UPDATE: Apparently, it’s more than the two ports mentioned in the AP article. According to The Billings Gazette, FIVE northern Montana towns will receive $15 million per port for upgrades. Not one of these ports is high traffic in any sense of the term. Here’s an excerpt:
Scarcely a week goes by in which members of Montana’s congressional delegation fail to report proudly on federal funding that’s coming to Montana. So it wasn’t surprising to see Montana Sen. Jon Tester welcoming stimulus money that would upgrade five of Montana’s 14 ports of entry along the Canada border. The senator voted for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and previously had told Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano that the northern U.S. border needs security upgrades to meet 21st-century threats from terrorists and drug traffickers.
What kind of deal has Max Baucus (a so-called ‘centrist’ Democrat) made with the government? Remember, Baucus is the main sponsor of the Senate Finance Committee’s Healthcare Bill. Is there some kind of political quid pro quo going on?
Original Post from earlier:
While researching the American Police Group connections to Hardin, Montana, I ran across an article that might be related. The Associated Press ran a report on September 18, 2009 revealing plans for a Department of Homeland Security checkpoint in two virtually untraveled border towns, Scobey and Whitetail, Montana.
DHS has allocated a staggering $31 million toward the project, despite the fact that this area sees little to no traffic between countries.
The spending was lauded by Montana’s two senators, even though only an average of 22 cars a day traveled through these border posts.
/SNIP/ When we got to Scobey, the few people we encountered couldn’t have been nicer. Everyone we passed stopped, said hello, or waved. But encountering people was the problem — and in fact, the story: We just didn’t encounter that many. Certainly not at the border, where we stood and even sat in the middle of the road to show viewers how few people travel to and from Canada here.
The AP report goes on:
The Scobey border crossing itself seemed perfectly adequate. But the Department of Homeland Security had warned its agents not to allow us inside, so we don’t know what the interior is like. If we came in, we would be too disruptive, one government spokesman had informed us. In Scobey, that claim seemed a little far-fetched, since there wasn’t anything going on here — disruptive or otherwise.
On the Canadian side, farmer Marc Chabot, a U.S. citizen whose family has farmed the area on both sides of the border for generations, said he was grateful for the money his senators — Democrats Max Baucus and Jon Tester — steered to northeast Montana. But, he said, like others in the community, he gasped when he learned of the plan to spend $31 million expanding two border crossings that are rarely used.
“It would be wiser spent on something more useful to the public generally,” he told us, adding that come winter, the average of 20 cars crossing a day in Scobey drops to almost none.
It’s an interesting area. Scobey is just up the road from little old Hardin, Montana. And not too much further toward North Dakota, you can follow the path to the Minot Air Force Base. And a short drive south will take you to Billings and then to Yellowstone (where President Obama recently visited — hmm…)
Whitetail is another tiny town.
In Whitetail, it was even quieter. The town has grain elevators and a post office. Bureau of Transportation statistics show only about two people a day cross the border there, and the agents’ building seemed in good shape, save for maybe needing a paint job.
The DHS planned to spend $15 million on the outpost. That would buy a lot more paint than the building seemed to need. So why did these two areas get so much money? Locals and critics suspect politics might have played a role.
So, what’s up in Montana? If the truth is out there, Mulder, we’ll find it.