Revolt against earmarks hits SF 

A congressional rebellion against earmarks in Washington, D.C., might put several local projects at risk.

Cleanup of the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard and Pier 70, along with some of Mayor Gavin Newsom’s projects, are losers now that the new Congress is curtailing earmarks. Last weekend, the $1.2 trillion federal omnibus spending plan failed to pass because Republican lawmakers refused to vote on a bill that contained what they referred to as wasteful spending.

That money, however, was aimed at several San Francisco projects and nonprofit organizations, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi inserting almost $34 million into the bill.

The biggest chunk was an earmark for cleanup at the shipyard — $9 million requested by Pelosi and another $8 million from Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said cleanup efforts will still be funded by the Navy, but some money will be lost.

“If Senate Republicans had not killed it, the omnibus would have also included an additional $17 million for Hunters Point cleanup,” he said.

Other city projects that will miss out on $1 million each include San Francisco’s electric vehicle infrastructure, the Police Department’s CompStat unit and plans to replace streetlights with energy-saving LED bulbs.

If federal funding continues to be removed, the Mayor’s Office will have to adapt The City’s budget, Newsom spokesman Tony Winnicker said. But many projects will continue to go forward, and federal funding comes from more areas than just earmarks, Winnicker said.

“We’re confident that we can still compete for federal funds in this new environment,” he said.

For nonprofits such as New Day for Learning, a drop-in educational center, the loss of a $300,000 earmark means that an innovative program that would have helped children learn during summer will have to be scrapped, according to Director Margaret Brodkin.

“What a loss for the children of San Francisco,” Brodkin said. “The idea that this is wasteful and frivolous is wrong.”

As lawmakers pay more attention to spending, wasteful or not, the future of other local projects remains uncertain.

“When Republicans in Washington cut vital services to the bone, this has real-life consequences for our city and the nation,” Hammill said. “We will not stop fighting to ensure our budget reflects our values, makes smart investments and creates jobs.”

 

Blocked

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s earmarks for city projects that will never see the light of day:

  • $9 million: Hunters Point Naval Shipyard cleanup
  • $2.4 million: Pier 70 hazardous materials abatement
  • $1 million: Golden Gate Park trails
  • $1.25 million: SF Hope housing development work
  • $1.2 million: Improvements to YMCA projects
  • $1 million: SFPD’s CompStat
  • $1 million: Electric vehicle initiative
  • $1 million: LED streetlight project
  • $750,000: Human trafficking prosecutions
  • $300,000: New Day for Learning summer program

Sources: Sen. Tom Coburn’s database, Sen. Nancy Pelosi’s office

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Brent Begin

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