Mike Bloomberg Announces $200 Million American Cities Initiative at the U.S. Conference of Mayors

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Mike Bloomberg Announces $200 Million American Cities Initiative at the U.S. Conference of Mayors

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Mike Bloomberg Announces $200 Million American Cities Initiative at the U.S. Conference of Mayors @bloombergdotorg http://bit.ly/2ujs98D
Thursday, July 6, 2017 - 2:00pm


Originally posted on www.mikebloomberg.com

The following is the text of Mike Bloomberg’s speech as prepared on Monday June 26th, 2017.

“Thank you Manny, and good afternoon, everyone! We’re lucky to have Manny as a Board Member at Bloomberg Philanthropies, and I want to thank him and Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine for welcoming us here.

“I also want to thank Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, the outgoing president of the Conference of Mayors, and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, the incoming president, for inviting me. Both have done terrific jobs in their cities, and Mitch has been a great partner for our foundation on many different issues. He’s never been afraid to take on tough issues, whether it’s education reform or the removal of the Confederate monuments.

“When I was first elected, I remember people telling me, ‘You shouldn’t address problems that are politically controversial, because it will only hurt your popularity.’ I found the reverse to be true. The more we took on those kinds of issues, the more voters respected and supported us, even if they didn’t agree with us. That’s how a non-Democrat could win three successive elections in a city that’s 5-to-1 Democratic.

“I believe that all across the country, voters are looking for leadership, and for elected officials who aren’t afraid to say what they think and to do what others say can’t be done. Mayors do that better than any other group.

“As we all know, being a mayor is the toughest job in politics. Like all executive offices, it’s a management job, not a policy job. But unlike being a governor or even president, people hold you accountable for what happens in their communities.

“They expect you to deliver results, and they aren’t shy about telling you what you should do, or where you can go. You don’t get a pass for belonging to a particular party. Trust me on that. I’ve belonged to all of them.”

“And it doesn’t matter if you work for a dollar a year, like I did. As one of my opponents said during my first campaign, ‘You get what you pay for.’

“But from my experience, serving as a mayor is the most exciting and rewarding job in the world. Every day, each of you wakes up with the chance to make a real difference in people’s lives. That is a great privilege, and a great responsibility. But all of you know that already.

“So today, I’d like to talk with you about another aspect of your job that doesn’t get much attention: the central role that cities will play in determining our nation’s future as a global superpower.

“Let’s start with a basic fact. We are in the middle of a political era defined by partisan paralysis, and nowhere is it worse than in Washington. Compared to any other era in modern American politics, our nation’s capital has been unable to address the great challenges we face.

“The causes are many: gridlock, extremism, partisan media, fear of special interest groups. But the result is same: On nearly all the big issues, Washington has been AWOL, and as further budget cuts loom, the situation is going from bad to worse.

“But here’s the good news: As Washington has grown more dysfunctional, cities have grown more dynamic, and mayors have grown more powerful and important. Pick an issue, any issue, and mayors in both parties are leading where Washington won’t. And mayors are working across the aisle in ways that Washington wouldn’t dare.

“The result is that, to the extent we are making any progress as a nation, cities are driving it – from taking on education reform and public health crises to spurring economic development and job growth to battling crime and climate change. That work has helped revive cities and made them a magnet for many of the most talented and hardest-working Americans.

“But as cities grow, the longer that Washington ignores major threats like our crumbling infrastructure and emerging challenges like the automation of jobs, the more dangerous those threats become. The question we face is: How do we accelerate cities’ progress to make up for Washington’s inaction?

“The answers lie with all of you. And as the dysfunction in Washington has grown even worse, the need for bold city leadership has grown more urgent.

“So today, I’m here on behalf of our team at Bloomberg Philanthropies to say, ‘We want to help.’

“Now, I know what you may be thinking. Ronald Reagan once said, ‘The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”’ Having dealt with Washington regulations, I have to say, he had a point.

“But in all seriousness, I’ve been in your shoes. I know what it’s like to deal with tight budgets and problems that are decades old. I could’ve used more outside help, and now I’m determined to do what I can to help provide it to all of you. You are the ones who will do all the hard work. The buck stops with you. But there are things we can do to support you and help you find and implement new solutions.

“To do that, today, we are launching a major expansion of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ work in U.S. cities, on all five of the main issues we focus on: government innovation, education, the arts, the environment, and public health.

“And we are calling our work in U.S. cities the American Cities Initiative. With a budget of $200 million, this is the largest-ever philanthropic investment in helping mayors run their cities.

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