09/24/2012 07:05 pm ET Updated Nov 24, 2012

Some Numbers Don't Lie

As we know, elected leaders spin numbers and statistics when they can to make themselves look good or to advance their causes.

But some numbers tell the real truth.

There are three numbers that emerged for New York City recently that should alarm all New Yorkers: 9.9 percent unemployment, a 20.9 percent poverty rate and a city budget that has jumped to almost $70 billion (with deficits approaching $3 billion by 2014).

A world-class city in which one in 10 are unemployed and where poverty is growing and outpacing the national average, is a city that has lost its way.

We keep on hearing the doublespeak that New York is doing better than the rest of the country; the spin that more people are moving to New York and that's why the unemployment rate is not heading down. And the most vexing canard of all: our school system is improving, they say, when nearly 40 percent of children don't graduate from high school and for those that do, three in four are not college ready.

This is progress? Shame on our elected leaders for telling us that we should be satisfied with these results.

Some 30 percent of Bronx residents live in poverty. More than 20 percent of Brooklyn is in the poverty trap.

How can we solve this? Well, first of all, we have to declare this growing poverty rate a crisis. We have to declare a war on poverty and then really follow through with goals and achievable results.

We have to develop a CompStat-like tracking program for poverty and joblessness and attack these twin problems with the same ferocity that Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton attacked crime in the mid-1990s.

Jobs programs that leverage public-private partnerships are a start. Let's rebuild our bridges, roads, schools and public buildings and put people back to work. Bring back the WPA of the New Deal era.

Let's start a 10-year green energy program to repaint and retrofit every roof and building in New York to become more energy-efficient.

Let's give private employers a tax holiday for one year on every new worker they add to their payroll in 2013. If they hire a resident from a high-unemployment neighborhood, make it an 18-month tax holiday.

We need bold ideas for bringing down unemployment to less than 5 percent and poverty below 10 percent over the next eight years.

As we head into the next mayoral election cycle, I challenge other candidates to present bold ideas to put New Yorkers back to work and to break the cycle of poverty.

New York's current citywide elected leaders -- Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Bill deBlasio, Comptroller John Liu -- should pause from their endless campaigning for mayor (when they should be doing their day jobs) and offer immediate suggestions to help solve this problem. They should be judged by the results from the past decade they have been in office (when the poverty rate grew dramatically).

We cannot afford to let this cycle of unemployment and poverty continue to spiral downward. We need vigorous leadership to fix it and stop blaming the President, the global economy and the new immigrants to New York seeking work.

We need our New York leaders to feel the fierce urgency of now.

Our most vulnerable New Yorkers are counting on them.

Tom Allon, a media entrepreneur, is a 2013 Liberal Party-backed candidate for mayor of New York City.


Follow Tom's campaign on Twitter: @TomAllon4Mayor and Facebook.