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Wait -- L.A. Spent How Much in Stimulus Cash to 'Renovate' a VIP Yacht?

"This is part of the whole president’s ‘green energy’ program that goes all the way from Solyndra to things like this."

As mentioned several times on The Blaze, California is broke. In fact, it has one of the worst economies of any state in the nation. Nevertheless, politicians in some of its biggest cities continue to spend money at a reckless, breakneck pace.

Take, for instance, the decision by Los Angeles’ port authority to pour hundreds of thousands of stimulus dollars into renovating a “VIP” yacht.

Wait. What?

Yep. Los Angeles is going to invest “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to renovate a million dollar “VIP” yacht used for, among other things, taking high school students on free tours of the harbor.

The planned upgrades involve swapping out the ship's diesel engines (because they don't meet California emissions standards) and replacing them with low-emission hybrid motors (i.e. “green” technology).

Big deal. Let L.A. squander its money!

It’s not their money.

“The port is using $489,000 in federal taxpayer stimulus money that is supposed to go create jobs, plus another $200,000 coming from the port — totaling $689,000 for new engines [emphasis added],” CBS Los Angeles reports.

“It’s not helping to create any real jobs,” said Tom Schatz with Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW).

“It’s a big waste of money both for taxpayers across the country and for Los Angeles residents, who clearly aren’t all going to benefit from this and are spending money at a time when the city is more than $70 million in the red,” Schatz said.

See the CBS news brief:

Who has benefited from the yacht? That is to say, who has been going on these cruises? Just about everyone, according to the ship's passenger records.

“We found members of the Morongo Indian Tribe, screenwriters from Universal Studios, a YWCA cruise, people from the exclusive Jonathan Club, UCLA students and dozens of the mayor’s interns,” CBS reports.

When asked about some of the people being given taxpayer-funded tours, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa swore up and down that it's strictly business.

“They’ve gone to see why the port is such an important part of this administration’s priorities. We have got to promote trade. That’s why I was in China, Japan and Korea,” Mayor Villaraigosa said.

“It’s not a perk to get them out on the water,” CBS asked.

“No. No,” he replied.

Later on Fox News, Greta Van Susteren asked the Washington Examiner’s Byron York about L.A.'s decision to allocate stimulus cash into what some critics have called an outlandish waste of taxpayer money.

“Byron, why was this money spent?” Van Susteren asked.

“Well, it was spent because they had the stimulus money to spend it,” York laughed.

Van Susteren noted that “upgrading” the yacht comes at such a high cost because the new engines have to be hybrid engines – as opposed to the much cheaper diesel engines.

“This is part of the whole president’s ‘green energy’ program that goes all the way from Solyndra to things like this. You have to remember the stimulus money that was spent was not just to create jobs; it was also to enact the president’s agenda and to enact the Congress’ agenda at the time it was passed,” York said. “And green energy was a big part of that.”

Mr. York went on to cite an important memo written in December 2008 that claimed that the “imperative of the stimulus was to identify as many campaign promises or high-profile items…[and that] the stimulus package is a key tool for advancing clean energy goals and fulfilling a number of campaign commitments.”

“So, if you look at it that way,” York explained, “Swapping out these old diesel engines for hybrid engines is exactly in line with what the stimulus intended.”

Watch Greta Van Susteren and Byron York discuss the pricey yacht upgrades via oversightandreform:

One last thing…
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