Entries in Mayors (2)


Road Warriors: Mayors Bringing Back Our Roads

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- "See the USA in Your Chevrolet" the iconic 1956 musical sales pitch went, beckoning us to the great American road and heralding in a new chapter in the 20th century.

Those words, that call, were built on the Eisenhower expansion program, which created the best and biggest highways and roads in the world, and came to symbolize America's postwar vitality and promise -- 4 million miles of freedom bringing Americans from front porches to drive-ins to national parks.

But in the decades since the highway-building heyday, America's once celebrated roads are now ranked 20th -- behind Cyprus' and Malaysia's.

Today, one-third of America's major roads are in poor or mediocre condition, according to Building America's Future Educational Fund, a bipartisan organization of politicians dedicated to investing in infrastructure. The rundown roads contribute to half of all auto accidents because of things like narrow shoulders and frayed asphalt.

But enter a group of road warriors, the nation's mayors, shaking up Congress, saying, let's fix those potholes and clogged highways.

ABC News spoke with Mayors Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, Michael Nutter of Philadelphia and Scott Smith of Mesa, Ariz., about the steps they're taking to bring America back.

"If they pass the surface transportation bill and America Fast Forward, it will allow us to accelerate the building of that 30-year project in a 10-year period of time, creating 166,000 jobs," Villaraigosa said. "These are the kinds of innovative things that the Congress has an opportunity to do that they haven't done up to now. ... Their failure to address the No. 1 issue in America, the jobs issue, is akin to the captain of the Concordia jumping off the ship before the passengers had been rescued. This Congress needs to get back on that ship and do their job."

While the mayors would like the support of Capitol Hill, they aren't waiting to take action. Even in an economic downturn these mayors have managed to convince their constituents to raise revenue to build better roads and create jobs.

Smith passed a quarter of a penny sales tax in Mesa. Villaraigosa passed a similar tax in Los Angeles.

The mayors are also using public-private partnerships to get results and control costs. In Philadelphia, more children are able to ice skate because of a partnership between the city and Flyers owner Ed Snider.

"We have five ice rinks in the city that we operate. Unfortunately, I had to announce that in the next budget year, we would only be able to operate two of those five," Nutter told ABC News. "Ed Snider partnered with the city of Philadelphia, agreed to operate the other three that we were not going to be able to open. And ultimately, signed a lease with us to now operate all five."

These mayors say investing in the infrastructure of cities is the secret to jump-starting the economy.

"Ninety percent of the country's GDP happens in cities and metro areas," Nutter said. "If you have a company where 90 percent of your output was coming from one place, you wouldn't cut that area, you'd invest. You'd invest in research and innovation. You'd put more resources in that particular area."

It's a secret Villaraigosa said the rest of the world is acting on, and he argues it's about time America did too.

"If you go to China, Japan and Korea ... you don't have to tell any of those countries that modernizing their airports, building their ports and their roads are what you have to do if you want to compete around the world."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


National Mayoral Convention Focuses On Job Creation

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Mayors from around the nation have converged on the nation's capital in hopes of figuring out how to create more jobs in their hometowns. Over the course of several days, the mayors will be meeting with legislators both Republican and Democrat, cabinet members, and President Barack Obama.

Elizabeth Kautz, mayor of Burnsville, Minnesota and president of the United States Conference of Mayors, said, “The jobs picture for cities and suburbs remains extremely challenging."

The United States Conference of Mayors released an economic report showing that nearly one-third of the nation's 363 metro areas will still have an unemployment rate greater than 10 percent at the end of the year.

“This data is solid proof that Congress needs to be laser-beam focused on jobs creation,” said Kautz. “We are in the middle of a ‘jobs emergency’ that demands decisive and swift action," Kautz said.

The report also predicts that 42 percent of metropolitan areas will not gain back their pre-recession job levels until after 2014.

“As we try to slog our way out of this jobs recession, there are still families all over the nation that are suffering tremendously from prolonged unemployment. Without job growth in metropolitan areas, there can be no sustained national recovery. Our cities and our metro economies are centers of our national economy. We ignore them at our own peril," Kautz said.

The group of mayors are calling for community development block grants to be given to cities across the country so that money can be spent on job creation projects. All of the details of their plan are outlined in their 2011 Metro Agenda.

“The nation’s mayors are calling on all levels of government, as well as the private sector, to work closer together to build a bold vision for what cities and metropolitan areas will look like in the coming decades. And job creation is the key to that vision," Kautz said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio