While the media are sharpening the knives against Republican presidential aspirant Gov. Rick Perry on the nature of jobs created under his watch in Texas, fairness would dictate a look at the Obama administration's jobs record, particularly on his pet project of ushering in the age of renewable energy and with them "green jobs."
As Vanessa Ho of the SeattlePI.com website reported yesterday, the Obama administration's green jobs push in the great bastion of Pacific Northwest liberalism Seattle has been a bust (emphasis mine):
Last year, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn announced the city had won a coveted $20 million federal grant to invest in weatherization. The unglamorous work of insulating crawl spaces and attics had emerged as a silver bullet in a bleak economy – able to create jobs and shrink carbon footprint – and the announcement came with great fanfare.
McGinn had joined Vice President Joe Biden in the White House to make it. It came on the eve of Earth Day. It had heady goals: creating 2,000 living-wage jobs in Seattle and retrofitting 2,000 homes in poorer neighborhoods.
But more than a year later, Seattle's numbers are lackluster. As of last week, only three homes had been retrofitted and just 14 new jobs have emerged from the program. Many of the jobs are administrative, and not the entry-level pathways once dreamed of for low-income workers. Some people wonder if the original goals are now achievable.
"The jobs haven't surfaced yet," said Michael Woo, director of Got Green, a Seattle community organizing group focused on the environment and social justice.
"It's been a very slow and tedious process. It's almost painful, the number of meetings people have gone to. Those are the people who got jobs. There's been no real investment for the broader public."
One key problem with the program: it directs money towards a politically-correct but largely impractical purpose in a down economy (emphasis mine):
[T]he timing of the award has led to hurdles in enticing homeowners to bite on retrofits. The city had applied for the grant at a time of eco-giddiness, when former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels was out-greening all other politicians except for Al Gore. Retrofits glowed with promise to boost the economy, reduce consumer bills and lower greenhouse gas emissions.
"A triple win," is how Biden characterized it.
By the time Seattle won the award, homeowners were battered by unemployment and foreclosures. The long-term benefits of energy upgrades lacked the tangible punch of a new countertop. And the high number of unemployed construction workers edged out new weatherization installers for the paltry number of jobs.
"Really, we couldn't have rolled out this program at a worse time," said Greenwich, who had helped write the city's grant proposal.
"The outcomes are very disappointing. I think the city has worked really hard, but no one anticipated just how bad this recession was going to be, and the effect it was going to have on this program."