Feb 18, 2011

Block Grants for Infrastructure

About this time of year the directors of the various social agencies crowd into Allentown Council Chamber for their annual CDBG handout. This ritual has been occurring for about 15 years. The blogosphere is full of Alan Jennings sobbing about the proposed cutback. The Federal Government allows the Block Grant to be used for infrastructure if enough of the population falls within their definition of poverty; unfortunately, we have qualified for many years. Putting aside my well know views on the poverty magnet, we have short changed the city's infrastructure. Although the condition of the gas lines has received much recent attention, the water lines are equally old and leaking. The leaking water washes away the ground supporting the aging gas lines, creating a double threat. In the last ten years we could have directed $100 million dollars of Block Grants toward our infrastructure, with tangible results. The results with the poverty situation are much less clear.


gary ledebur said...


This is a creative way to take a cheap shot at programs designed to improve peoples' lives. I assume your point is that the United States Congress should transfer funding of community development to infrastructure grants. Certainly the country needs federal support for infrastructure but given all the wasteful big tickets items in the federal budget why pick on the poor? Yesterday the House of Representatives debated whether we still need, not one, but two different engines for one of our jet fighters at $450 million per year. The military spends $7 million per year on sponsorship of NASCAR. That is a lot of money for adding a small sticker to a race car.

local said...

These programs are designed to improve only the lives of some agents of Allentowns great corrupt authorities,a few contractors and a bunch of government workers.Jennings was a useless whiner 15 years ago, and it seems nothing has changed.
Maintain infrastructure? Is that a joke?

michael molovinsky said...

in these times of tough economic choices, infrastructure improvements benefit everyone. while we gave to social agencies, and borrowed from CDBG to give restaurant grants, the 15th street bridge rusted away. now the detoured traffic is jeopardizing the historic schreiber's stone arch bridge and overtaxing the 8th st. bridge. what we do with the money is a local decision; has nothing to do with airplane engines.

Looking To Escape said...

Certainly the country needs federal support for infrastructure
You ever stop and think because so much money goes to Washington DC we have to send people to Congress to beg and plead to get a little of it back?
Federal support wouldn't be needed if people didn't get duped into thinking they needed so much federal government.

Anonymous said...


Gee I wish the Ward Street Bridge was still open in both directions. How long till it is completely closed? This is exactly what happens when block grant monies are misdirected to "good deeds" organizations and infrastructure is ignored.

Scott Armstrong

ironpigpen said...

Knowing how much money is spent on things such as Nancy Pelosi's SALT MARSH MICE and other such Progressive Liberal Democrat pet projects (pun intended) such as TURTLE TRAILS...

...it is hard to be moved by complaints about a measley $ 7.0 million dollars that, apparently, has great effect on the morale of many Army soliders.


Anonymous said...

Hey GL, Giving more money to liberal derelicts that only vote for the givers, is not a good way to spend the people's money. It only serves to perpetuate the poverty and the crime that results. If you think the "poor" needs help, go out there and help them. Just make sure you are armed!

gary ledebur said...

"......what we do with the money is a local decision; has nothing to do with airplane engines." Yes MM there is flexibility about how CDBG funds are sent. As I understand it, these decisions are made by local elected leaders. Elections have consequences. Would you prefer that Congress tell you what to spend this money on?

Anonymous said...

Hey GL,
For every single life that the Dems improve, they ruin hundreds of others. Besides, they seem very generous with other people's money. What are you doing to help the poor?

Anonymous said...

The gas lines. The water lines. Lots of limestone. De-emphasis on street cleaning. Delinquent in removing snow. It will only get worse. When the water goes and the toilets don't flush there will be hell to pay. The squirrels in the park will be fair game.

John said...

Allentown's abuse of Federal and State grant money is absolutely ridiculous. We have how much sitting on the 800 block of Hamilton St alone that was paid for by grants and loans thanks to the City.

One of my personal favorite projects is the one when they would spend 40-50K to insulate the wooden homes on the side streets when the amount of money spent on the work far exceeded the values of the homes themselves.

How many times have the sidewalks been replaced on 7th Street in the past few years now? Don't forget the nice trash cans that they bought too.

Monkey Momma said...

Thank you for bringing attention and discussion to the subject of our city and our nation's crumbling infrastructure. As a society, we have behaved very irresponsibly - failing to maintain and update the pipes that bring us life's basic necessities proves that government cannot get even the basics right. Why on earth would we think they could solve a problem like poverty?

We can't build our city on the backs of the poor, but we also cannot funnel our resources to the poor on the backs of the middle class earners. Surely there must be a middle ground here - it need not be all or nothing. If we really did rebuild the pipes under our city, that would probably lead to a lot of jobs, which is the only real thing that will help the poor.

I'm afraid Chris Casey is right - tough financial decisions need to be made these days, but our politicians will primarily use potential VOTES as the key variable of their calculation.

gary ledebur said...

Doesn't it concern anyone here that the Unites States is spending billions of dollars each and every month to build two foreign countries (including new and improved infrastructure) while gas pipe lines in our communities go neglected. It may be emotionally satisfying to blame folks we can see and hear but let's get real----the priorities of politicians in Washington seem to get a free pass.

Anonymous said...

The gas lines. The water lines. Lots of limestone. De-emphasis on street cleaning. Delinquent in removing snow. It will only get worse. When the water goes and the toilets don't flush there will be hell to pay. The squirrels in the park will be fair game.

Monkey Momma said...

Yes, the priorities of our country are clearly out of whack, and we obviously need to redirect funding from defense to other uses, such as infrastructure. For the purpose of responding to MM's post, though, I kept my comments related to block grants versus infrastructure spending, since that is the topic at hand.

Block grants are a case of good intentions gone awry in their own right, however. Local government has some control over how these block grants are allocated, but locals can't control the fed's ridiculous spending on defense. So, the question for Allentown isn't "should we buy a NASCAR sponsorship or help the impoverished or rebuild infrastructure?" The question really is, "how do we allocate the funding we are awarded for the best use?" It is clear to anyone living in Allentown that we have a poverty problem, but it seems to many that the efforts currently used to COMBAT poverty actually end up ATTRACTING poverty. Add to that the inevitable element of local corruption with these funds.

Of course, the bigger fish to fry is federal spending, but Council and the mayor have little say in that matter.

michael molovinsky said...

monkey momma, pardon my self indulgence, but if you scroll down the sidebar to molovinsky for mayor, and click on the window, you come to the home page of that website, written in 2005, and publicly expressed by me for years earlier.

ironpigpen said...

Good intentions gone awry.

The story of the modern Democrat Party.

And that IS the gentle version.

How is that Hope and Change working out for you America?

Figured out yet Progressive Liberal Democrat Big Government won't save you, just rob you blind in the name of Fairness and Justice?

No...I don't think you have.

You need to bash your skull into a brick wall some more...so, please re-elect the Community Organizer Obama and more of his ilk.

It's not that the policies won't work, it's just that enough money has not been wasted yet.

gary ledebur said...

Good point MonkeyMama. It is indeed harder to influence federal spending than local spending. MM may be pleased to know that Charlie Dent, locally elected, was the only congressman or senator from Pennsylvania who voted to de-fund Planned Parenthood. I guess he was concerned that Mexicans were coming to America for free birth control. The USA will not be a poverty magnet!