Published on September 27,
Richmond Marks New Jobs Program for Youth
By Tom Butt
It’s interesting that the mayoral challengers have chosen
to make this election about jobs, probably the one issue that
the mayor has the least ability to influence. We are part of
a regional economy that is well above the national average
in unemployment, largely because of the bubble bursting in
California’s overinflated housing market. This was not a city-driven
phenomenon, nor will there be a city-driven solution.
and Ziesenhenne couldn’t go with crime because crime overall
has continued to drop at about 10% a year, and homicides are
less than half of last year. You don’t want to criticize a
They couldn’t attack fiscal mismanagement with
a balanced budget, no layoffs and Richmond hiring cops while
other cities are laying them off. The mayor supported a $114
million settlement with Chevron that took the edge off a significant
drop in real property and sales taxes that hit other cities
hard. With Richmond arguably the most complex and challenging
city of its size in the Bay Area, Richmond’s city manager’s
compensation is below that of smaller cities such as San Ramon
and less complex cities such as Vallejo, Berkeley, Santa Clara
Even infrastruture is looking pretty good. Capital
projects completed during Mayor McLaughlin’s term include the
Honda Port of Entry, the award-winning Civic Center rehabilitation,
Nevin Park rehabilitation and the Richmond Plunge rehabilitation.
Add in the Ford Assembly Building as a unique public-private
partnership. Street paving projects are going on all over town,
and Richmond leads all other cities in Bay Trail construction.
Planning for the Marina Bay railroad underpass is well underway,
and have you noticed the landscaping on the Richmond Parkway?
Recent polls show that 60% of Richmond voters are pleased
at the direction Richmond is going. Accusations that the mayor
doesn’t support jobs and economic development is a red herring
that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. No mayor can single-handedly
bring jobs to Richmond, but a mayor does have the ability to
affect perceptions. It’s no secret that the biggest job growth
is in small businesses and the green economy. Like Willie Sutton
who answered that he robbed banks “because that’s where the
money is,” the mayor is looking at the ecomomy sectors where
the jobs are.
Big businesses, like Chevron, can take care of
themselves – they don’t need a mayor to hold their hand. And
they are not hiring, they are laying people off. Since McLaughlin
took office, over 700 businessses have started in or come to
Richmond, employing over 1,000 people.
Bates and Ziesenhenne
have both maintained that McLaughlin will not meet with Chevron,
like that’s some kind of litmus test for being pro jobs and
“respecting” business. That’s patently false. I participated
in at least one extensive meeting with the mayor and Refinery
Manager Mike Coyle where a wide range of issues involving the
City of Richmond and Chevron were discussed.
The mayor is also
concentrating on those quality of life isssues that make Richmond
attractive for businesses and their employees, like public
safety, neighborhood schools, parks and recreation opportunities.
It’s worth noting that Bates opposed the City using some of
the Chevron settlement money to stave off closing of Richmond
schools, including Kennedy High School.
As far as the Point
Molate casino being Richmond’s golden goose, we have been pursuing
this dream for over six years, and it is no closer than it
was in 2004. Even if by some miracle, it were to happen, any
related jobs would be years – maybe a decade – away. And even
so, there is no guaranteee that those jobs would go to Richmond
So, c’mon voters, don’t fall for that phony Bates
and Ziesenhenne jobs line. They have no silver bullet that
can dramatically bring jobs to Richmond residents. Richmond
is doing well, and our unemployment rate, which has always
tracked state and natioonal trends, will go down when everyone
else’s does. Meanwhile, we can make Richmond the best possible
place to live, work and attract business, and that means keeping
a successful and popular mayor.
Jobs, and what type, are at center
of Richmond mayoral race.