A Harlem Reverend and the NYC Job Creation Gap
by Anthonys Stasi
Sep 16, 2015 | 8157 views | 0 0 comments | 41 41 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Reverend Michel Faulkner
Reverend Michel Faulkner
“The Port Authority has made tens of billions of dollars with government contracts, each with set-aside money to create jobs in the mostly minority areas where they operate,” begins Reverend Michel Faulkner, who is seeking to be the GOP challenger to Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2017.

Faulkner ran against Congressman Charles Rangel in 2010, an almost impossible political mountain to climb. But what the reverend, who also played a little defensive line for the New York Jets, does have is an agenda that is centered around building up the city’s middle and lower-middle class, which is not a typical playbook for a Republican candidate.

According to Faulkner, who will officially kick off his campaign on Monday, September 21, the way government contractors get around creating jobs is that they measure meeting the hiring standard in dollars spent, not jobs created.

In other words, a government contractor might argue that they spent a few million dollars sending people to training programs, but those programs do not always result in actual work.

Instead, a revolving door develops, where people in minority neighborhoods experience a number of false starts in what is often billed as “creating jobs.” Faulkner wants to see a definitive number of real jobs created when an agency gets a lofty government contract.

Is this some new affirmative action program? Not at all, argues Faulkner, these are stipulations that already exist in the language of some contracts.

Faulkner’s political energy is reminiscent of Reverend Floyd Flake, the long-time congressman from Queens. Setting aside their common ethnic similarities and their religious commitments, Faulkner shares something more valuable with Flake, and that is having an atypical constituency that can likely be mobilized quickly.

When first elected to office, Flake tapped into votes that people didn’t know existed. With Faulkner running as a Republican, he can introduce new votes in an election that would be necessary if a race is going to be competitive.

Good political consultants will tell their clients that to be a good candidate, they must start acting like they were already elected. It means that candidates should start solving problems, even though they have not gotten the job yet.

Faulkner may not get the nomination on the GOP line - it is a little early to think about that - but he is jumping into the public policy ring and talking about something that few have done so far.

A problem that is equally important when it comes to income opportunities for low-income New Yorkers is the disappearance of the manufacturing base in the city. That was once the saving grace for middle-class people, many of whom had no education.

That is an issue that got some limited traction when Republican candidate John Catsimatidis started talking about amping up trade schools in the city a few years ago. Faulkner needs to build on that, because Catsimatidis was on to something.

Some students will go to college, some will not. For the ones that will not, we need a game plan for them.

With ideas like that, Michel Faulkner may just make 2017 an interesting and fun race to watch.

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