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Mayor Meets with POTUS To Discuss City Challenges, Solutions

March 19, 2012

As part of the Strong Cities, Strong Communities convening in Washington, D.C. last week, Mayor A C Wharton met with President Barack Obama, other administration officials, and mayors from Detroit, New Orleans, Fresno, and Chester, Pennsylvania.

“It was very productive,” said Mayor Wharton. “We weren’t meeting with the deputy undersecretary’s assistant to the hall closet.”

President Obama signed an executive order last week to establish a White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities; the council is expected to facilitate communication and coordination between the federal government and local municipalities. The move follows a pilot program begun last year with Memphis and five other partner cities.

At the convening, Mayor Wharton joined Mayor Dave Bing of Detroit, Mayor Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans, Mayor Ashley Swearengin of Fresno, and Mayor John Linder of Chester, Pennsylvania, to talk about overcoming the challenges faced by our cities.

“There was one thing that was strikingly similar with all the Mayors on the panel,” said Mayor Wharton. “Not one of them was ‘woe is me.’ Here in Memphis, they said we were dead after yellow fever. They said we were dead after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Look out [at this city now] and tell me we’re dead.

“There are comeback cities.”

In addition, the Mayor also met with Shaun Donovan, the United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and Hilda Solis, the United States Secretary of Labor.

“With Secretary of Labor Solis, we got into the summer jobs program and what kinds of alternative funding sources are out there. We talked about programs to help the unemployed and the unemployable,” said Mayor Wharton. “It was really helpful to deal directly with the people who have the power to make things happen.”

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