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The Ambitious Agenda of U.S. Mayors

Posted in 2012 Elections, Energy Policy, Health Policy, Infrastructure, Mayors, Trade, Transportation

By Rosalind Rubens Newell and Bandele McQueen

The U.S. Conference of Mayors gathered recently in Orlando, Florida for its 80th Annual Meeting, hosted by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.

This bipartisan organization serves as a bellwether for rising issues that are of importance to cities of varying sizes across the country.

The programmatic theme for this year’s year’s annual meeting was “Mayors to Focus on Infrastructure Needs in Post-War Era / 2012 Presidential Campaign.”

Vice President Joe Biden addressed the bipartisan group and other speakers included Secretary Shaun Donovan,  Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA), and Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

Among the most pressing topics on their agenda are:

  • Job creation
  • Workforce training
  • Long-term unemployment
  • Transportation and infrastructure
  • Exports/imports
  • Crime and violence reduction
  • Mayors and social media
  • Expanding access to healthy food in urban areas
  • Employment help for veterans
  • The drawdown of military troops abroad
  • The impact of defense cuts on U.S. cities.

At the gathering, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter was inaugurated as the new President of the USCM for the June 2012 – June 2013 term. Mayor Nutter gave his inaugural address entitled “Moving America’s Cities Forward.” Mayor Nutter said cities now have less money and fewer people to provide services and he called that “our new normal in America.” He cited innovative efforts by cities across the country to address the challenges, including Philadelphia rethinking how it uses water. And he cited the “Cities United” effort to combat urban violence that he said “is wiping out a generation of young, African-American men.” Despite this, Mayor Nutter said cities are the “future of America” as centers of new ideas, hubs of culture and art, and places “where people want to live and work.”

Led by Conference President Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the gathering adopted a plethora of resolutions in a wide variety of categories, including: Children, Health & Human Services; Community Development & Housing; Criminal & Social Justice; Energy; Environment; International Affairs; Jobs, Education & the Workforce; Metro Economies; Tourism, Arts, Parks & Entertainment; and Transportation & Communications.

The Children, Health & Human Services and Community Development categories brought a resolution in support of the Green And Healthy Homes Initiative and furthered efforts to expand the nation’s stock of affordable, green, healthy, and sustainable housing. In the Criminal & Social Justice category were resolutions regarding the Trafficking of Minors and in support of TSA’s Trusted Traveler Program, PreCheck™, and the Blue Ribbon Panel. In the Energy category, USCM adopted a resolution supporting a federal renewable energy portfolio standard and extending the Renewable Electricity Production and Investment Tax Credits. Among Metro Economies, resolutions were adopted to establish as a position of the USCM that corporations should not receive the same legal rights as natural persons and support for the change of Municipal Securities definition in the Volcker Rule.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed chairs the Transportation & Communications Committee, which included among its resolutions support for High Speed Rail and for Electric Vehicles.

The scope and subject matter of these resolutions are as broad as the issues facing municipalities. All of the adopted resolution can be viewed by clicking here.

Keep watching this forum for additional current and upcoming information and updates relating to our nation’s cities.

The next USCM Leadership Meeting will be held in Philadelphia on July 18 -20, 2012.