Almost 300 Mayors Visit White House, Meet with Cabinet Officials, Discuss Economy
WASHINGTON, Jan. 24, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Under the leadership of USCM President Mesa (AZ) Mayor Scott Smith and a week before the President's State of the Union Address, the nation's mayors today wrapped up their 82nd Annual Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C., where they met with Congressional leadership and Administration officials to urge Congress to continue to work in a bipartisan fashion to spur job creation and economic growth in America's cities and metropolitan areas, many of which are still plagued with high unemployment. More than 280 of the nation's mayors came together at the Capitol Hilton Hotel to discuss the economy, jobs, innovation, transportation and the continued threat to tax-exempt municipal bonds.
While in Washington, mayors visited the White House and engaged in a question and answer session with President Obama, as well as in discussions with DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez.
On site at the Capital Hilton, the mayors heard from several speakers including nine U.S. cabinet secretaries, several of which who took questions from the mayors. The lineup of Administration officials includes: Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, Energy Secretary Moniz, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Trade Rep. Michael Froman, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
The mayors also heard from CEOs of major U.S. companies including Citi North America CEO William Mills, Philips Lighting President & CEO Bruno Biasiotta and Walmart USA CEO Bill Simon, who announced a $10 million fund to be executed between Walmart and The Conference aimed at bringing back jobs to America's cities.
Newly elected New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio spoke to the mayors on Thursday about their leadership and being on the forefront of progress in America. "There is a long tradition of mayors being ahead of the curve and working for the notion of shared prosperity and working for the notion of people rising together, even when it wasn't in vogue in the national debate," Mr. de Blasio said in [his] speech. "I wish we could say that we could thank the Congress, but let's be honest. That's not where the progress is coming from. It's coming from you. And that's something that we need to build upon," De Blasio told his colleagues.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel also addressed his colleagues on Thursday in the Conference's Transportation and Telecommunications Committee, where he called for improved oversight of companies transporting hazardous materials and crude oil by rail through America's cities. "Freight train accidents across the United States should be more than a wake-up call," said Mayor Emanuel. "Railroads are the backbone of our country, providing an economic lifeline to Chicago and communities across the nation. These incidents move us to take action so we can strengthen safety standards and employ new technology to prevent future harm."
House Transportation Chair Bill Shuster addressed the group on Friday and affirmed the need for a stronger partnership between local governments and the federal government on transportation issues.
Over fifty new mayors attended the Winter Meeting, and several brought greetings to their colleagues, including Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon, Miami Beach Philip Levine, Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto, Seattle Mayor Ed Murra and Compton Mayor Aja Brown.
USCM President Mayor Smith asked a number of mayors to share best practices through what he termed "Innovation Moments" to underscore the notion that the innovations that drive this country begin with cities and their mayors.
These vignettes highlighted local ideas across a broad spectrum of topics including San Jose, CA Mayor Chuck Reed on pension reform, Gary, IN Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson on harnessing student innovation to improve city services, Tampa, FL Mayor Bob Buckhorn on using social media, San Antonio, TX Mayor Julian Castro on early childhood education, Burnsville, MN Mayor Elizabeth Kauz on applying business practices to government and Tuscaloosa, AL Mayor Walter Maddox on disaster recovery and preparedness.
Finally, the mayors released economic data showing employment and economic growth projections for 2014 in all of the nation's 363 metropolitan areas. Done in conjunction with IHS Global Insight, the report shows all of the nation's 363 metropolitan areas are expected to see real economic growth in 2014, unlike in 2013 when 96 metropolitan areas experienced declining economies. The report also shows that nearly all metro areas expect to see real Gross Metropolitan Growth of one percent or higher, compared to only 183 metros seeing the same growth in 2013. The report can be found at: http://www.usmayors.org/metroeconomies/2014/0114-briefing.pdf.
Mayors also released a clean energy survey highlighting local action in nearly 300 cities to advance innovative technologies that reduce energy use and consumption. The report shows that despite budget constraints, mayors expect to significantly expand their investment in energy technologies over the next five years and points to specific areas where mayors are deploying new energy technologies to make their city operations and communities more energy efficient. The report can be found at:
"Our message is simple," said USCM President Smith. "Our future economic prosperity depends directly on the productivity and growth of our cities and their metro areas. In order for our nation to reach its full potential, mayors must be at the center of federal policy discussions."
The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are nearly 1400 such cities in the country today, and each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor. Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/usmayors, or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/usmayors.
SOURCE The U.S. Conference of Mayors