A national group representing more than 1,200 medium- to big-city
mayors used the occasion of President Barack Obama's 100th day in
office last week to praise the administration's efforts to make U.S.
urban centers the springboard for the nation's economic recovery.
statement issued by the U.S. Conference of Mayors says the organization
is encouraged by the Obama administration's intense focus on urban
issues during his first 100 days in office. It's a focus the city
mayors say they haven't seen for a long time.
It has come in a
quick succession of White House initiatives, from the newly created
Office of Urban Affairs to affordable housing programs. The Conference
of Mayors' chief executive, Tom Cochran, says the president has made
rapid strides over the past three months.
"He has passed
children's insurance legislation. We have a stimulus package, tax
relief for middle income. We are talking about immigration reform. We
are talking about health care. And it seems that we have done so much
in these 100 days," Cochran says. "The fact of the matter is, the
economic situation has come together with a new president who is
thinking differently,and we look at the 100 days really as a beginning,
not as an end."
Cochran praises what he calls the "excellent
communications" mayors have enjoyed with the Obama White House, and he
cites President Obama's willingness to listen to what mayors have had
to say about the problems besetting many U.S. cities. Cochran says
White House urban policies in these first 100 days have been very much
in line with the goals of the nations' mayors.
"We have a
common goal with the new president of creating and saving three million
jobs by the year 2011, so we will be working very closely with the
secretaries of labor and transportation and others to do what we can to
put people back to work."
Cochran says the close cooperation
between the White House and the U.S. Conference of Mayors is also
helping to speed progress toward making cities more energy efficient -
a major item on President Obama's agenda. Cochran says one example of
that progress is that billions of dollars have already been slated for
so-called block grants of federal aid to make cities more
"The infusion of billions of dollars, for
example, in energy block grants. There will be $2.8 billion of block
grants going into cities. The purpose here is to retrofit homes and
buildings and to change our traffic systems, all kinds of solar
innovations for a city to do what it needs to do to provide efficient
energy and also create jobs at the same time."
that America's big-city mayors also welcome the Obama administration's
focus on climate change and its willingness to join international
efforts under the 12-year-old Kyoto Protocol to reduce urban industrial
"The new president is very concerned about global
warming and climate protection and energy conservation. And we have 950
cities that have signed on the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate
Protection Center and it was created after Kyoto, and we will be
working with the president as we move forward to do what we must do in
this country on climate protection, but also to support him to engage
the rest of the world to save our planet."
Cochran says the
nation's mayors also are eager to respond to President Obama's recent
call to modernize their public transportation systems, not only to
conserve energy but also to help move urban and suburban workers more
easily to and from their jobs - wherever they are.
Conference of Mayors has a long tradition of helping American cities
weather economic crises. During the Great Depression in 1932, when 14
million Americans were unemployed, many of the nation's biggest cities
were close to bankruptcy. Responding to appeals by mayors, the U.S.
Congress created a $300 million urban assistance program, marking the
first time federal relief had ever flowed directly to cities.
few months later, on the eve of the 1933 inauguration of President
Franklin D. Roosevelt, the charter establishing the U.S. Conference of
Mayors was written in the Mayflower Hotel - just a few blocks from the