- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 11, 2004

New York pork

It’s been a tough year for the Franciscan-founded St. Bonaventure University in upstate New York, where this columnist bounced his way through Bob Lanier’s basketball camp in 1972.

First, there was a wide-reaching scandal in the men’s basketball program last year, which led to the ouster of university President Robert Wickenheiser. Now, the university is under the microscope again, thanks to the extreme generosity of a Republican congressman who graduated from St. Bonaventure in 1970.

New York Rep. James T. Walsh is spending taxpayer money — $4.5 million — to fund the renovation of the university’s science building.

“The amount is 50 percent greater than the largest single private gift to the university,” notes a spokesman for Citizens Against Government Waste. “While most private schools rely on alumni philanthropists for large donations, St. Bonaventure has the benefit of having a ‘Cardinal’ on the House Appropriations Committee who can donate tax dollars.

“With the amount of federal money Chairman Walsh has secured, the building will most likely soon carry his name.”

This isn’t the first government grant Mr. Walsh, who chairs an Appropriations subcommittee, has secured for St. Bonaventure: a $990,000 grant was awarded to the school in 2002 and $405,000 in 2003.

“I’m very proud to be able to give something back,” the congressman said when announcing the first grant. “It’s not mine to give, it’s the American taxpayers’. But I know it will be spent wisely.”

Most disturbing, the government watchdog group says, is that the money comes out of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s budget, which is overseen by Mr. Walsh’s subcommittee.

Play 676

“I would like to ask everybody in the House to get a pencil and paper and take down this number,” said Rep. Jim McDermott, Washington Democrat. “Ready. Here it is. One, one, two, nine, two, five. That number again: one, one, two, nine, two, five.

“Now, here is another number — six, seven, six.”

Lucky lottery numbers, congressman?

“The first number, $112,925, that is the average tax cut that millionaires will see in their 2003 return,” he says. “The second number is $676. That is the average tax cut for the average American. This is the administration’s new math.”

Mailbag

Dozens of readers have written to us this week concerning several items in Inside the Beltway, including Dmitri Smirenski of Sanford, Fla., who sheds more light on the Wisconsin town that claims fame as the birthplace of the Republican Party.

“I read with great interest your item about Ripon, Wisc., for you see, I served as chairman of College Republicans in Ripon a few years ago and drove past the little white schoolhouse [where the first Republican Party meeting was held] almost daily,” Mr. Smirenski writes.

“Of course, the conventional wisdom around the town of about 9,000 was that you could not get any major Republican figures to visit the city, since that might offend the much larger populations of the other cities claiming to be the birthplace of the Republican Party. It’s interesting to note that the founder of the Republican Party, Alan Bovay, also happened to be the founder of Ripon College, a small liberal arts school that I used to call home.”

As for Delaware Rep. Michael N. Castle’s legislation to boost circulation of the rarely circulated U.S. dollar coin, Jack Watson of Charlotte, N.C., weighs in: “Until the dollar bill is done away with, the actual circulation of the dollar coin will be very small. Research over the years and my personal experience in many countries bears out that if a person has a choice between a coin and a bill, they will choose a bill every time. I spent 20 years in the Navy and visited 34 countries.”

Larry Whitehurst of Mt. Horeb, Wis., opines of one of President Bill Clinton’s former attack dogs: “The addition of Sidney Blumenthal to Salon.com’s workforce is no surprise. The Democrats are running out of things to blame the president over (although America being ‘fat’ is yet to become the president’s fault).”

And finally, from down in Dixieland, James E. Bromwell reminds us: “When the Puerto Ricans opened fire in the House of Representatives 50 years ago, the late [Democratic congressman] Frank Boykin of Alabama hurried into the Speaker’s Lobby. Not aware of the threat, a page said, ‘Can I help you, Mr. Boykin?’ ‘No thanks, son,’ the normally amiable Boykin answered, ‘I’m goin’ to get my gun.’ ‘I’ll get it, Mr. Boykin,’ the kid persisted, ‘Where is it?’ Still moving nicely, Boykin replied, ‘Down in Mobile.’ ”

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]

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