Governor Tim Kaine, who doubles as the chairman of the Democrat National Committee, got a dressing down from a senior Congressional Dem the other day. U.S. Rep. James Oberstar (D - Minn.), a chairman himself — of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, one of the most important in Congress because of the mammoth amount of money it spends each year — sent Chairman Governor Kaine a harsh letter for Virginia's 51st place ranking among the states and D.C. in spending of "federal" money for transportation projects. You remember those projects, the ones that were "shovel ready" and supposedly would lift us out of the recession. You know, the same Governor Kaine (contact here) who is so concerned about Virginia's transportation problems that he's tried to raise our taxes ever year in office, including the first week of his tenure, even after campaigning that he would not raise taxes; the same governor who wanted to tax gas when it was $4.00 a gallon? The same governor Creigh Deeds says he'll model himself after?
Here's an excerpt from Rep. Oberstar's letter (read the entire volley here):
Based on the State progress reports submitted to the Committee in September 2009, Virginia has fallen far behind other States in putting to work its Recovery Act Highway formula funds. According to submissions received from all States and the District of Columbia, your State ranks last among all States (51 out of 51) based on an analysis of percentage of Recovery Act Highway formula funds put out to bid, under contract and underway.
As of August 31, Virginia had begun construction of projects totaling only 17 percent of the State's funding.
I strongly urge you to refocus your efforts to implement the Recovery Act and use the available funds to create and sustain family-wage jobs. These jobs are critical to Virginia's and the nation's long-term economic growth.
In August 2009, almost six months after enactment of the Recovery Act, I sent letters to the best and worst performers in putting to work Recovery Act highway funds. Since then, we have watched many states move aggressively. ...
Regrettably, Virginia is not among these States.
Anita Kumar of the Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog has the complete story in two parts: Her initial post (here) and a follow-up (here). We're sure Governor Kaine will have a private response to Rep. Oberstar, who should know this is no way to address the chairman, especially when it validates the governor's critics — the same critics he's tried to ostracize, demagogue and steamroll the last four years — and undercuts his gubernatorial nominee.