4:35 pm Oct. 3, 2012
Former comptroller Bill Thompson, who's running for mayor next year, presented a job creation plan this week that bore a distinct resemblance to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's, at least in terms of the substance.
In an essay in the Huffington Post, Thompson deplored the findings of a New York Times' report comparing income disparities in Manhattan and sub-Saharan Africa, which Bloomberg had dismissed as "meaningless."
But the course of action Thompson outlined to address those economic challenges was in many ways similar to the one advocated by his likely 2013 rival, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and in fact to the one pursued by Bloomberg himself. This isn't a coincidence. Quinn is hoping to run with the tacit support of Bloomberg and New York's business establishment; Thompson, who made a strong showing against Bloomberg as the Democratic nominee in 2009, won't want to make it any easier for Quinn to cast him, by default, as the disruptive, anti-business candidate.
In the essay, Thompson writes that he would "develop a master plan combining city and state resources that leverage private sector dollars, to steadily expand our affordable housing stock."
Bloomberg has also put a good deal of effort into expanding the city's affordable housing stock, setting himself the goal of building or preserving 165,000 affordable units by the end of his third term. His plan, according to a recent Independent Budget Office report, is on track.
Key to keeping housing affordable, says Thompson, is to block a bill, known as Intro 730, requiring greater transparency in the Department of Housing Preservation and Development's selection of contractors, and more controversially, imposing new (and opponents argue, onerous) wage-reporting requirements on contractors.
The City Council passed the bill, and then the mayor, who, like Thompson, strongly opposes the measure, vetoed it. The Council overrode his veto.
Thompson also calls in the essay for the city to "play an active role in matching the skills and degrees held by prospective employees entering the job market, with the actual needs of employers," which is also the purpose of the mayor's Workforce1 centers.
Thompson calls for more public-private partnerships to foster "associate degree programs geared to high graduation rates in the jobs skills demanded by employers."
Bloomberg has supported similar efforts.
"Third, let's nurture growth industries," says Thompson. "Mayor Bloomberg deserves credit for building the engineering based high tech center with Cornell on Roosevelt Island. Let's go beyond that, by acting upon the New York State Business Council's recent Public Policy Institute report, making the case for growing the bioscience industry."
That's also a case Bloomberg has made.
On education, Thompson, who, like all mayoral candidates next year, will be vying for the endorsement of the teacher's union, departs a bit from the mayor, by calling for "better bottom-line results from our schools while replacing a failed culture of standardized testing at ever younger ages."
Thompson, like Public Advocate Bill de Blasio before him, also criticizes the city's "needlessly inflated water bills."
But then he returns to form, concluding with a call for a statewide increase in the minimum wage, just like Bloomberg called for in this year's state of the city address.
"It was a travesty that State Senate Republicans balked at increasing the minimum wage," writes Thompson. "Let's use the remaining weeks of the campaign season to take that issue to the voters, demanding action on a minimum wage hike in Albany's post-election special session."
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