To The Mayor From The Executive Director
October 23, 1998
Corradini In The White House
At The White House on October 15, our Conference of Mayors President Deedee Corradini of Salt Lake City stole the show. Appearing as a panelist with President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton, along with Vice President Gore, Mayor Corradini told the over 100 notables assembled her story of what happened at our National Summit on School Violence and Kids from 2:00 to 8:00 p.m. in Salt Lake City on September 23. She complimented Attorney General Reno for being with us as an interactive participant in Salt Lake. Mayor Corradini was interrupted with strong applause when she said, "We believe we must put art and music back in our schools." It was a stellar performance.
She challenged the group to support our goals contained in our National Action Plan on School Violence and Kids from 2:00 to 8:00 p.m. which was adopted in Salt Lake. The initiatives contained in the plan were well received. In addition, Mayor Corradini presented to The White House delegates our Best Practices publication released in September, containing the "best" of what mayors are doing to meet youth violence head on in more than 125 cities.
The learning process which produced the confidence Mayor Corradini exhibited at The White House comes from her own personal conviction on the subject of our youth in America, and it also comes from her Salt Lake National Summit experience with our leadership mayors in Salt Lake last month. So each of you who participated with us last month were here with us in The White House on October 15. Each mayor contributed in his or her own way to give her the confidence that she had and the initiatives in our plan to challenge the President and his participants for political action and understanding as we go forward against youth violence in our nation.
Winter Meeting 1999
At our 1999 Winter Meeting here in Washington next January, we will convene an even broader conversation on youth violence that will involve hundreds of mayors, adding to the initiatives contained in our national plan. The goal after the plan is adopted is to take those initiatives requiring legislative action to the Congress for political action. One goal is to provide 100,000 counselors for our public schools. Another is to increase a commitment to public parks and recreation as well as a call for more music and art in our schools. Some will require Congressional action; some proposed initiatives are simply providing all mayors the knowledge of what is working out there in other cities to curb the violence among our youths.
We invite mayors to be with us at the 67th Winter Meeting January 27-29 at the Capital Hilton Hotel here in Washington, to be a part of another historic event. Our Conference of Mayors President, Mayor Corradini, will lead the nation to understand the challenge we face with violence among our young people. It will help the nation, The White House, the Congress, the Governors, the School Boards to come together and do something--anything--to stop the violence among our youth before, during and after school hours in thousands of cities across America.
Please see Mr. Bob Herbert's column reprinted from The New York Times concerning Secretary Andrew Cuomo's leadership qualities and successful turnaround to save HUD -- by giving us a new HUD that works for all of you in a way that is different than it was just three years ago. We all, who were there, remember the first private leadership meeting we had in Key West with the new Secretary of HUD, Andrew Cuomo. There were no press in the room, no need to posture or pontificate. He said to the mayors assembled, "tell me what I should do." The mayors told him. He did it. He transformed an embattled agency to one that responds and is user friendly to mayors with tools they use as we bring cities back.
We stand today more credible and with more clout as we face the next Presidential political sweepstakes commencing next year because of the way Secretary Cuomo has presented the case that cities are a part of the booming economy. Further, Cuomo knows that cities must be developed if we are going to continue to keep this economy booming as we hold our position as number one, the strongest economy in world.
Aside from the image, the politics, the credibility, let's be totally American and look at the money. That's what this country is about--money. The HUD Budget--listen to this, read it, write it down--has increased by more than two billion dollars over the FY98 budget. This didn't just happen as the sun rises and sets. The partisan political climate in this town over the past year makes Watergate look like a water gun fight between your grandkids on the back porch. They trotted out everything against this Administration--murder, stealing, sex and weirder sex than the weird sex was. But it didn't stop Andrew Cuomo from doing what he had to do, what he told us he was going to do and what he knew all along, that mayors would support him in doing---building a HUD that would be there to serve every mayor and city in this nation in a way that has made and will continue to make, a difference as we continue to bring our cities back as national and indeed, international players on the global economic stage.
We thank Secretary Cuomo and we thank the mayors. Both are to be congratulated for increases in CDBG to $4.75 billion, HOME increases to $1.6 billion, the HOPE 6 program increased to $625 million and Homeless Housing increases to $975 million.
Congress, four years ago, stopped providing money for Section 8 rental assistance. This year, through an incredible effort, we have managed to secure 50,000 new vouchers for families moving from welfare to work and on top of that, due to administrative changes HUD will be allowed to make available another 40,000 vouchers for families.
And yes, we do have another round of empowerment zones. Fifteen urban, five rural and twenty rural enterprise communities will be designated. All of us wish the empowerment zones could have been more, but lets face it, in this political climate we are winners.
Next year, we celebrate the Silver Anniversary--25 years--of the HUD Community Development Block Grant program. We will take that opportunity to showcase what this initiative, our mainstay at HUD, has done for the cities and people of our nation. There will be history told of what happened and who did what to whom and for whom to keep this CDBG initiative--a dream in 1973--alive to serve us so well. In addition to history though, we want to tell the nation what this initiative is doing for America now and what it can do as we cross the milestone into a new millennium. Working with the National Community Development Association, other public interest groups, and Secretary Cuomo and his team, we will be serious about our future and what we are doing. But, we will brag and might slip up and have some fun and be happy about what we have done over the past 25 years.
Special thanks to Assistant Executive Director Gene Lowe, who stands at the watchman's gate to protect our HUD initiatives like CDBG and HOME from harmful attacks by our enemies or confused persons here in Washington. Mr. Lowe's position, his advocacy for all of us, is never weakened by the cynics or the naysayers or the people who have given up for other pursuits He stands at the watchman's gate and he calls us to action and we act when he summons us. Thank you Gene. Also, thank you Nicole Maharaj for being the team player you are as we deepen staff and mayoral understanding of what CDBG does, but even more, what HOME does and what other HUD initiatives do to strengthen our cities.
Congratulations to one of our own! East Orange Mayor Cardell Cooper has been confirmed by the Senate to be Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development at HUD. Another mayor and a great friend of this Conference is in a power position to help raise us to new heights in the coming months. Mayors are delighted that the Senate has confirmed Mayor Cooper, one of their peers, respected by all mayors for his leadership skills in our Conference of Mayors and for his contribution to his city of East Orange.
Congratulations also to Mr. Bill Apgar for his Senate confirmation as Assistant Secretary for Housing. Mr. Apgar, though not a mayor, understands our stuff about as good as a Harvard professor could. Seriously, we had the privilege of working with him last year as we prepared and developed the second State of the Cities report and address. It was a process where we all learned from him and we are stronger for it. Thank Mr. Apgar's incredible talent of knowing the situation and knowing what will work in the situation is remarkable. Smarts, brains--they're God given. He's got both but he also listens, he learns, and he acts when he receives important messages from those who may be half as smart as he is. Thank you, Bill, and congratulations. May we have many more with you!
Teachers With No Schoolhouses--Ballot Box
That's about it for right now. In closing, let me say it's good to have Monica off the front pages and certainly it's good to have Linda Tripp off the front pages. Congress left town providing 100,000 teachers, but they also left town killing the school modernization bill which would have provided places for the new teachers to teach.
A lot of people think it is absolutely insane for our children in America to be spending their most precious and productive years of learning inside the environment of a house trailer. And yet, in rural, urban, and suburban
America children learn in house trailers with no rest rooms and they have to sometimes get out in the rain to go to the rest room, once they raise their hands to go. Something is wrong with this picture.
Something is also wrong with this picture. Some voters are asking why is it they can pass a school house and see it needs repair and they see our children in house trailers in back or to the side of the school house and on up the road just a short ways, they see a brand spanking new prison that has been built with television sets, workout rooms and probably places of learning. Some voters might raise the question of putting the prisoners in house trailers with no air conditioning or rest rooms and put our kids in the new facilities we could have had if Congress had not killed the school modernization initiative.
The bipartisan United States Conference of Mayors supported President Clinton's school modernization initiative. Last January, four days after the Monica mess hit the streets, the mayors were in The White House supporting President Clinton and the school modernization initiative. Later, we heard from Illinois Senator Carol Moseley-Braun at our 1998 public schools forum in May. We gave her our enthusiastic support. It was at that time we learned the Democratic Governors Association supported the schools initiative but the Republican governors did not. This was another strange picture for us. One of our founding fathers, New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia used to say there is no partisan way to fill a pothole. What some of the voters may say this year is what our mayors said last May, "There is no partisan way of building or fixing a school house." You just do it for our precious children, for God's sake.
May those that support our approach on this matter be rewarded to return for another fight as we continue our struggle with this Congress. May those that oppose us receive an awakening if they are to return. And if they do not receive that awakening, may they find other pursuits or professions other than the politics of getting things done. Today, at this critical time when our children are being threatened as they are, we need positive politics.
We need people who come to Washington to get things done, who have passion for action through the give and take and rumble of positive politics, who love the fight but know when it's over, we will have something to show for the effort. Let's hope this election will bring more positive politics to our federal city and nation's capital. Let's not hope--let's pray and even more let's turn 'em out, in a bipartisan way, on our election day, the moment so many of us have been waiting for.
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