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African American Mayors Association Statement on the Deaths of Terence Crutcher and Keith Scott

(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 (AAMA), released the following statement in response to the deaths of Terence Crutcher and Keith Scott:

“My colleagues at AAMA, and I, extend our deepest condolences to the grief-stricken families of Terence Crutcher and Keith Scott. They are in our thoughts during this incredibly difficult time.

Every day, more than 89 people are killed by gun violence. The violence in cities across the country coupled with the shooting deaths of citizens, whether armed or unarmed, fosters anger and mistrust between the police and the communities they serve. Though we are still learning more about these particular incidents, what we know for sure is that improving community policing is a national imperative. We must work together to improve trust and communication between police officers and citizens. Police officers have to possess the agility and desire to nonviolently de-escalate and disengage tense situations before resorting to deadly force. It is an essential skill in their daily work, and the only way to fulfill their duty to protect us all.

We applaud the U.S. Department of Justice for its swift response to these incidents. The African American Mayors Association is committed to improving communication and trust between citizens and law enforcement. We will continue this work, more committed than ever, to making our towns and cities safe for everyone.”

AAMA President Sly James: Why America Needs a New Agenda for Cities

We all know the stories of crumbling roads, failing bridges and broadband access that lags behind our international peers. The last few decades have been hard on our urban centers but Americans are falling in love with cities again. Cities all over the country are experiencing major influxes of new residents.

In fact, today, over 63 percent of the nation’s population lives in a city. That number is even higher — 70 percent — in the Midwest, where the city I lead is located. Despite this, an agenda to revitalize and restore the infrastructure of our cities has been shockingly absent from our presidential political discourse. That is, until recently.

The Democratic Party, in its Cities Agenda amendment to the platform, is now the first political party to develop a comprehensive plan on city infrastructure during this election cycle. And this week, the Republican party also made cities an issue in their campaign. Donald Trumpentered the conversation with a speech in Detroit outlining an ambitious infrastructure agenda, declaring “We will build the next generation of roads, bridges, railways, tunnels, seaports and airports that our country deserves.” We look forward to seeing the details of his plan.

Indeed, public transportation, roadways, highways, bridges, electricity, and waterways are at the very core of the services our citizens need to thrive. Our infrastructure is the skeleton that supports cities and improving it lifts up local economies.  It’s a major factor in where people decide to work and businesses decide to locate. From the creation of bike paths and making safe water accessible to all, infrastructure impacts public health and quality of life outcomes.

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) releases an infrastructure report card every four years. The last one, published in 2013, was grim. ASCE gave the nation a cumulative grade of D+ on its infrastructure and that was slightly higher than the results of the previous report. But another ASCE report detailed the enormous positive economic impact that is possible through an increased investment in infrastructure.

In “Failure to Act: The Impact of Current Infrastructure Investment on America’s Economic Future,” released in 2012, ASCE found that investing $157 billion in infrastructure each year until 2020 could protect 3.5 million jobs, $2.4 trillion in consumer spending, and $3.1 trillion in GDP. $94 billion in transportation investments alone would protect 877,000 jobs.  We clearly cannot afford the status quo.

Mayors are doing everything we can to maintain the integrity of these foundational services. Some  have implemented innovative public-private partnerships to partially fill the resource gap the federal government’s inaction has left. But, too many of us are forced to navigate a patchwork of state laws that limit our ability to allocate the resources necessary to modernize local infrastructure.

The water crisis in Flint, Michigan is a devastating example of what can happen when local leaders are not fully empowered to maintain the infrastructure in their cities and towns. That’s why I could not agree more with the Cities Agenda’s basic premise that “local leaders are best equipped to create a better future for their residents — but need the resources and flexibility to get the job done.”

The Cities Agenda recognizes that local economic progress can only be achieved by addressing multiple, seemingly intractable, issues simultaneously. It calls for increased investment in housing and schools, jobs, transportation and health in cities across the nation. Specifically, it will build on game-changing programs like the Neighborhood Stabilization Program and the Hardest Hit Fund, which have revitalized communities overcome by blight.

And, the Cities Agenda promises to foster community vibrancy by expanding programs that leverage private sector investment to combat poverty, such as the New Markets Tax Credit and the State Small Business Credit Initiative. These programs are critical to the health and stability of our nation. The benefits are enormous and exponential.

As the president of the African American Mayors Association, which represents the over 500 black mayors in the country, I can tell you that mayors are driving this critical conversation on investments in infrastructure.  Mayors have seen, first hand, the impact of federal underinvestment in cities and infrastructure for too long.

Although the Cities Agenda was initially adopted by the Democrats, there is no reason that this should be a partisan issue. Republicans entering this dialogue is good for advancing the conversation on infrastructure investment. Business leaders need to weigh in just as much as labor and community members. All of us sit in the same ditch when something breaks and repairs need to made.

Regardless of who wins the White House, or the majorities in Congress this November, we must increase the pressure on our federal leaders to fix our cities.

 

Sly James is mayor of Kansas City, M.O., and President of the African American Mayors Association. 

Job Opening – Operations Associate

Job Description

The primary responsibility of the Operations Associate is the administration of all aspects of ongoing AAMA programming, including in-person meetings and teleconferences. The Operations Associate will report to the Executive Director and ensure the successful execution of events, including the AAMA Annual Conference. Additional duties include coordinating speaking engagements and events for member Mayors, drafting monthly organizational newsletters, assisting in the preparation of financial invoices, answering incoming office calls, and other related duties as assigned.

 

Qualifications

The Operations Associate must have strong communication and writing skills, as well as a solid understanding of Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and related applications. The candidate must be a self-starter and comfortable in a dynamic start-up environment. Bachelor’s degree is required. Experience working for an elected official or organization representing elected officials is strongly preferred, but not required.   AAMA is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

 

Compensation                                                                          

Commensurate with experience.

 

To Apply

Please send your resume and cover letter to info@OurMayors.org. Deadline to apply is August 19, 2016. Applications will be considered as they are received.

Job Opening – Policy Associate

Job Description

The Policy Associate will serve as the strategic coordinator for AAMA’s Policy Committees, including the Justice Reform Task Force, the MBK Task Force, and other Committees as established by the AAMA Board of Trustees. The AAMA Associate will schedule Committee conference calls, draft agendas and talking points, and serve as AAMA’s point of contact with invited participants and guest speakers.

The Policy Associate will also serve as the organization’s primary policy researcher. He or she will be expected to conduct research (both independently and in collaboration with key Association partners) on substantive topics of interest to the Association’s mayoral membership. The Research Associate will create documents including, but not limited to, brief research papers (up to 5 pages), executive summaries, and position statements incorporating research to communicate with AAMA members, organizational staff, and external stakeholders. The position will also include other duties as assigned.

 

Qualifications

The Policy Associate must have strong writing and oral communications skills, as well as a solid understanding of Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and related applications. The candidate must be a self-starter and comfortable in a dynamic start-up environment. Bachelor’s degree is required. Experience working for an elected official or organization representing elected officials is strongly preferred, but not required. AAMA is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Compensation                                                                          

Commensurate with experience.

To Apply

Please send your resume and cover letter to info@OurMayors.org. Deadline to apply is August 19, 2016. Applications will be considered as they are received.