I Team 10 Follow Up: Labor Secretary responds to questions about "Green for Gold"
Posted at: 09/24/2012 5:22 PM
| Updated at: 09/24/2012 6:47 PM
By: Brett Davidsen | WHEC.com
The U.S. Secretary of Labor is responding to an I Team 10 investigation into the use of millions in stimulus funds to create green jobs locally.
Secretary Hilda Solis was in Rochester Monday, touring Monroe Community College's Applied Technologies Center in Brighton where she touted the need for skilled workers in advanced manufacturing fields. It's programs like this one, she says, that will get the nation working again.
But we were interested in speaking with Solis about a different jobs program today .... one that is coming under intense scrutiny in Congress.
Last month, I Team 10 took a closer look at stimulus money used to fund a program called "Green for Gold." Funded by a U.S. Labor Department grant in 2010, it's run by PathStone Corporation, a not for profit organization headquartered on East Avenue.
PathStone received $8 million in taxpayer money to train more than 600 people for green jobs. Two million dollars was to be used in Rochester for deconstruction jobs, focusing on city properties slated for demolition.
"What we're finding is that people need to have the credentials to be able to get those particular jobs," said Solis."So what we're doing is focusing in -- homing in on that -- and making sure that if it's green or just traditional welding or master mechanic that we provide those incentives."
Recently, House Oversight Committee Chairman, Congressman Darrell Issa began demanding answers about how green job training grants were doled out. And in a letter to Secretary Solis, he singled out PathStone by name as an example of "abysmal results."
"If I were you, I would take anything Congressman Issa said to you with a great big sigh and wonder about it," responded Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-28th District) to the criticism by Issa.
But Issa was referencing this Inspector General's report, which found that in the first two years of the grant, pathStone had only trained 25 people ... with only four entering into training-related employment ... zero of whom were retained.
PathStone's president says those numbers are outdated and says he's confident when the program ends next month, they will have reached their goals.
Slaughter, who supported the Green for Gold concept would not speak directly to the grant today, but defended the stimulus program.
"The stimulus really worked. It really created jobs," she said.
In order to reach its training goals, PathStone has now received a waiver to place clients in non-green related jobs. So we asked Secretary Solis if it was money well spent.
"It doesn't matter that the original intent of the grant was somehow modified. The point being is you want people to have the skill sets and training," Solis said.
At Recovery.gov, they keep track of stimulus spending. And in it's most recent filing, PathStone's only reference to job creation is this number... 16.6. But government officials tell I Team 10 that's a calculation of how many PathStone jobs were funded last quarter using stimulus dollars. We hope to get a full accounting of the number of people trained and in jobs after the program wraps up next month.
Solis, though, argues that many of these grants are not intended to produce jobs right away, but rather, to create a workforce for the future.
"If we turn our backs on those investments then we're going to lose that big market share that will go abroad and stay abroad."