Should a simple bus shelter -- basically a few benches covered by a roof -- cost as much to build as a three-bedroom house?
That's a question that is provoking outrage and official embarrassment in the southern Oregon city of Grants Pass, which this week signed off on a project to build five bus shelters at an estimated cost of $106,000 apiece.
To some, the price tag is particularly galling given the increasingly fierce competition for dwindling federal highway dollars, which are paying for the project.
"The price is obviously high," said Grants Pass Mayor Mike Murphy, clearly chagrined at the negative publicity his city is getting. "It makes everyone want to hold their nose and gag a little bit here."
But he said the city has little control over the construction cost, which is dictated by a combination of federal and state spending rules. So what was supposed to be a symbol of civic progress instead has turned into an object lesson in the way government makes itself look bad.
"The feeling in the community is this is an outrageous use of federal money and so we should turn it down," Murphy said. All that would do, he said, is send the dollars elsewhere and deprive the city -- population 33,225 -- and its small, four-route bus system of some attractive shelters.
But there's nothing to cut from the federal budget!
And what would the children do, if we cut even a single dollar? What of the children? And the clowns?
Hat tip: Laughing Conservative.