Federal monies that are spent weatherizing the homes of poor people are being wasted at a prodigious rate due to terrible workmanship.
The Chicago Tribune:
As CEDA's part in the federal stimulus program heads into its final months, contractors continue to fail 1 in 7 inspections, and a federal plan to fix mistakes revealed in a blistering audit last year still hasn't been completed, federal officials said.
Even with limited oversight of the work, government inspectors have found gas leaks, poorly insulated walls, missing shut-off valves and other shoddy and sometimes dangerous work, records show. Several contractors installed the wrong equipment or billed for materials that were never used, inspectors found.
And by the state doling out money to a nonprofit, which is not subject to open-records laws, officials have kept from the public how millions of taxpayer dollars are spent. CEDA refused to provide information about its contractors, some of which have lengthy records of complaints, the Tribune found.
In early 2009, President Barack Obama called for infusing $5 billion into the federal government's decades-old weatherization program to put people to work and lower energy costs. Illinois split a three-year, $242 million grant among 35 agencies, CEDA being the largest.
The stimulus program pumped so much money into weatherization so quickly that CEDA wasn't equipped to handle the explosive workload, officials told the Tribune. And the pressure was on for the program to succeed.
What kind of pressure?
"This is the state where the president is from, and Illinois does not want to embarrass the president," said Dalitso Sulamoyo, CEO of the Illinois Association of Community Action Agencies, of which CEDA is a member.
Obviously, political considerations trump all. Then there's this classic utterance from CEDA's chief spoken like a true Chicago pol:
John Hamilton, CEDA's weatherization director, insisted that not one dollar has been misspent and that contractors must fix mistakes or they will not be paid. Many contractors have been put on probation or have not been invited back, he said, though he would not provide examples.
That's what's called "getting tough" on cronies in Chicago.
One in seven failures really isn't that bad. All Obama has to do is whip up another $800 billion stimulus and things will be right as rain.