12:52 AM 10 Jun 1999
|from:||Jeffrey A. Farkas|
|to:||Bruce N. Reed, Cathy, Elena Kagan, Jose Cerda III, Kris Balderston, Leanne A. Shimabukuro, Lisa, Paul J. Weinstein|
Draft 06/10/99 12:30pm Jeff Shesol PRESIDENT WILLIAM J, CLINTON VIDEOTAPED REMARKS TO THE U.S, CONFERENCE OF MAYORS June 11, 1999 Mayor Corradini, thank you for the kind introduction. ID,m thankful for the opportunity to speak with you today, even as I continue to monitor events in Kosovo, I know that you, like all Americans, will join me in honoring our men and women in uniform for their fine and brave service. They will remain on our minds and in our hearts as they complete this important mission and ensure that peace takes hold. First, I want to thank Mayor Corradini for her leadership on so many issues this past year. And Mayor Webb, I look forward to working with you in the year to come. Let me also thank the chair of your Advisory Board, Mayor Brent Coles, for the fine work he does on your behalf; and to Mayor Mark Morial for hosting this conference. Even though I canD,t JOln you in person, I know ID,m well represented in New Orleans by my Cabinet, including the man who just about single-handedly reinvented HUD, Andrew Cuomo, And I know the Vice President, who has been our greatest advocate for urban empowerment, will be speaking to you on Monday. I send you greetings from Mickey Ibarra, my Director of Inter-governmental Affairs, here at the White House, as well as my new special assistant, Barbara Hunt, who is there with you in New ( Orleans. My thanks to all of you who work so hard for our cities and for our nation. As you know, it wasnO,t too long ago that some people had pretty well lost hope in AmericaO,s cities. Here in Washington, there was a fervent but false debate raging between those who said that government should just give up on urban America, and those who said that government alone could save the cities. When Vice President Gore and I took office in 1993, we dedicated our administration to a different vision of government 0) a third way. We have said and you have confirmed that government works best as a catalyst 0) as a partner with business, community groups, and citizens. By lighting the spark of private enterprise in our poorest neighborhoods. . by putting community police on once-abandoned streets . . . by providing small-business loans to inner-city residents . . . we have empowered citizens with the tools to make the most of their own lives. No one knows better than you how far we have come. To experience an American city in 1999 is to feel the same vibrancy and vitality, the same sense of pure possibility that existed in the first great era of urban expansion. Now, on the edge of a new century, our cities are strong 0) and growing stronger. This is a point made plain in our third annual State of the Cities report. Secretary Cuomo, who has been a tireless leader and partner and innovator in this effort, will describe the report to you in more detail. But I want to highlight one central finding: that cities are indeed sharing in AmericaO,s economic renaissance. Urban unemployment has plummeted since 1992, from 8.1 percent to 4.8 percent. Wages are rising, crime is falling, welfare rolls are shrinking. City budgets are balanced and city populations are growing. And 0) for the first time in our nationO, s history 0) a majority of urban families own their own homes. This is no small achievement. This is the American dream. Still, we cannot grow complacent. Stubborn pockets of poverty do not yet share in our national prosperity. We must keep working together 0) those of us in the White House and on Capitol Hill, those of you in City Hall, and in every other civic institution. We must bring all Americans into the economic mainstream. To build on our successful efforts, and the new ideas you continue to generate at the local level, our administration has outlined a 21st Century Agenda for AmericaO,s Cities and Suburbs. First, we want to open doors to new markets. As my New Markets Initiative makes clear, the greatest opportunities for investment and new customers are not beyond our shores 0) theyO,re in our own backyard. Second, we intend to keep investing in our people 0) in the training and transportation that help workers make the most of new opportunities. Third, we want to make housing even more affordable and available. And fourth, as the Vice President has said, we can make our communities more livable by promoting smarter growth. In all these areas, we know that AmericaO,s mayors will do their part. But Congress, too, must do its part. As members consider the federal budget for the year 2000, they will make critical choices that will impact our cities and our nation well into the 21st Century. I strongly hope they will not choose a Republican budget that cuts education, cuts HeadStart, cuts job training, cuts toxic waste cleanup 0) in short, a budget that cuts essential programs and undercuts our progress. The Senate majority even wants to kill our successful COPS program 0) the l. . r ,. very community police who have helped cut crime in neighborhoods across our nation. My balanced budget extends our commitment to community police into the 21st Century, putting more officers on our streets and giving them the tools they need to make those streets safe. Now is the time to build on that success, not to undermine it. It is also time -- high time -- to keep guns out of the wrong hands. But the House leadership seems intent on ignoring the lessons of Littleton. They want to water down the common-sense gun legislation passed by the Senate. According to news reports, the NRA is crowing that the House leadership gave them 90 percent of the new loopholes they wanted. Clearly, thereO,s a difference of approach here. We have a simple strategy that is reducing crime across America: we want more cops on the street and fewer guns. They want more guns on the street and fewer cops. I think thatO,s the wrong approach for America. The House leadership should heed the clear voice of the American people and stop listening to the deadly whispers of the gun lobby. AmericaO,s mayors have been on the frontlines of this and so many fights. I know you will continue to make your presence felt and your voices heard. And thanks to your energy and ingenuity, our cities will offer even more hope, and more opportunity, to millions of Americans as we move forward, together, into the 21st Century. I am grateful, your cities are grateful, and all America is grateful for the hard work you do.. Thank you.