The Campaign Spot

Will You End Up Paying for Greene County’s New Basketball Court?

Tom Perriello, Democratic congressman from Virginia, has put in more than $42 million in earmark requests, among them new basketball and tennis courts for Greene County’s park and a bicycle and pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks that separate the two sides of Charlottesville’s McIntire Park.

“Right now, there are no public tennis courts or outdoor basketball courts in the county,” said Greene Supervisor Carl Schmitt. The park upgrades, he said, “would make Greene County more attractive to young families with young kids.”

Now, in ordinary times, maybe those seem like acceptable uses of federal dollars. But it’s not like we don’t have an ever-growing debt and deficit, and it’s not like the state or local governments couldn’t fund them if those projects were deemed absolute necessities. When we’re going through a deep recession, unemployment’s high, and public anger about bailouts and runaway spending is at an all-time high, maybe this is the year to put off the new basketball court.

Not long ago, Perriello told constituents, “If you don’t tie our hands, we’ll keep stealing.” He wasn’t kidding, apparently.

State senator Robert Hurt is running against Perriello. Perriello won his seat by fewer than 800 votes as Obama was carrying Virginia by six percentage points.

Of course, my congressman, Jim Moran, has requested a mere $654 million or so in earmarks.

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