Hartford Courant: State Rep. Michael DiMassa arrested by FBI in probe of misuse of COVID relief funds, accused of stealing more than $600,000

Hartford Courant: State Rep. Michael DiMassa arrested by FBI in probe of misuse of COVID relief funds, accused of stealing more than $600,000. “State Rep. Michael DiMassa was accused Wednesday of stealing more than $600,000 in federal COVID relief money by billing the city of West Haven, where he also worked as an aide to the City Council, for pandemic related consulting services that federal officials said he never performed.”

Route Fifty: How Cities and Counties Are Prioritizing American Rescue Plan Funds

Route Fifty: How Cities and Counties Are Prioritizing American Rescue Plan Funds. “Infrastructure was the top investment priority for communities of all sizes, followed by replacing lost public sector revenue, according to a report by ICMA. Within the infrastructure category, the most anticipated project concerns were water and sewer infrastructure, prioritized by 74% of respondents.”

ProPublica: The Federal Government Gave Billions to America’s Schools for COVID-19 Relief. Where Did the Money Go?

ProPublica: The Federal Government Gave Billions to America’s Schools for COVID-19 Relief. Where Did the Money Go?. “After the pandemic shut down schools across the country, the federal government provided about $190 billion in aid to help them reopen and respond to the effects of the pandemic. In the year and a half since millions of children were sent home, the Education Department has done only limited tracking of how the money has been spent. That has left officials in Washington largely in the dark about how effective the aid has been in helping students, especially those whose schools and communities were among the hardest hit by the pandemic.”

Miami Herald: Subject of Miami Herald PPP investigation charged with COVID-19 relief fraud

Miami Herald: Subject of Miami Herald PPP investigation charged with COVID-19 relief fraud. “A Texas man flagged in a 2020 Miami Herald investigation whose companies were approved for millions in suspicious loans through the Paycheck Protection Program has been charged with multiple counts of wire fraud and making false statements to a bank. The federal charges in the Eastern District of Texas stem from three loans received by companies tied to Sinoj Joseph that totaled more than $3 million.”

BBC: Coronavirus in DR Congo: How funds went missing – report

BBC: Coronavirus in DR Congo: How funds went missing – report. “The Congo Research Group, based in New York University, says several new committees were set up that cost more money but failed to solve the problems. Its report says only $6m of the $363m Covid funding awarded by the IMF last year has been publicly accounted for. The Congolese government has not responded to BBC requests for comment.”

Report: Cultural institutions took federal money but still let go of workers (American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees)

American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees: Report: Cultural institutions took federal money but still let go of workers. “Some of the nation’s largest cultural institutions accepted more than $1.6 billion in federal help to weather the coronavirus pandemic, but continued to let go of workers – even though the assistance was meant to shore up payrolls and keep workers on the job, according to a report released by AFSCME Cultural Workers United.”

Associated Press: Flush with COVID-19 aid, schools steer funding to sports

Associated Press: Flush with COVID-19 aid, schools steer funding to sports. “One Wisconsin school district built a new football field. In Iowa, a high school weight room is getting a renovation. Another in Kentucky is replacing two outdoor tracks — all of this funded by the billions of dollars in federal pandemic relief Congress sent to schools this year. The money is part of a $123 billion infusion intended to help schools reopen and recover from the pandemic. But with few limits on how the funding can be spent, The Associated Press found that some districts have used large portions to cover athletics projects they couldn’t previously afford.”

Covid-19: India to pay $674 compensation for every death (BBC)

BBC: Covid-19: India to pay $674 compensation for every death . “India’s top court has approved the government’s decision to pay 50,000 rupees ($674; £498) as compensation for every death due to Covid-19. The Supreme Court’s order followed a petition by lawyers seeking compensation under India’s disaster management laws. India has officially recorded more than 447,000 Covid-19 deaths so far.”

Route Fifty: Why Some Small Towns Are Rejecting Federal Covid Relief Funds

Route Fifty: Why Some Small Towns Are Rejecting Federal Covid Relief Funds. “Congress in March authorized $19.5 billion in aid for cities and towns with fewer than 50,000 residents, including very small jurisdictions such as Bingham. Lawmakers wanted to help every town cover the cost of fighting a pandemic and recovering from last year’s recession. But in some small, rural or conservative towns, local leaders are refusing the cash. They say they don’t need it, and in some cases, don’t feel comfortable accepting it.”

Washington Post: Mississippi aid program gave little help to renters, but millions to a top law firm

Washington Post: Mississippi aid program gave little help to renters, but millions to a top law firm. “This June, when Tebrica Young stumbled on a new Mississippi aid program for people struggling to pay rent during the pandemic, she thought she had found a lifeline. Her husband was furloughed in March, and the couple was expecting a second child. They had fallen behind on payments for their two-bedroom apartment in Batesville, a small town an hour south of Memphis. So Young applied to the Rental Assistance for Mississippians Program, or RAMP, which is supposed to disburse federal funds to state residents in need. But though she and her husband submitted reams of documents and made multiple calls to the RAMP hotline, Young said, the money never arrived.”

Route Fifty: A Free Tool to Help Cities Take Full Advantage of Federal Aid

Route Fifty: A Free Tool to Help Cities Take Full Advantage of Federal Aid. “The Covid Federal Assistance e311 site, a partnership between Bloomberg Philanthropies and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, gives cities free access to a searchable database of questions and answers about the rules and regulations governing the use of federal coronavirus relief dollars. The resources are also available to county leaders, as the rules dictating use of the funds are similar for both types of governments.” The writeup makes it sound like the information is restricted, but it’s not. I was able to search the database and view questions and answers without any problem.

Route Fifty: Pandemic Hardship is About to Get a Lot Worse for Millions of Out-of-Work Americans

Route Fifty: Pandemic Hardship is About to Get a Lot Worse for Millions of Out-of-Work Americans. “In all, an estimated 8.8 million people will stop receiving unemployment insurance beginning on Sept. 6, 2021. An additional 4.5 million will no longer get the extra US$300 a week the federal government has been providing to supplement state benefits. But with the pandemic still raging thanks to the rise of the delta variant, particularly in Southern states, the expiration of these benefits seems ill-timed. While some claim that the aid is no longer needed and doing more harm than good, we believe that the data tell another story.”