Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The era of Fiscal Irresponsibility

I’m hoping it’s almost over.

I know I haven’t weighed in on the CIETC scandal yet, but in all honesty, there’s little about it that surprises me, and it’s all over other places on the blogosphere. Hell, even Chris Woods posted Fallon’s press release full text yesterday.

In an era where more and more Republicans are willing to hack and slash at social services like CIETC, Archie Brooks et al should be ashamed of what they’ve done. They’ve given every right-wing, “I don’t want to help people because it’s expensive” Republican another opportunity to wag their finger and say “wasteful big government is at it again.”

I attended Gov. Vilsack’s Condition of the State in January as a curious observer. Being someone who grew up far away from their state capitol, a lot of the access people in Des Moines take for granted is entirely new to me. I lived in Wisconsin for 18 years and went to the Capitol one time. For the last 4 months I’ve been to the Capitol in Des Moines at least once weekly. But I digress.

I took pages of notes during the Condition of the State, but it’s my last line that I think bears repeating. As it turns out, I wrote it largely and boldly enough that the person behind me read it over my shoulder and laughed too loudly for the room we were in:

Condition of the State Diagnosed: Spendicitis, with Chronic Fiscal Irresponsibility.

Take the current CIETC scandal, for example. Federal, state and local money get pooled together to create a program that’s supposed to get people back to work who would otherwise be forced to remain on welfare and other government assistance. Iowa Workforce Development, another bureaucratic government entity, does a shoddy, if not entirely negligent, job of watching over it, and the results are almost entirely predictable. With no oversight, those involved get as much as possible for themselves, and allow others to twist in the wind.

Now, consider the Iowa Department of Economic Development. Here we’ve got a $50 million dollar annual program, giving grants to corporations who promise to provide the desired behavior, creating jobs. Governor Vilsack and former IDED Director Mike Blouin claim over 25,000 jobs have been created already. Blouin’s even got it on the front page of his gubernatorial campaign’s website. The problem: No proof whatsoever.

An open records request sent to IDED was returned with a tracking spreadsheet over 9 months old. It showed that many companies had refused to report their job creation, and from the companies that did, 1282 actual jobs were created. Wells Fargo built cubicles to hold 846 of them, and 91 other companies combined to create 436 jobs.

There is no evidence to show that any action was taken against companies that refused to report or failed to create jobs.

In short, a massive government program was create to instill a desired result with no oversight and it appears much of that money ended up getting pissed away.

Sensing a trend?



Captain Obvious said...

Kyle, you had a good, thoughtful post and then you go totally off the rails.

Look: You don't like Blouin or Vilsack. (Which is fine, I guess.) But comparing the Iowa Values Fund to CIETC is callow and irresponsible.

I don't care how many press releases you churn out for Fallon or how many balloons he pops -- there are clawback mechanisms and the state will get money back if companies don't bring and retain jobs in Iowa.

But even if you don't agree with that premise -- you're not reading the law, but OK -- your comparison to CIETC is still wrong.

What Archie Brooks, Ramona Cunningham, and it looks like Jane Barto did is payola, plain and simple.

What Gov. Vilsack did was create a program designed to retain and create may not think it was the best approach, just as you may think simply proposing the concept of universal healthcare without any follow up or payment plan is responsible campaigning but don't cast aspersions about corruption where there is no evidence of it.

KL Snow said...

I agree with your differences but think you missed my similarity:

IDED and CIETC are both largely funded state-run programs which lack oversight.

And I'd like to believe there are clawback provisions for IDED money, but I've seen absolutely zero proof of it working in reality.

Anonymous said...

They lack oversight and lack results. No state agency has had much in the way of oversight, given that our governor has been out of state so frequently.

Drew Miller said...

On Monday Blouin said that the clawback mechanisms are written into the contracts. Have you looked at any of those?

KL Snow said...

"On Monday Blouin said that the clawback mechanisms are written into the contracts."

And on the front of his website, he also says he's created 25,000 jobs. Sadly, neither of those statements are proven.

When we submitted our open records request to IDED, we asked for data on any companies that had returned their funds. We received none.

captain obvious said...

Kyle's too busy popping balloons to read the law Drew. If he did he'd have to think of a new stunt.

I kid. Kind of.

Clawback mechanisms are written into the law. Go read it. And the reason Kyle's seen no evidence of them is because there's been no need yet (and,presumably, he won't read the law.) The Iowa Values fund was never supposed to work over night.

I guess we just disagree: CIETC had far, far less oversight than the Iowa Values Fund ever did/will. For one thing, CIETC is not technically a state agency, but an autonomous, publicly funded not-for-profit.

Anonymous said...

Thank God, even some good ole fashioned Democrat regular folks knew that it was important to have a CPA in this position and did not elect the only Non-CPA in the race. Republican, Dave Vaudt, who is a CPA, has been doing a remarkable job of protecting the citizens of Iowa from Democrat abuses of our taxpayor dollars. (Read his reports on the Dept of Education).

The entire oversite board of CIETC needs to go. They failed egregiously in their public duty. They should all resign from their elected posts too. This corruption, along with the appearance of corruption over the circumstances surrounding the building of our drivers license station and adding to that, the corruption in Dallas county should wake up voters to which party really has the public's interest at heart.

Now, we have another Mauro wanting to have control of our elections as he runs for Sec of State. Check out the history there too of election irregularities while Democrats have been in charge of our elections. It's time to change control away from the "culture of corruption" our Polk County Democrats have demonstrated over the years and bring in some fresh folks. How about some non-professional politicians for a nice breath of fresh air?

Iowa Ennui said...

Kyle, great post and it's linked.

We want implementation that works. And yet, we somehow manage to get a few too many people floating around in the bureaucracy that have a keen interest in the goods combined with little or no interest in the public good.