Above the Fold 04.29.09

Stimulus jobs, how I count the ways…Google unleashes the chart monster…A rare showing of journalism performed by ABC…New York’s head bean counter leaves not to return…Georgia fills swimming pools with education money (not really, but they got some grant money)…N.C. state employees to miss 5 % of paycheck…

The White House is cautioning recipients of stimulus funds against trumpeting too loudly the number of jobs being created until they figure out how accurately report those numbers, the Associated Press reports. “How do you know what a saved job is? How do you know what jobs would have been lost without this?” said University of Chicago economics professor Steven J. Davis. “That was a clever political gimmick to make it even harder to determine whether this policy has any effect.” Elizabeth Oxhorn, a spokeswoman for Vice President Joe Biden, countered, “We take this responsibility of counting jobs very seriously,” she said. “But ultimately our first priority will always be creating them.”

The San Fransisco Chronicle blog Tech Chronicles looks at a new Google offering that showcases charts on search results page created from public data. Users can compare unemployment rates and population trends, with more types of information to be added in the future. The new tool was spawned by Google’s 2007 acquisition of Trendalyzer, software for illustrating data, Tech Chronicles reports.

What do JP Morgan Chase, Fidelity National Information Services, and Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) have in common? They’ve all drawn the ire of ABC News. In a new investigative piece, ABC News uncovers that many states with high unemployment are outsourcing their assistance benefits programs to companies who are then sending those jobs overseas. JP Morgan receives the brunt of it for a public assistance call centers in India. Some states have required that companies they outsource such services to have domestic call centers, but states such as Florida, Tennessee and West Virginia have been officially put on notice by ABC News.

The New York Times is reporting that finance commissioner Martha Stark resigned on Tuesday. Among the host of reasons Ms. Stark is being investigated is for her paid service on a private real estate board, her romantic relationship with a former subordinate and the irregular billings of a parking judge married to Ms. Stark’s first deputy commissioner, the Times reports. “I want to thank Martha for her years of service, and I want to recognize the many reforms that finance developed and implemented under her leadership,” Mr.Bloomberg said, offering little in the way of explanation.

The state of Georgia is getting a $660 million injection of funds for low-income, special-ed students, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The first batch of $324 million will be for special education (IDEA) students. And the second part, around $336 million, is for low-income students under Title I. “This comes at a very good time,” state schools Superintendent Kathy Cox said.

Governor Bev Perdue of North Carolina announced she’s cutting state employees’ pay to plug the $1 billion budget hole. The cut will amount to a 5 percent cut in wages, the Winston-Salem Journal reports. “I don’t like doing it,” Perdue, a Democrat, said yesterday. But she said that lower-than-expected tax collections in April have forced her hand. The State Employees Association of North Carolina said they were disappointed but knew it was a last option for the Governor. But the association will fight if more furloughs are instituted, which is a real possibility, the Journal reports.

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