Kristen M. Clark

Rangel criticized on ‘pork’

WASHINGTON -- New York Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel has earned a dubious award -- courtesy of the non-profit government watchdog group, Citizens Against Government Waste.

 

The group gave Rangel the not-so-flattering "Narcissist Award" for his $1.95 million earmark to build an education complex at the City College of New York. Rangel's award was one of 14 "Oinkers," as part of the 2008 Pig Book - the group's annual listing of congressional earmarks.

 

The $1.95 million earmark will go toward the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service -- which will include a library of documents, archives and memorabilia from Rangel's life, a conference center and offices for Rangel and the college's visiting scholars. The complex is expected to cost $30 million, and the City College says it has already raised $10.7 million of that.

 

But the idea for the Center didn't originate with the Rangel, as the Citizens' "Narcissist Award" might suggest. A collaboration among the President's Office, Social Science and other City College departments developed the concept before even approaching Rangel about the project, said Ellis Simon, the college's director of public relations.

 

"We very much wanted him to be a part of this center, not only for his work and service in New York but the whole country," Simon said this afternoon.

 

But Rangel's earmark hasn't been without controversy before today. The pet-project came under fire last fall from fellow congressmen, including Rep. John Campbell (R - Calif.) who condemned giving money to what he called Rangel's "Monument to Me."

 

The City University of New York's Board of Trustees last month formally declared the complex would be named for the congressman who secured for the federal dollars.

 

Rangel issued a press release last July, after the House approved a bill containing the earmark, saying he was "honored" to have his name on the project.

 

"No matter how one feels about the role of government, it is clear that the future of our democracy lies in having the most talented people across all classes and racial groups to participate in public life," Rangel said in the press release.

 

Other recipients:

- Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.): The French-Kiss-Off Award, for a $211,500 earmark toward olive fruit fly research in Paris.

 

- Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W. Va.): The Pantheon-of-Pork Award, for $386 million in total earmark funds.

 

- Montana Democratic Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester: The Pig-in-Sheep's-Clothing Award, for $148,900 toward the Montana Sheep Institute.

 

- Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.): The Unidentified-Fiscal-Object Award, for $1.6 million toward the Allen Telescope Array.

 

- Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.): The Money-Doesn't-Grow-on-Trees Award, for $344,500 toward the Chicago GreenStreets Tree Planting Program.

 

- Rep. Virgil Goode (R-Va.): This-Pork-Was-Made-for-Walking Award, for $98,000 toward creating a walking tour of Boydton, Va.

 

- Maine Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe and Rep. Thomas Allen (D-Maine): The Taxpayers-Get-Steamed Award, for a $188,000 earmark benefiting the Lobster Institute.

 

- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.): The Return-to-Sender Award, for $196,000 secured for the renovation of an historic downtown Las Vegas Post Office.

 

--

Kristen M. Daum in Washington, D.C.

Posted by Admin on April 2, 2008 5:32 PM

April 2, 2008

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