The weather outside is frightful…

The American Recover and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was intended to provide a kick start to the economy and get us out of the financial funk that has beleaguered this country.  While we could discuss some of the more politically charged, finer points of the Recovery Act, such as, “Did it actually help or hinder?” but we can all agree that there was waste in the program. A lot of waste.


One example in particular happened in Cook, Co, Illinois.  Also know as Chicago.  The Windy City.  The Second City.  Vote early and often.


In 2009, $91 million went to Cook Co. for the sole purpose of weatherizing low income single family, multi-family, and trailer homes in Cook Co.  12,500 domiciles had been targeted as both low income and not properly weatherized, thus wasting energy.  


Here’s the kicker, nothing I am about to write about has anything to do with the decision to spend $91 million of your hard earned money in weatherizing low income housing in Chicago.  We could easily have a lively debate as to the importance of more energy efficient homes and how low income families cannot afford the generally costly upgrades.  We could then go on a much bigger discussion of our energy policies and global economics.  Finally, we would end up in a heated argument about the greatest scam in the history of mankind, the pending ice age, I mean global warming, I mean climate change, I mean a pending ice age…  And once you start talking about Global Climate Ice Warming you start talking religion.  


<Digression> I’ve studied Global Climate Ice Warming for over 10 years from a very open perspective.  If we are doing something bad, I want to know and change my ways. After intensive studies, I can clearly say that there is more science in Scientology that in Global Climate Ice Warming.</Digression>


So I will skip all that for today.


So here’s what happened….  A bunch of money was spent on weatherizing homes.  What that means is anyone’s guess.  Could be a variety of things ranging from weather stripping a door to re-insulating the entire home.  As is every good government program it’s specifically ambiguous.  But work was done on a select number of homes.


Somebody at the US Department of Energy decided to look into the success of the weatherization program.  So they selected 15 homes to inspect.  Of the 15 homes, 12 failed inspection.  And we’re talking epic fail. As in worse than this dude…


Not only was the work poorly done, in a high number of cases the houses were more dangerous.  From the report:

“For example, improperly performed heating system tune-ups allowed the heating systems to either improperly fire or emit carbon monoxide at higher than acceptable levels;”



Wow.


Here’s a link to the entire report:
http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/igprod/documents/OAS-RA-11-01.pdf


So the work was garbage.  The homes failed inspection by the DOE, but somehow magically passed at the local level.  In some cases, the DOE found that work that had passed inspection HAD NOT EVEN TAKEN PLACE.  No work was done, yet signed off as complete and in working order by local officials.


Not only was the work below IG standards, but expensive as well.  The DOE found that material costs were regularly 120% to 200% higher than consumer prices.  Where are all the anti-profit protesters now? Not to be outdone by insipid markups, but apparently the contractors employed don’t count very well.  In a house that would require 10 light bulbs, they would “sell” the government 12, or 15.


What we have here is the perfect storm of Chicago style politics, cronyism, sub-government standard work, government style accounting practices, corruption, and just plain theft.  All of which leads to a complete waste of taxpayers’ money.


What would you do with $91 million?