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Report critical of North Carolina stimulus projects ‎

Posted August 3, 2010

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— Republican Sens. Tom Coburn (Okla.) and John McCain (Ariz.) released a report Tuesday profiling wasteful stimulus projects.

The primary goal of the $862 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was to put people to work. But the senators claim some of the money has gone toward questionable projects, including seven in North Carolina.

Read the Full Coburn/McCain Stimulus Report

Universities defend use of stimulus money Universities defend use of stimulus money

Among the 100 stimulus projects making the senators' list, entitled Summertime Blues, are:

  • More than $750,000 the University of North Carolina at Charlotte received to develop a computerized choreography program.
  • Nearly $300,000 that Wake Forest University received to study Integral Yoga and whether it is effective for treating hot flashes.
  • More than $770,000 that North Carolina State University received to research how video games can improve the mental health of the elderly.
  • The $144,541 that Wake Forest University received to study how monkeys react to cocaine.
  • Almost a half million dollars that Duke University received to investigate new approaches for improved social networking privacy and functionality.
  • The $266,505 given to Wake Forest University for its science education workshops for reporters.
  • The $1.9 million given to the City of Greenville by the Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control. The Senators say the city failed to meet the requirements for the stimulus funds.

The projects highlighted by the senators' list represent a small fraction of the more than 70,000 stimulus projects underway. Some area universities, however, say the report is misleading and does not properly explain how the stimulus money is being spent.

"Any piece of research that is done on a college campus or anywhere else, when taken out of context, can be turned into something of ridicule,” Michael Schoenfeld, Duke's vice president for public affairs, said Tuesday.

Schoenfeld said he thinks Duke's inclusion on the senators' report is unfounded and he defended the purpose of the university's social networking study.

"Cyber security and the safety and privacy of social networks that more than a half a billion people use every day is far from frivolous,” he said.

Dr. Jason Allaire, a psychology professor at N.C. State, also defended their stimulus-funded study on video games and the elderly.

Allaire said the project employs five people and isn't a ploy to sell video games to the elderly as the report implies. He said the study could eventually help senior citizens ward off dementia.

U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge, D-Lillington, was critical of potential motivations behind compiling the report.

"I understand he (McCain) has a primary coming up very quickly, and then the election will follow very shortly,” he said.

Etheridge said he hadn't read McCain and Coburn's list, but he thinks it's likely a political stunt and that there are more important matters to focus on.

"Let's talk about things that make a difference in people lives," the lawmaker said.

A White House spokeswoman said President Obama's administration will review the claims of the report but that stimulus projects have put at least 3 million people back to work.

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  • dws Aug 4, 2010

    "You're assuming that the people who received the money and who have been paid from it did not need the money and were financially secure."

    I'm assuming nothing, but it is an ill advised trait to presume to interpret another person's thoughts on the internet. Had the research funds been applied to say, cancer research (or any other deadly disease), I would support it. But to "capture, photograph, and analyze thousands of exotic ants" as stated by Messrs. Coburn and McCain is an ignorant waste of critical research funding.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Aug 4, 2010

    The problem with the stimulus is that our Marxist President Obama can't quantify how many jobs his wasted stimulus saved.

    Obama quotes the number of new jobs created while the failed and wasted stimulus was in effect. He doesn't tell us how many would have been created with or without the stimulus package being in place.

    Same for Cash for Clunkers. Sales went up during the program but dropped to lower level after the program than sales were when the program started. The program primarily moved auto sales forward by a few months. No new sales were created.

    The small part of Obama's stimulus that wasn't a waste only moved economic activity around. It didn't create any new economic activity that Obama can quantify.

  • bigshark Aug 4, 2010

    [quote "dws"] try telling that to the millions of unemployed or those about to lose the roof over their heads and see how far you get with your personal definition of ignorance..... [/quote]Yes, your statement follows my personal definition of ignorance. How do you know that the people who have benefited from the stimulus research money did not really need it? You're assuming that the people who received the money and who have been paid from it did not need the money and were financially secure.

    For all the people so eager to dismiss the research, it is no wonder that you haven't done any research to backup up your comments.

  • ++Ajax++ Aug 4, 2010

    All of thestimulusmoney was supposed to go to creating jobs. Many of these sound like they didn't create anything. Thats what BO sold the US. Jobs, Jobs jobs. So how does studying theeffects of video games on the elderly create jobs? Or the Monkeys on cocaine?

  • mamabearprotectinghercub Aug 4, 2010

    There is a lot of money that didn't go where it was need to go. Some was a waste of the grants.

  • dws Aug 4, 2010

    "I'd also like to emphasize that yes, not all research is good, and a lot of it is bogus, but simply writing it off because you don't understand it is just ignorant."

    try telling that to the millions of unemployed or those about to lose the roof over their heads and see how far you get with your personal definition of ignorance.....

  • bigshark Aug 4, 2010

    [quote "dws" ] my favorite of the 100 is "The California Academy of Sciences is receiving nearly $2 million to send researchers to the Southwest Indian Ocean Islands and east Africa, to capture, photograph, and analyze thousands of exotic ants." [/quote]I haven't found their grant proposal but on the surface it seems like a good idea for us to understand our environment and the animals around them. Sometimes understanding seemingly insignificant creatures helps us understand the impact of environmental and man-made events.

    Again, how many people will benefit from this in terms of stimulating the economy? How many jobs were created, research equipment purchased etc? These are the issues at hand.

    I'd also like to emphasize that yes, not all research is good, and a lot of it is bogus, but simply writing it off because you don't understand it is just ignorant.

  • bigshark Aug 4, 2010

    [quote "colliedave"] This is insane. Any sane person will know that any mental stimulaton will keep a elderly person mentally strong. [/quote]Really? You know this for a fact? What sort of mental stimulation? How can you be sure that elderly people would be motivated to be mentally stimulated? What is their typical attention spans? What areas of their cognitive development need to be stimulated? colliedave, you just emphasize my point of people talking without really thinking.

  • ++Ajax++ Aug 4, 2010

    Dontlike, Don't try to convince ratherbnnc of anything. He will never acknowledge the failures of BO. Even when presented with facts. It all goes to show how brainwashed and closed minded he is.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Aug 4, 2010

    The groups who received the money from the failed stimulus package aren't going to criticize the program that gave them the money.

    What happened to impartial investigative journalism in this country.

    No wonder the liberal media is losing viewers.

    This article was a waste of film on WRAL-TV and bytes on wral.com.

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