Given to the biggest, most ridiculous or most ironic example of government spending or waste: Ralph’s Fountain at the corner of E. Lincoln Hwy. and 7th Street in DeKalb. Sometimes affectionately known as “Ralph’s Dirty Bookstore” Ralph’s Newsstand was a fixture for most of the 20th Century in DeKalb. Newspapers, magazines, odd Halloween costumes and an assortment of tobacco flavors were available early and or late.
A few years back the City of DeKalb acquired the property (TIF) and demolished the building (TIF). Now they’re putting up a fancy fountain (or maybe its a flower pot) — regardless of the economy (TIF). It was a small, taxpaying parcel. Located on a highly visible, high traffic corner. Now, it’s a park. A City-owned park. Forever tax-less in a City starved for tax revenue. Jeesh.
In practice and in spirit Ralph’s Fountain deserves the Sen. Proxmire Golden Fleece Award, DeKalb County style.
Senator William H. Proxmire is perhaps best remembered for his opposition to wasteful government spending. In 1971 he led a successful fight against financing the supersonic transport plane. Governmental mismanagement was also the prime target of his books, “Report from Wasteland” (1970), “Uncle Sam: the Last of the Bigtime Spenders” (1972), and “The Fleecing of America” (1980).
In March 1975 he sent out the first of 159 monthly Golden Fleece Awards that called attention to financial mismanagement by government officials. In his last two Senate campaigns, Proxmire refused to take any campaign contributions and spent less than $200 out of his own pocket on each campaign.