Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mayors Say U.S. Is Ignorant of Cities’ Needs

October 10, 2011, 10:36 pm


CHICAGO — Three big-city mayors who took part in a panel discussion Monday night criticized the federal government for not giving them the tools they need to help their cities thrive.
The panel, which was moderated by Thomas L. Friedman, a columnist for The New York Times, was the first evening event of a TED Talks-inspired week of attractions called Chicago Ideas Week, which will showcase more than 160 speakers around the city over the coming days.
Speaking from the stage at the Oriental Theatre downtown, Mayors Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, Rahm Emanuel of Chicago and Kasim Reed of Atlanta, discussed the myriad challenges their cities face — from public schools to garbage collection, job creation and the Occupy Wall Street protests.
But Mr. Friedman hit a nerve when he asked if they felt the federal government was giving them the support they needed to be successful.
“I think, basically, the federal government has no understanding of what goes on at a local level,” Mr. Bloomberg said, adding that most federal financing is given at the state level. “Most of the money never makes it to the cities where the real problem and the economic potential is.”
Mr. Reed agreed, saying that less than 8 percent of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act went to cities. “The fact of the matter is they really are not paying attention,” he said.
Mr. Emanuel, a former Illinois congressman who recently worked as President Obama’s chief of staff, showed more reluctance to criticize his former boss, but admitted that there’s less “appreciation” at the federal level for what mayors go through to make their metropolitan areas grow.

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