Even years after the so-called stimulus bill was signed into law, we’re still learning about how the recipients of those tax dollars used them. Take, for example, what the Port of Los Angeles thought the stimulus funds would be good for.
The Port of Los Angeles spent $489,000 of a $1.5 million grant from the Department of Energy to retrofit a city-owned yacht with “hydro-electric propulsion system,” according to Issa’s letter, rather than the diesel engines it already had in operation. The yacht is used to conduct tours of the port.
“This is the American people’s money that was borrowed in stimulus,” said House Oversight and Government Reform Chair Darrell Issa in a local CBS broadcast. “It was supposed to create net new jobs. Could that half a million dollars have been used better? Was this really just show without substance?”
What is the yacht used for? MarineLog explains:
Bought by the Port in 1988, the 73-foot Angelena II is used to highlight the capabilities of the Port facilities with customers, constituents, public leaders, foreign dignitaries, media and stakeholders. The Port provides several hundred tours annually on the Angelena II, which takes a maximum of 40 guests for 60- to 90-minute tours that highlight the value of the Port. In 2011, the Port hosted more than 4,000 visitors on Angelena II tours.
Hmmm… public leaders, foreign dignitaries, media… in other words, it’s largely used as part of the Port’s lobbying for more and more taxpayer dollars.
The Port of Los Angeles, by the way, is a department of the City of Los Angeles, and is run by a board appointed by the Mayor. The current Mayor of Los Angeles is Antonio Villaraigosa, who just happened to be one of the economic advisers to… you guessed it, President Barack Obama.
But it’s all coincidence that the Port’s yacht got a half a million dollar upgrade. Really. Just ask any Obama supporter.
*The headline to this post originally said “$500 million.” We regret the error.