Taxpayer Rip-Off of the Week: $350,000 for Landscape Program in Ill.

Carl Sandburg may have labeled Chicago “Hog Butcher for the World” in his famous poem, but he wasn’t talking about Congressional pork. Unfortunately, Sen. Richard Durbin (D.-Ill.) didn’t get the message. That may explain why he brought home $350,000 worth of pork from the 2006 Agriculture Appropriations Act (H.R. 2744) for Chicago’s GreenStreets Program.

Started in 1991, Mayor Daley’s GreenStreets Program in Chicago seeks to improve the quality of urban life by planting trees, recycling, and revitalizing open spaces.  The program is supported mostly by private and public partnerships and through active community involvement. 

The program’s projects range from the serious to the ridiculous, including “adopt-a-flowerbed” and “adopt-a-boulevard” initiatives throughout Chicago communities, recycling sites for leftover Christmas trees, and the design and installation of over 950 hanging baskets throughout the city.  According to Moor Landscapes, Inc., one of the participants of the program, “this newly added feature, overflowing with splashes of vivid color and delicate foliage, provides a welcoming touch to the streets of Chicago.”

These projects are paid for by the $12 million in corporate funds that are raised each year.  Considering the private sector’s participation in GreenStreets each year, one has to wonder why America’s taxpayers were forced to fork over an additional $350,000.

As the Mayor of a large city, I certainly understand why Mayor Daley would initiate such a program, but as a defender of American taxpayers, I cannot condone this flagrant waste of taxpayer dollars.

Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee voted in favor of spending tax dollars on Chicago’s GreenStreets Program (Senate Roll Call Vote #282) on November 3, 2005.