Another undercover operation by Project Veritas, which is led by investigative video specialist James O’Keefe, has revealed what labor unions truly believe about the billions of dollars that go toward the alleged “greening” of our energy usage.
Those were the words that came out of the mouth of John Hutchings, a legislator for New York’s Broome County, who is also a construction market representative for the Laborers International Union for upstate New York. He is also an executive officer of the Central New York Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, according to his bio.
Project Veritas actors, who portrayed leaders of a make-believe company called Earth Supply and Renewal, captured the remark in a meeting they obtained with Hutchings and other union leaders to discuss the possibility (again, this was an act) of winning government grants or contracts for their work. The only problem was that Earth Supply and Renewal sold themselves as in the business of carrying out only a very simple task: digging holes, and filling them back in.
“And you guys would be cool with that?” asked a Veritas actor of the union leaders. “With helping us find funds, even if it’s just – what we do is just, ‘Hey, there’s some dirt to dig,’ and put it back in the hole?”
Hutchings’s colleague Anthony Tocci, business manager for Laborers International Union-Local 161 on Long Island, replied, “If people are willing to give you the money, that’s fine.”
Then Hutchings chimed in.
“You know the Green Jobs, Green New York?” he told the actors, referring to a $112-million state weatherization program. “Between us, a lot of it is bullsh–.
“You know, a lot of that’s going for stuff that….” Hutchings paused, then raised his hands in the air with a puzzled expression that emphasized the waste of taxpayer dollars and said, “What are we talking about?” The point: He understood clearly that much of the New York weatherization program dollars were channeled to useless make-work projects.
Green Jobs, Green New York is a $112-million state program born out of the movement – led by the Obama administration – to dump billions of taxpayer dollars nationwide into clean energy and energy efficiency initiatives, like weatherization, which is supposed to financially assist low-income homeowners to gain savings on their power bills with improved insulation and windows. But audits by Gregory Friedman, inspector general for the Department of Energy, show state weatherization programs across the country are rife with waste, fraud and abuse.
But immediately after he divulged his true feelings in the meeting about the waste, Hutchings justified the program in the context of today’s political and economic climate.
“Whether you’re Mitt Romney or you’re Barack Obama,” he said, “it’s all about jobs, the economy, and getting people to work. So at least we’re doing that.”
Feigning assent, the Project Veritas actors went along with the concept.
“And even if it’s, like you said, ‘bullsh–,’ you know, there’s people willing to subsidize bullsh–,” said one of the fake Earth Supply and Renewal employees.
“Well I think the key thing is, even if it’s bullsh–, I think as long as people are working, that’s not bull,” Hutchings responded. “You know what I mean? Then you’re doing a service.”
Then after detailing their political connections and three lobbying firms for both Democrats and Republicans in New York and Albany, Hutchings and Tocci explained how they “push their agenda through” and see that bills that create largely wasteful programs are produced. Hutchings – apparently recognizing the youth and inexperience he believed the Veritas actors had – cited an example of how Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver might see a grant approved to do the type of work that Earth Supply and Renewal could do, but would not specifically earmark it for their company.
“He would approve a grant to do that type of stuff,” Hutchings explained, “then we’d have to go out and find places where to dig.”
Tocci then helpfully added, “You just want to get the money. Then you figure out afterward….”
“We can figure out the other stuff,” Hutchings interrupted. So the implication is that the unions, as a regular practice, often pursue pots of money for which there is no practical purpose or need, and then find creative ways to justify the spending after the fact.
In December 2010, after he signed the bill into law, New York Gov. David Paterson heralded the arrival of the weatherization program.
“The Green Jobs-Green NY program will build on the significant efforts our state has already taken to help put New Yorkers to work in the clean energy economy,” he said. “New York is well-positioned to become a national leader in the clean energy economy as we continue to use green technology to lay the foundation for economic recovery and prosperity. Our clean energy initiatives will facilitate local job growth, reduce greenhouse gas pollution, help improve public health, and ensure the State’s long-term energy independence.”
As is clear in his statement, even the governor did not believe a program such as Green Jobs, Green New York fulfilled any market-need or -demand that the private sector could not fulfill. Instead it’s clear it was a make-do project ideally designed for labor unions and fraudulent businesses to take advantage of, with great susceptibility to waste, fraud and abuse.
“It’s awful hard for anyone to vote against a jobs bill right now,” Hutchings said as the meeting closed. When it comes to taxpayer money, whether those jobs actually produce anything is irrelevant.