Dellums downplays stimulus funds audit

Mike Kepka / The Chronicle

Source: SFGate.com

Matthai Kuruvila, Chronicle Staff Writer

Two days after state auditors disclosed that Oakland misspent federal stimulus dollars meant for job creation, Mayor Ron Dellums said the city’s Recovery Act problems are a thing of the past.

The city, he said, had made “virtually all of the necessary changes” by the time the results of a review were released Tuesday by Laura Chick, the state inspector general in charge of tracking the spending of federal stimulus funds in California.

“It’s much ado about nothing, man,” Dellums said in his first comments on the matter. “It’s an accounting matter.”

Chick’s auditors found that Oakland, which has struggled with an 18.3 percent unemployment rate, did not properly account for about $830,000 of the $3 million in stimulus grants it received last year for summer youth, adult and dislocated-worker programs. Auditors found the city arbitrarily used the funds, inflated job numbers and made serious accounting mistakes that made it difficult for them to track how the money was spent.

Auditors also rejected the city’s contention that some of the funds were properly spent, including $2,806 used to send youths to places that included the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and a Concord water park.

On Thursday, Dellums insisted the trips were allowable expenditures under the federal jobs creation program.

“It’s about quality of life,” Dellums said. “It’s about inspiration.”

The mayor also criticized the news media for highlighting the trips in their reports.

“Get over it,” he said. “This is much ado about nothing.”

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I think we’ll “Get over it” when Dellums is long gone!

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