President-elect Donald Trump ran in part against the business-as-usual cronyism that has for decades been rampant in Washington, D.C. His pledge to “Drain the Swamp” resoundingly resonated – and helped propel him to the presidency.
Congress has been a chronic, consistent swamp filler. Now, headed into the Trump presidency, Congress has an opportunity to reverse course and start draining. They absolutely should avail themselves.
The prospective cronyism in question revolves around the West Lake Landfill in Bridgetown, Missouri (located near Saint Louis’ Lambert Airport). A limestone quarry in the 1930s, it during World War II and into the 1960s became a dumping ground for, amongst other things, processed uranium.
Thankfully, a 2015 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study concluded that the site actually poses no health risk. Nevertheless, the Agency had in 1990 declared West Lake a Superfund site designated for cleanup – so a cleanup we will have.
But this is government – and government moves…s l o w l y. The EPA didn’t get around to hiring anyone to do the work until…2015. At which point the speed of the private sector would have kicked in. The cleanup company retained would have had the gig finished by the end of this year. One year – and done. No fuss – no more muss.
Great news, right? Well, not for the Teamsters Union. The Teamsters haven’t unionized the landfill cleanup company – so they had no hand in the job. So they began methodically working to kill the cleanup. Because they are, first and foremost, environmentalists concerned about the Earth. I kid. They want the deal cancelled – and redone involving them.
But the Teamsters alone leading the charge isn’t so pretty a messaging face. Like everyone else on the Left, the Teamsters love touchy-feely front groups. These gaggles are the smiley-face masks over the Left’s snarling visage.
For the radical environmentalists opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline – it’s the Standing Rock Sioux Indian tribe. For the Teamsters, on Westlake – it’s Just Moms Saint Louis: “(F)ounded…in 2013 ‘to educate the community about the potential hazards and health risks surrounding the West Lake Landfill.’ The group has hosted town hall meetings, amassed 18,000 members to its Facebook page, lobbied members of Congress and been described as ‘a surprisingly powerful force.’”
Their “surprisingly powerful” lobbying is a little less surprising – when you remember they are backed by and teamed with the Teamsters: “The Teamsters Union mentions Just Mom STL in numerous press releases and other communications materials on its website. Moreover, the Teamsters Union has hosted press conferences and educational events with Just Moms STL.”
Remember, Just Moms StL claims to just and only want the Westlake landfill cleaned up. They were founded in 2013 – when they had a prospectively legitimate gripe. But they succeeded – the EPA in 2015 got off its duff and hired a company to do the job. Which would by now be totally finished – were it not for Just Moms StL (and their Teamsters teammates) continuing to agitate.
Which means this isn’t about a landfill cleanup. It’s about the Teamsters cleaning up – at our exorbitant expense.
Which leads us to Washington D.C. – and yet another raft of Congressional cronyism: “In February 2016…the Senate passed a bill to transfer the clean up (from the EPA) to the Army Corps of Engineers. (Missouri) Democrat Senator Claire McCaskill introduced the legislation.”
Get that? A Missouri Democrat – gumming up the works to assist the Teamsters in getting a government gig in Missouri. And lest we forget: “About 20 percent of Teamsters workers are employed by the federal government.” I’m sure that stat has nothing to do with anything here.
If the Army Corps of Engineers takes over, we’ll undoubtedly be subjected to years of additional delay and hundreds of millions of dollars of additional waste.
All to clean up a site that isn’t hurting anyone. And which would already be cleaned up and forgotten – had Just Moms StL taken for an answer the “Yes” they claimed all along to have wanted.
But the Army Corps of Engineers will likely absurdly overpay the Teamsters to do the job – and that’s all that really matters in Crony Town.
The ridiculous McCaskill Senate-passed bill – now sits in the House: “(W)here supporters with ties to big labor unions are pushing to get it passed without scrutiny.”
The bill should proceed – absolutely nowhere. It should suffer death by Congressional inattentiveness. It’s pointless – it’s wasteful – it’s cronyism. It’s everything pre-Trump Washington was.
It’s time to put that past behind us.
This first appeared in Red State.