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Is the Worst of the Recession Over for America's Cities?

Battered for years by the Great Recession, declining state and federal support, and Congressional gridlock, the nation's mayors are expressing "cautious optimism," reports Lizette Alvarez.
June 18, 2012, 6am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Gathered in Orlando for their annual conference, the country's mayors believe their cities are on the road to recovery, despite enduring high underemployment and unemployment. Promising signs include stable or rising revenues, shrinking deficits, increasing property values, and improving quality-of-life, notes Alvarez.

"And yet, the mayors - Democrats and Republicans - wanted to be clear about one thing: this ever so slight upswing in their cities has zero to do with Congress. They say progress was made despite Washington's profound inaction."

"The word frustrated is too mild; it's more like disgusted," said Antonio R. Villaraigosa, a Democrat and the fiery mayor of Los Angeles who is also the departing president of the United States Conference of Mayors.

"'Mayors have realized we can't wait for Congress,' said Jim Brainard, a Republican and the mayor of Carmel, Ind., who along with tackling brass tacks economic issues has focused on quality-of-life concerns in his small city outside of Indianapolis, including the arts, bike trails and roundabouts as a lure to residents. 'There are things that need to be done, and can be done now.'"

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Published on Friday, June 15, 2012 in The New York Times
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