How’s that stimulus package working out for Los Angeles? Not too well when you look at the audit report issued by LA City Controller Wendy Gruel yesterday.

The city controller’s report revealed that $111 million dollars in federal stimulus money sent to Public Works and Transportation departments has resulted in a total of 55 jobs created or retained. Well, not 55 exactly, since the audit tests work hours, that’s 54.46 jobs created or retained.

And, while it is good for the individual workers that their jobs were retained, that means many fewer than 55 jobs were created for the $111 million. With two million Californians out of work, many in the most populous city in the state, we need to create jobs. What is going on here?

The controller’s report said the city moved too slowly to spend the stimulus money.  It took months for contracts to be bid and evaluated. It took months to purchase equipment: 16 commuter buses, for example, took a year to purchase.

If the city or other government agencies want to create jobs much more quickly – create, not merely retain jobs – the answer is to turn away from a ponderous bureaucracy doling out stimulus money and incentivize the private sector to create jobs. Cut taxes and regulations to encourage businesses to hire and deal with California’s abysmal unemployment record.

City officials acknowledge the problems cited by Gruel. In fact, Cynthia Ruiz, president of the Board of Public Works, told the Los Angeles Times that her agency will streamline the contracting process. "We’re hoping to have some changes within the next six months," she said.

SIX MONTHS? Six months to solve a problem dealing with delays in process! That’s a joke, right?

So much for the bureaucracy attacking the jobs problem with any sense of urgency.

We need to energize the private sector now.