Ellison’s Must Read of the Day

My must read of the day is "Feds direct $100m in grants to help broke Detroit" by the Associated Press. The AP reports:

The U.S. government directed more than $100 million in grants Thursday to help bankrupt Detroit tear down vacant buildings and spur job growth, but the help falls far short of the wider bailout some city leaders had sought.

Gene Sperling, chief economic adviser to President Barack Obama, said the administration scrounged through the federal budget and found untapped money that "either had not flowed or had not gotten out or not directed to the top priorities for Detroit."

This is an easy time for this federal funding to be overlooked by the average person not living in Detroit. As long as it's not a bailout, it doesn't seem to garner many headlines.

However, based on Detroit's past, a key question the administration should address is whether someone outside of agencies, or even Detroit, will monitor the use of these funds.

It's debatable whether the grant will do anything significant in the short term, but if the administration wants to help in a small way and achieve the intended goals of the grant, it would be wise for an official outside of Detroit to closely monitor and ensure the funds are used appropriately.

Detroit, as the AP notes, does not have a stellar record of managing federal grants.

In 2011, a news agency found that the director of the Human Services Department had spent at least $200,000 on office furniture for staff members. The money was meant to assist poor residents.

Some funds were left unused. Mayor Dave Bing had to "scramble to use about $20 million in grants [in 2012] that had been left sitting for demolitions of thousands of vacant houses."