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pressed communities of America that are suffering from unemployment. We appreciate your coming, and we want to thank you for having shared this information with us.
Mr. CLEVELAND. I would like to compliment the witness on his testimony, and while you are going back in the plane, or while you are sitting in your office contemplating the horror's the Federal Governhas bestowed upon vou, I would appreciate--and I think the committee would appreciate-if vou would enlarge on that list of invitees.
I think it is very significant how many different State and local and Federal agencies are now involved in the general problem of strengthening rural America, refurbishing rural America, and I just think a listing of all those agencies present the committee and present the Congress with a problem because we have too many people involved in this. It seems to me we might almost be defeating the very purpose we are interested in. I can understand your problems, and all these other people that have problems; I can see where a great deal of time would be consumed and wasted just in finding out which of these agencies one should co to, to get help. If you put yourself in the place of the general public, I can see somebody wandering around vour district for davs and weeks and months, seeking help, only to find the place to which he has gone is not quite the right place, and to be told, perhaps you should try another agency. It is almost a nightmare, or a briar patch, whatever you want to call it, with all of these different governmental agencies.
Mr. Gicoux. In summary I would like to say one thing. I think the success of the EDA program is its willingness to move this block of money without partisan polities. The Board is rational, and partisan politics, in both of the districts that I have been in, has never entered into a deliberation-never. We have some very staunch Republicans, and we have some very staunch Democrats on the Board in both districts that I have served. Partisan politics has never come in, but when it gets down to the feedback, we are looking at in trying to develop these depressed areas, partisan politics has a diminishing
In this respect I think the Congressmen on the committee who have helped to design this act have done a service in that they have given this monev to these boards of directors who hire people like us, and give us a free rein.
EDA has encouraged us not to tie ourselves to EDA, but to look to all programs. I think this has been disconcerting to some of the agencies. In the other side of the table, I might have the same feeling some of them do, because we are able to wheel and deal in these areas, and in many respects, because of the bureaucratic ladder, this has been the thing that has thwarted a lot of their efforts and made us more successful.
It is not right for a Federal civil service emplovee--and this has happened-at a meeting on July 3 to write a supervisor-he asked me to write his supervisor and ask that he be permitted to attend this meeting in which he should have been in attendance. To me that man should not have to write for permission to go to a meeting in his district that is of concem to his agency. I think that is the difference between the two programs. We are responsive to the local people, and the civil service employee has his hands tied behind his back in many instances.
Mr. WRIGHT. Without objection, Forms ED 503 and 612 of the Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, will he inserted into the record.
(The forms referred to appear in the appendix at pp. 683 and 650.) Mr. WRIGHT. The gentleman from Illinois, Mr. Gray, a long time active member of this committee, chairman of one of the great subcommittees of the Public Works Committee, the Subcommittee on Buildings and Grounds, has asked for the privilege of being heard, and of course we are thoroughly delighted to hear from Mr. Gray at this point.
(Mr. Clausen assumed the Chair.)
STATEMENT OF HON. KENNETH J. GRAY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF ILLINOIS
Mr. Gray. Mr. Chairman, I first want to congratulate you and the other members of the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight for your initiative in serving the public interest by scheduling these hearings to discuss an array of subjects relating to redtape, unnecessary paperwork, and unconscionable delays in approving feasible, economically justified projects.
Mr. Chairman, I am vitally interested in all of the programs authorized by the Public Works Committee, but would like to confine my remarks today to the operation of the Economic Development Administration. I have always tried to have an even temperament and to look upon life and my fellow coworkers in Government with respect and dignity.
However, I would be derelict in my duty as a member of this committee and as a Member of the Congress of the United States if I did not call it as I see it. The administration of the Economic Development Administration left much to be desired under the Johnson administration. But if possible, it is much worse under the Nixon administration.
I am sorry to report that certain officials of the Economic Development Administration have practiced deceit, and have outright lied to me and members of my staff, in the conduct of my official duties. I have so many examples of political shenanigans being pulled by the Economic Development Administration that it would take all day to recite my experiences.
I might interrupt my prepared testimony to point out that the previous witness said that he was glad that his development agency did not have any politics in it, and he had a free rein by EDA. I think if he is still around, and he listens to my testimony, he will find that the politics is all practiced at the top level.
In an effort to save time, let me categorically state that the three downstate Democratic districts in Illinois represented by Democratic Congressmen have been denied needed assistance because of what I believe to be political considerations.
Mr. Chairman, this is a harsh statement, but I have in my hand an Economic Development Administration copy of approved projects as of June 30, 1970, the last official publication of the Economic Development Administration. In this compilation you will find more
than 50 approved projects during the Johnson administration. These three downstate districts, where the majority of designated counties in Illinois are located, since the Nixon administration has been in office, these same needy counties have experienced very little. Outside of three or four small planning grants, only one project of any substance has been approved in my 22-county congressional district in over a year, although dozens of bona fide and economically justified applications have been submitted.
Mr. Chairman, in addition to the denial of these needed funds, the thing that concerns me more than anything else is the deceit practiced by top officials of the Economic Development Administration. Let me cite two recent examples: The city of West Frankfort, Ill., my hometown, has had an application pending for more than 3 years for a badly needed sewer improvement. It is in an eligible EDA county that has more than 8 percent unemployed. My office staff had made dozens of calls, written scores of letters, and I personally made two visits down to the Economic Development Administration's Washington office concerning this project.
On last Tuesday, June 15, my administrative assistant, Miss Margaret Bergin, called the Economic Development Administration concerning the project and was told, “We will check into it and let you know.” No reply came. I am submitting a copy of a letter Miss Bergin wrote last Friday, June 18, to EDA on the same subject.
I am also enclosing a statement signed by Mr. William (). Nolen, who called Mr. Ralph Thompson of the Congressional Liaison Office on Friday, June 18, and was told by Mr. Thompson, “It will be the first of the year before we get this done."
Mr. Chairman, the day before yesterday, Monday, June 21, I was handed the letter I hold in my hand, dated June 21, 1971. You can see it is not an ordinary letter. It is marked in red: “Special Messenger Delivery.” This letter was handed to me after 3 p.m. on Monday of this week, June 21. It was signed by Mr. Charles A. Fagan III, for Robert A. Podesta, Assistant Secretary for Economic Development, announcing a $678,000 grant and a $152,000 loan for the West Frankfort project. Please notice on the special delivery envelope that it was delivered by special messenger after 3 p.m. on June 21, 1971.
Mr. Chairman, I spent approximately $25 of the taxpayers' money in calling several television-radio stations and newspapers in southern Illinois, only to find out that the mayor of this 9,000-population community was notified by phone and by letter 1 week before of this approval. The call and the letter came to the mayor from the office of Senator Percy, Republican, of Illinois.
I hold in my hand, Mr. Chairman, a copy of my hometown news-
Mr. Chairman, I am not politically naive, but to notify a Member of
for the hundreds of EDA workers, only to be notified 1 week after your hometown mayor has announced a project you have been working on for 3 years, is both embarrassing and a slap at Congress.
Second, why does EDA spend taxpayers' money to send a messenger to Capitol Hill to deliver a special delivery letter whose contents were published for all to see 1 week before! Even the slow mail service could beat that by several days.
Mr. Chairman, let me give you another concrete example of the deliberate deceit on the part of EDA officials. For many months, my office and the officials of the city of Mount Vernon, ill., had been working on an application to have EDA designate Mount Vernon as a growth center. I can document in my office more than 25 calls and letters concerning this project.
Mind you, Mr. Chairman, it did not call for any funds at the present time, but merely a designation that would make this county eligible to submit applications for assistance. In early February of this year, I was told by both Washington and Chicago offices of EDA that the application was "being considered, but nothing expected in the way of approval for several months."
On March 1, 1971, I again called EDA to get the same report, nothing pending. Ironically, on the same day, March 1, 1971, Mr. William 0. Nolen, of my staff, called Mr. Ralph Thompson, of Congressional Liaison, and was told emphatically the Mount Vernon, Ill., application had been sent back to the Chicago region for additional information from the applicant.
Mr. Chairman, I notified the news media and city officials that they should not expect any action on the Mount Vernon project for some time. This appeared in all the news media, newspapers, radio, and TV. The very next day the Assistant Secretary for Economic Development, Mr. Podesta, sent out a press release, dated March 2, 1971, designating Mount Vernon as a growth center.
This, of course, made headlines in the Mount Vernon Daily Register on March 2, 1971. I was not notified until March 5, 1971; but please keep in mind Mr. Chairman, that less than 24 hours after responsible officials of EDA emphatically stated an application would not be approved for several months the community was notified of approval, and 4 days before I received notice at that.
Mr. Chairman, this type of shoddy treatment is unconscionable. The people who work for EDA are disnensing taxpayers money, not their own. Thev are drawing pay and subsistence from the same people that you and I serve, the taxpayers. If these officials acted in this manner in private business, they would be fired immediately.
Obviously, there is a crying need for at least a little bit of honesty, and certainly more diligence on the part of EDA officials.
Let me, if I may, point out at this juncture that Illinois is the fifth largest State in the Union, and the fourth largest taxpaver to the Federal Treasury. Yet, the more than 11 million people of Illinois are receiving nothing but crumbs from this program under the Republican administration.
I can assure you that the West Frankfort project that was approved abruptly the day these hearings started would not have been approved if it were not for the fact that this committee was looking into the
redtape and mismanagement of EDA. Let me point out, I know I will
While EDA officials are present in the room, I would be glad to yield to anyone who would like to explain why over 50 bona fide projects were approved during 2 years of the Johnson administration, and practically none during the 21/2 years of the Nixon administration.
I might also point out, parenthetically, that Mr. Podesta, the Assistant Secretary for Economic Development, is from Illinois. The only thing you can read into this fact is he certainly has not played favoritism with his own State; however, this is very little consolation to coal mining communities and areas such as Cairo and East St. Louis that are hard hit economically.
I realize we have a quorum call, and I will conclude in about 2 more minutes, but let me point out in Cairo, Ill., the 1960 census showed 12,800 people. The 1970 census just concluded shows it at 6,000 people. That community has lost--think of it-half its population in the 10year period. Yet ask them how many projects have been approved in Cairo or vicinity? They gave them a little planning grant to study their problems. We have been studied to death.
Mr. Chairman, this is particularly sad when you realize that we are not included in the Appalachian Redevelopment Act, yet our problems are essentially similar to the coalfields of Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and other States in the Appalachian region.
I have supported Appalachia, but I am indeed unhappy with EDA'S performance. We are getting more assistance in southern Illinois from Housing and Urban Development, Farmers Home Administration, and other agencies that are not directly concerned with economic development than we are from EDA. In fact, Mr. Chairman, the Farmers Home Administration has approved more water and sewer projects in my district in the past 2 months than EDA has approved in the past 2 years.
Mr. Chairman, as I stated earlier, it is not my temperament to be critical, but if this administration is treating all States as shabbily as they are Illinois under the EDA programs, we might as well abolish the act.
I have many more concrete examples of arbitrarv practices that I could enumerate; however, I am sure the examples I have given unequivocally point out that a complete overhaul of EDA is long overdue.
Thank you for giving me an opportunity to vent my frustrations concerning the Economic Development Administration.
(Mr. Wright assumed the chair.)
Mr. WRIGHT. Without objection the documents to which Mr. Gray has referred will be made a part of the record at this point.
(The documents referred to follow :)