Monday, February 16, 2009


Will Hawaii’s “shovel-ready” stimulus projects help you?

by Larry Geller

Are you ready to sign up for a job with any of the “shovel-ready” projects that Hawaii has proposed as an economic stimulus? Yes? No? What are they? Check this out and see if any of these will benefit you at all. Yeah, I have my opinions on this stimulus thing.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors' MainStreet Economic Recovery Report contains information from the cities and counties on what jobs they propose to do with funds from Obama’s stimulus plan. A helpful website,, has put together a great interactive site that allows anyone to vote on each project.

Hawaii’s data, sorted by county, is here.

I noticed that many of these projects are things that are supposed to be done anyway, within existing budgets. If so, then there is no stimulus effect unless there is a plan to cancel them. For example, for Honolulu, Curb Ramps on City Streets. The city was supposed to do that anyway, in fact there was a big lawsuit against them forcing them to complete the work I think by the end of last year (yet it’s easy to find curbs not yet cut out, I wonder if the judge knows about them?). So no stimulus here, and I submit, no guarantee they’ll do the work, though you can bet the money will disappear.

Notice also that Hawaii County’s descriptions are more precise than the other counties.

Overall, it looks like substitution rather than stimulus, in which case there could be few if any new jobs generated.

Alternative uses for stimulus funds include maintaining social services and the safety net. In other words, jobs that don’t need shovels and don’t benefit the usual state and city contractors but are of value to each of us in some way. Kupuna Care. Healthy Start. There are plenty of choices that don’t involve concrete or asphalt and profits for the usual suspects.

But back to the original question: will any of these proposed projects have jobs that will benefit you?

I didn’t think so.

(thanks to ever-vigilant Viviane Lerner for discovering this website)

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