LA County Lifeguards Earned Up To $630,000 in Overtime Alone During Last Five-Years | May 31, 2021
How does making $391,971 as a lifeguard in sunny Los Angeles sound?
Published at The Wall Street Journal, our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com found that life’s a beach when you are a LA County lifeguard. There were seven top paid lifeguards in LA that earned between $300,000 and $392,000 during 2019 – the latest year available.
However, the second highest paid, Captain Daniel Douglas, pulled down a total of $368,668 including $131,000 in overtime pay.
In fact, over a five-year period, Douglas brought home $630,000 in overtime! (Read the WSJ editorial and learn more about the other perks and benefits of being a LA County lifeguard including the lucrative retirement pension.)
LA could save taxpayers big money by auctioning off the services, wherein qualified applicants bid down the cost of the pay rate, perks and pension benefits for those positions – in an online, fully transparent auction.
This concept of the ‘online Dutch auction’ would save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.
We can bet no lifeguards would make $391,971!
New York City Paid 114,000 Highly-Compensated Public Employees Earning $100,000 | June 1, 2021
New York City had more than 114,000 municipal workers earning $100,000 or more in 2019. That is up sharply from 76,166 employees with pay exceeding $100,000 in 2016.
Data comes a year before the pandemic hit and is the latest year available.
These were not just high-level employees like agency commissioners or deputy mayors. NYC employees included thermostat repairmen making up to $198,630; regular laborers hauling away $213,169; electricians taking home $253,132; and plumbers pocketing up to $286,245.
The cost of benefits would be additional and is not included in these figures.
These large paychecks are only sustainable because Congress bailed out New York City for $4.3 billion in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The federal bailout more than covered the overstated deficits of the city.
City officials estimated a $5.5 billion gap, but actual revenues came in $2.7 billion higher. Using $1.2 billion from reserves, and finding $1 billion in unspecified labor savings, among other things closed the budget gap.
Therefore, the federal money now exists for extra spending.
In December, Fitch Ratings downgraded New York City’s bond rating and issued a negative outlook. That was after Moody’s Investors Service lowered the credit ratings of both the state and city in October.
“Fake Farms” Reaped $2 Million In Covid-19 Aid Relief Program Meant for Small Businesses | June 2, 2021
With no one checking on who was getting forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, the federal lending program has been rife with fraud.
It should come as no surprise that hundreds of fake farm businesses in places that have no farms applied for and received the money to “pay” their employees during the Covid-19 pandemic shutdowns, according to a new exposé from ProPublica.
The investigative piece reveals that beach towns in Ocean County, New Jersey were the locations for these phantom farms — wheat farm “Ritter Wheat Club” and tree nut farm “Deely Nuts,” each got $20,833, the maximum PPP funds available for sole proprietorships, ProPublica reported.
Up the coast in Brielle, “Tomato Cramber” got $12,739, and “Seaweed Bleiman” in Manahawkin got $19,957, the journalism outlet found.
These were just a few examples of the allegedly fraudulent loans fulfilled through Kabbage, an online lender that processed almost 300,000 PPP loans. In March 2020, Congress passed and President Trump signed the CARES ACT and the $349 billion PPP program was part of the bill. The program was renewed in August 2020 when the first round of funds ran out.
Lenders were not required to ask many questions.
Only Bank of America processed more PPP loans than Kabbage, ProPublica reported.
No wonder there’s tens of millions of dollars of fraud in the PPP program. Turns out that giving financial incentives to lend without asking too many questions is a bad combination.
Teaching Chinese Kids How to Cross the Street Using Virtual Reality Cost U.S. Taxpayers $183,750 | June 3, 2021
The 2016 funding went to the University of Alabama at Birmingham to develop a virtual reality platform that would be available via an internet connection on computers, tablets, and phones. It would be the first of a potential series of programs designed to teach about other dangerous situations such as getting bit by a dog and drowning.
The project was titled “Delivering Virtual Reality through Mobile Platforms: Child Pedestrian Safety Training in China.”
The project details on the National Institutes of Health website states, “child pedestrian injury represents a significant public health problem in China” and proposed an interactive virtual reality that simulates the Chinese pedestrian environment in streets and with traffic.
The virtual reality platform built was similar to the VR made to train American children in pedestrian safety.
While children should be safe while crossing the street anywhere, American taxpayers should be funding their own safety initiatives before that of China’s.
Joe Biden Plans to Send $200 Million in Palestinian Foreign Aid | June 04, 2021
When President Donald Trump stopped sending $400 million in aid to Palestinians in 2018, it was the first time in around 70 years that funding stopped.
But on April 7, 2021, President Joe Biden restarted the funding of up to $110 million. Soon after, Hamas rockets rained on Israel.
Then, in May, Biden announced another $110 million in funding to help the Palestinians rebuild – after Israel fired back and defended itself from 4,000 rockets.
Since 1950, American taxpayers have sent more than $6.3 billion to subsidize Palestinian refugees living in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. The money was sent through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees.
In 2016, his last year in office, President Barack Obama sent $359 million to the Palestinian Authority, a practice that Trump ended in part because some of the funding was used to pay pensions to families of dead terrorists who they call “martyrs.”
The Wall Street Journal called this practice of funding dead terrorist families, “pay for slay.”
Those UNRWA funds from the U.S. hit its peak during the Obama administration, $398.7 million and $390.5 million in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
In May 2018, the U.S. relocated its embassy to Jerusalem, angering Palestinians. In August of that year, the Trump administration froze all further funding to UNRWA. Despite the rhetoric and predictions of doom, the area was relatively peaceful for a few years.
However, the late Saeb Erekat, then-secretary general of the PLO, accused the U.S. of violating international law.
“There is an international obligation to assist and support it until all the problems of the Palestinian refugees are solved,” he said in 2018.
Certainly, the American taxpayer does not have a continuing 71 year obligation to subsidize anyone overseas.
The #WasteOfTheDay is presented by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com.