Grassley Comment on Wasteful Spending at Public Housing Authorities

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa has been tracking wasteful spending at public housing authorities including those in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Puerto Rico.  He made the following comment on an audit released today, showing the Philadelphia Housing Authority wasted millions of dollars from the federal stimulus package.  The audit is available here.

"This audit is the latest example of the Philadelphia Housing Authority's, and ultimately HUD's, failure to protect residents and taxpayers.  The housing authority has been a Bermuda Triangle for tax dollars. The primary people being helped are shady developers and law firms.  It's frustrating to see such blatant abuse of tax dollars.  The stimulus act included $4 billion for public housing agencies nationwide.  The millions of stimulus dollars wasted in Philadelphia call into question whether the rest of the $4 billion was wasted just as badly.  The Philadelphia Housing Authority is the fourth-largest in the country, and it paid millions of dollars to outside law firms to obstruct inspector general audits.  If other housing agencies are as troubled, and with the Obama administration's requiring little accountability for spending, we might never know whether stimulus money for housing was spent as intended or how much went down the drain."

Grassley Presses Agency for Answers on Wireless Network Project

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa is seeking disclosure and transparency from the Federal Communications Commission about a new wireless Internet network project that appears on a fast track for approval from the agency, despite concerns about the impact on other technologies and possible financial problems behind the operation.

"This project is controversial for two reasons.  One, there are questions about whether it will block GPS technology, which is important to agriculture and other industries.  Two, the principal behind this project is said to be under investigation by another agency for his financial dealings," Grassley said.  "The FCC's unusual fast-tracking of this project before its effects have been fully tested raises questions about whether the agency did its due diligence.   I'm looking for answers to these questions so taxpayers can be assured that the government is treating public property the way it ought to be treated.   So far, the FCC hasn't provided any of the information I've requested.  It should, in the interest of transparency in doing the public's business."

Grassley recently wrote to the FCC, asking for information related to the agency's consideration of the LightSquared project, which various industries warn would produce signals that could jam existing navigation systems used in farming, air travel, law enforcement, by the military and in general consumer navigation.  The head of the hedge fund behind the project told investors that his firm is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for allegations of market manipulation, according to media reports.  The firm has been the subject of considerable media attention for losing large amounts of money and other controversies including whether the firm should have told investors in a timely fashion about a $113 million loan it extended to the principal of the firm.

Grassley has not received the information he requested from the FCC.  "This is an agency with a lot of power over public air waves," Grassley said.  "I'll continue to ask for information in the public's interest."

This week, officials in the Las Vegas area say GPS could be unavailable as LightSquared technology is tested, causing concern for military operations and other non-commercial pilots.

The FCC has granted a conditional waiver for LightSquared to proceed with its wireless network.  A coalition of groups has objected to what it considers the unprecedented speed with which the FCC is allowing the company to move forward.

The text of Grassley's letter to the FCC is available here.

Grassley Urges Action for Keystone Pipeline with Canada

Senator Says the Decision is Important for American Consumers Paying High Gas Prices

WASHINGTON - Senator Chuck Grassley is urging Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to make a prompt decision on the international Keystone XL pipeline project.

"Consumers need action on high gas prices, and we ought to move forward on this project." Grassley said about his letter to Clinton.  "Canada is a steady and reliable neighbor.  The pipeline needs to be built safely and responsibly.  And, whether or not the United States approves the project, the oil will be produced in Canada, and if it doesn't come to the United States, then China likely will get it.  So, this project is one thing the administration can be doing and should be doing to increase the supply of energy and thereby reduce prices at the pump for consumers."

The Keystone XL pipeline was approved more than a year ago by the Canadian National Energy Board.  It would provide 830,000 barrels of crude oil a day and help to counteract both insufficient domestic oil supplies in the United States and reduce dependence on less reliable foreign sources, including Venezuela, Libya or OPEC members.

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