October 15, 2005

The PORK BUSTER Response From The 15th District of Texas

As many of you know, I wrote an article (here) regarding the prolifigate spending by congress and the need to cut spending in order to be able to afford the cost of reconstruction following Katrina (and since, Rita). My letter to the Honorable Ruben Hinojosa is below:

Dear Congressman. As you are aware, President Bush has called for massive spending in the wake of the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina. Too, it appears that Hurricane Rita may be headed for our own coast and may cause further destruction on a grand scale.

I am very concerned that the amounts proposed, while greatly needed are also budget busters of the first magnitude. I know that there is plenty of so called pork in the federal budget that can be cut for the betterment of society as a whole, and not for a particular congressional district. For example, the Transportation bill recently signed by President Bush contains millions of dollars for a bridge from Ketchikan, Alaska to an island of only 1500 persons. Sir, I've been to Ketchikan, the good people there almost brag about how difficult it is to get there, boat or plane, that is it. And yet, it is a thriving town, and quite beautiful as well. This bridge is a boondoggle of the worst sort.

I'm hoping you can identify and lead the charge to eliminate this and other pork spending so that as a unified country we will be in fact able to afford those things that need to be done vis-a-vis natural disasters.

I am a blogger, yes, one of those dreaded "pajama clad" folk who put their opinions out for everyone to see. But I am also a patriot and a citizen of a great congressional district, a great state and a magnificent country. I will be willing to put your answer on my blog as an update to a current post and as a singular post as you so desire.

Sir, we have much to do and not much time to do it. Won't you please take the lead and begin the process, get other Democrats and Republicans behind the effort to reform the budget, realign our priorities and get our house in order?

George Roper
GM's Corner (http://gmroper.com)"

That was sent on or about September 19, 2005 and I followed it with this comment about Mr. Hinojosa:
Ruben Hinojosa (D, 15th Congressional District) is a good man. His family has built H&H meats from a small business to a good sized operation with many, many employees. He, like many Democrats tend to spend too much, but he is also a patriot. Let's see what his response is. His only Republican opponent was in 1996 and '98 and though I am nominally a Republican, I've always supported Mr. Hinojosa. I've voted for Mr. Hinojsa each time he ran, let's see how his response is to this urgent matter."

Well, either Mr. Hinojosa has slipped, or he has hired incompetents to answer his mail~but ultimately, he is responsible for every piece of official mail that comes out of his office. Here is his response:

Dear Mr. Roper: Thank you for sharing your views on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. As we continue to aid residents from the floodwaters and devastation of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama it is crucial that they get the aid and assistance they so desperately need. The generosity of the American spirit is once again shining strong.

In Texas, shelters were constructed, citizens offered refuge in their extra bedrooms, school districts accepted students, people contributed money, corporations offered funds, and in many cases temporary employment. I applaud the generosity of so many Americans and urge them to continue offering assistance however they can. Our mission as a nation must be to help the least among us; the poor and disenfranchised that have been dramatically affected by Hurricane Katrina. This could have happened just as easily in Texas as in any other state, and before it happens again, we clearly need to investigate the response to this disaster.

Now is the time for Congress to focus on the relief and recovery efforts taking place in the Gulf Region and to do everything possible to help the victims. The federal response to this Disaster was far from adequate. We should appoint an independent commission to learn from the mistakes that were made and to guarantee that those mistakes never happen again. We owe this to the survivors and evacuees and to every American. Again, thank you for sharing your views with me. Please continue to inform me on maters of importance to you.

Ruben Hinojosa
Member of Congress

Needless to say, I am more than disappointed in the response from my congressman. Not only are the points in my letter to him completely ignored, he takes off on a tangent asking for an "investigation" of the federal efforts. Did he not care about federal efforts when they were highly successful? Did he not care when Rita, only a few days later was handled quite well?

What the hell is going on here? Hackneyed letters in response to letters from a constituent on matters of national scope? Congressman Hinojosa, I'm going to have to think very hard before I vote for you again. Very hard!

Welcome Instapundit readers. Write your congressman and let's all work on getting rid of some pork.

Posted by GM Roper at October 15, 2005 07:55 PM | TrackBack

Quit voting for Democrats. You think you find a good one, but then they all turn out to be the same. In this case, directing blame to the administration is the only concern he has--not your concerns.

Posted by Woody at October 15, 2005 08:02 PM

GM, sounds like another "case of the inappropriate form letter". Our family has encountered this (as when my daughter wrote the President) and I've also read other complaints about this.

My guess, for what it's worth, is that some staffer skimming quickly your letter saw "Katrina" in your first paragraph and quickly ran off the Katrina form letter.

I think this problem crosses party lines and involves both Democrats and Republicans. I don't know if our officials are understaffing their offices or if they really don't care to actually read and think about letters from ordinary citizens.

Your experience sounds more like an argument in favor of NVBOM.

Posted by civil truth at October 15, 2005 10:05 PM

True, especially of late as the Democrats and their far left overlords have been circling the wagons, pressuring even their own moderate and conservative Democrats to carry the "party line," which seems to revolve totally around opposing the Admin, as they have nothing constructive to contribute to government policy.

At this point in time, trusting a Democrat politician might compare with the woman in that old song trusting the snake.

Posted by Seth at October 15, 2005 10:16 PM

My last comment was to follow Woody's, hence "True,..."

Posted by Seth at October 15, 2005 10:17 PM

I imagine the email and snail mail traffic to federal level politicians' offices must be staggering, too.

I actually knew someone who was trying to get an appointment at her local IRS offices and they were giving her the runaround. She sent a complaining email to the President.
A couple of days later, she actually got a call from someone in the White House telling her she had an appointment scheduled and when it was.
When she got to the IRS offices, they pretty much kissed her derriere, since everybody there knew her appointment had been scheduled by the White House.

Posted by Seth at October 15, 2005 10:25 PM

GM, Why not make a fast phone call to the Congressman's local office and read your letter and his response. Ask why the Congressman did not respond to your letter.

I would note that more than two decades ago I sent a mailgram to each U.S. Senator. Of the 100, only about 20 replied. Of those who replied, most were completely off message. I was complaining about the horror of illegal drugs. Only one or two actually addressed the problem.

Form letters is mostly what you're going to get unless you are somehow unique....read: a possible threat to the politician's career.

Oh, yes, one piece of good news. A Marine was killed in the late RVN (this, of course, is really BAD news). His name was on the Wall. He was a legal immigrant (as a child) from Poland. His mother asked the State Department to make him a citizen, albeit posthumously. They declined as to be a citizen you must appear in person and swear your new allegience. I had just come home and still standing watching this story on the nightly news. I immediately walked to the phone and called Western Union. Without notes, I dictated a message to the President (Reagan). In two days, maybe it was one, the news reported that State had recanted. About three more days later I got a short note from the White House thanking me and telling the action that had been taken. Of course, it wasn't just me...doubtless many phoned, wrote and wired their displeasure. Anyway, some times the system works.

Posted by tad at October 16, 2005 10:05 AM

Sad to see form letters like this—correspondence is not a forum for advertising. Fortunately, down here in New Zealand, we still have MPs who post personal replies via email or letter—after all the roasting I give politicians, they do get some things right.

Posted by Jack Yan at October 17, 2005 03:55 PM

Ruben Hinojosa is an honorable man. He of course is beholden to the mainstream Democratic Party. However Hinojosa does contribute, even if in a small way, to a key problem with government: that is, those in office make money on their status.

Hinojosa is no different than other Congress persons in that he sees and takes advantage of his position in Congress to make money for himself. Now, I concede Mr. Hinojosa is honorable, honest. For example, compare Mrs. Tom Dachele who acts as a lobbyist during time her husband wields great power in Congress; she made millions in fees. By comparison, Hinojosa is saintly.

There is a point that illustrates the problem. Mr. Hinojosa went to Congress as a fairly rich man. His holdings in H & H Foods, the Mercedes meat processing and food distribution company that has been in his family since 1947, ran between $1 million and $5 million, according to a recent financial disclosure form.

Hinojosa does not reveal the exact amount of stock, nor his percentage ownership in H & H Foods. The reason for this omission becomes relevant when you consider that Hinojosa is the vice-president of H & H Foods and is active in management. For example, recently H & H Foods introduced a line of breakfast tacos, tamales and cheese sauce enriched with an odorless, tasteless fish oil high in Omega-3, considered to be a nutritious fat that lowers cholesterol levels. The products, and other Omega 3 enriched foods, are targeted for school lunches.

H & H Foods did $3.08 million worth of business in 2003 with the United States Department of Agriculture, which runs the federal lunch program, according to figures available on the department’s Web site. Congressman Hinojosa also received $20,000 in consulting fees from H & H, according to his financial disclosure form.

Are the two connected? Maybe there is an honest explanation. But, why shouldn't we expect our elected officials to act so there is no appearance of any impropriety, no chance of any conflict of interest? If this was the norm, it might be easier to precipitate a reponse from our elected officials like Hinojosa when a call is made to act in the common good.

Posted by Gary E. Hill at October 18, 2005 09:47 AM

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