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Let’s take back our jobs

July 18, 2010

Let Liberty Builders build the new Bayview Library! Encourage City Hall to do the right thing by signing the petition at and contacting Mayor Newsom at (415) 554-6141 or and the Board of Supervisors at (415) 554-5184 or

by NNPA Ron Walters, Columnist

Liberty Builders all-Black crew builds sea walls at SFO. Siegan Keys, in the foreground, will be superintendent if the company, owned by Bay View publisher Willie Ratcliff, is awarded the contract to build the new Bayview Library. - Photo: David Alston
(NNPA) – I hear some folks saying they want to take back their country. I want to take back our jobs. I have just read a study produced by Vice President Joe Biden’s office about the performance of Stimulus funding which shows that it has taken many of the “shovel-ready” projects that were proposed 18 months ago that amount of time to be really ready now.

This has led the New York Times to note that there will be an “explosion” of Stimulus funded construction projects this summer. In fact, the White House has dubbed the coming employment opportunity as “Stimulus Summer.”

However, I recently drove by several construction projects in the Washington, D.C., and Silver Spring, Md., area and noted that the work force is still rich with Hispanics, a few White supervisors and almost no Blacks. So, the coming explosion of construction jobs causes me to ask whose hands will be on these federally funded shovels at a time when the unemployment levels in the Black community, and especially among Black males, is now well known to be horrific.

While there has been a great deal of angst that I and others have expressed about the lack of accountability of this administration to the Black community, the fact is that the president has placed a great deal of money on the table for jobs. And while his administration has not done the most effective job of targeting those funds to the Black community, it would appear to me that we should acknowledge that and go after the construction related jobs ourselves instead of waiting for them to be delivered to our doorstep.

Likewise, I recently wrote about the attempt of the Congressional Black Caucus to get legislation out of the House that target job creation to local areas through direct funding. These legislative initiatives are being held up in the House and Senate by politicians who care more about posturing in an election year over how frugal they have been with public money by supporting deficit reduction over the pain people are suffering.

The catch here is that the voting public is skewed toward the middle and upper classes, people who need government less and who are more critical about government spending for social programs. They invariably set the tone in politics and public opinion.

So, with many of the avenues to obtaining substantial employment resources in the regular political process blocked, the question is what do we do? One example is provided by the Virginia NAACP, whose executive director, King Salim Khalfani, supported by the Black Business Alliance of Virginia, has vowed to take direct action to blockade federally funded construction sites with trucks. The threat of this action, issued from the steps of Richmond City Hall, called on HUD to shut down construction projects that discriminate against Blacks by not providing fair employment.

Khalfani vowed, “There will be no more developments in this town that Black businesses and communities are not involved in the planning or development thereof.” We will see how HUD responds.

But what if this attitude was adopted by Black political and economic leaders across the country? What if they stopped waiting on Obama to deliver jobs and challenged those with the financial resources he provided to distribute them fairly in creating employment?

Many firms, such as the Atlanta-based Choate Construction Co., are practicing out-and-out employment discrimination and they get away with it because HUD approves their “diversity” numbers – a concept that doesn’t have to include Blacks at all. The remedy here may be to bring more lawsuits.

Dr. Ron Walters
So, as we see highway construction jobs go from 1,750 last July to over 10,700 this July; home weatherization projects reach 82,000, 27 times more than last July; clean-water projects reach 2,828, 20 times more than last July; and 218 federal buildings under construction this July, it seems that the time-tested tactics of using the courts and direct action should be used with a much greater frequently than they are at the moment.

Ron Walters is a political analyst and Professor Emeritus of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland College Park. His latest book, co-edited with Toni-Michelle Travis, is “Democracy and Destiny and the District of Columbia” (Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2010). He can be reached at

8 thoughts on “Let’s take back our jobs

  1. Knight

    So this newspaper, which is funded by taxpayers (look up, see all those ads, I rest my case), is promoting an outfit owned by this same newspaper, to receive yet more taxpayer money.

  2. Miss Chyna

    Thank you for representing our community and people. "Who will stand for us if we don't stand for ourselves". Every other people is ok'd to do it but we are told not too.
    This is a new day and time and we will not and we will stand and fight as one for the good and protection of our own at whatever means or cost. So stand up black people and fight for your own.

  3. Werwolf

    So, a newspaper publisher FUNDED by ads from the government is running articles demanding MORE MONEY from the government that FUNDS him.

    That's not journalism, and that's not social justice. That's a racket. Plain and simple.

    If you can't see that, you're just dumb.

  4. sfbayview

    Dear Knight and Werwolf, who are the same person: I like opposing comments if they make sense, but this doesn't. The next time you go to the store, try paying for the milk and then taking a loaf of bread for free because you paid for the milk.

    Are you serious that the few dollars the City pays for an ad in our newspaper (and most of the Bay View's ads do not come from the City) would pay for a new library? The City's engineer's estimate for the library is $4.5 million.

    That library will be built either by Liberty Builders, which has long roots in the community and has long practiced what it preaches about hiring from the community, or by a contractor from somewhere else that has no such commitment. The Bay View would be supporting another community-based competitor if there were one, but Liberty Builders is the only construction company in this competition with a local hiring commitment and track record.

    We'd welcome your signature on Liberty Builders' petition.

    Mary Ratcliff, editor
    SF Bay View

  5. John Mulligan

    Dear Werwolf (sic), I usually don't agree with much on this website and I regularly criticize most that is written here, but there is nothing objectionable with this article and your simplistic understanding of the interaction between the government and the media is annoying. I suggest you read FCC v. League of Women Voters of California et al. 468 U.S. 364 (1984) which discusses the permissible nature of state funding for nonprofit groups that engage in editorial activities.

  6. Wolfie Wolf ;-)

    There is no way what you have done is ethical or remotely acceptable for a journalism organization. From the SPJ code of ethics. I see multiple violations in what you have done, above. Again, you're not just shameless in stirring up ethnic hatred, but you're blatantly using this publication to advance your personal business interests.

    Seek Truth and
    Report It
    Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.

    Journalists should:

    — Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.
    — Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.
    — Identify sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources' reliability.
    — Always question sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Clarify conditions attached to any promise made in exchange for information. Keep promises.
    — Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.
    — Never distort the content of news photos or video. Image enhancement for technical clarity is always permissible. Label montages and photo illustrations.
    — Avoid misleading re-enactments or staged news events. If re-enactment is necessary to tell a story, label it.
    — Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information except when traditional open methods will not yield information vital to the public. Use of such methods should be explained as part of the story
    — Never plagiarize.
    — Tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience boldly, even when it is unpopular to do so.
    — Examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others.
    — Avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or social status.
    — Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.
    — Give voice to the voiceless; official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid.
    — Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.
    — Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two.
    — Recognize a special obligation to ensure that the public's business is conducted in the open and that government records are open to inspection.

    Act Independently
    Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public's right to know.

    Journalists should:

    —Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
    — Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
    — Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.
    — Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
    — Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.
    — Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
    — Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.

    Be Accountable
    Journalists are accountable to their readers, listeners, viewers and each other.

    Journalists should:

    — Clarify and explain news coverage and invite dialogue with the public over journalistic conduct.
    — Encourage the public to voice grievances against the news media.
    — Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.
    — Expose unethical practices of journalists and the news media.
    — Abide by the same high standards to which they hold others.

  7. Patrick Monk

    The 'objections' and attitudes posted here are symptomatic of decades of racism and neglect that this community has suffered. Where is the outrage and condemnation of the collusion, corruption, conflict of interest and nepotism, that is routinely practiced by the rulers in this town and rubber stamped by our elected representatives. (See eg. 'PAY-TO-PLAY BAY AREA' by Daniela Kirschenbaum; FogCityJournal).
    I guess it's acceptable that the, primarily white, elites can rig the game in favor of themselves and their associates. Mayor Newsom uses the SFChronicle as his PR machine; uses tax-payer money and resources to subsidize his political campaigns; etc; etc; ad nauseam. But should a black small business owner try and promote his application to secure a small contract, in his own neighborhood, and employ local residents then the dogs start barking.


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