Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Gillibrand: Grants, Not Earmarks

Kirsten Gillibrand, the Congresswoman for NY-20, has come up with a great strategy for bringing money into her district. Rather than concentrate only on earmarks, she has her office helping her constituents apply for federal grant money.

In March, Gillibrand launched "grants central" on her Web site, and staff members in her D.C. office began counseling local officials on how to apply for grants.

Gillibrand's aides do not write the applications for the groups and officials seeking help. Instead, she said, she and her staff "facilitate" the grants by giving information to local residents and writing letters of support to accompany the applications.

Gillibrand jokes that half of her 15 staff members have become "experts" on grants. Staffers at the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service say no other office has contacted them for as much information about available grants.

Gillibrand also started up a regular electronic newsletter listing funding for farmers, firefighters, schools and local government. At first, the newsletter had about 30 subscribers. Now it has topped 1,000.

And the office has tallied up $11.7 million in grants to cities, counties and programs in upstate New York since she started the initiative.

They include:

$184,000 from the USDA to help the town of Schroon, Essex County, pay for the final upgrades to a wastewater treatment plant.

$172,900 from the Department of Homeland Security to help the Davenport (Delaware County) Fire Department buy new vehicles.

$278,000 from the USDA to help the small Catskill Mountain region town of Margaretville, Delaware County, replace a well destroyed by flooding.

That's what you get when you elect a smart person to Congress. A smart idea! And people who aren't trying to strangle government actually try to help it run properly. Competence!

Albany Times-Union: Gillibrand inspires $11.7M in grants
Representative builds ties with key groups through program that helps them apply for federal money

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