San Diegans aren’t the only folks wondering about what happened to all the big promises for stimulus spending. Throughout California stimulus projects aren’t living up to the hype, according to this story in the Los Angeles Times today.

Monorails, state-of-the-art classrooms and new energy grids were what President Obama promised when he first outlined the stimulus package early in the year. But fixed toilets, new guardrails and an elevator study are what was delivered, according to the Times story.

From the story:

Latrine repair? No one mentioned that. But $500,000 has been set aside to fix the toilets at Ft. Irwin, an Army base south of Death Valley National Park, according to data from the California Recovery Task Force.

In fact, much of the stimulus money earmarked for California so far has gone toward run-of-the-mill projects such as replacing a metal guardrail with a concrete one in the city of Orange and conducting a campus-wide elevator study at the Department of Veterans Affairs Hospital in San Francisco.

Federal officials defend the expenditures, saying they wanted to emphasize “shovel-ready” projects that would get people working. California had one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation in June at 11.6 percent, and economists anticipate it to remain in the same ballpark when the latest numbers are released today.

But critics say the stimulus bill is merely paying for work that would have been completed anyway. Worse, they say, the government is missing a chance to reshape the way Californians live, a failure that’s being repeated in states across the country.

“We have these huge, challenging needs facing the country in infrastructure,” said Steve Ellis, a vice president at consumer advocacy group Taxpayers for Common Sense. “But at the end of the day, we’ll have spent $800 billion and we’ll still have some of these huge projects staring us in the face.”

If you want to see where money has been going in San Diego County, check out ProPublica’s stimulus tracker database.


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