Around the Watchdogs: Cranberry caucus, harbor to nowhere

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Photo - Cranberries have their own caucus in Congress now. No, we're not kidding. That and more in this edition of "Around the Watchdogs." (AP Photo by Larry Crowe)
Cranberries have their own caucus in Congress now. No, we're not kidding. That and more in this edition of "Around the Watchdogs." (AP Photo by Larry Crowe)
Watchdog,Jennifer Peebles

We all know the story of the first Thanksgiving: The Pilgrims' lobbyists sat down with the Indians' lobbyists. In a 12-hour, behind-closed-door session in the smoke-filled back room of a cabin in Plymouth, they decided that a turkey drumstick would be earmarked for each group.

Well, not really. But in this pre-Turkey Day installment of "Around the Watchdogs," we learn that there really is a cranberry caucus.

You can't get there from here: Alaska never did get the "Bridge to Nowhere" it wanted, but it now has a "harbor to nowhere" to go with its "airport to nowhere." Akutan -- the island in the Aleutians that already had the airport to nowhere -- is spending $29 million in federal stimulus funds to build a harbor two miles from the nearest village, with no road in between.

Reports KUCB radio, the NPR affiliate in Unalaska, Alaska:

For now, the harbor is mostly just a big hole in the ground. While the construction team has finished its work, there’s still no electricity, no running water, and no floats. There’s also no road from the village, which is two miles away, so the only way to access the boat harbor is by boat. That means the harbor is cut off from the village’s grocery store, post office and fuel dock. Steve Boardman is head of the Army Corps of Engineers’ civil projects division. He says transportation situation is unusual.

“Yes. It’s not normal. And it has prevented the construction of harbors in the past, when that supporting infrastructure is not there.”

The name "Akutan," according to a 1967 professional paper written for the U.S. Geological Survey, may come from the Aleut word "hakuta," which was said to mean "I made a mistake." Coincidence? You decide.

We know of a former four-star general who needs a job: The watchdog group Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington is taking on what it calls "the real scandal involving generals": Generals retiring and going through the revolving door to big-bucks jobs at military contractors. We haven't read to the end of this one yet, so we haven't yet found out how Jill Kelley shows up in it.

Aren't IGs supposed to report wrongdoing? Over at the Securities and Exchange Commission, "a former assistant inspector general is suing the agency claiming that he was fired for reporting wrongdoing, including security breaches and misconduct among top officers," reports Judicial Watch's Corruption Chronicles.

FOIA portal: Federal News Radio 1500-AM has audio of its "FEDTalk" show on the new federal Freedom of Information Act portal, featuring discussion with federal FOIA ombudsman Miriam Nisbet and Rick Blum from the Sunshine in Government Initiative.

What San Bernardino and Twinkies have in common: Reuters goes behind the scenes with a special report on the bankruptcy of San Bernardino, Calif.:

Little by little, over many years, the salaries and retirement benefits of San Bernardino's city workers — and especially its police and firemen — grew richer and richer, even as the city lost its major employers and gradually got poorer and poorer.

News from Congress:

POGO is giving a pat on the back to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, for helping put the brakes on an anti-leak bill that critics say would silence whistleblowers.

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., has written a letter to Treasury Security Tim Geithner to ask about the emails his department is accused of sitting on concerning a possible carbon tax.

And the cranberry caucus. Yes, the Sunlight Reporting Group says, it came into existence this past summer. Its chairs: Republican Sen. Scott Brown, who recently lost his bid for re-election, and Democratic Sen. John Kerry, whose name has been floated -- no pun intended -- for secretary of state.

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