As I peer through the double murk of Madison City Commission-speak and Chuck Clement's reporting thereof, I find my hometown mayor and commissioners making an interesting political statement about our Congress... and maybe our Congresswoman.
The Madison City Commission voted Monday night to reject a call by the Lewis and Clark Rural Water System for its twenty member communities to pitch in $16 million dollars to complete the federally hamstrung project. Madison would contribute $470,500. Sioux Falls, the largest Lewis and Clark customer, would pay $7.5 million. Sioux Falls, which doesn't really need the water system, is voting no as well.
Check out Mayor Roy Lindsay's explanation of Madison's nay:
According to Lindsay, Madison's commissioners wanted to take a "wait and see" position on the water pipeline with the idea that funding attitudes might change in the U.S. Congress after the 2014 elections. The current Congress has upheld a ban on congressional earmarks during the last several years, which has derailed obtaining meaningful funding amounts for pipeline construction since FY2011.
"It centers around whether we want to commit money now or wait for the next congressional election," Lindsay said. "Right now, our water needs are not real critical, but for other (LCRWS) members like Luverne, Sheldon and the town of Hull in Iowa...they have more critical needs" [emphasis mine; Chuck Clement, "Madison Rejects Lewis and Clark Capital Call," Madison Daily Leader, 2013.10.22].
Did you catch that? We'd fund Lewis and Clark, but maybe we wouldn't need to if we got a new Congress...
...Congresswoman? No, Mayor Lindsay and the commissioners didn't say that. Our Congresswoman Kristi Noem has said the words Madison wants her to say about Lewis and Clark. She even got her balky House colleagues to cough up some money to match the friendlier funding the Senate offered, though not enough to avert the need for Lewis and Clark's current, seemingly doomed capital call.
So tell me if I'm wrong, Madison friends, but maybe, just maybe, Madison is admitting that when they want that good Washington gravy that keeps the home folks from having to foot the full bill of living on the prairie, that case is better made by a nice Democrat, someone like good old Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, who can speak with a straight face about the importance of federal investment in improving rural Americans' quality of life. Those words just don't have the same ring coming from a Ryan-budget Republican who's just as likely to shut the government down as she is to effectively advocate for expanding it to help her constituents.
Madison's City Commission isn't explicitly saying they want Noem out, but when they say they are hoping for a change in "funding attitudes" in Congress, it's pretty clear they want Noem's GOP Congress out.
Related Election Trivia: Madison city voters picked Herseth Sandlin over Noem in 2010, but only by 24 votes, less than 1%. In 2012, Madison's three wards picked Noem over Democrat Matt Varilek, but by just one vote.