I have just finished the first day of meetings at the US Conference of Mayors winter gathering in Washington, DC. The sessions I attended today (including the one I chaired) have been packed, and the mood has been . . . anticipatory. There is a strong feeling among the mayors that the country has elected a leader who really understands things about cities and who is comfortable talking about us, a president who will be our true partner for the next four years.
Like many of you, I have been troubled by some of the talk about federal bail-outs. Spending money to cover budget shortfalls or using money to do more of the same things that have already failed is wasteful, stupid, and wrong.
If you had been here with me listening to Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel today, you would have been reassured.
President Barack Obama and the Congress that supports him are building an economic package aimed at creating long-term economic growth, not short-term budget fixes. That means new, substantial federal investment in jobs creation, job training, education, and transportation infrastructure; and in new industries that replace the kinds that cities have been losing over the past three decades. Think “growth,” not “bail-out.”
I already have heard St. Louis mentioned twice today — once for the scope and thoroughness of the package of “ready now” investment projects that we were able to put together for consideration by the White House and the Congress; and again for the innovation and success of a St. Louis program that helps former prisoners re-enter the productive mainstream of the community and stay there, rather than ending up back in jail or prison.
Like a lot of other people in DC for the next few days, I will be hotel hopping over the next couple of days as the city braces for millions of additional visitors (and room users) arriving for the Inauguration. Having seen the level of preparation and displacement required by a Presidential inaugural week, I strongly agree with the majority of respondents to the MayorSlay.com Mini-Poll who do not think that Presidential inaugurations should switch to a different US city every four years.