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Michael Cruz: It's about unity, not 'pork'

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Posted: April 4, 2009 11:05 p.m.
Updated: April 5, 2009 4:55 a.m.
The $410 billion federal Omnibus bill, signed into law several weeks ago by President Obama, funds the federal government until the new fiscal year that begins in October.

Congress, in the process of passing the Omnibus bill, added thousands of earmarks, both from Democrats and Republicans.

If you believe the political pundits from either side of the aisle, the bill was laden with pork. However, if you total up the earmarks, they account for less than 2.5 percent of the bill.

This isn't a partisan issue. Republicans accounted for 40 percent of the earmarks, and Democrats added 60 percent. In addition, GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had twice as many earmarks as Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

With all that being said, our elected officials in California cite the fact that California only gets back 80 cents of every dollar it sends to Washington, D.C., while Alaska gets over a dollar and a half of every dollar it sends.

There is another old saying: "Bring home the bacon." Whether you are a Democrat living in a district represented by a Republican or vice-versa, we expect our elected officials to do just that - bring home federal dollars.

Under the recent Omnibus bill, Congressman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon earmarked the following for Santa Clarita: $238,000 for College of the Canyons to assist with the college's University Center; $500,000 to help purchase land to realign the Pacific Crest Trail; $1,148,000 for the Castaic Lake Water Agency to assist with cleanup of the Whittaker-Bermite property; and $575,000 to assist with the completion of the cross-valley connector.

I, for one, hope my children attend COC; I enjoy hiking; I want to see Whitaker-Bermite cleaned up and I will be driving the cross-valley connector. I don't see any of the above as "pork" or as some "bridge to nowhere."

I see these as benefits to our community, which I believe will help our local economy and create jobs.

In 2006, I was invited by the National Hispanic Environmental Council to travel back to our nation's Capitol and lobby on behalf of Congressman McKeon's Eastern Sierra Bill. I was glad to do so.

In addition, I have written letters in support of his bill, and I have helped with the Cemex bill. I am ready to help again.

I remember watching former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Tip O'Neill speaking on the telephone with then-President Reagan.

Speaker O'Neill lost the battle regarding Reagan's stimulus bill. The Speaker congratulated him on a hard fight and told the president that the economy was in his hands and wished him well.

President Reagan stated that we are all friends after 6 p.m., and every time he telephoned the Speaker, he always asked if it was after 6 p.m., meaning there was civility in our government.

These days, it appears that we are in a constant campaign mode and always notching up the rhetoric.

Instead of looking to score political points, how about we work together to make Santa Clarita a better place, because both Republicans and Democrats are losing their jobs, and more are on the verge of losing their jobs.

I don't care if you are a Republican or a Democrat. We are all American and we need to work together to get out of this recession and jump-start the economy.

Let's work together in securing monies that will help local small business owners, will help purchase open space, will help us become more self-reliant when it comes to our water and energy sources.

Michael Cruz is a Canyon Country resident. His column represents his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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