Thank you for your thoughtful response.
I certainly don't agree that black or latino workers are by nature unskilled or unqualified. My point was that *any time* government forces employers to hire on some basis other than skill or qualifications, it is a mistake. If trade unions are failing to hire blacks or latinos due to racism -- frankly I'm skeptical that this is a major problem in 2010, but admit I haven't closely studied the matter -- then a much better way to combat the problem would be to eliminate government rules that require people to belong to unions in order to get certain kinds of work. This would ultimately do much more to empower workers who lack the political or social connections to get the cushy union jobs, than simply requiring that people get work based on where they live. What will that incentivize non-black workers who live outside the city to do? Why, it will incentivize them to move into your neighborhood to qualify for those jobs, thereby increasing gentrification! I know that's not what you want. It will also be one more factor inhibiting stuff from getting built in our city, and keeping the cost of housing unaffordable, which obviously has a disproportionate impact on lower income people.
As far as construction money "leav(ing) the city" because "the contractors and workers don't live here," I don't believe in penalizing people simply because they don't happen to live in San Francisco. Many people have *very good reasons* for not living in San Francisco. As I'm sure you are aware, many blacks have been leaving the city in recent years because the cost of living here has gotten so high and the government-heavy economic climate has limited the availability of jobs. Many families leave because they can't get their children into the better government schools they want to attend due to the discriminatory school assignment system (as a candidate for School Board, I support allowing every child to attend his or her first-choice school within the district regardless of neighborhood), and feel they lack the time or expertise to homeschool or the financial means to afford the non-government school alternatives (since people who send their kids to non-government schools have to pay twice, once in taxes to support the government schools, and again in tuition). Should these people now be treated as second-class citizens when it comes to getting construction jobs? I say no.
I suggest taking a closer look at what put the black construction firms you refer to out of business, and I suspect that you'll find that increased government regulation of the housing and construction industries over the years had a lot to do with it. It has gotten more and more difficult to construct anything in San Francisco, and among the victims have been firms that were better at building homes and other buildings than at navigating the bureaucracy, along with the people who worked for them. I support the workers who are looking for construction jobs being allowed to simply go to work independently without a lot of bureaucracy and red tape. If you own a piece of property in the Bayview and want to build a new house on it, you should be able to go out and hire anybody you want to work for you, without a long and expensive regimen of inspections, public hearings, environmental impact reports, shadow studies, licenses, permits, and other government-imposed paperwork, costs, and delays. This is the real ticket to greater local employment opportunities, and people having the pride of doing and earning for themselves rather than always waiting (often in vain) for the politicians to do something for them. We've seen how well *that* has worked.
The only way I could (reluctantly, since I know it is economically harmful) support a local hiring mandate, is if it were coupled with some other change *reducing* government interference in the economy or peoples' lives by an equal or greater amount. I am glad to hear you support eliminating the payroll tax and perhaps other changes. Perhaps we can think about ways that we can work toward this or other positive goals on which we are in agreement?
Love & Liberty,
((( starchild )))