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Charleston Daily Mail -- Short Takes: March 2, 2013

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- POLITICIANS in Oklahoma created an airport that functions like a giant ATM to draw money from the Federal Aviation Administration. The Lake Murray State Park Airport is "an airport without passengers," according to the Washington Post.

Lake Murray may be the only airport in the world where a plane landing once a week is considered heavy traffic. "Fantasy Island" saw more landings.

Despite this, the airport has drawn $900,000 since 2007 from a federal tax on airline passenger tickets and fuel used by airlines. The state uses it elsewhere.

"This is a direct gift from your congressman and senators," said Victor Bird, director of the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission, which handles the money the government gets for Lake Murray. "Everybody's going to get something here, and we're going to take some."

The Obama administration threatened to close air-control towers under sequester, but not Lake Murray or its 495 cousins.

• • •
 
THE $22,600 router that hooks up one computer at the Marmet Public Library, which is open three days a week, drew scrutiny at a congressional hearing this week.

The router was one of 1,164 routers the state

purchased for $24 million using federal money —

including money from the $787 billion stimulus.

"We're talking about millions and millions of

dollars here that were wasted," railed Congressman Greg Walden, R-Ore.

Indeed we are, but the bigger question is why a router in Marmet is the responsibility of a federal government that borrows $1 out of every $3 it spends.

No one opposes extending high-speed Internet

access to remote places. Every line item in the

federal budget is backed by someone somewhere who thinks it is a good idea.

But Americans cannot afford them all.

What the $600 toilet did to military procurement, the $22,600 router should do to all government spending.

• • •
 
BLOOMBERG News reported that Caroline Kennedy, 55, is a leading candidate to become ambassador to Japan. Her support of President Obama in 2008 gave him credence in many circles.

While giving political supporters ambassadorships to safe countries like Japan are a longstanding tradition, Obama has played the game more often than other presidents.

"Obama has drawn ambassadors from the political ranks at a higher rate than the historical average of 30 percent, according to the American Foreign Service Association," the news service reported.

"In his first term, Obama nominated 59 ambassadors, including 40 fundraising bundlers, who lacked experience in the diplomatic corps."

When he took office, Obama boasted he would use "smart diplomacy."

Putting so many inexperienced people in positions of power is not smart. The Senate might want to pause in confirming more politicos as ambassadors.

• • •
 
PEOPLE in Falmouth, Mass., in the Cape Cod area, embraced wind turbines in 2010 as a way to produce green energy and save money.

Three years later, some are ready to ban them.

"It gets to be jet-engine loud," said Neil Andersen, who lives a quarter-mile away from a turbine.

"Every time the blade has a downward motion, it gives off a tremendous energy, gives off a pulse,"  Andersen told Fox News.

"And that pulse, it gets into your tubular organs, chest cavity, mimics a heartbeat, gives you headaches. It's extremely disturbing and it gets to the point where you have to leave."

Mankind has tried to harness wind power for

centuries to little avail. The recent push shows why it's so difficult. The blades kill birds and bats, the production of electricity is unreliable and expensive, and the turbines are too darned loud.

• • •
 
AFTER 12 years in the state Senate, Democrat Andy McKenzie won election as mayor of Wheeling. Judging from his fourth State of the City address, the experience has been illuminating.

McKenzie wants to eliminate the business and occupation tax for construction in downtown Wheeling.

"By eliminating barriers for development, I hope to encourage new investment and even give current businesses the opportunity to move into downtown."

Cities in West Virginia suffer because of legislative restrictions, something former Delegate Danny Jones learned when he became mayor of Charleston.

The state needs strong cities. It won't have them until lawmakers realize City Hall, not the Statehouse,  should make decisions.

• • •
 
TELECOMMUTING was the wave of the future. Not so long ago, traditional businesses were advised to allow workers to use the Internet to work at home.  

That may have been bad advice.

Upon taking over as chief executive officer of Yahoo, Marrissa Mayer rescinded telecommuting. Employees of the Internet company will work from work, not from home.

When the people who benefit most from telecommuting — Internet companies — stop telecommuting, it is time for non-Internet companies to reconsider this approach.


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