August 17, 2011

Stimu-less In Seattle
Obama’s Weatherization Program Was Supposed To Provide Jobs, But Even By The Stimulus’ Dismal Standards It Has Proven Disappointing
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ACCORDING TO THE WHITE HOUSE, THE WEATHERIZATION PROGRAM WOULD CREATE THOUSANDS OF GREEN JOBS
“Last Year, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn Announced The City Had Won A Coveted $20 Million Federal Grant To Invest In Weatherization.” (Vanessa Ho, “Seattle’s ‘Green Jobs’ Program A Bust,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer,
8/15/11)

The Program Was Supposed To Create 2,000 Jobs And Retrofit 2,000 Homes. “McGinn had joined Vice President Joe Biden in the White House to make it. It came on the eve of Earth Day. It had heady goals: creating 2,000 living-wage jobs in Seattle and retrofitting 2,000 homes in poorer neighborhoods.” (Vanessa Ho, “Seattle’s ‘Green Jobs’ Program A Bust,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 8/15/11)

Vice President Biden Called The Program A “Triple Win. … Because It Creates Green Jobs, Jobs That Can’t Be Outsourced.” “Investing in retrofits is a triple win. It’s a win for consumers who save money on their energy bill. It’s a win for the environment because we’re using less energy, which cuts down on harmful emissions from greenhouse gases. And, finally, it’s a win for the American economy, because it creates green jobs, jobs that can’t be outsourced. ” (Vice President Joe Biden, Remarks By The Vice President
Announcing Recovery Act “Retrofit Ramp-Up” Awards On Eve Of Earth Day, Washington, DC, 4/21/10)

However, Over A Year Later, It Has Failed To Live Up To Expectations In Seattle
“But More Than A Year Later, Seattle's Numbers Are Lackluster” – Only Three Homes Retrofitted And 14 Jobs Emerged. “But more than a year later, Seattle's numbers are lackluster. As of last week, only three homes had been retrofitted and just 14 new jobs have emerged from the program. Many of the jobs are administrative, and not the entry-level pathways once dreamed of for low-income workers. Some people wonder if the original goals are now achievable.” (Vanessa Ho, “Seattle’s ‘Green Jobs’ Program A Bust,” Seattle PostIntelligencer, 8/15/11)

Michael Woo, Director Of Got Green: “The Jobs Haven’t Surfaced Yet.” “‘The jobs haven't surfaced yet,’ said Michael Woo, director of Got Green, a Seattle community organizing group focused on the environment and social justice.” (Vanessa Ho, “Seattle’s ‘Green Jobs’ Program A Bust,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 8/15/11) 
“It’s Been A Very Slow And Tedious Process.” “It's been a very slow and tedious process. It's almost

painful, the number of meetings people have gone to. Those are the people who got jobs. There's

been no real investment for the broader public.” (Vanessa Ho, “Seattle’s ‘Green Jobs’ Program A Bust,” Seattle PostIntelligencer, 8/15/11)

Howard Greenwich, Policy Director Of Puget Sound Sage:“The Outcomes Are Very Disappointing.” “‘Really, we couldn't have rolled out this program at a worse time,’ said Greenwich, who had helped write the city's grant proposal. ‘The outcomes are very disappointing. I think the city has worked really hard, but no one anticipated just how bad this recession was going to be, and the effect it was going to have on this program.’” (Vanessa Ho, “Seattle’s ‘Green Jobs’ Program A Bust,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 8/15/11)  “‘The City Is Really Going To Have To Step Up Its Game To Get The 2,000 Retrofits,’ Greenwich Said.” (Vanessa Ho, “Seattle’s ‘Green Jobs’ Program A Bust,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 8/15/11)

ACROSS THE NATION, WEATHERIZATION PROGRAMS HAVE BEEN “AMONG THE LEAST ORGANIZED” STIMULUS PROGRAMS
Obama’s Weatherization Program Is “Widely Considered Among The Least Organized Spending Projects” Under The Stimulus. “Vice President Joe Biden said this week that the Obama administration "hit the accelerator" toward spending $5 billion under the economic stimulus law to weatherize people's homes, create thousands of jobs, help consumers save money and put the nation on track for energy independence. Yet the weatherization program the vice president highlighted in his visit Thursday to New Hampshire is widely considered among the least organized spending projects under the $814 billion economic stimulus law and has regularly been targeted for criticism of its slow progress by auditors and outsiders. Biden didn't hint much at its troubles.” (Garance Burke, “What Biden Didn’t Mention On Stimulus,” The Associated Press,
8/27/10)

After One Year, The Energy Inspector General Admitted That “Little Progress” Had Been Made In Weatherizing Homes Under The Program. “’Just months ago, at the one-year anniversary of the stimulus law, the Energy Department's inspector general complained in a report about ‘little progress’ weatherizing homes and said the government's best efforts ‘appeared not to have significantly increased the tempo of actual units weatherized across the nation.’”
(Garance Burke, “What Biden Didn’t Mention On Stimulus,” The Associated Press, 8/27/10)

In Biden’s Delaware, The Program Was Suspended When “Federal Officials Released An Audit That Found Lax Oversight, Conflicts Of Interest And Possible Fraud.” “In Delaware, where Biden served as a U.S. senator for 36 years, the tangible benefits of weatherization are hard to find. The program is suspended, and last month federal officials released an audit that found lax oversight, conflicts of interest and possible fraud.” (Garance Burke, “What Biden Didn’t Mention On Stimulus,” The Associated Press, 8/27/10)  Contractors Were Paid For Work That Was Never Performed And Money Was Paid To Homeowners Who Did Not Qualify For The Program. “One contractor was paid for insulating an attic workers barely visited, according to the audit, which was obtained by The Associated Press. Companies earned the same amount whether they installed high-quality or low-quality equipment. One resident who didn't qualify for the program's income levels got a boiler installed just the same, the Energy Department audit concluded.” (Garance Burke, “What Biden Didn’t Mention On Stimulus,” The
Associated Press, 8/27/10)

Weatherization Work Was Bogged Down By Myriad Of Federal, State, And Local Regulations. “But on the same day in March 2009 that Shenetta Coleman picked up applications from 46 companies, she received an email from the Michigan Department of Human Services telling her she couldn't award work to anyone. The problem: Ms. Coleman hadn't met requirements for her advertisement. Those included specifying the precise wages that contractors would have to pay, and posting the advertisement on a specific website. There were other rules—federal, state and local—for grant and contract-award processes, historic preservation and labor standards.” (Louise Radnofsky, “A Stimulus Project Gets All Caulked Up,” The Wall Street
Journal, 9/21/10)

An Individual In Michigan Hit Bureaucratic Obstacles That Took More Than A Year To Clear. “The bureaucratic obstacles Ms. Coleman hit took more than a year to clear. Some were mandated

by the stimulus bill, the same legislation that was supposed to rapidly create jobs. For example, there is a union-backed provision that requires that weatherization workers receive the prevailing wages in the area.” (Louise Radnofsky, “A Stimulus Project Gets All Caulked Up,” The Wall Street Journal, 9/21/10)

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