As soon as I learned from state Rep. Mike Turner that merely being in the footprint of the new convention center imbues one with the superpower of telling what crimes a person is or has committed merely by looking at him, I immediately rushed over to the construction site and was granted, much like Turner, a window into the souls of the men working there, or in nearby offices, or just driving by on their way home from work.
Give me a break. I just got these powers. I haven't really learned how to focus them.
Here is what I learned. [Insert spooky music here.]
Going after possibly illegal Mexicans on the site, when people have been saying for nine months that few of the jobs promised to Nashvillians are actually going to Nashvillians, is missing the forest for the trees.
Back in November, J.R. Lind reported that hiring practices at the construction site were not meeting the guidelines promised by the Mayor:
Mayor Karl Dean said 20 percent of spending on the $635 million downtown convention center should go to businesses owned by minorities or women, or to small businesses.
According to a report given to the council’s Black Caucus on Tuesday, 28.3 percent of the $18 million already spent has gone to those three types of companies. But only 5.7 percent has been paid specifically to minority-owned businesses, and less than 2 percent to companies has gone to firms owned by women.
And eight months later, Joey Garrison reported:
Of the $155 million awarded in construction-related contracts so far for the project, more than 90 percent have gone to out-of-state companies, with only $14 million going to Nashville firms. Moreover, of the 200 workers currently employed at the 16-acre construction site, project leaders say only 65 percent of the workforce is local, below the 80 percent that most advocates are seeking.
And WZTV reported two weeks ago that the city is putting a program in place to try to assure that more local people are hired. And what do they say at the end of their story?
But we should mention the final decision on who is hired is still up to the contractors.
So even with this program, there are no guarantees for local workers.
Nashvillians were getting dicked over in November, and we're getting dicked over now. And guess what? Those out-of-state companies? They aren't owned by illegal immigrants.
But here's the other psychic thing I learned downtown: It's always easier to go after the guys at the bottom, who no one likes anyway, than it is to take on the guys who have at least $140 million in their pockets. And so that's what we'll do: fret about the shit jobs that might be going to people here illegally, while our out-of-state neighbors run back home with all our money.
And I'm sure our rich neighbors, with all our money, are more than happy to have us fretting about whether our poor neighbors might be cheating in order to get what amounts to loose change to our rich out-of-state neighbors, instead of looking too closely at where almost all of our money is actually going.