Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mayor Harry, Joe Biden, and the Baaaaaaby Ruth Man

UPDATE III: 03/22/2011: Here was an item I had missed from Michael Falcone, the ABC reporter who got this story. He questioned the Amtrak CEO, Joseph Boardman who, among others, bailed from the Amtrack train when it stalled in Baltimore. Boardman admitted they had pulled one faulty transformer off line for maintenance when a second one then punked out on them. So, they have applied for more federal funds to fix the problem! (ht, Daily Caller, here.)

@michaelpfalcone
Before he abandoned ship #Amtrak CEO said they took 1 transformer offline for wknd maintenance. 2nd one died
When he asked Boardman about it, the CEO said Amtrack would go back and seek additional federal funds for the "fix" to ensure that would not happen again. Of course they will! And Wilmington Station's new namesake, Joe Biden will no doubt work to find the funds for them!

Here was Falcone's tweet on the subject back on the 19th:

@michaelpfalcone
#Amtrak CEO tells me he has applied for extra federal funding to ensure that outages like today's don't happen
UPDATE II: 03/21/2011: Yet another great capper to a story that will just not quit! As if the considerable cost overruns from the federal "Stimulus" project being named for VP Joe Biden were not maddening enough, we now learn that, because of an electrical outage, an Amtrak train became indefinitely stalled in Baltimore on Saturday. It was carrying a few Wilmington-bound Amtrak and other railroad officials as passengers, who had to get off the stalled train in Baltimore, and drive by car, in order to make it on time to their destination -- the dedication ceremony in Wilmington of the new Joe Biden train station . . . owned by Amtrak!

ABC's Michael Falcone points out that (ht Ed Morrissey @ Hot Air) because of an electrical power outage in Baltimore, in order to make the Saturday dedication of the Joe Biden train station party on time, three railroad "bigs" -- Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman, Federal Railroad Administration chief, Joseph Szabo, and another Amtrak board member, Jeff Moreland -- all had to get off the station-stalled train, and actually drive the remaining distance by car to make it on time for the newly-refurbished train station dedication ceremony in Wilmington, DE!

Falcone also noted that because of the electrical outage, passengers who remained on the stalled train were further inconvenienced by the inablity to use the toilets on the train.

That, of course, was an immediate reminder to me of a funny little "ditty" which was at some point improvidently set to the tune of an otherwise perfectly lovely musical piece by Antonin Dvorák, Humoresque Op. 101, No. 7 in G Flat Major, which ditty I recall from my childhood, and (along with a very minor and relevant amendment which I have just supplied) the first verse went something like this:
♫ Passengers will please refrain, ♪
From flushing toilets while the train, ♬
Is standing stranded in the station,
I love you! ♪

♫ We encourage constipation, ♪
While the train is in the station, ♬
Darling, moonlight makes me
Think of you! ♪

UPDATE: below, 03/17/2011: Amtrak owned and federal stimulus-funded train station rehab in Wilmington, DE, just named for Vice-President Joe Biden, came in $5.7 million OVER budget. The rehabilitated train station is being named for long-time train rider, "Amtrak" Joe Biden.

Two stories dominate the perceived "inappropriate naming" of places of public accommodation news today, one out of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and the other out of Wilmington, Delaware.

The Indiana story has been around for a while, and arises out of the reluctance on the part of the current town fathers of Fort Wayne to honor the results of an "on-line" public poll that had resulted in a majority of votes cast in favor of naming the new government facility for a former mayor of the City, one Harry Baals.

Harry, a Republican, who was born in 1886, was indeed the long-time Mayor of Fort Wayne, having served between 1934 and 1947, and then again from 1951 until his death in 1954. Surely, he was a man deserving of an honor for his long service.

There really only seems to have been one glitch. According to the Fox News story (ht, The Daily Caller here:
"The former mayor pronounced his name "balls," although his descendants pronounce their name 'bales.'"
That was apparently enough to convince the current administration that calling the new government facility the "Harry Baals Government Center" might lead to some measure of ridicule. Though a City Hall spokesman stated that the reason was a reluctance to name the facility after a person, they also rejected the second-place recommendation from the digital plebiscite, which was to call it "Thunder Dome." Instead the new facility will henceforth be known simply as "Citizens Square."

The second story, however, is truly obscene. It involves the newly refurbished train station in Wilmington, Delaware, a project which was paid for using federal "stimulus funds" obtained from the Obama/Biden Administration under the jurisdiction of the federal ARPA program. According to the somewhat obsequious story -- "Biden's Name to Grace New Rail Station" -- posted by Catherine Brown of the Philadelphia NBC affiliate, the station is being named the Joseph R. Biden Railroad Station "in honor" of the sitting Vice-President, a perennial train-rider. She also notes that an "open-house" party for the public will mark the re-opening occasion.
"Wilmington Station underwent a nearly two-year, $37.7-million renovation. Funding for the project included $20 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act."
This incident is obviously replete with conflict of interest, both on it's face and through a series of conflicting connections to the Vice President. For example, consider the following according to a recent post on the Family Security Matters blog by Michelle Malkin, entitled "Who's Policing Amtrak Joe Biden's Rail Boondoggles?":
"Compounding matters now, cronyism runs rampant in the federal rail bureaucracy. Biden's lobbyist son, Hunter, sits on the Amtrak board of directors. Amtrak Vice President Eleanor Acheson is a close pal of -- you guessed it -- Joe Biden. She oversees the very Law Department accused of interfering repeatedly with the taxpayer advocates in the inspector general's office. Acheson hired Biden's former Senate staffer Jonathan Meyer as her deputy general counsel. Meyer called it a 'happy coincidence.'"
To put it bluntly, Joe Biden would be an utter embarrassment for allowing this kind of self-congratulatory nonsense to happen. But his connections throughout the "federal rail bureaucracy" make it an absolute scandal.

Knowing of Biden's embarrassing and thoroughly unearned ego, one can imagine he'd probably even consider pushing to add in a digital kiosk, say one where visitors might have an opportunity to listen to any of a series of selections . . . recorded quotations from Joe.

Just think about it, if you will. You push a button and hear . . . "I think I probably have a much higher I.Q. than you do, I suspect . . ."

This kind of official self-praise, of having buildings named after yourself is what they used to do in communist countries – e.g., for Uncle Joe Stalin back in the old Soviet Union -- or today in other authoritarian or totalitarian regimes, or for royalty, where fostering the cult of the personality of the "leader" as the object of public affection.

I grew up in the State of Delaware, in an area called Edgemoor, just north of Wilmington. As a child, I took the train to Philadelphia or New York on occasion, or down to Washington every once in a while. During several years I spent working, or in college, most of them in and around New York, I rode the train from Wilmington Station quite frequently.

It is a quiet station along the Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington line.

The one stand out train-related memory I have, from all those years ago, was of a guy who would board the train at the 30th street Station in South Philly, and who would ride up to the North Philadelphia station (or visa-versa if the train was headed south), hawking a few impulse items to the passengers between those two stops, eking out a bare living for himself and his family.

"Maaaagazines!" he'd announce, drawing out the word as he entered each train car with his bag of stuff. And then he would blurt out his almost magical come-on . . . "Clark Bar, Baaaaaaby Ruth!" he’d temptingly drone. Of course, every child passenger alive wanted a "Baby Ruth" a candy bar with its own storied history. I’d bet that over the years thousands of kids happily agreed to ride the train, on the outside chance they might end up with one of those tempting chocolate-covered peanut, caramel and nougat candy treats.

Now there was a working man who deserved to have a train station named after him! I never knew his name, but generations of train riders were entertained and surely tempted by the man with the "Baaaaaaaby Ruth!"

He'd be my vote for the honor.

UPDATE: below, 03/17/2011: According to the Washington Times, the train station in Wilmington, Delaware which re-opened in December, but which is being officially re-opened at a ceremony and party to be held on Saturday, was lavishly renovated in the course of a project that was heavily underwritten by federal funds ($20 million of $37.7) using American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), or "Stimulus Act" funds.

In the end, reports the paper, the project came in $5.7 million over budget.

The rehabilitation project for the Amtrak station was a pet project of long-time train rider, Vice-President Joe Biden, the so-called Obama Administration "stimulus sheriff," whose family members and political friends heavily populate the political table of organization for Amtrak (see above).

According to the paper, the exact breakdown of the costs remains quite "murky."
Not only did the White House cite the projected cost at $32 million, but Amtrak used that figure in a 2009 press release documenting its Delaware projects.

But Ms. Hunter, the Amtrak spokeswoman, said the company’s original budget for the renovation was actually $35.7 million: with $20 million from stimulus money; $12 million from Delaware’s Department of Transportation; and $3.7 million from Amtrak itself. Ms. Hunter said the final cost reached $37.7 million when Amtrak added $2 million worth of work that was not part of the original scope of the project.

In its official Recovery Act report, Amtrak gave a different figure altogether - $36 million to the dollar - for the refurbishing project. And it said the breakdown in funding was $20 million in stimulus funds and $4 million from a 2009 federal grant, in addition to the $12 million from Delaware DOT.

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1 Comments:

At 1:29 AM, March 18, 2011, Blogger Dick Kamin said...

Thank you Stimulus Sheriff VP Biden - Your Senate buddy Frank Lautenberg is very proud of your achievement.

 

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