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Head Scratcher of the Day: Stimulus Projects That Eliminate Jobs

 Today’s roundup of stimulus coverage:

One of the primary goals of the stimulus package is to create jobs. But as a result of a stimulus-funded expansion of a New York City hospital parking garage, some jobs will actually be lost, writes New York Times columnist Jim Dwyer. After the expansion, drivers will be able to park themselves in the garage at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx, so while 25 parking attendants were needed before, just six will remain employed. The hospital told Dwyer that that’s a misguided  way to count jobs – that having a more efficient parking garage will result in more people using the hospital, so more hospital jobs, and better patient care. But, looking at the specific requirements for spending stimulus funds, Dwyer’s not convinced. "In truth," he writes, "the city is financing the project because it has federal money and apparently doesn’t have all that many other great ways to spend it."

There’s more stimulus-project skepticism in the opinion pages of the The Washington Examiner, where commentary writer Mark Hemmingway criticizes a program in Iowa that will use stimulus funds to pay university employees to retire early. "I don’t think this counts as jobs created or saved – nor will it help the employment numbers." The Des Moines Register originally reported on the program, which will spend $43 million on departing employees from the state’s three universities. University officials defend the move, saying that the one-time cash infusion will solve their ongoing problem of simultaneously cutting costs while saving jobs.

 The Huffington Post’s Harry Moroz has a roundup of mayors’ opinions on where the stimulus has gone wrong. Mayor Dannel Malloy of Stamford, Conn., a Democrat, says mayors weren’t ignored by the president but  by Congress. "Congress really just missed a very large opportunity to work directly with larger local governments," he says. "As a result, I think far fewer people are working today with stimulus dollars."

And finally,  The Washington Post’s Federal Eye blog reports that those pesky stimulus reporting mistakes are going to be corrected faster. The Obama administration announced Tuesday  that starting in January, agencies will be able to review recipient reports and request corrections on an ongoing basis, as opposed to being restricted by the current quarterly reporting schedules.  Earl Devaney, chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, has also said that FederalReporting.gov will add technological checks so recipients won’t be able to submit  ZIP codes and congressional districts that don’t match. We’ve been following the stimulus reporting problems here and here.

Are you tracking the stimulus? ProPublica has set up a mailing list for reporters covering the stimulus, and you’re welcome to join. Just e-mail us.

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