Bettman pays much needed attention to a practice that is creeping back into the budget process. In my view, earmarking was bad before and is equally bad now. And it's bad for the same reasons I articulated in Bigger than the Bennett report in February 2010:
As interesting as all of the juicy stories might be, and as important as CM Barry’s transgressions are, what is more important to me is what is embedded in the comment Ward 7 CM Yvette Alexander made at the release of the report: A lot of nonprofits serving residents east of the river rely on earmarks (go to 1:11:20).
What I believe is embedded in this statement:
- For some organizations it is too hard to compete for funding; it is easier to get earmarks
- Earmarks are less of a burden than regular grants or contracts
- Elected officials make better decisions about meeting needs than grant managers
- Elected officials can "tell" which organizations are good or worthwhile
There is still time for earmarks and lettermarks to be struck from the budget support act. If you believe they are a bad form of budgeting, email Council Chairman Phil Mendelson. But act soon; the second and final vote on the BSA is June 18.