Follow the (green) federal stimpack money

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During yesterday’s Board committee hearing, which Sup. Eric Mar called, " to obtain community input on the creation of jobs-- particularly green collar jobs, in San Francisco, as the city is positioning itself for federal investment dollars"—Board President David Chiu made two requests of the city: a) please publish information about the status of all the city's efforts in going after the stimpack dollars on the city's website and b) let's have a public hearing on the impact of these stimpack dollars on communities of color.

"Who is going to get jobs and be stimulated by these federal funds?" Chiu asked.

That's when representatives from the city's Department of Technology announced that the city iis constructing a website to track all the money coming from the $787 billion federal stimulus package and being sunk into San Francisco’s “shovel ready” projects.

So far, all the website shows is a photo of Gavin Newsom, assumedly saying, "Today we face extraordinary challenges," and a pie chart that indicates that 70 percent of the funds are allocated to a category that is vaguely defined as “green”, with the remaining 30 percent split between “technology” and “education.”

The website is a good start in helping the public with what is usually an extraordinary challenge: trying to follow taxpayer dollars once they get into government coffers.

And as folks who attended yesterday's hearing discovered, the first wave of federal funding--the formula funding that was calculated on the basis of census tract data--has already been allocated, mostly to shovel ready projects such as the Doyle Drive rebuild, Treasure Island and the Hunter's Point Shipyard, with a second wave expected if the state uses some additional state formula funding, and a third wave of discretionary funding accessible, if San Francisco is successful at competing for it.

Folks at the hearing made some great suggestions as to how they'd like to see the money tracked: track it by district, by zip code, by jobs available, by training programs created, by energy efficiency block grants.

Let's see how that plays out in the weeks and months to come.