DC mayoral candidate Robert White offers job guarantee
Speaking to a small group met in Washington from Northeast, White argued that increasing the size of a third of the workforce of the city would increase bloating of government, but rather offer residents jobs dignified who would deter them from violence – by putting them to work on meaningful tasks like repairing aging public housing and painting crosswalks.
“This monumental program will reduce violence. …People want to participate in improving their communities, and we want to give them the opportunity to do so,” said White, comparing his proposal to former mayor Marion Barry’s creation of the youth summer employment, which provides paid work for teenagers in the district.
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Bowser, who is seeking a third term, has expanded that legacy program, including offering higher salaries for young people next year. But White criticized Bowser’s efforts on Thursday, particularly the skills training programs Bowser has funded through the ailing Department of Employment Services, saying people are completing the programs but not finding long-term work. term.
Bowser declined to comment Thursday.
White and Bowser are set to square off in the June Democratic primary, alongside councilman Trayon White Sr. (D-Ward 8) and former ward advisory commissioner James Butler.
The size of the city’s budget exploded under Bowser, thanks to ballooning tax revenues as well as significant federal aid designed to help cities recover from the pandemic. Bowser has spread that money around a variety of programs in each of the past two years, including huge spending to subsidize the construction of affordable housing, increased spending on both police violence disruption programs and others, and targeted employment programs, such as one that employs people considered at risk of gun violence to work for the Department of Public Works.
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Noting that the city’s budget has grown rapidly in recent years – approximately $15.5 billion in 2020, $16.7 billion in 2021, $17.5 billion in 2022 and $19 billion in the 2023 budget of the fiscal year that the board is currently shaping – White said he is heavily investing new funds in job creation rather than an array of programs which he says “just throw a lot of money everywhere and do not solve the problems”.
He did not go into specifics about his plan, although he said the job guarantee would include both directing some residents to private sector or non-profit jobs and l hiring others to work for the district in roles such as plant trees, eradicate rodents and mosquitoes and remove lead pipes.
Bowser and White both described violent crime as voters’ top concern and top priority, but the two diverged sharply in their approaches. Bowser says the city needs to hire more police. White, who has opposed hiring more police in the past, said he wants to cut many police duties – including noise complaints, mental health emergencies and most traffic stops – and wants an audit to determine the number of agents needed.
“Unfortunately, the mayor’s only response to crime has been more police. … More policing is just not a public safety plan,” he said Thursday. He said the job guarantee would be a centerpiece of his ever-evolving approach to reducing crime.
“There are so many people in our city right now who have nothing to lose,” he said. “People who make careers rarely commit serious crimes. »
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The idea of a job guarantee has been circulating in political discourse since at least the 1960s, when The king embraced towards the end of his lifeand received a renewed popularity in Democratic circles recently, although no American city has actually put it into practice as proposed by White. In 2018, Senator Cory Booker (D) submitted an invoice to offer federal funds to 15 localities to try it. Ocasio-Cortez included a job guarantee in his “Green New Deal” proposal.
Boe Luther Wallace Kirby, former inmates who run the educational garden where White made his announcement Thursday, said they support the offer of the white mayor after having come to know as a member of the Board when they sought to use a parcel of public land for their “hustlaz 2 Harvester” gardening program. The initiative offers vocational training in agriculture and the installation of solar panels.
White always says “I can” or “I can’t,” Luther said. “It wasn’t promises that he was going to do anything for us. He was always there for returning citizens.”
Kirby spoke at the White event, saying he had seen the training of its own program on the installation of solar panels and agriculture help former prisoners and people with disabilities find meaningful employment . He praised the vision of White: “If that happened, we would not have so many of our residents still exist and must exist to live in public housing.”
Afterward, Kirby encouraged politicians and reporters who rallied for White’s campaign stop to stick around for a tour of what was once a wasteland known to breed violence. He wanted to show how the garden now grows lemon cucumbers, watermelons and sage.