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Location: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Taxpayer stimulus $$$ went to hire foreign workers

Dana Mathewson

Color me naive, but I didn't think this was the point of it all. Of course, Oregon is a pretty liberal state, so I take it that laws are interpreted liberally there.

FTA: At least $7 million in federal stimulus money intended to provide jobs to unemployed Oregonians instead paid wages to 254 foreign workers, federal investigators have concluded.

The money was for forest clean-up jobs in central Oregon where thousands of experienced workers were idle. When the contracts were announced in 2009, Oregon had the third-highest unemployment rate in the nation at 11.1 percent, with rates in the state's rural forest counties nearly 15 percent and higher.

Even so, the contractors told federal regulators they could not find enough local workers for the jobs.

That came as a surprise to local officials, who said they often got hundreds of responses to every job opening.

"This is a timber area and we hadn't been cutting trees for years," said state Sen. Chris Telfer, R-Bend. "It really ticked off a lot of people here."

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