My latest up at PJM:

Wine Train Stimulus Scam Gets Even Uglier With No-Bid Set-Aside Swindle

Fiscal conservatives have been howling in protest over the $54 million earmarked by Obama’s Stimulus Package to finance something called “The Wine Train” in California’s scenic Napa Valley. The notion that the government was squandering millions of taxpayer dollars to prop up a private tourist attraction seemed to epitomize everything that was wrong with pork-barrel politics masquerading as sober economic policy. I mean, while we’re subsidizing tourist traps, why not give a couple hundred million to Disneyland to build a new “Pirates of the Potomac” ride?

But the howls are about to get a lot louder. Because an investigation just published by California Watch and reprinted in the San Francisco Chronicle shows that the Wine Train scam was far worse than you imagined. The $54 million wasn’t just spent on an overpriced not-a-thrill ride for tipsy tourists: it was thrown down the toilet on a no-bid contract handed to a shady Alaskan front corporation which deviously abused race-based “set-aside” laws to land a vastly overpriced deal — which they then proceeded to subcontract at a much lower rate to a different company, while pocketing a cool $20 million for doing no work whatsoever.

Read the rest here.

11 Responses to “Wine Train Stimulus Scam Gets Even Uglier With No-Bid Set-Aside Swindle”

  1. 1Gene on Feb 2, 2010 at 6:17 pm:

    I don’t know who you are, but you are the MAN!

  2. 2Fenway_Nation on Feb 3, 2010 at 1:58 am:

    Nicely done, Zombie….I have to admit, I have a bias towards vintage locomotives, passenger cars and the like. If the new bridge and track relocation are indeed part of an already existing flood-control project,then I don’t really see that much of a problem if it’s funded mostly by the city and county of Napa.

    But good lord- pocketing $20 Million for basically doing nothing? I wonder how much the project would’ve cost if it were opened up for competitive bids. This almost smacks of something the Patriarcha Crime family and LIUNA would do on the East Coast

  3. 3incognito on Feb 3, 2010 at 7:22 am:

    Great job in reporting Zombie!

  4. 4common_sense on Feb 3, 2010 at 8:05 am:

    and in rural Placer County the board of stupidvisors voted to allow wineries to be opened to the public for tastings and large public events, even if said winery is on a private driveway, shared by others simply choosing to reside in a peaceful rural area. All in the name of bringing tourist dollars… can imagine the conflict when Joe Homeowner goes out to the get Sunday paper and is overrun by 300 guests to a wine-tasting/wedding on his driveway

  5. 5experiencedtraveller on Feb 3, 2010 at 9:03 pm:

    Give them heck, zombie. The failure of our rail system especially in the north-east corridor is astounding.

    On a NYC to DC trip, I can drive my car to the airport, cross multiple bridges, pay for parking and pay for the airfare ticket for less money than the train ticket.

    I like trains. If the price was rational, I’d use it all the time.

  6. 6CattusMagnus on Feb 8, 2010 at 7:00 pm:

    I’d really like to make a sarcastic comment about Mr. Rice-A-Roni being involved but I got nothin’.

  7. 7Bob on Feb 9, 2010 at 10:35 am:

    Gene: I don’t know who you are, but you are the MAN!

    Or the woman…

  8. 8ptbo on Feb 13, 2010 at 12:13 am:

    Well us lefties have been against P3s for a long time. Because 80% of the time the public assumes the risk and foots the bill while private business gets profit.

  9. 9Pvt Bin Jammin on Nov 18, 2010 at 10:25 pm:

    Great job, as usual, Zombie!

  10. 10Christine Petell on Nov 14, 2012 at 7:18 pm:

  11. 11Svetlana Hoos on Nov 23, 2013 at 5:53 am:

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