More evidence that we need to put better controls on our government.Â And before you discard this discussion as “more of the same government stupidity” that we’ve become accustomed to writing off as just “how the system works”, stop and read through this.Â And really think about it.
I am loath to speculate on what specifically happened here, that is, how Rebuild Iowa managed to send $100,000 out to the towns of Dunkerton and Fairbank despite the lack of need or request for the money.Â The story makes it sound like they just, well, used National Weather Service information.Â
But I can’t wait to hear what the Governor’s office has to say about it.Â If anything.
As you may know, Rebuild Iowa is a state project to coordinate spending the money allocated by the Legislature to help Iowa communities recover from the weather-relatedÂ damage of 2008.Â From the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier story:
Tina Potthoff, a spokesperson for Rebuild Iowa, said the Iowa Legislature approved the funds with no application process and with Gov. Chet Culver’s blessing. The money came from the state’s general fund.
“Since it’s state money, it comes with less restrictions than federal money,” Potthoff said.Â
I am certainly glad that we were able to provide necessary funds to helpÂ the tornado and flood ravagedÂ communities to recover, but there is an operational principle at work here that is a key to the gutting of our state’s financial resources:
IfÂ government money has been allocated, it needs to be spent on something, anything, quickly before someone decides to take it back.
After all, it’s free money, right?
The only problem is that it’s not free.Â We are getting a superb opportunity to see how the state government, from the Legislature to the Governor to the folks that have been carelessly given free reign to just spend a huge chunk of money as they see fit (and feel compelled to spend every bit of it), and the folks who are recipients of our state’s enourmous generosity.
I don’t blame the leaders in Fairbank and Dunkerton.Â The money is likely to be put to good use and may even help prevent loss of life in the future.Â They may, however, becomeÂ unwitting villains in a story they had no hand in writing.Â I hope, for the sake of our state finances, that they decide to return the money to the state and await an appropriate opportunity to finance what things they truly need.Â But I also wouldn’t blame them one bit if they kept the money and used it as they saw fit.
The State of Iowa, however, needs better accountability.Â We already know that the current leadership of the General Assembly has become drunk with power and the unfettered ability to spend our state into oblivian.Â The Governor is the author of what can, at best,Â be described as a constitutionally unauthorized bond measure that will keep the state in debt for decades.Â And the Legislature puts no real constraints on the Governor appointed boards who are authorized to spend millions in tax dollars, in some cases for good cause, but in no case with appropriate public accountability.Â
The spending needs to stop, or we will pay for it, either through higher taxes or other increased costs.
We, as the citizens and taxpayers of Iowa, are the ultimate holders of accountability.Â We have lost the opportunity to address the legislation that led to this chaos.Â We must voice, and continue to voice, our objections to the feckless manner in which our Legislature and Governor have brought us here, and take whatever appropriate action we can, including writing, phoning, and emailing them to voice those objects.Â And then vote them out of office.
I would even advocate recall elections.Â At this point I have no idea what that involves or what it would cost the state.Â The question becomes whether the financial cost of such electionsÂ would be outweighed by the continued impact of another year with these folks in power.
Unless of course you actually like this.