Nancy Pelosi Asks For $10 Million Earmark To Bankroll Green Conservancy, Upgrade ‘MLK Fountain’
Former House Speaker and Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California requested $10 million to fund a green conservancy in her district using an earmark.
The project – known as the Yerba Buena Gardens Conservancy renovations – seeks to fund upgrades to a three-block park in downtown San Francisco known as the Yerba Buena Gardens. According to the proposal on Pelosi’s website, the funds will cover the improvement of the “MLK Fountain, the playground and ancillary spaces, [and] upgrade the wayfinding signage to be more inclusive.”
In a letter to Pelosi seeking the earmark, the Yerba Buena Community Benefit District, a non-profit organization writing on behalf of the conservancy, wrote that the park is “hugely beneficial to enhancing equity and access to public space in a surrounding community with a 29% poverty rate.”
Rep. Pelosi Earmark Letter – YBGC by Daily Caller News Foundation on Scribd
Neither that letter nor Pelosi’s letter to the House Appropriations Committee requesting the earmark specified how the $10 million was estimated as the cost of renovations. The letters also did not specify all sources of funding for the project, which Pelosi said will cost $20 million, with federal taxpayer dollars only paying for half the cost.
Pelosi’s website also stated that the funds will improve the “security of the Gardens,” though it did not specify the security issues faced. San Francisco has faced a 13.5% increase in homicide and 11.5% increase in robberies in the first three months of 2023 over the previous year, according to data from the San Francisco Police Department. Republicans have ascribed the problem to left-wing criminal justice and homelessness policies by Democratic city officials, such as no cash bail and “harm reduction” policies that tolerate narcotic drug use rather than crack down on their consumption.
Support letters for the earmark specifically refer to violent crime in the area as the reason for the funds being required, though no document specifies how they will be used. On social media, residents have often posted pictures of homeless individuals using drugs in the area.
Homeless couple tonight smoking heroin/marking up lamppost in front Martin Luther King Jr. memorial at Yerba Buena Park. I can't wait to move. pic.twitter.com/c3huzt0bB9
— CleanupSF (@SfCleanup) January 28, 2022
The use of “earmarks” – a direct benefit to a specific entity, locality, or state written into spending legislation – has been controversial in Congress, with them being banned in 2011 under House rules by the then-Republican majority under House Speaker John Boehner. Critics have argued that earmarks enable “pork-barrel spending” by Congress, where members funnel money to their districts for local political reasons that do not benefit national public policy.
“Do you think $2.5 million for biking trails in Vermont is really a spending priority? What about $4.2 million for the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station or $1.6 million for the development of equitable growth of the shellfish aquaculture industry in Rhode Island? I’m not really sure what either of these things does and why it would be deemed necessary to receive millions of taxpayer dollars,” wrote Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who has been among earmarks’ biggest critics in Congress, in 2022.
Earmarks were formally revived in 2021 by the Democratic-controlled House and Senate under Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, which established new rules for requests, such as the publishing of letters online and a limit of 10 earmarks per legislator.
Pelosi has been contacted for a request for comment.
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