August 27, 2004
Conference President Akron Mayor Donald L. Plusquellic called the leadership of the Conference of Mayors to join with Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and other Democratic and Republican mayors for the purpose of adopting our Mayors '04 Metro Agenda for America's Cities. The 4-point proposal was adopted by a unanimous vote of both Democratic and Republican mayors and we are now charged to promote our agenda to President Bush and Senator Kerry. The bipartisan goal of the mayors assembled in Chicago is to have both candidates talking about and supporting our issues that affect millions of Americans now living in our metropolitan areas.
In Chicago August 10 and 11, Akron Mayor and Conference President Plusquellic pledged his vigorous support to push our agenda forward. He announced that he, along with member mayors of Ohio and officers of the Conference, would embark on a bus tour promoting our agenda throughout Ohio. The purpose of the trip was to release an economic jobs report on the metro areas of Ohio as we have released in other states over the past few years.
After Chicago, Mayor Plusquellic flew to Columbus where he joined with Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman to launch the '04 Ohio jobs bus tour. From Columbus, mayors went to Dayton, Cincinnati, Toledo and to Cleveland. The Ohio '04 Jobs Tour included Mayors Michael Coleman of Columbus, Rhine McLin of Dayton, Jack Ford of Toledo, Jane Campbell of Cleveland, and, of course, our President and the leader of the tour, Mayor Don Plusquellic of Akron.
Press events were held in the cities and we had editorial board meetings in all five cities: The Columbus Dispatch of Columbus, the Dayton Daily News of Dayton, the Cincinnati Enquirer of Cincinnati, the Toledo Blade of Toledo and the Cleveland Plain Dealer of Cleveland.
During the editorial board meetings, there was a general consensus among the newspaper executives that neither Senator Kerry nor President Bush are bringing our city issues to the forefront. Mayor Plusquellic presented our '04 Metro Agenda and he challenged the newspaper executives and reporters to raise our metro/city issues through editorials and the many press conferences that will be held by President Bush and Senator Kerry in the swing state and battleground state of Ohio between now and election day, November 2.
At our press events held outside on sites to illuminate our issues, it wasn't all bad news. At the West Edge business mall, we saw new jobs being developed by Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman. In Dayton we went to a site where a GM plant has been idle for years and Dayton Mayor Rhine McLin gave her vision for a Tech World to make Dayton's economic picture brighter. In Toledo, a large brownsfield site showed new development and business that are thriving. Toledo Mayor Jack Ford introduced a number of local brownfield developers who are making it happen by producing new jobs for Toledo.
Throughout the tour, Mayor Plusquellic stressed the bipartisanship aspect of our agenda which can be supported by President Bush and Senator Kerry. As our President, he challenged the print and electronic media to raise our issues with the Presidential candidates. He cited the many campaign stops to the Buckeye State over the past few months and said that both candidates will continue to come to Ohio. His stated reason to go into Ohio was and will continue to be to go where the candidates are for the purpose of raising real domestic issues facing our metro areas and nation during the Presidential campaign season.
The jobs situation in Ohio simply stated is that Ohio ranks 50th in the nation for job growth over the past four years. Mayors in Ohio are doing their best to find new jobs for those who are out of work. Our Metro Economies report shows that even when the jobs are found or produced, the wage amounts are thousands of dollars less than the jobs lost. Ohio citizens are feeling the pain and mayors are there when the bad news hits so personally. In Columbus, Ohio, press reports indicate that people cried openly when Columbus, Ohio Mayor Michael Coleman met with them.
Mayor Plusquellic's theme throughout our '04 Jobs Tour was to say to Senator Kerry and President Bush that The U.S. Conference of Mayors has a solution to the job loss in Ohio. Our '04 Metro Agenda is not a wild and wacky big spending request from the federal government. What the Akron Mayor is saying is that with smarter investments through infrastructure spending and a new Brownfields Redevelopment Action Grant program, we can produce jobs for those now suffering.
The new Brownfields initiative (BRAG) would be fashioned somewhat like the old UDAG program initiated by the Carter Administration. In Cleveland, meeting with the Cleveland Plain Dealer Editorial Board, Plusquellic cited the UDAG grants captured by then Mayor George Voinovich, now Senator. Downtown Cleveland was vastly improved and jobs were produced which helped the Cleveland metro area. The attractive part about our new program is that it calls for a partnership with the business community, and it could be designed in a way that cities would receive seed money from the federal government to leverage with the business community for smart development, producing jobs and increasing the tax base which is also needed at this time.
The UDAG program was instrumental in changing the economic heart of many cities in the 80s. The Baltimore waterfront redevelopment is another shining example of what the UDAG initiative did to a challenged American city. Mayors used one dollar from the federal government and leveraged an average six dollars to provide redevelopment that produced jobs as well as changed the infrastructure and faces of cities.
President Bush speaks about the need for brownfield development; he did so at the National Urban League last month in Detroit. And we have been working with Republican Congressman and former Dayton Mayor Mike Turner this year on a brownfield tax incentive initiative.
Mayor Plusquellic's goal, as President of the Conference of Mayors, is to seek a consensus from both candidates to support our '04 Metro Agenda. His goal is worthy and has the support of our bipartisan leadership. His mission is challenging and at times difficult due to the partisan atmosphere that has developed around issues that have nothing to do with the economic health of our people and our cities. Mayor Plusquellic is to be commended for being our advocate to both candidates, and he needs your help as we forge a consensus that will prove beneficial to us once the election is over. Either President Bush or Senator Kerry will have to face the present challenges and they will need our help in producing initiatives that work. Plusquellic knows and other mayors know what works economically in their respective cities. We hope that soon we can hear more about specific proposals rather than general phrases about keeping America strong.
Republican National Convention
As USMayor goes to press, we are headed to New York City to participate in the Republican National Convention. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is now up front and center as was Boston Mayor Tom Menino last month when he hosted the Democrats.
We salute the Mayor of New York and his team for the great job they have done as they host the Republican delegates who have come from every state to renominate our President for his second campaign for our Presidency.
Conference of Mayors President Don Plusquellic will be joining officials of the National League of Cities and the National Association of Counties to honor Republican Mayors and City and County Officials at a special reception on Tuesday afternoon, the second day of the Convention.
Conference President Don Plusquellic will also continue to push our '04 Metro Agenda during the Republican Convention next week and he will continue to push it after we leave the Republican Convention. We will also have a presence at other appropriate political venues to advocate our '04 Metro Agenda in the coming weeks ahead of us.