Government funding - the bad, the good; and, a reminder of why we're all in this aviation biz ...
Two U.S. House Reps, David Obey (D-WI) and Martin Sabo (D-MN) are taking TSA to task over its spending practices - some might say misuse - and are calling for an official audit by the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general. Some of the spending lowlights include ...
- A $350,000 fitness center for 79 employees that work at TSA's crisis management center in Washington;
- $500,000 for artwork;
- Refrigerators that cost $3,000;
- Nearly $500,000 for an awards ceremony for TSA employees; and
- $418,000 spent on an office suite for the original TSA chief John Magaw (this from a man who tried to slam accountability down the throat of the airport industry).
If you manage a U.S. airport, you're not a happy camper to be reading of such mismanagement of funds, so scarce for actually funding what Congress has mandated.
Meanwhile, there appears to be an emerging groundswell in D.C. to disband this instant bureaucracy and go to a system which should have been put in place from the start. That is, one with federal oversight but with private companies providing the service.
Item #2 on the topic of federal misspending: ongoing government subsidies of the airline industry. This time it's an agreement by the feds to assume some $6.6 billion of United Airlines' pension fund debt. Another $3.2 billion of United's shortfall is to be taken from the carrier's retirees. How can airlines ever become truly accountable if the federal government is always there to bail them out?
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One has to admire the good folks of Indiana, whose governor is leading an effort to pump as much as $20 million into the Gary airport and a regional commuter transportation system. The state plans to draw its funds from toll road reserves. Sounds like a use of government monies in a way that taxpayers intended.
A question: Has anyone told the Chicago mayor, who remains hell-bent on spending as much as $20 billion to reconfigure O'Hare while having a minimal impact on capacity?
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Finally, a recent visit with Drew Steketee, president of the Be A Pilot campaign, shows that this is one program that's working. In 2004, some 33,000 student pilots signed up at 2,114 flight schools. It's a program that's worth supporting and which is building tomorrow's flying corps.Want to help? Email Steketee at .
Thanks for reading.