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Politics is big in these parts, and we’ve got it covered. John Arthur Hutchison and other staff writers will offer their inside information on the events, big news and little moments of the local political scene in Lake, Geauga and eastern Cuyahoga counties.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

LaTourette's new committee brings more influence on spending federal dollars

It's easy to think U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette's appointment to the House Appropriations Committee is good for people who live within Ohio’s 14th Congressional District.

It will mean there is a strong voice representing Lake, Geauga, Ashtabula and parts of four other counties when it comes to making decisions about where federal money will be spent.

LaTourette has told me over the years that the government is going to spend money regardless, and if Congress doesn’t come up with a way to do it then the sitting president will.

He often argues that if money is going to be spent why not bring that money back to Northeast Ohio. It seems to be a good point with voters who overwhelmingly have elected the eight-term congressman by hefty margins.

Even with the momentum Democrats rode in the Nov. 4 election, LaTourette, a Bainbridge Township Republican, still won comfortably, one of the few in his party who can make such a claim.

I often hear of local governments talking about how if they can get federal funding for a project it would really help it come to fruition. Also it typically makes projects cheaper on the local level when residents are asked to pay for their share. Think water and sewer line assessments.

For example, Lake County commissioners would rather see Lost Nation Airport remain open than it closing in 2016 because the city of Willoughby wants to get out from owning the facility and they won’t accept any more Federal Aviation Administration improvement funds that come with the stipulation that an airport remain open for 20 years afterward.

Commissioners have sought more than $1 million to help them pay to acquire the airport’s asset. Without federal funding, that airport will close.

Some people think it might be wiser to let the airport close, so before any major decision is made and before commissioners plan to accept money from the federal government to buy the airport, a study to determine the best course of action for the airport is being conducted by the Lake County Port Authority.

If the decision is ultimately made to keep the airport open, you can bet that LaTourette will now be in a better position to make sure that happens with the federal funds.

Painesville is also working to find money to help tear down LakeEast Hospital in Painesville after Lake Hospital System moves to Tripoint Medical Center in Concord Township.

If the city can’t secure funding from the state, they’ve already inquired with LaTourette’s office to help get some federal funding. I’m sure Painesville likes its chances of getting this funding a lot more knowing the local congressman sits on the Appropriations Committee.

— John Arthur Hutchison


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