#SOL17: Coal, Bees, & Apprenticeships

I love social media–especially Twitter and Facebook. I’m a retired teacher, whose volunteering includes political activism. My most re-posted article on Facebook was “Coal miners are refusing to learn new skills because of faith in Trump,” by Kali Holloway at Raw Story. It focused on troubles in southern Pennsylvania getting people to show up for training, as they’re less than 20% full. Reuters reports the Appalachian Regional Commissioner states the area has 33K less mining jobs than 2011. Robert Murray, CEO of the largest US private coal mine, advised Trump before and after the election to tone down promises of coal industry resurgence. Even Trump’s chief economic adviser and director of the National Economic Council, Gary Cohen, has spoken about the superiority of other forms of energy over coal. Cohn asserted that solar and win power is a powerhouse and environmentally friendly. Trump’s platform lamented that the USA’s greatness was in the past and is now on decline, probably due to the rise of non-white populations. Down-and-out coal towns can’t attract new businesses with workers with outdated skills.

I found this sad article about the neglect of retraining soon after reading that some out-of-work West Virginia coal miners are getting retrained in bee keeping. https://www.morningagclips.com/coal-miners-shift-to-beekeeping/ My retweet caught the attention of a rapper from Puerto Rico, which made me happy. Furthermore, I told a guitarist acquaintance of mine from West Virginia about the new job training.

An apprenticeship program by four senators, including Tim Kaine, the 2016 running mate of Hillary Clinton, looked like an ideal plan for for preparing young people for skilled jobs after high school. The apprentices would make some money while they learned a trade, and their employers would receive tax breaks. https://www.kaine.senate.gov/press-releases/kaine-cantwell-collins-gillibrand-announce-apprenticeship-bill-to-train-the-next-generation-of-american-workers

Here’s a more recent plan by Tim Kaine and his colleagues to boost vocational training in high school. https://www.scribd.com/document/341866114/Educating-Tomorrow-s-Workforce-Act-Fact-Sheet-2017

As you can see, I’m looking to endorse specific plans to advance employment prospects in careers that are in demand and don’t require lots of time and money to achieve it.



May 16, 2017 by bohemiotx under Department of Housing & Urban Development, urban planning, urban studies

The Trump HUD Proposal
Trump’s budget proposal has severely threatened the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD). Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) would be destroyed. Apartment rent subsidies for the poor would be in trouble too–especially since it’s a federal-only program, unlike Meals-on-Wheels. Let’s check an article from The Atlantic on this proposal–Sadly it was on March 16, 2017–my birthday.

“It also eliminates funding for the HOME Investment Partnership Program, which provides grants for low-income people to buy or rehabilitate homes, and the Choice Neighborhoods program, which provides grants to organizations attempting to revitalize neighborhoods. The proposed budget also eliminates the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which coordinates how 19 federal agencies respond to homelessness.” There would be cutbacks from two other departments: Education and Health & Human Services “How Trump’s Budget Would Impact Cities’ Poorest Residents” https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/03/trump-budget-hud/519870/

Carson’ s Confirmation Hearing for Secretary of HUD
However, two months earlier at Ben Carson’s confirmation hearing for Secretary of Housing & Urban Development, The L.A. Times summarized, “For worried Democrats, he gave assurances that he would not try to strip programs like rental assistance and said he wanted to intensify efforts to remove lead and other hazards that harm children living in older housing.”
“When it comes to entitlement programs, it is cruel and unusual punishment to withdraw those programs before you provide an alternative,” Carson said. Carson proposed he wanted to get businesses and faith groups more involved in helping people in HUD-backed housing, and find ways to enlarge the role of private industry in backing home mortgages. http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-carson-hud-20170112-story.htmlBen Carson at Confirmation Hearing (HUD)

Apartment Subsidy Experience in Tyler
A Neighborhood Services inspector checked my efficiency–my fifth annual inspection. This time, I was required to scrub my oven and change the oven pans. Otherwise, it was adequate from my side. Meanwhile, the apartment’s maintenance man got a report on repairs–such as weather-stripping for the door and replacing an outlet. I utilized my social skills by turning down the news and turning on some Tejano music for the maintenance man and myself. A few days later, the apartment manager signed for the repair completion. We have monthly insecticide sprays too, so the apartment better pass inspection on a monthly basis to avoid fines.
I brought my annual apartment subsidy paperwork to our Neighborhood Services office, located on West Gentry & Palace on the North Side. While I waited for the Green South bus, I not only ate and shopped, but copied information on the Community Development Block Grant program.
Let’s start with the definition of how Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) funds are used. They “may be used for public facility and infrastructure improvements in low income areas. The funds are concentrated in the annual ‘target area’ for a variety of projects, including street renovations, curbs and gutters, sidewalks, and water, sewer and drainage improvements.” Park improvements may be to create new parks or enhance existing parks. There’s also a Home Buyer Assistance Program that includes using the voucher towards buying a house, provided the individual completes Home Buyer Education workshops. Here’s the description of CDBG on the City of Tyler website, including eligible and ineligible activities. http://www.cityoftyler.org/Departments/NeighborhoodServices/CommunityDevelopment/CDBG.aspx City of Tyler: Neighborhood Services, CDBG

As you can see, these HUD programs are relatives of infrastructure repair programs. My voucher keeps me from spending over half my SSDI (disability) check in rent. At least I have one more year. I can only earn $120/month and still keep Medicare D. My COPD has improved from severe to moderate in the past year, contrary to folk belief that we either get worse or stay the same. Let’s save these fine programs in the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by Congress voting against these proposals.
Excuse me for adding new information to a conclusion, but I received an article from Andrea Wilson entitled, “Congress Reaches Deal on FY17 Spending,” http://nlihc.org/article/congress-reaches-deal-fy17-spending We have a reprieve for the rest of 2017; none of the drastic cuts were approved because Congress wanted to avoid a shutdown. Mrs. Wilson works for PATH (People Attempting to Help), and she volunteers with me at ETHNN (East Texas Human Needs Network)–but in the housing committee. We may not be out of trouble yet, but the midterm elections in 2018 may help us. At least, Secretary Carson expressed an interest in looking for assistance from local business and faith groups, as well as private industry. Efforts to help the poor would need to come from local sources more often. Neighborhood Services has always been a jewel for the City of Tyler.

Northside Revitalization, Tyler 21: Annotated Link Page (2nd Edition), By J.D. Meyer

  1. http://www.lisc.org Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Our Initiatives: (1) Affordable Housing, (2) Education, (3) Economic Development, (4) Financial Stability, (5) Health, (6) Safe Neighborhoods, (7) Community Leadership, and (8) Policy & Research.
  1. http://www.knowledgeplex.org The Affordable Housing & Community Development Research for Professionals Topics: (1) All Topics, (2) Affordable Housing, (3) Economic Revitalization, (4) Fair Housing, (5) Homelessness, (6) Homeownership & Mortgage Markets, (7) Land Use & Housing Planning, (8) Personal Finance & Asset Creation, (9) Public Housing, and (10) Social & Comprehensive Development.
  1. communityprogress.net Community Progress (Used to be National Vacant Properties Campaign) www.communityprogress.net/filebin/pdf/toolkit/NVPC_VacantPropertiesTrueCost.pdf The True Costs of Vacant Properties
  1. http://www.foodsecurity.org/primercfsuac Urban Agriculture and Community Food Security in the U.S.: Farming from the City Fringe to the Urban Fringe, by Katherine H. Brown, et al. 27 pages & 7 chapters.
  1. https://www.brookings.edu/research/the-economics-of-historic-preservation The Economics of Historic Preservation, by Randal Mason, 75 pages. The first ten readings in the annotated bibliography are the “best to initiate and inform a reader new to economic preservation issues” (pg. 29).
  1. https://segmentationsolutions.nielsen.com/mybestsegments/ Nielsen: My Best Segments Where Can I Find My Best Customers? Go to the third section on the right and enter the zip code you’re studying; North Tyler is 75702. https://segmentationsolutions.nielsen.com/mybestsegments/ The 68 PRIZM zip code clusters. They’re subdivided into three categories based on life stage and several social groups based on the urban to rural continuum.

US. Manufacturing Workers Underpaid; Be Cautious in Raising Minimum Wage

“Why U.S. Manufacturing Workers are on Food Stamps and Medicaid,” by David Kiley in Forbes.com —{With My Commentary} http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidkiley5/2016/05/10/why-u-s-manufacturing-workers-are-on-food-stamps-and-medicaid/#63cc7e0f7b89

Highlights of David Kiley’s Article

“A new study conducted by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley shows that over one-third of manufacturing workers in the U.S. are on some form of public assistance. The percentage shoots up to 50% when temporary manufacturers are factored in.”

“Not only do politicians frequently talk about the importance of strengthening manufacturing in industrial states like Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, but state governments typically come up with huge incentive packages to companies for locating a new manufacturing facility in their state. But the University notes that manufacturing jobs are costing tax-payers $10.2 billion.

The report analyzed utilization rates and costs in the five largest means-tested public benefit programs for which data is available: Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), food stamps (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP), and basic household income assistance (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF).”

“The UC-Berkeley researchers report that the largest classification of temporary manufacturing production workers—assemblers and fabricators—earn a median wage of $10.88 an hour, while those hired directly by the companies make an average of $15.03.”

“That manufacturing employees make about the same as retail workers on average is surprising to many. But as companies have been off-shoring more and more of these jobs to Mexico, China and other low-wage countries, fewer manufacturing jobs are unionized, and even the unions have negotiated lower wages in many cases in exchange for keeping jobs in the U.S.

In the U.S., experienced United Auto Workers members, for example, make an average $28 an hour, while new hires, known as “Tier 2,” workers start at $15.78. UAW members have not had a raise in a decade. Autoworkers make $8.24 an hour in Mexico and $4.10 in China, according to Center for Automotive Research data.”

“These wages are staying constant–and falling in some cases compared with where they were a decade ago–while the costs of living are not. According to the Consumer Price Index, prices of staple expenses have kept climbing during the last decade-beef is up 56%; fresh vegetables are up 28%; milk is up 14%. Healthcare costs have climbed faster than inflation in that time. The average cost of a new car has climbed 20%. And so on.”

“According to Emmanual Saenz, an economics professor at UC-Berkeley, says income inequality has been steadily rising since the 1970s and is at its greatest level since 1928. Saenz defines “income” as pre-tax cash market income — wages; dividends, interest, rent and other returns on invested capital; business profits; and realized capital gains. Excluded are Social Security payments, unemployment benefits and other government transfer payments, which are more substantial today than before the Great Depression.”

My Take:

“For me, this article serves a reminder to be cautious when raising the minimum wage. The manufacturing population is skilled. What if their wages didn’t go up simultaneously with the unskilled minimum wage crowd? Furthermore, the cost of living varies dramatically from state to state. The full $15/hour minimum wage goal sounds great for New York, California, Washington D.C., Alaska, and Hawaii. What if U.S. manufacturers that paid (or started paying) better wages got some sort of tax break? Looking forward to feedback. Let’s have some centrist (especially left-centrist) dialogue!”

By J. D. Meyer