Mayors across the country have set their focus on tackling inequality.
Appearing at the 82nd annual U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) meeting in Dallas yesterday, Mayor Bill de Blasio and USCM President and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson announced the “Cities of Opportunity Task Force.” Chaired by Mayor de Blasio, the task force will bring together mayors from across the nation to leverage the power of municipal governments to advance a national, common equity agenda.
“We are living in a time of rising inequality and declining opportunity – this is a threat to our fundamental values and an obstacle to the nation’s economic growth,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Mayors are starting to respond to this crisis, and this task force is going to organize and focus the progressive ideas coming out of cities across the U.S., and put city issues back on the national agenda.”
The year-long task force will develop and share governing methodologies to empower cities to make equity a central governing principle; explore how municipal powers are best used to advance an equity agenda and how cities can work together to produce the most meaningful impact; and catalogue potential tools– such as overall budget decisions, purchasing power, regulatory controls, and procurement policies – and offer a set of best practices for using these levers of municipal government to drive greater equality and opportunity.
“The purpose of cities is to lift up residents and build a community and economy that works for everyone,” said USCM President and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. “That means having a higher minimum wage, expanding the supply of affordable housing and ensuring every child has access to Pre-K.”
The task force will develop an action plan for cities to take action in developing aggressive equity agendas and implement real change. This plan will include real, practical tools and best practices – both previously executed and newly developed by the task force – which cities can use to make the most equitable decisions that they can, with the powers that they have, to create more equitable cities.
“This is a national problem, but we feel the impacts of income inequality particularly in Boston’s neighborhoods,” said Boston Mayor Martin Walsh. “Some areas have seen a development boom, significant drops in crime statistics, strong advances in our education system; and yet, we struggle with concentrations of real poverty and unemployment in other neighborhoods.”
The Cities of Opportunities Task Force will hold its kickoff meeting in New York City, August 10 -11, 2014 where mayors will develop the groundwork for the scope and direction of the task force’s work.
“Cities are incubators of change and innovation, and mayors are at the forefront of it all- we get things done,” said Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.
“We as a nation will only succeed when our cities succeed together. The gap between those of means and those that are not as fortunate will only be closed with new, long-term non-partisan and pragmatic solutions,” said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, whose city hosted the forum.
The mayors were joined by journalist Maria Shriver who spoke at the conference about what mayors can do to address the one in three American women on the brink of poverty.