November 26, 2005: Headlines: Figures: COS - Nepal: Politics: Congress: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: James Walsh is known as money man in upstate New York

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Nepal: RPCV James Walsh (Nepal) : Special Report: RPCV Congressman James Walsh: November 26, 2005: Headlines: Figures: COS - Nepal: Politics: Congress: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: James Walsh is known as money man in upstate New York

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James Walsh is known as money man in upstate New York

James Walsh is known as money man in upstate New York

Walsh, a moderate, said he tries to avoid the ideological battles that divide many of his colleagues. The 58-year-old former social worker and Peace Corps volunteer spends his spare time on the Hill trying to promote democracy in Nepal and peace in Northern Ireland. Congressman James Walsh of New York served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nepal in the 1960's.

James Walsh is known as money man in upstate New York

Local officials say they appeal to congressman to secure cash

Erin Kelly
Washington Bureau

(November 26, 2005) — WASHINGTON — When Al Fagan and his neighbors noticed an explosion of weeds choking out the fish in Sodus Bay, they appealed to Rep. James T. Walsh for help.

When Irondequoit officials had a plan to revitalize their aging waterfront, they went to Walsh for money to build a boulevard to the harbor.

And when Wayne County officials sought aid to build an $8 million sewage treatment facility to help clean the waterways that flow into Lake Ontario, they too turned to Walsh.

Walsh responded by bringing home more than $250,000 to help clean pollution from Sodus Bay, $8 million for Irondequoit to build the Sea Breeze Parkway, and more than $4 million to help build the new wastewater treatment plant in Wolcott.

In all three cases, Rochester-area community leaders appealed to Walsh because they knew he could deliver. After nearly 17 years in office, the genial Republican from Onondaga, Onondaga County, has become one of the most powerful money men in the House.

Walsh is one of just 10 "cardinals," the unofficial title of those who chair House Appropriations subcommittees that decide how to spend billions in federal tax dollars and steer a good portion of that money to their home states.

Walsh's staff estimates he has provided roughly a billion dollars to economically struggling upstate New York during the past decade.

"Because of Congressman Walsh, we've had a major stream of federal funding come through to help us," said David Schantz, supervisor for the town of Irondequoit.

That aid is especially important in an area that is striving to remake itself after big layoffs by companies such as Eastman Kodak Co. and Xerox Corp.

"This is not a wealthy area. There's a shortage of jobs, so we really desperately needed the help," said Fagan, a neighborhood leader and past president of Save Our Sodus community group.

But Walsh warns that pressure to cut spending to help pay for hurricane relief, the Iraq War, the new Medicaid prescription drug plan and other expenses is likely to reduce the amount of money he can get this year for New York and his district.

"We've had to cut discretionary spending for the first time in 20 years," Walsh said in an interview in his Capitol Hill office, which is adorned with fly-fishing lures. "So, no, I don't expect to get as much money this year as I have in the past."

The congressman has averaged more than $100 million a year in earmarked projects for upstate New York during the past six years or so, said spokesman Dan Gage. No one is sure how much that might drop this year, Gage said.

Even if the federal pie is shrinking, Walsh is in a position to help the people of the greater Rochester area continue to get a bigger-than-average slice, said Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., who chairs the full House Appropriations Committee.

"Jim is one of the most aggressive members around in making sure his district and his state do well," Lewis said.


But Democrats who work with Walsh on the Appropriations Committee said he is seen as bipartisan. "He puts the interests of veterans above partisan politics," said Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Texas, the senior Democrat on Walsh's subcommittee.

Walsh, a moderate, said he tries to avoid the ideological battles that divide many of his colleagues. The 58-year-old former social worker and Peace Corps volunteer spends his spare time on the Hill trying to promote democracy in Nepal and peace in Northern Ireland.

"I don't particularly like to fight with people," Walsh said. "Maybe it comes from being a middle child and trying to get along with everybody."

Because he likes to get along doesn't mean he lacks ambition. In hopes of becoming chairman of the full Appropriations Committee when Lewis leaves the post in 2010, Walsh has formed a political action committee called COLDPAC to raise money to help his fellow Republicans and earn some favors.

"I'm laying the groundwork," Walsh said. "I've learned that with enough patience and perseverance, you can usually get what you want."

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Story Source: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

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