The Avenue News - - Letters -


From: Del. Pat McDonough,

7th Leg­isla­tive District

The fa­mil­iar blimps that have been our neigh­bors in the sky for many years have be­come a dis­turb­ing story as we learn more about them. The JLENS project cost tax­pay­ers $2.7 bil­lion. These funds, which could have been used to cre­ate jobs, fi­nance ed­u­ca­tion, and pro­mote other needed projects, were wasted since the blimps are be­ing phased out. A 2012 report by the Pen­tagon’s Op­er­a­tional Test & Eval­u­a­tion Of­fice faulted the sys­tem and rated its re­li­a­bil­ity as poor.

Sen­a­tor John McCain (R, Ari­zona) and oth­ers lam­pooned the trou­bled sys­tem, and Gov­er­nor Mike Huck­abee ridiculed the run­away blimp on na­tional TV as a ‘bag of gas.’ Huck­abee said, “They could not get rid of the blimps be­cause the govern­ment had too much money in­vested in them.”

One ma­jor em­bar­rass­ment un­folded last spring when a U.S. Postal worker landed an air­craft called a gy­ro­copter on the lawn of the U.S. Capi­tol. The blimps should have iden­ti­fied the gy­ro­copter long be­fore it en­tered Wash­ing­ton, D.C., airspace. Con­gress­man Dutch Rup­pers­berger (D, Mary­land) who serves on the House De­fense Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Sub­com­mit­tee was one of the chief cheer­lead­ers for the JLENS blimp project. “The JLENS work­ers will be buy­ing homes, shop­ping in our gro­cery stores, and eating in our restau­rants,” said Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Rup­pers­berger. The blimps were built by de­fense con­trac­tor Raytheon and, since 1999, the com­pany has do­nated $1.6 mil­lion through its po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tee. Rup­pers­berger has re­ceived $91,250 from Raytheon over the years, the high­est amount of con­tri­bu­tions to any mem­ber of Congress, ac­cord­ing to The Cen­ter for Re­spon­sive Pol­i­tics.

I be­lieve that Dutch Rup­pers­berger ‘owns’ this failed pro­gram that cost tax­pay­ers $2.7 bil­lion in wasted fund­ing. ‘Dutch’s blimps’ squan­dered funds that could have been used for ed­u­ca­tion, jobs and vet­er­ans. The cozy re­la­tion­ship be­tween Con­gress­man Rup­pers­berger and Raytheon Cor­po­ra­tion is trou­bling. The tax­pay­ers de­serve a fed­eral au­dit and in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the JLENS blimp pro­gram.

Let us know your opin­ions, con­cerns, crit­i­cisms, praise, ar­gu­ments, analy­ses, rem­i­nis­cences, gripes, re­sponses, or any­thing else you want us to know

to the EDI­TOR at let­ters@ av­enu­e­news. com,

on­line at www.av­enu­e­news. com or by mail at 4 N. Cen­ter Place, Bal­ti­more, MD 21222. Walk-ins are wel­come too. Anony­mous let­ters will not be printed.

Let­ters must in­clude the writer’s street or neigh­bor­hood of res­i­dence and phone num­ber.

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