Amo's Massachusetts Earmark

Reader Paul sends stories from Boston concerning one of Amo Houghton's last earmarks. Houghton, who held the 29th seat for nine terms, is one of the honorary chairs of Randy Kuhl's re-election campaign.

The Boston Globe story reports that Amo inserted a $50K earmark into a water appropriations bill to study the feasibility of connecting a pond in Massachusetts to a nearby harbor. The pond happens to cause flooding of nearby properties, one of which is owned by Houghton's wife. The study earmark was followed by another earmark of $728K by Democrat Bill Delahunt (MA-10), who represents Cohasset. The Corps of Engineers also budgeted $320K from a discretionary fund for the project.

The Boston Herald column includes a picture of the property. A later Herald piece reports that the town of Cohasset rejected the project.

My impression of Amo Houghton is that he's an honorable man, and I take him at his word when he says that he believes this project is in the best interests of the area. But the problem with earmarks is that even a well-intentioned, bi-partisan earmark is often bad policy. Clearly, the Cohasset voters think the project isn't essential. So it's unlikely that it would have been funded if Amo hadn't been able to use his connections to secure federal funding.


Well the earmark wouldn't have helped anyone in his district, except of course, ...

Maybe another case of power corrupting. I'm sure that he could have paid for the study out of his own pocket if he thought it was that important.

What I find interesting is that the town rejected it in the end.

If Amo was Joe Citizen, he'd have to start a "save the pond" action group, convince local and regional boards and bureaucrats that it was a good idea, perhaps write a grant application, etc. The earmark made it so much easier, but in the end, it was also the undoing of the project, because he didn't get buy-in from the town. If he had gone through the regular process, it would have taken longer, but it might have been accepted by the town.

I can see the board asking why they should spend $300,000 for the project. "Only a hand full of people would benefit and the Feds have already committed over a million to the project. Let's wait a bit before making our decision." It will be interesting to see if more of our money shows up there before the fall meeting.