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Tracking the wild Stimulus

A cool website tracks stimulus projects by state and city.

Tracking what stimulus money will buy is like birdwatching. A few promising flutters over in the bushes, maybe something familiar glides over now and then. But for many of us there's just a lot of sitting in the shadowy woods, hoping to see something nice fly our way.

A nifty site from StimulusWatch.org serves as a very useful guide (and sounding board) for projects that will be considered when funds show up. It's organized by states and cities, describing what the compilers call "shovel-ready" projects the mayors of each state submitted in the 2008 U.S. Conference of Mayors report. The Washington page is richer than most, with 368 projects. The Seattle page ranges from a $40,000 pipe-replacement project at Fire Station No. 18 to a $50 million effort at loosening the Gordian knot known as Mercer Corridor East. (To read more about Mercer mess and money, check this out, from Seattle Weekly.)

The site, built by volunteers, describes itself as an independent effort, not affiliated with any other organization. Creators include a MediaWiki alum, which makes sense when you see that users can vote on projects' merits, edit descriptions or share thoughts.

In a truly humanitarian gesture, the site has a jargon decoder in its FAQ section. So, anyone wondering what a CDBG is, can learn that it is a Community Development Block Grant, a HUD program launched in 1974.

For those in need of serious procrastination tools, there are running national tabulations for "Most Active Today" and "All Time Most Active" projects attracting the highest number of clicks; as well as "Most Expensive" and the most and least favored by site users who vote.

If you're in a hurry, I'll tell you this much: Based on numbers published as of this blog, if it's up to the site users, new public-housing doorbells in Mississippi and disc golf in Texas are doing to be as rare as a flying emu.

Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett writes and edits for Crosscut. You can e-mail her at kimberly.marlowe.hartnett@crosscut.com. She also blogs at Type Like The Wind.


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