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LA Mayor Takes Schipske's Jobs Idea to Washington DC
LA Mayor Villaraigosa Takes Schipske's Jobs Idea to Washington, D.C.

Imagine my surprise to read in today's LA Times on page AA: "Mayor sends a jobs plan to D.C. -- Villaraigosa wants local workers to have an edge in federally funded transportation projects."

Surprised because on March 8, 2011 -- I introduced a council item (which I asked Councilman Patrick O'Donnell to co sponsor) that stated the following:

Subject: AGENDA ITEM: Request for Federal Wavier of Local Hiring Restrictions Mandated by the Federal Highway Administration

At 14%, the City of Long Beach currently faces one of the highest rates of unemployment in the state (if not in the U.S.). The need to create jobs is critical in order to put our residents back to work.

To increase the number of Local jobs, the City Council and the Harbor Commissioners have approved the case of project labor agreements ("PLA") which contains among other provisions, a requirement that a certain percentage of the hiring be of Long Beach residents.

Unfortunately, Federal Highway Administration regulations prohibited local hiring preferences. This prohibition needs to be waived, especially in cities such as Long Beach, so that a local construction project can be staffed with unemployed residents who live in the city in which the project is being constructed.

Request the City Manager to contact the Federal Highway Administration to determine how the City and the Port can be given a waiver and allowed to set sufficient local hiring preferences for major construction projects.

As you can see in the council video (click here then go to item #11)  the item passed 9-0.

So today, I read:

Reporting from Washington-

In an effort to bring down the stubbornly high unemployment rate, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is lobbying Washington officials to give local workers an advantage in winning some of the more than 166,000 jobs expected from transportation projects planned for the region.  

Federal rules prohibit local hiring preferences on federally funded transportation projects, under the premise that all U.S. taxpayers help to pay for the work and should have an equal shot at getting the jobs. The rule also stems from concern that making local hiring a factor in awarding contracts will increase the cost of projects.

But with Washington jittery about unemployment heading into an election year, the mayor has received a positive signal from the administration. Hovering at 12%, California's unemployment rate is the second highest in the nation, behind Nevada's.

So thank you Mayor Villaraigosa for taking a good idea from the City of Long Beach to Washington, D.C. and doing something with it...I'm still waiting here for Long Beach to do the same.