Obama Administration has questions about area stimulus claims

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Two central Alabama organizations are under a national microscope tonight.

The Obama Administration is raising questions about how many jobs were created by stimulus money in those areas. Talladega County and Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa were cited in a national report released today.

When Congress passed the $787 billion stimulus plan, it was with the promise that the money would save or create at least 3 million jobs over the next 2 years.

In October, the Obama Administration released an early report card showing that the plan had saved or created more than 640,000 jobs with only about 20% of the money spent.

ABC News reported Monday that jobs number would've been much higher if the White House hadn't taken out a list of 12 questionable job creation claims. On that list of 12 projects, 2 are from Central Alabama.

The White House says Talladega County claimed a $42,000 Department of Justice grant saved 5,000 jobs. But Talladega County's administrator tells FOX6 News, their only justice grant so far is $40,290 and its for computers in sheriff's patrol cars.

FOX6 News' Jonathan Hardison asked Talladega Co. Administrator, J. Wayne Hall,  "Is that sheriff's department grant, in your mind, not going to create any new jobs?" "That's correct," Hall replied. "And you guys didn't report that it did either?" "That's correct. I don't know where the information is coming from. I hope it's true." "But in your mind it's not?" Hardison asked. "That's correct," Hall replied.

Also on a list of what White House officials call "unrealistic" claims is a grant to Shelton State Community College for $27,000 that the chart says saved 14,000 jobs.

Not true, say Shelton State officials who claim a $2 million grant will only save 71 jobs this year.

"We were completely surprised," said Craig Threlkeld, Shelton State's spokesperson. "We had no idea of the numbers that were quoted in the article, we had no idea where those numbers came from."

"The numbers are very unreliable because there was no specific allocation of money in order to save those specific jobs," said Samford's Brock School of Business Professor Larry Harper.

Many economists say even with this list of questionable claims taken out, the stimulus job claims are still hard to believe.

"It's very clearly not performing as was expected," Harper said. "Promises made when the bill was passed was we'd have an unemployment rate a lot lower than it is today."