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    About That $1.672 Million In Fed'l Transportation Bill For LB Museum of Latin American Art To Build "Intermodal Park & Ride Facility," Cong. Millender-McDonald Says...

    (Sept. 26, 2005) -- Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald (D., Carson-LB), a senior member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and the House-Senate conference committee that hammered out the final version of the recently-passed national Transportation bill (SAFETEA-LU), has told she doesn't know what $1.672 million allocated in the bill to LB's Museum of Latin American Art (in her district) "to build [an] intermodal park and ride facility" is for, doesn't know how it got in the bill and doesn't know who requested the money.

    PoLB/Cong. Millender-McDonald event, Sept 19/ asked Congresswoman Millender-McDonald about the item following a September 19 LB luncheon at which Port and City Hall officials praised her for delivering Transportation bill money including $100 million in initial funding for a Port-desired rebuild of the Gerald Desmond bridge (permitting 10,000 TEU container megaships to enter the PoLB) and associated 710 freeway expansion.

    The Transportation bill contained other items sought by LB City Hall, previously detailed by including federal money that could be used to cover the Atherton St. drainage ditch.

    The $1.672 million to build an "intermodal park and ride facility" at LB's Museum of Latin American Art was listed among the bill's items in City Hall-Port release in connection with the luncheon, but some city staffers have separately indicated to that they are not familiar with the item.

    MoLAA's Director of PR and Marketing, Susan Golden, told she has no information on the item...and said she doesn't think it's a "park and ride" facility because she doesn't believe there's room for one...and doesn't know to what the term "intermodal" refers in the context of the item.

    PoLB/Cong. Millender-McDonald event, Sept 19/05In podium remarks during the luncheon, Congresswoman Millender-McDonald took aim at critics who've charged that the Transportation bill was loaded with pork. "Some have asked why it is that we've passed such a Pork bill in Transportation. Pork bill? When we have not seen the likes of such bridges and roads across this country that need to be fixed? That we have not seen the growth like we've never had before in this country, especially in this state and this region? There should not be any question. And those who say it's a Pork bill, tell 'em to come see me, because I'll show them why it is not a Pork bill..."

    Following up on her challenge, we asked the Congresswoman after the luncheon about the MoLLA item. She gave us the answer below.

    For the record, we asked the Congresswoman's DC office about the item weeks ago...and received polite but non-responsive responses. After receiving the Congresswoman's response (below), we withheld publication for a week to give her office yet another opportunity to provide us with the information.

    Our question to the Congresswoman began by noting that in her podium remarks she'd listed several LB area projects, but not the MoLAA item:

    [begin transcript] There was also one project that you didn't mention in your list. It was $1.672 million for the Museum of Latin American to build an intermodal park and ride facility. Can you tell us how that came about and what it is?

    Cong. Millender-McDonald: I have no idea how it came about, nor even how, my legislative director asked me was I aware of the Museum of Latin American [Art] asking for $1.6 [million], and I says for what in the Transportation bill, and they said to do some type of a, is it a parking, what is that 1.6 [million] for? An intermodal park and ride facility, that's what it says. I'm not sure what it is.

    Cong. Millender-McDonald : Neither am I. It was put in there, I mean you know after all, some of these things are snuck, they sneak into by other members. I'm the senior member on Transportation [Committee], I ask other members to send me their projects, and sometimes those projects don't come directly to me because after all we're trying to push 'em in, so some of that might have been pushed in by some of the other members, I'm not sure, but I do support the Museum of Latin American [Art], and I would just simply say that obviously in our vigorously looking at everything in that Transportation bill in conference, and making sure that money was going for what we need to because after all we needed every penny we could get. Evidently they felt comfortable for whatever that was worth that is stated in the bill, because we were taking out a lot of things in that bill. But that one didn't really come through your office? Can you say that for sure?

    Cong. Millender-McDonald: : I'm not sure. That's why I'm saying I'm not sure. If I ask members to give me their projects, they might submit them to my office and then it might then go on into the Committee for us to put in the larger bill, so I'm not sure whether it came in, I can't say it did or it didn't.

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