It seems like everyone down in Florida is teaming up to undo what Rep. Don Young (R-AK) has done. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL)
and Rep. Connie Mack (R-FL) have taken up the cause of Lee County officials who want to use Young's infamous $10 million Coconut Road
earmark for a broader project.
Mack, congressman for the district where the projects sit, sent a letter
to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure asking the committee to allow Lee County "flexibility" in how it may use the money. Lee County officials voted last week to send back
the money to Congress in hopes of having it reauthorized for I-75.
The county wants the money to widen I-75, as was originally described in the bill approved by the House and Senate. But as Mack writes, "at some point after the conference report passed Congress but before the bill was signed by President George W. Bush, this language was changed." Despite Mack's tactful employment of the past tense, all signs are that Young or someone on his staff was behind the change.
The Coconut Road interchange would benefit a real estate developer who helped raise Young $40,000 a few days before he slipped the earmark into a 2005 highway bill.