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City Of L.A. Has Hard Time Spending Free Stimulus Money -- 'Cause That's Hard Work Indeed

An audit by City Controller Wendy Greuel finds that key L.A. departments have only created about 55 jobs out of $111 million in federal stimulus money, her office announced Thursday.

The departments include transportation and public works, the latter of which created the most jobs (45) from the most cash (nearly $71 million), according to a statement from Greuel's office. Transportation (these are the folks that hand out traffic tickets, even when you're parked at a broken meter) got nearly $41 million and created a whopping 26 jobs.

Overall that's about $2 million in federal cash for every one job created in these departments. Wow.

"I'm disappointed that we've only created or retained 55 jobs after receiving $111 million in ARRA funds," Greuel stated. "With our local unemployment rate over 12 percent we need to do a better job cutting the red tape and putting Angelenos back to work."

The controller said it doesn't appear funds were misspent, but it does appear a better job could have been done to create jobs with the money.

Greuel also had a bone to pick with public works' tracking of the federal cash, which she was difficult to distinguish from city money. She also said public works did not "expend funds quickly" enough to do the, you know, actual economic stimulation stipulated by the feds. For example, the department appeared to have sat on contracts that could have been awarded faster.

(And this is the department that has had a hard time lately with keeping up with pothole repair, helping L.A. get the reputation as having the worst roads in the nation).

Transportation could have pulled the trigger quicker on contracts too, Greuel stated. It took the department at least seven months to send out four Federal Highway Administration projects out for bidding, for example. (They were too busy giving you tickets).

People are desperate for jobs. L.A.'s is "an economic basketcase." The Los Angeles Police Department can barely come up with the money to hire enough cops to keep up with attrition. Libraries are closed on Mondays. And the city can't spend millions of dollars in easy, few-strings-attached cash?

To this we say bravo to Greuel, and shame on a city bureaucracy that is so lame IT CAN'T EVEN SPEND FREE MONEY. Here is cash given to L.A. to basically throw around like a rapper making it rain at a strip club, and the geniuses at City Hall can't even do that right.

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