MAYORS GATHER IN MADISON TO DISCUSS WORKING FAMILIES AGENDA
Affordable Housing, Public Schools, Homeland Security Top Agenda
View the Cancer Awareness Luncheon
View the Homeland Security Forum
Madison, Wisc. (June 14, 2002) Nearly 250 of the nation's mayors, including those governing 15 of the 25 largest cities, gathered here today for their 70th annual meeting to discuss their efforts and ideas to address the critical needs of America's cities and working families, including expanding affordable housing opportunities, improving public schools, and securing the homeland.
"People in our cities desperately want to stem the spiraling costs of housing and health care, and they demand a first-rate public education for all our children," said Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. "At our Madison meeting, the nation's mayors will put forth a dynamic agenda that addresses the fundamental concerns of America's working families."
Highlighting the importance of affordable housing to the nation's mayors, the meeting opened today with a Habitat for Humanity home construction event, at which mayors swung hammers, pounded nails to help increase awareness and celebrate National Homeownership Month. This is the sixth year in a row that mayors will have helped build a Habitat house as part of the Conference's Annual Meeting.
"Housing costs are rising far faster than inflation, breaking the bank for millions of working families across the nation" said Mayor Menino, who has indicated that addressing the affordable housing crisis will be the Conference's top priority this year. "This issue should be on everyone's radar screen right now, but it's not. There is no national plan to address the housing crisis and we desperately need one."
Last month, Mayor Menino convened a National Housing Forum in Washington, at which mayors, members of Congress, housing policy experts, and representatives of the public education, senior, business, labor, and public health communities came together to discuss and publish a comprehensive plan to address the nation's affordable housing crisis. During their Madison meetings, mayors will refine their housing policy agenda and consider strategies for promoting it.
The mayors are also expected to discuss efforts to improve public schools and announce a major new partnership to promote mayoral leadership in education reform.
During lunch today, mayors will commemorate their five-year effort to increase public awareness about cancer prevention and testing. A continuing dialogue on the cancer awareness campaign will be featured, including updates on the Conference's breast and prostate cancer initiatives. Speakers will include Dr. Nancy Lee, Director, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Dr. Harold Freeman, Chair, President's Cancer Panel and Director, Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities; Shauntay Hinton, Miss U.S.A 2002; and Dallas Mayor Laura Miller, a breast cancer survivor.
Tomorrow, after traditional opening ceremonies, mayors hear from U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson on the health and well-being of America's families and from U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Mel Martinez on the Administration's housing agenda. Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin will also address mayors on the importance of travel and tourism to local economies.
Of course, homeland security remains a high priority for the nation's mayors, who will hear from Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge and Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Joe Allbaugh on Monday. This afternoon, Under Secretary of Transportation for Security John Magaw will update mayors on security improvements in the nation's aviation system. Immediately after the 9/11 attack, the Conference called for and helped successfully lobby for federalization of the airport security screening system. Now, mayors are working with federal transportation officials to seek implementation of all mandated airport security deadlines and fair reimbursement to local governments for airport security costs.
Yesterday, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and DuPont released a new homeland security survey of U.S. mayors, which found that they are most concerned about the threat of chemical and biological terrorism. In the survey, more than seven of ten mayors expressed "very high concern" or "high concern" about chemical and biological threats. Mayors reported they need additional resources for emergency preparedness efforts, particularly for threat detection and emergency response equipment purchases.
William O. McCabe, Director of DuPont's Security-Through-Science Initiative
"Nine months after 9/11, cities are still waiting for Washington to make urgently needed resources available to cities and our first responders," said Mayor Menino.
The five-day Madison meeting provides a critical opportunity for mayors to exchange information, ideas, and "best practices." They will also discuss and adopt policy resolutions on key issues, including:
- Opposing cuts to the Youth Opportunity Grant program;
- Supporting additional child care funding in upcoming welfare legislation;
- Seeking an increase in Ryan White AIDS treatment funding for cities;
- Backing a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions;
- Supporting voting rights for the District of Columbia; and
- Proposing a new Homeland Security Block Grant to help cities and local first responders prepare for and respond to emergencies.
Vigorous discussion is expected on proposed resolutions urging the establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba and opposing the construction of a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain until transportation and safety concerns can be addressed.
Additional information about the mayors meeting, including the agenda, list of registered mayors, and proposed policy resolutions, is available online at www.usmayors.org.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are 1,139 such cities in the country today. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor. The primary roles of the Conference of Mayors are to promote the development of effective national urban/suburban policy; strengthen federal-city relationships; ensure that federal policy meets urban needs; provide mayors with leadership and management tools; and create a forum in which mayors can share ideas and information. More information about the Conference is available at www.usmayors.org.
Andy Solomon (202) 861-6766
Lina Garcia (202) 861-6719