislation as it moves forward, and Bill Lynn, who is heading up procurement issues at our White House as Deputy Secretary of Defense is going to be leading the charge on this, as well.


Frank LoBiondo decided to break his term limits pledge because he thought his experience was valuable. I hope that Frank LoBiondo has learned from his personal mistakes and will support these reforms in Congress wholeheartedly. Otherwise, we will soon see more quotes like this as more money is wasted:

To fight back, the Coast Guard and contractors relied on Congressional allies, led by Senator Olympia J. Snowe, Republican of Maine, Representative Frank A. LoBiondo, Republican of New Jersey, and Representative Gene Taylor, Democrat of Mississippi.

...[LoBiondo] is also one of the top Congressional recipients of Lockheed contributions.


While we wait to see what LoBiondo does, at least we know John Adler will be better than Chris Myers on this issue.

Cross-posted at Blue Jersey

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Frank LoBiondo "thrilled" with Obama's Iraq withdrawal plan

The Philly Inquirer has a quote from Rep. LoBiondo (NJ2) on the President Obama's Iraq withdrawal plan:

Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R., N.J.), a supporter of the war, said he was "thrilled" with the drawdown plan.

"The president is leaving troops there, which is a good sign," Lobiondo said. "He understands the situation could change."


Though he supports this plan, it seems to me from this quote LoBiondo would prefer to stay in Iraq forever, but of course his voting record already said that. Still, it seems Obama's compromise withdrawal plan has won a lot of bipartisan support.