Twice a year, Center of the American Experiment presents its Golden Turkey Award to highlight wasteful government spending in the State of Minnesota. Each contest features four nominees, and thousands of Minnesotans vote to select the winner. This time around, the nominees included a $261,000 grant to the University of Minnesota to teach eagles not to fly into wind turbines; $6.2 million to study development of a half-mile long “land bridge” over the major highway between Minneapolis and St. Paul, the purpose being to remedy “road racism” that occurred 60 years ago when the highway bisected a black neighborhood along with various other neighborhoods; and $2.5 million from the City of Minneapolis to pay “Violence Interrupters” to patrol the streets in brightly colored t-shirts, in lieu of police officers.
But the winner was the Newport Transit Station, a state of the art, $6.45 million bus stop, the nicest and most expensive bus stop in the East Metro. Only problem: no buses stop there. We filmed this short video this morning, at the bus stop, to officially confer the award:
Before covid caused the routes that were supposed to use the Newport station to be shut down entirely, ridership at the $6.45 million bus stop averaged eight people a day.
We got the idea for the Golden Turkey from William Proxmire’s Golden Fleece awards of many years ago. Proxmire’s insight was that if you talk about billions of dollars, it has little impact. But if you tell people that the government is spending $400 per hammer, they get outraged.