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Where’s the Bacon?


I feel that your article on Congresswoman Lois Capps, “No More Mrs. Nice Guy,” should have been titled instead “Nice Guys Finish Last.” This title would more accurately describe her performance. One essential function of a congressional representative is to recover a respectable portion of the taxes paid to Washington by constituents and bring the money back to the district—to “bring home the bacon.”

Lois Capps represents District 23 and in tax recovery she is ranked among the lowest of all districts: Most other districts in the country receive a larger percentage of their taxes back. This relative ineffectiveness would be understandable for an inexperienced representative, but Lois Capps has been in Congress for over 10 years. The fact that District 23 has done relatively well during the recession is basically due to the entrepreneurial capabilities of its citizens. The farms, hotels, and recreation industries have been able to compensate for the lack of federal funds. By comparison, representatives such as C. Rangel and M. Waters, who are from districts that have much lower tax bases, are able to extract more than their fair share of money for their districts. They bring the bacon home and therefore have strong support among their constituents regardless of controversial activities of which they may be accused.

In District 23 the situation is even more perplexing given that for the last four years Lois Capps has shown unparalleled party loyalty. The Democratic party has been in power and she has supported the party and Nancy Pelosi 100 percent of the time, yet she has received little in return for that support. Take as an example the $14 million she lost in earmarks last year. This loss resulted in further waste of taxpayers’ money because the county had to send additional lobbyists to Washington to compensate for her ineffectiveness. Based on the amount of taxes (billions) that this district has sent to Washington during her watch, we have little to show for it here at home. Your article mentions that she recovered $44 million in 2009 but that is probably only two to three percent of our money. Perhaps the most notorious event that comes to mind was when she secured an earmark for tattoo removal for her constituents.

Since Lois Capps was recently reelected for her sixth term, perhaps one can deduce that the scrutiny of the voters is not as strict as it is in the majority of the other districts in the country. Due to gerrymandering District 23 is known as the Ribbon of Shame and during the elections she has a 10 to 15 percent registration advantage before any vote is cast, something like giving one of the two teams in the Super Bowl a three-touchdown advantage before the game starts. Now that Mrs. Capps is part of the minority she is likely to be even less effective. Unfortunately, it is not likely that she’ll fight harder for our funds and try to make up for all those wasted years.

Albert Mercado served as foreman of the Santa Barbara Grand Jury 2006-2007



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