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The ability of government to waste money knows no limits. For over 80 years a nonprofit group of horticulturalists have maintained the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens in Upper Montclair, NJ. The gardens are home to 2,000 varieties of irises and it attracts an international audience each spring when they are in bloom.
The garden's trustees decided that it's too expensive to keep it going with private fundraising so they're looking to sell the property. They have an endowment but it has decreased in value with the recession and the annual maintenance costs have gone up.
Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. answered the call. He's pledged $1.1 million of our tax dollars to purchase the gardens. He'll then lease it back to the foundation which runs the place for $1 per year. So, they get $1.1 million dollars, and we get...? I don't know, what do we get exactly?
We get hosed. Look, I've got nothing against flowers. The irises they feature are indeed beautiful. But come on now. There are lots of rich liberal dilletantes in Montclair, any one of whom could write a check to keep these gardens afloat. Actress Olympia Dukakis and NY Giants football star Michael Strahan call it home. Drive around the area where the gardens are located and you'll see streets lined with magnificient old mansions. Their main street features an ever changing eclectic mix of trendy shops and fusion restaurants which cover every type of cuisine imaginable.
Montclair touts itself as a bastion of multiculturalism and liberal values (Obama by 87%). Their township council routinely passes resolutions condemning everything from racism to the war in Iraq as well as urging the US to solve the problem of global climate change. That is, they tilt at all the standard lefty windmils. Which is why, when they see a problem, they only see one solution, and it always involves the government. They don't put their own money where their mouth is; not when they can get the taxpayers to do it for them.
So, we're bailing out a flower garden.
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