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Stimulus money used to plant flowers and trees in Idaho, no jobs created

Stimulus money used to plant flowers and trees in Idaho, no jobs created

April 3, 2010
April 3, 2010

The Pocatello Housing Authority recently spent nearly $14,000 in federal “stimulus” funds to plant new flowers and trees and install new sprinklers at a Pocatello housing project. The project generated no new jobs, even though that's what stimulus money was supposed to accomplish.

Don Thompson, the outgoing director of the PHA, said the landscaping and sprinkler improvements were made to “improve the curb appeal” of the public housing project and cut back on water usage. “We put in some flowers, and re-did the area in the front; put some rocks in and removed some lawn, put in some plants instead of having so much lawn, took some older trees out and put some new ones in, those kinds of things. To cut down on our lawn mowing.”

Troy Taylor of The Sprinkler Connection in Pocatello, which was contracted by the Pocatello Housing Authority, said he project involved replacing grass with rocks and arid-climate plants. Taylor’s company also made improvements to the project’s sprinkler system.

Thompson said other improvements to the housing authority complex at 711 N. 6th Ave. in Pocatello included new handicapped-accessible toilets in the building’s 72 units, fire alarm upgrades, new ceiling tiles in some units and concrete work. Public records obtained by the Idaho Freedom Foundation show the project also included expenditures for computers, and architectural and engineering expenses. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded a grant of about $126,000 for the project, which was completed last September.

According to recovery.gov, the project “created or saved” zero jobs. The Obama Administration has always touted the “stimulus” plan as a job creation mechanism.

David Williams, VP of Policy at Citizens Against Government Waste in Washington DC, says the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (aka the “stimulus”) is flawed in many ways, and the Pocatello project is merely a symptom of a bigger problem. “There are so many things wrong with this. How are you going to stimulate the economy $13,000 at a time, or one flower at a time? Furthermore, a portion of that ($126,000) grant stays right here in Washington DC! Because anytime a grant is given out, it has to be processed by a federal bureaucrat. Let’s put it this way…if government spending created wealth, West Virginia would be the richest state in the country.”

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