The $2 Billion Stimulus Disaster You’ve Never Heard About

December 3, 2012 at 10:00 am (CH2M Hill, Government Spending, Hanford, Recovery Act, Stimulus, Taxpayer Money)

In 2009, the celebration was on for an oddly-named company known as CH2M Hill. The engineering firm, performing the vast majority of the work at a cleanup project located on the Hanford Nuclear Site in eastern Washington, had just received word of a $1.96 billion reward in stimulus money for their services.  The company immediately set about conducting job fairs and hiring 1,300 employees.

Feel good story of the stimulus, right?  Wrong.  More like a prime example of how stimulus funding was nothing more than a short-term band-aid for a long-term economic wound.

In the past couple of years, CH2M Hill has repeatedly announced layoffs that have met and exceeded the number of hires created by the stimulus, have slashed the pensions of non-union workers, and are currently demanding wage and benefit cuts from their union employees.

In January of 2011, specifically citing the drying up of stimulus funds, the Hanford nuclear site braced for a loss of 1,600 jobs, with 1,350 starting in September for CH2M Hill.

This past August, the company announced another 400 layoffs were imminent, informing members of the Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council (HAMTC) union of the news.

All told, the Hanford site started 2011 with 12,000 workers, but lost about 2,000 nine months later.  An article by the Tri-City Herald featured several interviews with people who had lost their jobs after stimulus funding had dissipated.  Most understood that their positions were only temporary – meaning, they recognized that once the stimulus money had been thrown at the project, their jobs would be eliminated.

Why didn’t the government?

Not only was it temporary, but in the end was proof positive that the stimulus could not counter the effects of an ailing economy.  CH2M Hill lost roughly a net of 700 positions – despite the hiring that came about after their hefty $2 billion reward.

Troubling waters for Hanford workers have yet to recede.

Just a few weeks ago, nearly 1,700 non-union workers at the Hanford site had their pensions cut, with benefits accrued being frozen for 2014, and the multiplier used to calculate pension benefits being reduced from 1.6 percent to 1.2 percent.

Union workers from the aforementioned HAMTC were spared such cuts – or were they?

At the end of November, labor negotiations between the HAMTC and CH2M Hill got testy, with the company proposing significant wage and benefit cuts for their workers.

Dave Molnaa, President of the HAMTC called the proposal “an insult to workers”, explaining that “the proposal will mean less money for workers and more money kept by the corporation”.

Why would a company that received nearly $2 billion in government funding need to eliminate jobs, eliminate pensions, reduce wages, and find ways to ‘keep more money’?

A Wall Street Journal report explains it best, perhaps.  In discussing the CH2M Hill/Hanford cleanup projects, Tennille Tracy writes:

“… projects that employ people quickly are often considered ‘low-hanging fruit’ and can fail to set the stage for long-term economic growth.”

A microcosm of the entire stimulus experiment itself.

For sure enough, when the low-hanging fruit began to go bad for companies like CH2M Hill, when the stimulus funding ran out for projects at the Hanford site, all of those jobs—and then some—were eliminated.

We keep hearing about companies that received millions in stimulus funding, but only created a certain amount of jobs at an exorbitant amount.  Yet CH2M Hill continues to fly under the radar, receiving billions in funding to actually lose hundreds of jobs.

Such waste.  $2 billion in taxpayer money provided for temporary hiring, temporary funding, and a temporary patch on the economy – and you’ve probably never heard about it.

Cross-posted at FreedomWorks

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Sexual Harassment Pander: Sheldon Silver Once Again Proves Ethics in New York Under His Watch Is Non-Existent

August 28, 2012 at 1:19 pm (Assembly, J. Michael Boxley, New York, Settlement, Sexual Harassment, Sheldon Silver, Taxpayer Money, Vito Lopez)

Sheldon Silver must resign.

Over the weekend, Silver was lauded for his swift and unprecedented response to the Vito Lopez sexual harassment scandal.  Lopez was unanimously rebuked by the Standing Committee on Ethics and Guidance, stripping him of his Housing Committee chairmanship, cutting off funding and resources from the Assembly, and banning him from hiring employees under the age of 21.  Silver outlined the punishment in a startlingly graphic letter from the Assembly to Lopez.  
Now however, what was once praised as a swift response, has been a proven case of pandering to members of government with a penchant for sexual misconduct.  In a stunning revelation, the New York Times reports that Silver attempted to keep previous Lopez harassment issues swept under the rug, authorizing a secret payment to two other victims for an eye-popping $103,080.  

“… a previous sexual harassment claim was quietly settled by the Assembly earlier this year, in an arrangement that included public money, a confidentiality agreement and mandatory attendance by Mr. Lopez at a sexual harassment workshop.”

The payment was authorized on June 13th, preceding the complaints from two new women which prompted Lopez’ censuring.  The new allegations were made in mid-July. The previous settlement creates a scenario in which calls into question what might have been.  Had Silver taken bold, swift actions when responding to the first case, perhaps the two later complainants would never have been sexually harassed.

Officials are calling the secret payment “unprecedented” and “unfathomable”, while government watchdog groups are demanding an investigation.

Silver’s inaction is not an isolated incident.  Assembly members have been wrapped up in scandals involving current and former interns in 2006, 2007, and 2008 according to the Times, and Silver has oft been criticized for his lethargic response to such scandals.

What’s more, Silver’s use of taxpayer funds to settle harassment cases is not in fact, “unprecedented” at all.

In 2003, Silver was criticized for a slow response to a case involving his former aide, J. Michael Boxley, who was accused of rape and later pled guilty to sexual misconduct.  Three years later, the Assembly agreed to pay $500,000 of taxpayer money to settle the case.

Silver has consistently swept sexual harassment complaints under the rug, has continually used taxpayer funds to placate victims, and by extension has allowed these unprofessional and abhorrent behaviors to be perpetrated upon other victims.  He has proven willing to sacrifice ethics for his allies in government.

He is a panderer to predators, and must resign.

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Banner Weekend For NY Democrats – One Punished For Sexual Harassment, Another Announces They’ll Be Arrested

August 27, 2012 at 7:00 am (Andrew Cuomo, Brooklyn, Democrats, Ethics, Governor Cuomo, Grants, Harassment, New York, New York City, Non-Profit, Queens, Sexual Harassment, Sheldon Silver, Shirley Huntley, Taxpayer Money, Vito Lopez)

It’s been a very active weekend for Democrats, with a pair serving in the boroughs of New York City being part of some very rare activity over the weekend.

First off, Brooklyn Democrat Assemblyman Vito Lopez has been handed some very severe punishment stemming from what is being called “blatant instances of sexual harassment”.

The Standing Committee on Ethics and Guidance not only stripped him of his Housing Committee chairmanship, and cut off resources and funding from the Assembly, but his guilty actions prompted a ban prohibiting Lopez from hiring interns or any other employees under the age of 21.

That is the equivalent of a sexual predator being kept from that which tempts them.

The letter from Assembly Majority Speaker Sheldon Silver pulls no punches, providing such details as how Lopez harassed one woman forcibly kissing her and putting his “hand as far up between her legs as you could go”.  He also forced two women to continuously write to him about how much they loved their jobs and cared about him.

Here is a copy of the letter:
Vito Lopez Letter 8-24-12

Lopez has left a long trail of slime in Brooklyn, with rumors that other charges may be coming down the pike.  He has been the subject of multiple federal investigations as well as blatant instances of extreme cronyism.

Several Democrats have pushed for Lopez to resign as a result of these egregious charges, with the most damning perhaps being from the governor of New York himself.  Andrew Cuomo on Sunday joined a growing list of elected officials calling on Lopez to step down.

Next up on the list of corruptocrats from southern New York, is Sen. Shirley Huntley from Queens, who took the rare step of announcing her own impending arrest on Monday.

Huntley held an “emergency press conference” over the weekend to announce that she expects to be arrested on Monday.

She did not indicate what charges may be involved, though four employees of hers had been arrested last year based on an investigation of a non-profit organization in which Huntley had steered tax-payer funds.  The four who were indicted included a top aide and a niece of Huntley’s.

Leave it to city Democrats to get involved in a year’s worth of scandal in one weekend.

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Union Bosses Admit Green Jobs Program is Bulls***, Then Help Get Taxpayer Money For Business Designed Solely to Dig Holes and Fill Them Back In

July 18, 2012 at 11:32 am (Chuck Schumer, Democrat, Fraud, Government Waste, Green Jobs, Green New York, James O'Keefe, Kirsten Gillibrand, New York, Project Veritas, Republican, Taxpayer Money, Unions, Waste)

James O’Keefe has released a new video from his Project Veritas website which shows union bosses confessing that the Green Jobs, Green New York program is ‘a lot of bulls***’.

Green Jobs – Green New York is a statewide program aimed at “promoting energy efficiency and installing clean technologies to reduce energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions”.

The program was created under former Governor David Patterson, and was funded using money that some would consider a scam in the first place – $112 million acquired by auctioning carbon emission credits through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

One union boss seen in the video below is John Hutchings, director of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) New York State Laborers’ Organizing Fund (NYSLOF).

Hutchings states:

“You know, the Green Jobs, Green New York, between us, a lot of it is bullshit… even if it’s bullshit, I think as long as people are working, that’s not bull, you know what I mean?”

Hutchings and other union members then try to demonstrate their expertise in the field of bulls*** businesses, when they try to help the individuals in the investigative video get taxpayer money for a fictitious and wholly useless business.

Here is a description of that business:

First, our excavation specialists insert their shovels into the ground and remove the soil. This presents the problem of an existing hole in the earth, creating a dangerous situation that could lead to hazards, including but not limited to tripping, falling, and bodily injuries.

Then there is the renewal process. At Earth Supply, we train professional backfillers to renew the soil in place of the existing hole, restoring the earth to its original condition.

Some folks say we’re just digging ditches and filling them back up again. But it’s about more than that. It’s about jobs.

They’ve created a business that digs holes and then fills them back in.  And when they ask local union bosses to move subsidies through legislatures for that type of company, the unions are more than willing to lend a hand.

The justification?  The fake company has created new union members.

What’s more is that these union people essentially admit to having no concern about wasting taxpayer money on the project.

One business manager for the local AFL-CIO branch compares the dead end hole-digging enterprise to a program run under FDR in the ’30s.

“They dug the roads up, put ‘em back!” says an animated Tocci.

Says Tocci, “You just wanna get the money. Then you figure out afterward.”

To pressure legislators into going along with the union scheme, the group intends to use well-placed lobbying firms that will make the claim that the fictitious company will create jobs, and provide more union laborers who will receive union benefits.  These firms will lobby both Democrat and Republican politicians, and are very tight with Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

Just another example of taxpayer money being wasted at the disposal of unions in New York State.

Find out more here… 

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