City hiring bill is needed

It's very tempting to address each point of The Sun's editorial that suggests Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake reject the local hiring bill ("Noble but flawed idea," May 15). But to do so would miss the larger and more important point that lies at the root of the bill's purpose.

Baltimore's unemployment rate is about 10 percent. This is about two times higher than it was just five years ago. The unemployment rate for African-Americans is 20 percent. This is unacceptable, and our leaders have an obligation to find a solution.

The problem is the city has few levers to address the challenge. The good news is that we do have a potential, yet untapped opportunity. It's not going to completely resolve the issue — a standard The Sun seems to require — but it could make a meaningful difference. Like every city, Baltimore spends millions of dollars building infrastructure and purchasing services. It's just plain common sense that we should try and make the most of our money by asking those private companies that take public money — our money — to reinvest in our communities and hire city residents when they can.

That's the simple idea behind Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young's bill. If there are legitimate legal concerns in his version, let's fix them, get the bill passed and put Baltimore back to work. Many other cities have found a way to make this legislation work.

With so many of our neighbors in dire straits, let's not throw our hands in the air — as The Sun would seem to suggest — and just give up. We can do better.

Jason Perkins-Cohen, Baltimore

The writer is executive director of the Job Opportunities Task Force.

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