Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A preview of coming attractions?

Hey, remember us asking of the whereabouts of that $286 Billion highway bill that was signed into law just 3-1/2 years ago? Well, we think we found it or at least bits and pieces of it.

Design and engineering companies helping to build the nation's highways ran up millions of dollars in inappropriate charges at the expense of taxpayers, including bills for parties, luxury car leases and hefty paychecks for executives, according to auditors.

The bills were described by the firms as overhead costs but should not have been allowed, according to a Feb. 5 report by auditors in the Department of Transportation's inspector general's office.

The report serves as a cautionary tale as the federal government is preparing to quickly disburse billions in stimulus grants to states for highway projects.

And what we’re some these “unallowable expenses”?

$355,767 to pay personal income taxes of executives.
$301,667 to lease 45 automobiles, including Mercedes, BMW and other luxury cars.
$247,685 for dinners, tickets to sporting events and holiday parties.
$60,000 paid to a consultant with only a verbal agreement.
$35,352 charged by two firms for “image-enhancing items such as golf shirts.”

But we’re just getting caught up in red herrings and little porky amendments, here, aren’t we?

In other news last week…

Billions of dollars are headed to California from the federal stimulus bill, but state officials won't say how they plan to spend the money.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office refused a request from The Associated Press under the California Public Records Act to list in detail the projects the administration says will benefit. Yesterday, the administration told some state agencies and departments to refuse to comment on where the money would go.

The stimulus bill is expected to shower California with $26 billion of federal funding and the state either does not have a clue where and how the money will be spent or is flat-out refusing to say where and how it will be spent or a combination of both.

Now,what could possibly go wrong in a scenario like this?

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