Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

Like American Idol, Only for Earmark Requests

BY Nancy Scola | Thursday, March 18 2010

You might recall that we recently drew your attention to how Rep. Tim Walz, Democrat from Minnesota, has been posting the earmark requests that have come into his office, and has been asking his constituents to help him vet just which ones deserve his support.

Rep. Chellie Pingree from Maine's 1st District might, perhaps, have done Walz one better. At least, it's more entertaining. Pingree asked groups and individuals making requests for appropriations for fiscal year 2011 to prepare three-minute or so presentations on the merits of their particular projects, and why they deserved taxpayer dollars. Pingree filmed them, about 90 in total, and posted them to YouTube and her website, where constituents can leave comments assessing whether the earmark requests should go on to the next round House Appropriations Committee.

Above is one example of the Earmark Idol webisodes. The applicants want $370,000 for the extension of the Androscoggin River Bicycle Path. Three minutes of video presentation probably isn't going to be enough for citizens not otherwise familiar with the project to really get a handle on its details, but it certainly does open up the appropriations process to more eyeballs. Besides, how awesome is that lobster wall art?