Adding to the barrage of American Jobs Act messaging from congressional Democrats, Cabinet members and the President himself, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan told reporters today that the bill is a must for her recession-ravaged city.
Quan, along with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Arizona State Senator Kyrsten Sinema, was on a White House-orchestrated conference call touting what the bill will do for California and Arizona. Seeing as how I outlined the California impact here yesterday, I won’t do it again in detail today.
Quan said a lot of Oakland’s problems “are pretty typical of American cities” including budget woes affecting teachers and first responders, crumbling public infrastructure, joblessness, and street violence. “I think we we’re very lucky not to have had more violence this summer” even as homicides trended upward whiles summer jobs and other employment opportunities dwindled, she said.
The city’s minority neighborhoods are seeing unemployment rates of up to twice the state’s 14 percent rate, Quan said.
Oakland also has the nation’s fifth-largest port, and the only U.S. port that exports more than it imports, she said, so finishing its intermodal transportation modernization is vital to maintaining and growing the economy. And with Oakland hard-hit by the housing bubble’s burst, revitalizing neighborhoods and refinancing homes could prevent a second wave of foreclosures.
“It’s our job to put pressure on anyone who’s standing in the way of doing these common-sense things to make investments in America,” she said.
Villaraigosa, who also is president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, noted that 89 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product is from 363 metro economies; New York, Los Angeles and Chicago alone have a combined economy about the size of France’s, and the nation’s top 10 cities would amount to the world’s third-largest economy.
“We like to say that as American cities go, so goes the nation,” he said. “Putting our unemployed in America’s cities back to work is the best way to put America back to work.”
He said Obama’s plan is comprised of proposals that have won bipartisan support in the past and should again now. “The time is now to put the nation’s priorities ahead of partisan interests.”