Stimulus Package Creates Mystery Jobs in Chicago

Some organizations say numbers reported are way off

By Steve Rhodes
|  Wednesday, Nov 25, 2009  |  Updated 12:04 PM CDT
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President Barack Obama's stimulus plan has had mixed results.

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The Obama administration may have bungled the data when it comes to tallying the number of jobs the stimulus bill "saved or created"  - and isn't it funny how the bungling almost always goes in its favor - but it's not as if the money isn't reaching anyone.

Stimulus money, for example, paid for three actors to keep acting at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier.

Stimulus money paid for the hiring of three police officers in Evergreen Park.

And stimulus money paid for a Peoria health clinic to hire a records clerk.

Those are among the Chicago Tribune's findings of where the $6.4 billion awarded to Illinois has gone.

According to the paper, the stimulus bill has saved or created an estimated 24,000 jobs in the state.

But a lot of the numbers remain fishy. The paper, for example, cites the case of the Children's Home and Aid Society of Chicago, which supposedly created or saved 34 jobs with stimulus money.

Not so.

"There were no jobs created with this," Children's Home vice president Hilary Freeman told the Tribune. "That was 34 people that actually got that cost-of-living adjustment at our agency. We know it's wrong. We can't correct it. We're trying to find out how we can correct it or report it correctly."

The Tribune previously reported on the case of the North Chicago school district, which supposedly saved 473 jobs thanks to stimulus money - even though the district only has 290 teachers.

Maybe they're doing the job of 473 teachers! Education reform and all.

And maybe there's a brighter way to look at those acting jobs saved. Three actors, but dozens of roles. See, the recovery just got a little better . . .

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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