At first glance it looks like great news... $18.5 billion of federal stimulus money is going to businesses working in California. But what if you found out that some of those companies have been accused of fraud or dumped polluted water into creeks that feed into the Los Angeles River?
That's what reporter Will Evans discovered when he began looking through some of the data. Here are just a few of his findings:
Residents in Ventura County say they are dismayed that airplane and defense giant Boeing received a $15.9 million stimulus contract for environmental monitoring at the same site near Simi Valley where the company was fined for polluting a creek with chromium, dioxin, lead and mercury. A local resident and opponent, Dawn Kowalski, called the new contract “the fox guarding the hen house.”
Watsonville-based Granite Construction received $6.4 million in stimulus contracts to work on airport runways in Salinas and Monterey, and to repair roads in San Bernadino, Riverside and Butte counties. Yet the company faces three federal probes, including a criminal investigation into whether it fraudulently overcharged the city of San Diego in the wake of the devastating 2007 wildfires.
And a major apartment owner based in Denver, AIMCO, stands to benefit from $13 million in stimulus tax credits to rehabilitate its housing complex in Los Angeles. This federal assistance comes after the company paid $3 million in 2004 to settle a lawsuit from the city of San Francisco over complaints that it operated mold and rodent-infested buildings that posed serious safety hazards. Residents continue to complain about AIMCO’s management.
So why did these corporations get funded? And how are these businesses defending themselves? Listen to reporter Will Evans chat with KPCC's Alex Cohen.