The Clarion-Ledger, 2/26/9

Mayor Frank Melton used his first full day back on the job Wednesday to announce a new, unfunded plan that would allocate taxpayer money to pay residents to work in private-sector jobs.

Melton, who has spent much of the past month standing trial on federal civil rights charges, said the program would cost about $300,000 and would help get people back to work.

But some question whether Melton was using the announcement to divert attention from his legal problems.

Melton announced his idea at a brief news conference Wednesday at City Hall. He later said that part of the money would come from the city’s summer jobs program.

Several City Council members said they had not heard of the proposal. If Melton plans to pay for the jobs program with general fund dollars, he will need the council’s approval.