The Washington Times had a great time when an earmark that Congressman Jim Clyburn intended to send to a library in Jamestown, S.C., wound up in Jamestown, Calif. I am sure that mistake will be corrected. What also needs to be corrected is the misperception about earmarks, and what having Congressman Clyburn in a leadership position in Congress means to us in the Columbia region.
Earmarks are the only way for many struggling communities to fund critical infrastructure needs. In Columbia, our infrastructure is aging rapidly at the same time that we need to invest in new infrastructure. There are areas in Columbia that historically have been ignored and are in desperate need of redevelopment. Although local officials are trying to address these challenges, the magnitude of the problem requires resources that only the federal government can marshal. With federal resources increasingly scarce, I am glad I can call on Congressman Clyburn to make sure Columbia gets it fair share of resources.
The Harden Street project in Five Points is a good example. One reason for undertaking this project was that we had to immediately replace aging water, sewer and storm mains that threatened to collapse. This gave us the chance to complete other work to improve safety and mobility, enhance a major commercial corridor and promote economic development. While the city invested considerable resources, we would have been hard pressed to complete it without federal assistance. And we would have been hard pressed to get that federal assistance without the help of then-Sen. Fritz Hollings, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rep. Clyburn.
From time to time earmarks fund questionable projects. However, Columbia works hard to identify projects that address our highest priorities and have the most potential to spur economic development, replace aging infrastructure or redevelop an entire neighborhood. And our congressional delegation gives our requests tough scrutiny to ensure that scarce federal funds are going to worthy projects. I am glad that Congressman Clyburn is accessible and understands Columbia's needs and problems better than the federal bureaucracy.
MAYOR BOB COBLE