Mayor Villaraigosa issues a call to action

In his first speech as President of the US Conference of Mayors at their 79th Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa put out a call to action to mayors across the country, “We need to tell the Congress loud and clear - at least observe any good doctor's Hippocratic Oath: Do no harm.” Using the example of the House of Representatives bill HR 1 to illustrate the need for Congress to support local communities, Mayor Villaraigosa emphasized the impact cities have on the economy of the United States of America and the importance of implementing green initiatives in cities around the country.

“Our cities are not just the engine - they’re the engine and the axles and the chassis and the door handles of the nation’s economy! Our metro areas generate some 90 percent of our gross domestic product. Next year, they’ll account for 94 percent of new jobs.”

As Justice Brandeis said in 1932, our local communities are the “laboratories” where policies and practices can be tested. By cutting financial support for local economies, HR 1 Congress would send a message to the country (and the rest of the world) that our federal representatives do not support local communities' taking the initiative to try new solutions. If Congress goes through with the cuts in HR 1, it will be doing the nation a major disservice by cutting funding that would enable cities to test and improve on programs that, if successful, could push this country to be the best it can be.

HR 1 includes $4 billion in the Community Development Block Grant Program, which includes grants that support clean energy technologies, allowing cities to be on the cutting edge of the green economy and creating green jobs -- and have created over 250,000 jobs since 2004, according to a report by the National League of Cities. This new report by The National League of Cities released during the USCM meeting shows that three out of four cities are planning an increase in using these technologies. Mayors also expect to continue retrofitting government buildings by installing LED lighting and solar panels, a move considered the “most promising” technology to curb carbon emissions in the coming years. These grants also fund efforts such as infrastructure redevelopment and providing low-income housing. The report also shows that 71 percent of cities are relying on the federal government to assist with growing their green economies.

“With our economic heart faintly beating in our cities, tomorrow’s infrastructure investments must be more metropolitan-focused, more forward-looking, and more environmentally sustainable,” Mayor Villaraigosa said, citing examples of how mayors have been on the forefront of change and encouraging his fellow mayors to take a stand.

Cities are the epicenters of change, driving the country's economy, and they can move past partisan politics and get things done.

Mayors are moving the country forward and creating sustainable jobs. As Mayor Villaraigosa said, it’s time for mayors “to stand for a new world order in federal spending. It's time to bring our investments back home.”