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DC Mayor Appoints ‘Rich Socialist’ Head Of Jobs Training Board

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District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser appointed a man she once referred to as a “rich socialist” to oversee the District’s Workforce Investment Council.

The council is a private-sector led board, chosen by the mayor, that advises the city government about how best to use money for jobs programs.

Andy Shallal is the owner of several restaurants in Washington, D.C., most notably his chain of Busboys and Poets restaurants that also feature a bookstore used to hawk left-wing literature.

“Since Andy came to the District five decades ago, he has made his mark on our city – as an artist, restauranteur, activist, and philanthropist,” Bowser says in a statement. “He has personally trained and hired hundreds of District residents, and I’m thrilled that he will help take our workforce system to new heights.”

Bowser was singing a different tune, though, in 2014 when Shallal ran against her in that year’s mayoral election. During her campaign, Bowser once referred to Shallal as a “rich socialist” for his political ideas.

Those ideas include a “gentrification tax relief” program, which, according to Shallal’s campaign website would “prevent long-term residents from being forced out of their homes by higher property taxes caused by gentrification.” Shallal also wanted to lower the voting age to 17.

Shallal will have a lot of work to accomplish at his new post. In 2012, the U.S. Department of Labor labeled the District as a “high-risk” partner in job training programs. The District is the only U.S. jurisdiction with the label.

Earlier this year, the feds formally sanctioned the District for a poorly performing youth training program. The sanction was levied after D.C. failed to meet goals for helping youths two years in a row, The Washington Post reports.

D.C. budgeted for $12 million in job training programs in the 2015 fiscal year, but after most of that money was reallocated to other programs, spent just $3.8 million.

At its most expensive, job training costs the city around $10,000 per person, according to the Post. If each person received the most expensive job training program D.C. has to offer, that unspent money could have trained an additional 820 people.

Despite the city’s shortcomings with jobs programs, Shallal says he is excited to take on the responsibility.

“Even though there are more jobs than people in the District, too many DC residents do not have the education and the skills to fill those jobs,” Shallal says. “I am ready to get to work with Mayor Bowser to improve workforce development and ultimately achieve our shared goal of expanding meaningful prosperity and lift up our city.”

In October, Shallal and his restaurant played host to a group of socialists rallying to get Sen. Bernie Sanders elected president.

Shallal, an Iraqi-born man, was notably concerned about the lack of people of color at the event he hosted.

“My question is, where are the black people?” Shallal asked the crowd of around 100 people at the event. “[The Sanders campaign] cannot be a movement unless it includes people of color, lots of people of color.”

Shallal went on to encourage Sanders to “mention the word race at every opportunity” if he hopes to win the black vote and the presidency.

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