Many stimulus requests simply silly

pig; porkThe lines are forming at the stimulus trough, and the definition of 'shovel-ready' has proven to be amazingly broad and sometimes outright silly. The State of Ohio, for example, has received requests for everything from a pro wrestling team to an origami paper-folding company, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

Among requests (and please keep in mind these are requests, not grants, so blame the requestor) made to Ohio Governor Ted Strickland's office for stimulus cash include:

  • $200,000 to train the economically challenged as Ultimate Impact Wrestlers. "We would need to obtain a building for training and shows as we have currently been using my garage for training and this [is]unheated."
  • $2.8 million for a demonstration track for the MonoMobile, an electric car that hooks up to a track for long-distance trips. (Robert Heinlein lives!)
  • $3,200 to replace Levalor-style blinds in three classrooms in Medina.
  • $7,500 for a Chillicothe coffee business to produce reusable plastic coffee containers for its customers (how does this differ from the travel mug I use every day?)
  • $8,000 to make "Hand folding Origami decorations by Senior Citizens to sell on Ebay and Amazon to assist in small increases in income for those that can not meet their monthly expenses."
  • $10,000 to start a web site to "facilitate the imagination and dreams of all children and their families" through creative writing.
  • $10,000 for-profit a Warren coffee house to expand special events to give kids "a place to hang out and stay off the streets."

  • $15,000 for a Stark County man to buy a new pickup and plow to add to his mowing business.
  • $15,000 for a new storefront for a Clinton County convenience store owner which employs four people .
  • $15,000 for a Warren County person to clear debt from "predatory lending."
  • $25,000 to add four dancers to a Cleveland-area ballet company.
  • $33,000 to a St. Marys company to aid and advise people with disabilities to dress for success.
  • $45,000 for Newark photographer to pay his interns.
  • $50,000 for "We are in inflatable business with 170000 gross sales. We get kids motivated and teach them team work." What do suppose an inflatable business is? A brokerage house?
  • $50,000 for an Archbold firm- "Design firm specializing in home, building and product design. Home and building design will support local construction industry. Product design will support local efforts to design and invent products."
  • $50,000 for a Toledo-area publisher to produce and market "the first comprehensive positive-thinking skill series for children."
  • $25,900 for a Napoleon dentist to give his staffers a much-needed raise.
  • $40,000 to teach speed-reading to the Ohio State Highway Patrol which will "result in an on-the-job time saving of at least one hour per day on the average."
  • $70,000 for a skate park in Greenfield.
  • $75,000 to a Jefferson County person to cut up fallen trees and sell as firewood, build and put up bird feeders.
  • $80,000 to build a health spa in Columbus.
  • $144,000 to a Westerville company to train and employ commissioned salespeople (nature of business unstated).
  • $1.2 million for a Tiffin company to grow hydroponic produce and distribute it to poor people.
  • $1.5 million to fund health claims for a Dublin company which purportedly employs 1,400 people.
  • $20 billion to a College Corners man who states "I have a few projects to work on around the Boone household, and as long as Uncle Sugar is passing out money from the paychecks of future generations, I thought why not stick it to those yet unborn suckers, the ones we don't abort first, of course. Oh, you may conclude there might be a couple of planned cost overruns, but you know how those darned government funded projects go."

    To date, over 8,000 separate requests (the vast majority legitimate) have been received. Most fall with these areas:

    • Roads, bridges, sewers and other infrastructure
    • Law enforcement staffing, training and equipment
    • Community health and wellness programs (including many targeting obesity)
    • Historical preservation
    • Recreation (trails, particularly)

    As I reviewed these many requests, I found myself wondering just how many of these were 'shovel ready' because they were already budgeted? How many communities are simply sticking their own money back in their pockets until they see if they can get stimulus funds instead?

    Thanks to Jill Riepenhoff and Mark Niquette of the Columbus Dispatch

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