12:04 PM EDT

Jeff Flake, R-AZ 6th

Mr. FLAKE. Mr. Chairman, this is another rerun amendment, because this bill contains another rerun earmark. I came last year to challenge the same earmark, and it's back.

This is the Fairplex Trade and Conference Center. It's located in Pomona, California, and more than one Member has been involved in the effort to secure earmark funding for this conference center.

According to the Web site, ``Fairplex is home to the annual L.A. County Fair and more than 300 other events each year. Included are consumer and trade shows, meetings, expositions, conventions, inter-track wagering, sporting events and agricultural events.'' Its Web site says that Fairplex is governed by the Los Angeles County Fair Association. The association is self-supporting and does not fall under the auspices of any county or State governmental body.

Now, Fairplex may not fall under the auspices of any county or State governmental body, but it has had its share of Federal funding over the years, which begs the question, is the association really self-supporting or not?

With a steady stream of earmark funding for the organization, I wonder if it is really dependent on this funding. Would Fairplex or the association be able to sustain its operation without annual earmarks? If it would, why do we need to do it in that case? Why would we have an organization that's either dependent on continued earmarks or one that could exist just fine without them?

Again, there are about 300 events at Fairplex every year. This year it hosted an international wine and spirits competition and an international extra virgin olive oil competition. It will have a 4th of July celebration next week. There is a Sheraton Suites hotel on the Fairplex campus.

With all of these sources of income, I really doubt that Fairplex needs a stream of taxpayer dollars that have come their way virtually every year. Why, this again begs the question, why are we doing this? Why is Federal money going here for a commercial venture? What makes Los Angeles County Fairgrounds more deserving than, say, Yazoo County, Mississippi; Cook County, Illinois or Slope County, North Dakota?

We certainly cannot fund every county fairground in the country. By choosing one or a few, we are picking winners and losers among them. I would appreciate an explanation as to how, out of the thousands of earmark requests that come, the committee narrows its list to a few hundred like this one in this bill.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

12:07 PM EDT

Grace Napolitano, D-CA 38th

Mrs. NAPOLITANO. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I am glad my colleague has stated the background of the fair, but I don't know if he knows it has been around for many decades. Yes, it is very well attended, hosts many functions, has all of the buildings that he is talking about. Yet it is still so old that a lot of it is in very, very serious stages of decay. By that, it needs some restructuring. But that's beside the point.

What this does is for a center to be made, and I'll read what it really is about. It's Fairplex Trade and Conference Center, will be 85,000 square foot, state-of-the-art conference and exhibition center, complete with broadband connectivity, campus-wide wireless integration, as well as satellite two-way communications gear, attracting and benefiting small business. It will have both small and medium-sized meeting rooms outfitted with high-tech equipment ideally suited to help small business during


This is an ideal setting to convene small businesses from my area and from outside of the United States to share their ideas and compatibilities to do business.

The amendment that is proposed by my colleague would strip the funding from the SBA account for construction of this non-profit entity, a building that will create jobs and provide businesses in a disadvantaged community. I am talking about the number one crime city in the State of California, that's Pomona.

Unfortunately, there has not been the foresight from the surrounding community to help combat crime or to try to provide more economic development. Pomona itself had not had a general plan of review in almost 30 years. They hadn't had new investments.

This will help bring all of that, not only to Pomona, but to the surrounding communities which Mr. Dreier, Mr. Miller and Ms. Solis are around, would help foster that economic growth by bringing together small businesses, entrepreneurships and being able to do international trade.

The center itself is projected to provide roughly 1,700 jobs and provide economic stimulus. Already, 90 small businesses have registered to work.

Mr. Chair, the trade conference is scheduled to cost $25 million, minimum. Of that, Fairplex is putting in $5 million; City of Pomona, $7 million; EDA competitive grants, $5 million; SBA, which we are hoping to be able to get, $250,000; and the county and State, $6,750,000 with private sponsorship putting in the rest.

This project could be so beneficial to my whole area, not just my communities, but to the whole general area that is not really part of Los Angeles proper. It is more into the Inland Empire and has been, what I call, a neglected area of Los Angeles County. It enjoys a lot of respect and a lot of support from not only the communities, but the many cities around it.

As my colleague has aptly pointed out, it hosts a whole slew of activities for the whole southern part of California. It is used also for Federal events.

We have had at least two times a year 4,000 naturalization swearing-in ceremonies. Iraqi elections were held there 2 years ago. As representative for the city, I am proud to support this economic development issue and to try to bring more business and jobs to my area.

I urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on my colleague Mr. Flake's amendment.

I also want to thank Mr. Dreier. This is not his bill nor his area, but he has always been very supportive of what we are trying to do. I certainly thank you for the time.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

12:11 PM EDT

Jeff Flake, R-AZ 6th

Mr. FLAKE. I have great respect for the gentlelady, as she knows. This is just one of many projects like this.

Mr. Chairman, again, I would simply make the point that the gentlelady mentioned, that there are millions and millions and millions of dollars contributed by State and local governments to this effort. There are millions of dollars that come in commercial transactions of conferences that are presented. This is simply $250,000. Why are we doing it at all? It clearly isn't dependent on the $250,000, I believe. Last year, because we didn't do earmarks in many of these bills, it didn't receive the

funding. It's still up and going just fine.

The question is why do we do this? Why does the committee feel it proper to actually designate funding for something like this when we have such dire needs elsewhere in the Federal budget?

That's what we are here for today. That's why we are challenging earmarks like this, particularly with this bill.

This bill, with financial services, in my view, it's kind of the soft underbelly of the earmarking world, where you have economic development earmarks, that you can justify economic development anywhere in the country. Spending money, by its very nature, generates economic activity. So you could justify any earmark anywhere if you simply say it generates economic activity, it's important to my district.

But when we do it in this fashion, we simply pick winners and losers out there. I wouldn't think that's our place. [Page: H7360]