African American Mayors Association Statement on the Trump Budget’s Proposed Infrastructure Cuts

For Immediate Release: June 1, 2017

Contact: Donald Gatlin, dgatlin@rabengroup.com, 202-587-2871

           Mia Jacobs, mjacobs@rabengroup.com, 202-930-6818

 

African American Mayors Association Statement on the Trump Budget’s Proposed Infrastructure Cuts

(Washington, DC) On behalf of the 500 African American mayors across the country, Toni Harp, Mayor of New Haven, CT and President of the African American Mayors Association (AAMA), released the following statement in response to the Trump budget proposal’s devastating cuts to infrastructure-related programs.

“My colleagues and I are woefully disappointed by President Trump’s failure to honor his promise to invest one trillion dollars in our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Instead, the President’s recently released FY 2018 budget proposal denies America’s urban centers the additional support needed to recover from previous federal neglect of their infrastructure needs.

 

The Trump budget proposal is an attack on America’s urban foundation. Like President Trump who lives in Manhattan, two-thirds of the U.S. population now lives in cities, and the vitality of our cities is inextricably linked to the vitality of our nation as a whole.   It cuts billions of dollars every year from community development and housing programs that make cities more affordable and livable.  It cuts over a billion dollars every year from transportation projects that ease congestion in cities and their surrounding suburbs. It cuts 760 million dollars every year from Amtrak – a crucial link between cities.   Over a decade, it cuts almost $100 billion dollars from the Highway Trust Fund, a program that increases mobility and employment in our cities and the nation as a whole.  The budget proposal also cuts hundreds of millions of dollars every year from Superfund Cleanup and Brownfield projects that reduce health hazards in our cities and help redevelop former industrial sites.

“The Trump budget proposes significant tax credits and incentives for private companies  but will not result in faster highway repairs and better public transportation in our cities. It will not lead to the cleanup and redevelopment of industrial sites.  It will not protect against another Flint.  Our cities demand and deserve better.”

 

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African American Mayors Association Statement on the American Health Care Act

For Immediate Release: May 4, 2017

Contact: Donald Gatlin, dgatlin@rabengroup.com, 202-587-2871
Mia Jacobs, mjacobs@rabengroup.com, 202-930-6818

AFRICAN AMERICAN MAYORS ASSOCIATION STATEMENT ON THE AMERICAN HEALTH CARE ACT

WASHINGTON, DC— On behalf of the 500 African American mayors across the country, Mayor Toni Harp, of New Haven, CT, and President of the African American Mayors Association (AAMA), released the following statement in response to today’s House of Representatives vote on the American Health Care Act:

“My colleagues and I condemn the House’s action today on health care. The House bill jeopardizes health insurance coverage for millions of people with pre-existing conditions and limits the health benefits available to people covered by the Affordable Care Act. At the same time, this bill decimates the Medicaid program. It cuts federal Medicaid payments to the states by $880 billion over 10 years and will cause some 10 million people to lose Medicaid coverage.

We do not want to go back to a time when Medicaid funding was too limited to fulfill the program’s intended purposes. We do not want to see families of children born with preexisting conditions face skyrocketing premiums and exceed lifetime caps, because Congress put politics before families. As a result, our cities will be forced to curtail services to children, the disabled and the elderly, and there will be a dramatic decline in the ability of our hospitals and clinics—both public and private—to treat and prevent a host of serious conditions—diabetes, opioid abuse, and mental illness among them. Healthcare provides for a healthier workforce, which drives the local economies that are the bedrock of our national prosperity. As of today, the health of that workforce is threatened.”

Congress should put families first. We urge the Senate to reject this misguided legislation.”

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The Role and Obligations of African-American Mayors In the 21st Century


Mayor Sylvester Turner
Houston, TX

To be an African-American mayor leading a city in the 21st century is not about “power” but about “possibilities.” With more than 470 African-American mayors leading cities across the United States, the lens of our leadership is shaped from our own personal experiences. Together, we collectively bring a perspective that allows for a spectrum of possibilities.

As city leaders, it is our obligation to ensure the fiscal responsibility of taxpayers’ contributions towards city operations, as well as address the pension liabilities of a city’s police, fire and civilian workforce. These very important, and very complicated issues, are just a few of the priorities mayors must tackle. There is urgency in every moment, and expediency required in every decision. But, we must be cautious not to become so caught up in the process of managing cities that we lose sight of the importance of being mayors of color, and the significance our governance has on our communities.

Since I became the mayor of the City of Houston in January 2016, one of my spectra of possibilities is building complete communities. To that end, I’ve created a Complete Communities Program, which is designed to proactively support underserved communities, their residents, and the businesses in their areas. These communities have been plagued by years of generational poverty and the issues that come with this very destructive intergenerational cycle, such as low literacy rates and high percentages of individuals involved in our justice system. Compounding these issues are the pressures of things such as gentrification and substantial adverse changes due to major public infrastructure improvements.

However, the title of “Mayor” is not who I am. Who I am is a prime example of a “better tomorrow.” Growing up in one of the targeted areas in the Complete Communities Program, I faced many challenges, but my mother always told my siblings and I that “tomorrow will be better than today.” With that instilled in me, I had a drive and determination to not only dream big, but to take advantage of the opportunities presented to me in order to make those dreams come true. Who I am allows me to know that the Complete Communities Program is not just a choice, it’s a matter of conviction, which will ultimately lead to making an impact felt well beyond my tenure.

As the steward and overseer of the City of Houston, I am leveraging our resources, community partners, business leadership and other public partners to focus on neighborhood-level actions that will collectively foster economic opportunities and neighborhood vitality throughout various communities in Houston. We are investing in communities that have historically not been prioritized for economic development, which consequently resulted in a disparity of resources.

Some of the program’s explicit goals are to organize around the geographic dimensions of problems and create thriving commercial areas, successful neighborhood businesses, and equitable access to quality jobs throughout our city. Another foundational component that cannot be ignored is the importance of investing in education. My obligation to transform the circumstances in our communities requires that education—at all levels—be a critical component and have a high impact.

This strategy will build on best practices and community-driven approaches that can successfully position our neighborhoods, local businesses, and residents to connect to and compete in the City’s booming economy. This collaborative approach to neighborhood economic development intends to build partnerships for implementation and ensures that the implementation process reflects community priorities and strengthens communities from within. Communities are places with vibrant retail, quality affordable housing, neighborhood parks and access to good schools—the end result of our efforts.

For many of our stakeholders, we are viewed as new hope and new opportunities for all, regardless of who they are and where they come from. Our visions for our cities’ futures have to be seeped into the importance of bridging gaps and creating opportunities for citizens, to not only survive, but to thrive. We do this, not only out of obligation to our cities, but for the promise of possibilities coming to fruition for a constituency that has long been ignored.

To be an African-American mayor at the helm of a city is indeed a marvelous feat—one that undoubtedly is the result of beating incredible odds, which is all the more reason why we must lead with a conviction and commitment for transformation. Leading in this current time, against the backdrop of strained community-police relations, voting rights challenges, waning interest in social justice and equitable access to resources, requires that we are nimble and strategic in our approach to leading our cities. Together, with our unique personal experiences and backgrounds, we are best poised to realize the gains that are necessary for successful cities.

***As featured in the National Urban Leagues’ State of Black America***

Statement on the Confirmation of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General

The following is a statement by Mayor Sly James of Kansas City, MO, president of the African American Mayors Association (AAMA):

“Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee has confirmed Jeff Sessions as the next Attorney General of the United States. The African American Mayors Association is ready to work with him as our nation’s chief law enforcement officer to ensure that all members of our communities are afforded safety and justice.

AAMA has been actively involved in reforming our criminal justice system with stakeholders nationwide. It is our hope that Attorney General Sessions will continue the path of reform including ensuring sentencing is fair, particularly for first-time nonviolent offenders; allocating appropriate resources in the federal prison system to reduce recidivism; prioritizing positive community policing practices by strengthening the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS); initiating swift and thorough investigation of officer-involved shootings through the Civil Rights Division when appropriate; and keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people.

While we share concern about Sessions’ past statements and legislative history, AAMA will work tirelessly as an accountability partner to ensure that the office of the Attorney General seeks justice for all American people equally.

U.S. Treasury’s CDFI Fund Partners With Private Sector And Municipalities To Invest In Community Development, Jobs Growth And Affordable Housing

U.S. TREASURY’S CDFI FUND PARTNERS WITH PRIVATE SECTOR AND MUNICIPALITIES TO INVEST IN COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, JOBS GROWTH AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING

WASHINGTON- 2016 marked a banner year for the United States Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund).  In total, the CDFI Fund invested over $500 million in financial assistance, technical assistance and loan guarantees to over 200 CDFIs, including Native CDFIs, through the CDFI Program, Native Initiatives, Capital Magnet Fund and Bond Guarantee Program. These resources will be leveraged many times over to improve economic growth in underserved communities. It is hoped that 2017 will bring more of the same focus on promoting economic prosperity.

CDFIs are private sector financial institutions that invest in economically distressed communities. Once certified by the Treasury Department, CDFIs are eligible to apply for funding through a highly competitive application and selection process administered by the CDFI Fund.  CDFIs leverage their awards with capital from other investors to support small businesses, affordable housing, community health centers, grocery stores, child care facilities, and other economic development initiatives that contribute to economic revitalization.

In addition, the CDFI Fund allocated a record-breaking $7 billion in tax credits through the New Markets Tax Credit Program.  Municipalities, through subsidiary corporations, can be certified as Community Development Entities (CDEs) making them eligible to apply for New Markets Tax Credits. To date, the New Markets Tax Credit program has allocated $50.5 billion in tax credits, helping generate $8 of private investment for every dollar invested by the federal government.

Since the program’s inception in 1994, the CDFI Fund has helped build a nation-wide network of over 1,000 CDFIs committed to ensuring that underserved areas have access to affordable financial services products.

AAMA Statement on the Election of Donald Trump as President-Elect of the United States of America

Media Contact: Donald Gatlin (dgatlin@rabengroup.com)

(Washington, DC). On behalf of the 500 African American mayors across the country, Mayor Sly James of Kansas City, MO and President of the African American Mayors Association, released the following statement in response to the election of Donald Trump as President-Elect of the United States of America:

“Now that the election is over, we must turn our attention to working together to address the most important issues in America – job creation, criminal justice reform, healthcare, a quality education for every child and national security. Importantly, improving our nation’s transportation and infrastructure is equally critical, and it will be a top priority of the African American Mayors Association to work with the new administration to bring American infrastructure into the 21st century.

Currently, American communities are facing crumbling roads, failing bridges, and lackluster broadband access. This is an unacceptable paradigm in a time when over 63 percent of the nation’s population live in small and large cities. Mayors are on the front lines of addressing infrastructure challenges where they are experienced every day—in our local communities. We need resources and flexibility to appropriately invest where we know it is most necessary to keep our communities vibrant and thriving, and to avoid a repeat of the devastation that came to Flint, Michigan when local leaders were not empowered to fix the water system there.

Donald Trump has said he will make new investments in infrastructure one of his top priorities. We look forward to working with him to make that goal a reality.”

African American Mayors Influence and Actions Toward Gun Reform

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African American Mayors Influence and Actions Toward Gun Reform

Across the United States, government leaders are often challenged to implement new legislation that will address the concerns of the community. Recent tragedies, such as the Orlando Shooting in Orlando, Florida and reoccurring police shootings, have shifted the nation’s attention to gun reform in its entirety. Mayors and community leaders have joined together to make an influential change in the towns and communities they serve. Studies have shown that there a significant change in minority communities with an African American mayor. Having an African-American mayor, in particular, makes a difference in the job prospects of black residents. Statistics state the following:

  • Under an African-American mayor, the unemployment rate for black residents drops by 1.5 percentage points.
  • African Americans are more likely to find roles in city government positions.
  • Wages go up around 6 percent, more black residents join the workforce, and those who did find jobs tend to keep them slightly longer

17464823-mmmainAfrican American mayors have made countless efforts to improve the livelihood of their communities and work diligently to adopt gun control laws that protect residents, as well as second amendment rights provided by United States Constitution. In Cleveland, Ohio, Mayor Frank Jackson adopted a set a of gun control laws. In a written statement, Mayor Jackson stated: “The City’s new laws mirror current state misdemeanor firearms offenses and address concerns with the responsible use of firearms in an effort to reduce gun violence, protect the City’s youth, and make Cleveland’s neighborhoods
safer,”. “These new laws do not limit the rights of our citizens to own firearms. This is an appropriate step to ensure that second amendment rights are protected while ensuring that weapons are not misused.”

After countless incidents centered around the need for improved gun laws, communities have gathered together to protest and lobby for reform. African American mayors have remained at the forefront of this issue urging federal lawmakers to approve federal gun legislation. “How many more lives must be needlessly lost before Congress takes action to impose even the most basic, common sense, and bipartisan reforms on the sale and distribution of guns?” Mayor Ras Baraka (Newark, NJ) said in a statement, a day after the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, the single deadliest shooting in U.S. history. Mayors across the nation have answered the call to present much need legislation that will protect their communities.

RESOURCES ON GUN LAW

African American Mayors Association Statement on the Deaths of Five Dallas, TX Police Officers

African American Mayors Association Statement on the Deaths of Five Dallas, TX Police Officers

(Washington, DC), Mayor Sly James of Kansas City, MO and President of the African American Mayors Association, released the following statement in response to the deaths of five police officers in Dallas, Texas:

“Everyday men and women wake up, put on uniforms and hit the streets to protect American cities. For mayors, these are among the first city employees we see each day. They protect our citizens and our families. Yesterday’s attack on them is an attack on everything we hold dear.”

“Today, I join with 500 African American mayors across the country to offer condolences for the families of the five police officers killed in Dallas, TX. Their grief is unspeakable. We will keep them in our thoughts and prayers and hope for a swift recovery for the officers injured in the shooting. Our police officers are among the most invaluable resources our communities have. They are essential to keeping our laws functioning and our citizens safe. We are deeply grateful for their partnership, today and every day.”

“More than almost any week in recent memory, these past days have thrown into sharp relief the fault lines in American society. We must work to improve trust and communication between police officers and our citizens. We must continue training for law enforcement on de-escalation and disengagement, and stem the tide of unwarranted killings. And we must immediately pass gun violence prevention legislation. At this time, we must come together and do the important work of creating an America that is safe for us all.”

“Our hearts are broken. Our cities are mourning. Today we rise to guard our guardians. Today we say enough is enough.”

Contact: Donald Gatlin, 202-587-2871dgatlin@rabengroup.com