Stimulus panel probes Porkulus waste — at the Ritz Carlton?

posted at 2:15 pm on November 11, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Rest assured that Sheriff Joe Biden has kept an eagle eye on waste in the Porkulus package, just as he promised.  In fact, the panel in charge of fighting waste plans to meet later this month — during the week of Thanksgiving, no less — to review the expenditures of the ARRA to ensure that they catch any waste or fraud.  They’ll hunker down in some government basement with flickering flourescent lighting, wearing their green eyeshades and wielding their spreadsheets, in order to ensure that every taxpayer dollar went to its intended target … right?

Not exactly:

Members of a key panel created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus bill, have scheduled a meeting on November 22 to consider ways to prevent “fraud, waste, and abuse of Recovery Act funds.” The meeting will be held at the super-luxe Ritz Carlton Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona.

The group is the Recovery Independent Advisory Panel, a sub-committee of the larger Recovery Accountability and Transparency board (sometimes known as the RAT board). The stimulus bill set up the Recovery Independent Advisory Panel, or RIAP, to make recommendations to identify and prevent waste of the bill’s $814 billion in stimulus spending.

“The purpose of the November 22, 2010 meeting is to allow the RIAP to have an open dialogue, with input from the public, on issues relating to fraud, waste, and abuse of Recovery Act funds,” says a notice in the Federal Register.

Two questions come to mind here.  First is the obvious: with all of the meeting spaces available to the US government in its own facilities, why does the RIAP need to meet in a hotel at all, let alone the “super-luxe” Ritz Carlton?  If they want “input from the public,” holding the meeting in a school gymnasium would make more sense.  After all, with room rates at the Ritz starting at $229 for that date, there won’t be too many members of the public following the RIAP into the lap of luxury.

Second question: why Arizona?  While it’s true that the state was one of the big winners in Porkulus, with more than $10 billion of it spent in the state, it hardly seems useful for looking at national accountability.  There is a higher concentration of such states in the Ohio Valley and eastern Midwest region than in the interior West, as American Progress helpfully mapped before the bill’s passage.  Would it not be easier to review the records of Porkulus from inside Washington DC, where the money originates, rather than moving the entire panel and its staff to a five-star resort in the Camelback corridor in Phoenix?

This looks less like an exercise in accountability than an example for the need of it.


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At least they’re not in Vegas.

Akzed on November 11, 2010 at 2:18 PM

BREAKING NEWS: Politicians are hypocrites.

ALSO: Water is wet, fire is hot. More at 11.

fusionaddict on November 11, 2010 at 2:18 PM

Nothing like a little Liberal Porkulus-waste hypocrisy.

anXdem on November 11, 2010 at 2:19 PM

Why Harry Reid loves the Ritz in DC…it’s just a small apartment don’t ya know.

d1carter on November 11, 2010 at 2:19 PM

To borrow a lot of the arguments made yesterday on the Christie theft thread; Hey, If it only costs a couple thousand and it helps reduce fraud and waste over $817b, whats the problem. We need perspective, right?

Aquateen Hungerforce on November 11, 2010 at 2:21 PM

why AZ? Its awesome here in the winter. Beats freezing your butt off in the midwest

offroadaz on November 11, 2010 at 2:22 PM

It’s warm in Arizona and cold in DC.

I bet this doesn’t sit well with the boycotters…

tinkerthinker on November 11, 2010 at 2:24 PM

It’s as far as they can go from the People without sacrificing comfort.

njcommuter on November 11, 2010 at 2:33 PM

They wanted to be “stimulated” themselves.

NotCoach on November 11, 2010 at 2:33 PM

This obviously shows that Obama administration is OK with SB-1070. Why no boycott of AZ?

WashJeff on November 11, 2010 at 2:36 PM

Last time I was there, DC has been modernized to include indoor heating. They even have heat in all those gazillion federal buildings these days!

These nutjobs need to meet in that same room where Nancy Pelosi had her big celebration yesterday.

marybel on November 11, 2010 at 2:38 PM

why AZ? Its awesome here in the winter. Beats freezing your butt off in the midwest

offroadaz on November 11, 2010 at 2:22 PM

amen :)

cmsinaz on November 11, 2010 at 2:41 PM

Just down the street from my house. Perhaps I’ll stop by.

azkenreid on November 11, 2010 at 2:46 PM

“We don’t have a revenue problem. We have a spending problem,” Sarah Palin.

bw222 on November 11, 2010 at 2:46 PM

“With input from the public.”

Maybe the public doesn’t smell so bad at the Ritz.

TexasDan on November 11, 2010 at 2:50 PM

I just called Glen, was able to leave a message, and when (if??) he calls back will ask if he can help me get their group rate at the Ritz.

See you there!!!

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Glen Walker, Executive Director, Recovery Independent Advisory Panel, 1717 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Suite 700, Washington, DC 20006; Telephone 202-254-7900.

fred5678 on November 11, 2010 at 2:51 PM

So lets recount:

Yesterday, the panel created to reduce the deficit suggested that a committee be formed to find ways to cut spending (huh?….isn’t that what the panel was for in the first place?), and released said suggestion from a Ritz-Carlton hotel?

It must be me….but that doesn’t make sense.

B+.

BobMbx on November 11, 2010 at 2:52 PM

I guess the Arizona boycott is over?
I wonder if Gov. Brewer will be stopping by to say “hey”.

LASue on November 11, 2010 at 2:54 PM

how’s that 13 dollar stimulus check work’n out for U

roflmao

donabernathy on November 11, 2010 at 2:56 PM

On the 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month, the Guns of August Fell Silent

How does HA NOT have a Veteran’s Day post? Unbelievable.

Sultry Beauty on November 11, 2010 at 2:56 PM

How does HA NOT have a Veteran’s Day post? Unbelievable.

Sultry Beauty on November 11, 2010 at 2:56 PM

Actually, they do. It was the second blog post of the day, just scroll on down.

DrAllecon on November 11, 2010 at 3:05 PM

The meeting will be held at the super-luxe Ritz Carlton Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona.

Why not during the summmer, when rates there are LOWER?

Oh, and I though liberals were BOYCOTTING Arizona?

Too cold up there in the Northeast?

Don’t they care about their CARBON FOOTPRINT?

GarandFan on November 11, 2010 at 3:20 PM

It is said that the Lord helps those who help themselves.

Obama’s peeps have proven quite adept at helping themselves so far.

Adjoran on November 11, 2010 at 3:58 PM

Hey, GotoMeeting.com, people!

PattyJ on November 11, 2010 at 4:01 PM

If I were gonna blow a big ole bunch of taxpayer moolah on a posh, out of this world gorgeous hotel in Phoenix, I’d go for the gusto — and stay at the superb boutique hotel, the Royal Palms.

MMMM.mmmm.mmmm!

marybel on November 11, 2010 at 5:06 PM

My first job out of college in the early 90′s was in Los Angeles in the Aerospace industry. After about six months on the job I asked my boss why all the audits from DC piled up in November and December but not other months.

She looked at me like I was an idiot and said “Because its 30 degrees in DC in November and December”.

Kaisersoze on November 11, 2010 at 5:13 PM

Why Arizona? Three letters:

S U N S H I N E

Signed,

Joe Biden

Mr_Magoo on November 11, 2010 at 6:15 PM

FYI

The government only pays $ 106 for lodging in Phoenix from October 1 through December 31.

Either the Ritz Carlton has agreed to that rate or panel members pay the difference.

That is quite a bit cheaper than $ 181 for DC.

slp on November 11, 2010 at 6:31 PM

The IG for the DOJ investigated Christie and found that he exceeded the guidelines for hotel and taxi expenses over several years during his time as a US attorney for a whopping total of $2000+. How much is this little meeting going to cost us and do the guidelines allow them to take the bath robes when they leave? Will they be staying on the chocolate floor? Hope that same IG gets to pour over their expense accounts.

Kissmygrits on November 11, 2010 at 6:32 PM

Just two questions? How about this one:

Why are they meeting almost two years after passage “to consider ways to prevent “fraud, waste, and abuse of Recovery Act funds”?

I understand they have had a few meeting prior, but, really, almost two years later, after most of the money has been spent?

And, let’s not forget, it won’t just be the cost of the individual rooms, but, the meeting room, as well, along with catering and such. Travel costs. Meals before and after the meetings.

William Teach on November 11, 2010 at 7:38 PM

Why are they meeting almost two years after passage “to consider ways to prevent “fraud, waste, and abuse of Recovery Act funds”?

William Teach on November 11, 2010 at 7:38 PM

It’s part of the “Closing the Barn Door After the Horse Has Been Stolen” subgroup of the “Committee Group on Duplicate Redundancy“!

landlines on November 11, 2010 at 8:06 PM

I work at a Ritz-Carlton, have done for twenty-six years. Our business, beginning to recover now, really suffered in the wake of negative stories about businesses meeting at luxury hotels. One-fourth of our staff was laid off, including a lot of friends of mine. So give us a break already.

Tyrone Slothrop on November 11, 2010 at 11:23 PM

Looters.

petefrt on November 12, 2010 at 8:34 AM

why Arizona?

They wanted to get the opinion of illegals.

mwdiver on November 12, 2010 at 9:17 AM