Cheat-Seeking Missles

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Media Snoops And Dodges

The thesis of this post is straightforward and hardly new: Papers like the Washington Post dig for news where they want to dig, and vice versa. A Republican leader is good digging, while a Dem anti-war mouthpiece seems to be protected.

WaPo has a big story today on Speaker Dennis Hastert's efforts to bring a new road, the Prairie Parkway, to northern Illinois. Just another pork story? No, this one alleges corruption because Hastert owns property 5 1/2 miles ... that's 5 1/2 miles ... from the road.

I have to ask ... 5 1/2 miles? If location is everything in real estate, there are a whole lot of locations between Hastert's land and the proposed new road that got more feathers for their nest.

Curious about this, I dug into the WaPo story deeper, until I found its attack on Rep. Ken Calvert. Calvert's crime?
Last year, Calvert, the California Republican congressman, and a business partner bought a four-acre parcel near the March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, Calif., for $550,000. He then secured $8 million for a planned freeway interchange 16 miles away, an additional $1.5 million to support commercial development around the airfield, and sold the property less than a year later for almost $1 million.
Sixteen miles? I went to Google Maps and put March AFB right in the middle and took a look. Within 16 miles of March AFB are the cities of Colton, Moreno Valley, Redlands, Perris and Riverside. Five freeways are within the circle and, knowing the area pretty well, I can guess that there are upwards of 50 interchanges within 16 miles of March AFB.

The impact of this far-distant interchange on Calvert's landholding: Zero.

The Feds have supported commercial development around March since the base was closed in the 1980s, and it's a good thing, because it's shifting the jobs/housing balance, and saving people in the area from the deadly commute to LA and OC. Besides, another $1.5 million is nothing. Really. It builds almost nothing today an WaPo doesn't let us know what was built with it. The only excuses for that are deliberate shading or bad reporting.

Finally, a profit of $450,000 in one year. Unbelievably, in that particular year, it wasn't out of the ordinary.

The Murtha Contrast

Meanwhile, WashTimes editorializes on Jack Murtha's financial shenanigans which are legend:
  • Murtha's brother Robert is a defense lobbyist who represented companies that received more than $20 million from last year's defense bill. (LATimes reported this earlier)
  • That lobbying firm also employs a guy who worked for John Murtha for 27 years.
  • Murtha directed efforts to move the Hunters Point Shipyard to San Francisco. Nancy Pelosi's nephew, Laurence Pelosi, owned the land that would be come the new shipyard. (A Roll Call story covered this, and a story about Murtha's earmarks that benefitted PA Dem Paul Kanjorski's kids.
Oh, and by the way, the FBI named Murtha an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1980 Abscam scandal.

But he appears to have immunity, avoiding prolonged press scrutiny of the sort WaPo is trying to fire up around Hastert's deal. Could it be that Murtha, seeing Cunningham's troubles, decided to become the anti-war spokesperson in order to get MSM immunity?

Stranger things have happened.

hat-tip: memeorandum
photo: Riverside Press Enterprise
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