Jerome Peloquin lives in the shadows of Catholic University, in the Brookland neighborhood of Washington, D.C.. The red line train, (when it's running), softly rumbles by with a consumer electronics whoosh every few minutes. Mr. Peloquin, co-founder of the musical act the Jefferson Airplane and former head of training for Honda U.S. (he was in charge of the division that trained tens of thousands of workers to build automobiles for Honda in the USA) recently faced an all-too common problem --" the threat of a large institution taking away his home. This time, it was a partnership between developers and Catholic University making a land grab. What is not common is Mr. Peloquin's response --" the formation of the National Capital Jobs Coalition. I talked to Mr. Peloquin about his situation this week.
He learned a lot of lessons from his battle, about politics and governance and the difference between the two. He commented thoughtfully, saying he learned for the first time about "the precarious lives led by our elected officials, who live under tremendous pressure trying to serve two jealous masters."
He wants the DC government to implement the terms and spirit of what's called the First Source Act, which requires government contractors to employ a certain number of DC residents for each project.
"At a time when we [the DC government] face a half billion dollar deficit, much of the economic potential of the city drives out the beltway every night! All of these city borne construction projects are owned, staffed, and operated by non-DC residents."
Mr. Peloquin was critical of the law. "A more tepid and ineffectual piece of legislation would be hard to conceive. In addition, Mayor Fenty proceeded to ignore the law, failing to enforce even the most feeble conditions upon the sainted construction companies. The law calls for an Office of Compliance, he never staffed it. The council provided an enforcement budget ... he never spent a dime! Last month we formed The National Capital Jobs Coalition with two objectives. First, to make First Source a real piece of legislation and second to find or create NEW GREEN industry for DC."
Sounds like a reasoned response to me.