Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Congressman defends mule museum earmark
Yesterday, I wrote a blog post about the $50,000 earmark Rep. Buck McKeon is seeking for a mule museum in Bishop, California. For more than two weeks, we had been trying to get Rep. McKeon to talk to us about his earmark request. Around 7:00 p.m. last night, Rep. McKeon sent me the following comment, which I would like to pass along to you:

"Bishop is a classic western frontier city which survives on tourism. Adding a museum to its community will increase tourism by bringing sightseers and visitors to Bishop year round, benefiting the area economy.

If CNN chooses to make a mockery of small town, western heritage, that's its prerogative; but I'm going to remain focused on the economic development of my district.

I am a staunch supporter of earmark transparency and accountability. A light needs to be shined on the hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars spent on 'bridges to nowhere' and projects that serve no real purpose, unlike our community museum request. I do not shy away from, nor do I take any issue with, the public knowing that federal dollars went to support the economic development of a small town on the western edge of the country."

-- By Drew Griffin, CNN Correspondent
Posted By CNN: 1:01 PM ET
  19 Comments
I travel through Bishop often. It is the only way to access the eastern sierra nevada mountain range from Southern California, which is a major destination year round. Bishop is a thriving community which has unlimited resources for tourism. I have seen the Memorial Day festivities. A donkey museum is a complete waste of tax payers money including the residents of Bishop. Restore the Owens River Valley destroyed by the city of Los Angeles and DWP. Do something that won't cause people to laugh at you Rep. McKeon. I hope you think your time in office has been productive
Posted By Anonymous : 1:42 PM ET
When I first read CNN's report, I thought it was insensitive to make fun of the mule museum. People in rural areas put more emphasis on animals than "City Slickers" do, so please, lighten on up the mule mocking.
Posted By Javier, Santa Fe, N.M. : 1:56 PM ET
If the mule could speak, he'd say "don't mock me, bro"
Posted By Daisy W, Ft. Collins, Co. : 1:58 PM ET
Well if they want to build a mule museum then they need to raise the money in the community somehow like all other cities do and build it. We as American tax payers shouldn't have our money going to them to put money in their pockets on down the line!! I mean what is that museum going to do for us!? I can tell you...absolutely nothing!!

Cynthia, Covington, Ga.
Posted By Cindy : 2:05 PM ET
Hi Drew,
Living in a tourist area myself, I can understand the congressman's position. However, I think private funds would be a better way to build the Mule Museum.
The taxpayers of America can't be a cash cow for every pork platter on the menu.
Posted By Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 2:06 PM ET
We're not seeing the forest for the trees. $50,000 is nothing , when we see $52 billion being wasted in 'special projects.' We're up to our earmarks in spending !
Posted By Steve - Peoria, IL : 2:06 PM ET
Man's got a point, Drew. If the Mule Museum, however ridiculous it may sound, creates a few part-time jobs, it could easily create more than the 50K in tax revenue over time. If Bishop actually does draw more tourists as a result, the employment benefit to the local hospitality providers would generate even more.

It's a legitimate question (and a matter of personal philosophy) whether or not the federal government should be an investor in local job creation initiatives, but this is no more ridiculous than, say, federal dollars that support the National Zoo.
Posted By Arachnae, Sterling VA : 2:09 PM ET
If "Buck" McKeon is so anxious to honor the mule, let him go back to his district and get donations instead of taking hard-earned tax dollars from people three thousand miles away from the mule museum !
Posted By Dawn - Providence, RI : 2:10 PM ET
I've got an idea for Rep. McKeon; next time you fly from Wash. to California, pass on the private jet . There's your $50,000 right there !
Posted By barney stolles, kansas city, ks : 2:12 PM ET
I think one question sums it all up.........Who exactly are all these tourists that are going to be going to Bishop California to visit a mule museum? Um.....yea
Posted By Amber, Ft. Wayne IN : 2:13 PM ET
He's right that at least you can see a mule; a bridge to nowhere exists only in our imaginations... give him the $50,000
Posted By Patrick J, Charleston, SC : 2:15 PM ET
I'm crabby because they just raised taxes in Illinois; now with goofs like this nickel and diming us to death, and Hillary proposing a big tax increase if she gets in, Im might as well just sign my check over every two wks.
Posted By David H, Lake Barrington , IL : 2:17 PM ET
I believe they should have a craft show or bake sale maybe even a tractor pull to raise the money. They can do anything they like just DON'T US OUR MONEY TO DO IT. It's time all state elected do the right thing and give teachers across the board a raise so that men can make enough money to support family and move back into the field.
Posted By Milanie Leak Kansas City Ks : 2:19 PM ET
How hard is it to be a Senator or Representative, really? Im good at spending money, as my husband will attest - can I have a shot at Washington ?
Posted By Ann M, Little Rock, AR : 2:20 PM ET
Oh come on. If people really buy this then the masses truly are a**es!
Posted By anonymous, Denver, CO : 2:50 PM ET
I would suggest to change the focus of tourism atraction, toward a better use of resources. What about a mules murals collection?.It is less expensive, a quite interesting as well.
Posted By ewulf : 2:55 PM ET
It's funny how when it's their project, these Congressmen defend the waste of taxpayer dollars, but when it's the pet project of another Congressman, especially if it's from across the aisle, it becomes wasteful spending.

It's almost all wasteful spending and is nothing more than a way for those in power to buy votes with our money.
Posted By Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA : 3:30 PM ET
I'm getting so tired of this kind of spending. Wish we could just declare that everyone's Federal Government office is up for grabs in November 2008 and declare that the Republican & Democratic parties are dead. Then allow only independents to run for office, drastically limiting where their funding comes from and insist that they represent the country and not just the district or state that has elected them, nor represent the special interest groups that line their pockets. It's about time that our elected officials realize that we are a UNITED nation and leave STATE business to the states and concentrate on only the running of the Federal government---wasting federal taxes, border security, public education, illegal aliens, terrorists activities, keeping our children safe from perverts, and protecting s from the unsafe products being imported from overseas. Maybe they could even work on setting up an atmosphere that produces job creation in this country instead of out sourcing. I guess I’m just tired of POLITIANS!!!!!
Posted By Anonymous : 6:53 PM ET
I must be getting jaded by the alarming amount of zeros that follow some other big scary numbers relating to the costs of waging war in Iraq for all these years. A measly fifty thousand bucks doesn't seem like too much to pay for the enormous enjoyment provided to some of us by a Republican who wishes to erect a museum for jackasses.
Posted By kitty in Chapel Hill, NC : 12:15 PM ET
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