Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Project Search: City of Miami Launches Landmark Program

As Mayor, I am committed to a holistic approach to reducing poverty, creating opportunity, and strengthening our community. The basis of my approach has always been education.

Since the creation of the County’s first Education Compact with Miami-Dade Public Schools, the City of Miami has continued to expand our ACCESS Miami, ELEVATE Miami, and Parks & Recreation after-school programs. Today, I’d like to tell you about how we have all partnered together to create Project SEARCH Miami, a program of which I am very proud.

Project SEARCH Miami is a unique business-led transition program designed to empower students with developmental disabilities to achieve employment and personal growth.
The program allows twelve students (ages 18-22) interested in the professional workforce to gain exposure and on the job training in marketable skills while working alongside a mentor from a volunteering City of Miami department. The year-long program is the first of its kind in the State of Florida and the second in the nation to offer this training opportunity through the public sector.

Each department has one student rotate approximately every ten weeks during a ten month period. Participants and City of Miami employees are given support through job coaching, specialized teaching, sensitivity trainings, and adaptations as needed.

This week I was very fortunate to participate in the Open House for Project SEARCH Miami, and was able to speak to the students and their families. I am proud to say that this has been meaningful and enriching to everyone involved and the students are exploring work in departments including Parks & Recreation, Communications, the Fire Department, Information Technology and several more. In addition to teaching students professional, marketable office skills, the program also helps these students achieve independent life skills by training them in the use of public transportation in order to get their job location, among many other life skills. The ultimate goal of Project SEARCH Miami is for these young adults to be able to achieve competitive employment.

Project SEARCH Miami is a united effort between the City of Miami, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, Inc., the Florida Department of Education Vocational Rehabilitation Agency and the State of Florida Agencies for Persons with Disabilities along with other local agencies as well.

I’d especially like to thank the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council (FDDC) for awarding the City of Miami as one of five Pilot Site Designations in the State to develop the program and making this all possible.

For more information on Project SEARCH, please visit:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Remediating and Reducing Poverty

Poverty is an issue that affects all major cities in the world. Recently I was asked to write an editorial for Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity. Through Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity, foundations will use their prestige to make sure that 2008 sets the stage for concerted action on poverty and opportunity in 2009 and beyond. You can read the editorial below. Please visit to learn more about this organization.

Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity

Remediating and Reducing Poverty

by Mayor Manny Diaz, Mayor of Miami and President of the United States Conference of Mayors

A Mayor's Plan for the National Agenda
The current financial climate in America underscores that entrenched poverty and limits on economic opportunity are not only local problems, but American problems. And national problems demand national investments. As Washington bails out Wall Street, they must also remember Main Street America and invest in education, infrastructure and poverty remediation measures to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to achieve self-sufficiency and a prosperous future.
This summer, as president of the United States Conference of Mayors, I announced five Mayors’ Action Forums, to convene a discussion on the major issues facing our nation’s cities: energy and the environment, crime and public safety, reducing and breaking the cycle of poverty, infrastructure investment and development, and the economic impact of arts, culture and travel. Due to the urgency of these problems, we held the first forum on August 5 and concluded the last forum on October 3.
While it is vitally important for the mayors of America’s cities and metropolitan areas to meet and discuss the problems facing our cities and arrive at concrete solutions, the reality is that these are national problems. America’s cities and metropolitan areas make up 85 percent of the total population. Our cities and metropolitan areas are where more than 90 percent of our national economic growth occurred between 2000 and 2007. Economic activity in our cities and metropolitan areas represent more than 86 percent of our Gross Domestic Product. Unfortunately, Washington has ignored the needs and national growth opportunity of its cities and its people. The truth is that Washington has lost its values and sense of purpose—engaging in endless debate and partisan bickering while people in this country continue to suffer.
In view of Washington’s continuing neglect of these important issues, the United States Conference of Mayors took the initiative to hold these forums to devise a plan of action for America’s cities for the next president. The mayors of the country want to see our recommendations included in the next president’s proposals to congress, and implemented in the first 100 days of the next administration.
Poverty is at the top of our list. Statistics show that 1 in every 6 children in this country lives in poverty, with nearly half living in extreme poverty. In addition, of the more than 140 million Americans employed in 2006, 8.7 million were living in poverty – evidence that even full-time work is failing to lift workers out of poverty. Long-term poverty remediation is required.
We cannot tolerate such injustices in our midst. That’s why, on September 24 in Los Angeles, mayors at the Action Forum on Poverty included the following amongst their recommendations:
A recalculation of how poverty is measured to accurately determine the true nature of poverty in this country
A cabinet-level position to direct and coordinate poverty reduction programs with a special emphasis on early-childhood education and healthcare
Tax-code reforms to simplify the process to access benefits and make them available to a wider number of families
An expansion of financial literacy programming to promote and enhance financial stability
Significant investment in workforce development programs to give students multiple paths to employment
We invited senior advisors to Senators John McCain and Barack Obama, so that no matter who prevails on November 4, America can look forward to real action on poverty in the coming year.
During my tenure as Mayor of Miami, I have worked to make our city an example of how we can alleviate and remediate both the immediate effects of poverty and its long-term causes. I also launched “Helping Hands, Mending Lives,” a 10-year, public-private partnership to end chronic homelessness. I’m proud to say that since then we have already reduced homelessness in Miami by 50 percent. In March, after Washington enacted an economic stimulus, we assisted low and moderate income residents to navigate the complicated tax filing process through 25 City of Miami-sponsored locations, so they could secure the relief to which they were entitled—and desperately needed.
Other mayors have taken bold and decisive action on poverty. Yet this alone is not enough. Poverty is a national problem and demands national attention. The next president must take strong steps to ensure that Washington never again abandons the needs of its cities and their residents.
I left Cuba at the age of six, arriving on my mother’s lap. We didn’t have a penny to our name, but I grew up to become mayor of one of America’s greatest cities because of a partnership between the federal government and the people of Main Street America. I believe in the American dream because I am a product of it. This is the only country in the world that inspires a dream. Let us not deny America’s poor and disadvantaged the same opportunity to dream.

Viewpoints in this section solely represent the authors’ opinions and not the opinions of "Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity."

- Manny

Monday, October 27, 2008

Operation Hope for Haiti Continues

The devastation wrought upon the residents of Haiti cannot be measured by words. Families have been left destitute and the infrastructure of a once vibrant nation has been left in shambles. Our mission to help our Caribbean neighbor cannot end yet.
I urge everyone to attend a fund-raising event where I, along with Miami commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones, will announce that World Vision, a philanthropic organization that has concentrated much of its efforts to cumulating relief for Haiti, will match all of our contributions 3:1.
This means that every dollar that is donated to these efforts will be matched by $3 contribution from World Vision, an incredibly generous donation.
The event will be held this Thursday, October 30, from 5:30 pm to 7:00pm at the Doubletree Grand Hotel at 1717 North Bayshore Drive.
The suggested contribution for the event is $500.00. Please make all checks payable to World Vision.
This is a critical moment for us in the City of Miami to aid those Haitians that have been left in despair by the four storms that hindered the island at the height of the Hurricane season. I am asking the generous residents of our City to open their hearts and wallets to aid our neighbors. Their country has been left severely crippled, but our hope for them must remain strong.
To find out more about World Vision, and their work in Haiti, please visit their website.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Say No to Amendment 2

I am proud to join County Commssioners and members of our community to urge our residents to vote against Amendment 2, the so-called Florida's Marriage Protection Amendment. Please read below my comments made at the press conference yesterday.

"I am proud to serve as the Honorary Statewide Co-Chair for Florida Red & Blue.

I’m opposed to amendment 2 because of its vague language which could actually take away important existing benefits like health care from Floridians.

It’s called the Florida Marriage Amendment but I don’t see how this amendment protects anything.

Amendment 2 claims to ban "gay marriage" but Florida already has multiple laws banning same-sex marriage. It is an unnecessary amendment. Gay marriage is already illegal in Florida.

I am proud that in September our City Commission passed a resolution opposing Amendment 2.

It’s also clear that Amendment 2 is bad for business:

If passed, Amendment 2 could make companies and municipalities that currently offer benefits to unmarried employees the targets of legal action. It could damage morale among current employees and dissuade new job candidates from moving here.

By defeating Amendment 2 in November and focusing instead on positive business development efforts, we send a clear message to potential new businesses that this is the place where they want to be.

Similar amendments in other states are being used to take away benefits from public employees and dissolve domestic partnership registries used to provide health care benefits and pensions. Miami-Dade county, Broward and Palm Beach, among others, offer domestic partnership registries. Every unmarried Floridian will be impacted by this amendment - especially divorced or widowed seniors and public employees who, under existing programs, can share some benefits such as hospital visitation privileges and health care coverage without being married. Also, Amendment 2 could force seniors to choose between important benefits like sharing health care and important government benefits.

Amendment 2 could take away job benefits from university employees and be used as a defense to domestic violence - as in other states which passed similar amendments.

To learn more about why you should vote NO on Amendment 2, visit"


Thursday, October 23, 2008

A New Home for Camillus House

Yesterday I was proud to participate in the groundbreaking celebration for the new Camillus House 340-bed center at 1603 Northwest Seventh Avenue. This was a historic day for the City of Miami, and it is a shining example of what can happen when the private sector and the public sector join forces. A partnership between the City of Miami, Camillus House, the State of Florida, the University of Miami and the surrounding neighborhoods have made this day possible.
After 24 years of trying to move to their new home, this partnership has finally resulted in a long-term home for the acclaimed center, the largest and most comprehensive center offering social and clinical treatment services to Miami’s chronically homeless. I am proud to have played a role in bringing all of the parties together and making the move a reality, as Camillus House has always been an integral part in our 10-year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness. This plan has served thousands of people with a 78% success rate, and has helped reduce the number of homeless in our city by 39%.
The City of Miami has also established the Miami Cares project - mobilizing hundreds of volunteers to service 650 homeless during a day of assistance. Two-hundred and fifty of those in attendance have been placed in treatment or shelter programs. Camillus House’s new center will be an important tool to fight chronic homelessness, with its increased capacity, innovative design and training programs for Miami’s neediest citizens.
The construction of this new center will also bring economic benefits to the community. There is an immediate investment to build the center, as well as the creation of 60 jobs with an average of $40k/annual salary, which in 10 years is $24 million. Also, the land where the shelter is now will be sold, placing that property back on the tax roll and representing about $800,000 in 10 years.
Because of the importance of Camillus House in our community, I have also pledged $10 million towards this project, which will come from Community Redevelopment Agency funds. These funds will aid Camillus House in their endeavor to end chronic homelessness, a goal that the City also shares.
To learn more about Miami’s homeless Assistance Program, please visit their WEBPAGE.
- Manny

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Our City: A Historical Masterpiece

It’s no secret that Miami is a city of rich historical significance. We’re famously known for our art centers, architecture, culture, and two National Historic Landmarks - the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens and, more recently, the Freedom Tower. I was proud to welcome U.S. Deputy Secretary of Interior Lynn Scarlett today at City Hall for a reception in recognition of Miami’s historic preservation efforts and its designation as a Preserve America Community last year.

The Preserve America Community program was started by the George W. Bush Administration under the vision of First Lady Laura Bush. The program aims to strengthen local pride and increase participation in preserving the country’s unique cultural and historical assets. With this designation, our City is eligible to receive Preserve America grants from the federal government which are very important to support planning and development of heritage tourism programs and activities.

I’m thrilled about our City’s unique historical background. The City of Miami’s application to become a Preserve America Community focused on the Miami Modern (MiMo) architectural style and the Biscayne Boulevard Historic District. Officially designated on June 6, 2006, the district between NE 50th and NE 77th Streets includes 65 historic structures, many of which date from the 1940s to the 1960s period.

It was fitting that we should have held such a reception in Miami City Hall, originally the Old Pan American seaplane base and terminal building. Built in the middle of the Great Depression, the terminal linked the U.S. and Latin America. The building was completely restored and is now a beautiful reminder of Miami’s history.

Now, there are now almost 100 designated historic sites within Miami. These designated properties include private homes, schools, fire stations, churches, municipal buildings, bridges, a cemetery, and many streets. These sites bear testimony to the unique background of the City I am proud to call home.

My administration will continue its efforts to preserve Miami’s history. I recognize that we must preserve and protect this history for the benefit of our children, our grandchildren, and their children thereafter.

Some of the initiatives we are currently involved in include:

· Assisted in drafting Neighborhood Conservation District (NCD) Language in concert with Miami 21, so as to protect the character of neighborhoods which might not otherwise qualify for historic district designation.
· Hired a consulting archaeologist on an as needed basis to protect irreplaceable historic artifacts, and assist property owners in achieving compliance with the city’s survey requirements.
· Continue our work with the Historic and Environmental Preservation Board who review alterations to historic properties; and facilitate communications with property owners regarding those changes.
· Assist in drafting a revised Chapter in the City Code that will integrate our tree protection ordinance and our protective provisions for environmental preservation districts—to better safeguard Miami’s signature landscape elements.
· Continue the production of a Historic Preservation Newsletter that targets owners of historic properties and inform them of news which affects them on a timely basis.
· Continue to participate in the plans for the interpretation of the Miami Circle archaeological site.

- Manny

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Get Ready for DawnTown!

It’s that time of year again, when DawnTown, the annual architectural design showcase and competition in Miami. This year, we are calling for submissions of ideas for the new waterworks building in downtown Miami's Bicentennial Park. DawnTown 2008: Waterworks is an architecture ideas competition for a new waterworks building in Downtown Miami's Bicentennial Park. The competition will conclude with an awards event in Downtown Miami during Art Basel Miami Beach, the world's largest contemporary art show.

DawnTown 2008: Waterworks has been organized by a partnership of Downtown Miami stakeholders, including the University of Miami, Florida International University, and Miami Dade College schools of architecture, the Miami Mayor's Office, and the Miami Art Museum. In addition to the presenting partners, DawnTown 2008: Waterworks sponsors include the Miami Downtown Development Authority, Akerman Senterfitt, Burt Hill, and Home Miami magazine.

The competition invites entrants to transform the existing pump station on the waterfront in Bicentennial Park into a waterworks building that expresses its function, provides information about water conservation, and brings innovative architecture to Downtown Miami. Full competition materials are available at

Because the City has plans and funds to improve the park, any entry that captures the public imagination could inspire the eventual transformation of the existing pump station into a landmark waterworks building.

The jury is led by Terry Riley, Director of the Miami Art Museum, and also includes Alex Wall, Professor of Urban Design at the University of Karlsruhe; Loretta Cockrum, CEO of the Foram Group; Cathy Leff, Director of The Wolfsonian-FIU; and Raymond Jungles, Landscape Architect.

The awards event will take place during Art Basel Miami Beach on Friday, December 5 at 9 AM at Miami-Dade College in the heart of Downtown Miami, and will also feature a special keynote speaker. Prizes are $8000, $4000, and $2000. The registration deadline is November 7, 2008, and full event details are at Select entries may also be exhibited in Downtown Miami and published in Home Miami magazine.

We look forward to seeing the brilliant ideas that can be born out of this project and we wish everyone good luck!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Elevate Miami Testimonials

When I started Elevate Miami, I wanted to help our citizens, regardless of age, to improve their digital literacy. Through our many training centers around the city, we have touched thousands of residents. Some of them have let us know how helpful and life-changing their classes with Elevate Miami have been. It’s always nice to see just how much our community is learning by hearing from them directly. Below are some examples of written testimonials we’ve received via their newly-created email addresses that truly showcase the impact this program is having on their lives. In these difficult economic times, these messages help reinforce the type of work we do and why we do it.
To learn more about Elevate Miami, please visit their website.

“I write to you today to thank you for offering these classes. I was sick and tired of having to ask for favors when I needed something done in the computer. When I visited Sisters & Brothers Forever and saw a sign announcing the computer classes. I decided to take one, despite fear that I was too old to take it. I found a very comforting and friendly environment very favorable for my age, and the teachers were very patient and full of love and other classmates who had the same fear as me. Today I can be informed of what is happening in the world and I can send emails. I am very thankful to Elevate Miami.”

“I am very happy because the classes are very friendly and interesting, and I have learned a lot about how to send an email. It is amazing how much I have learned. I have a computer and have never been able to use it because of lack of experience. Thanks to these classes, I can now write and communicate with my friends who are far away.”

“Through this wonderful communications medium, the computer, I can tell you that I am happy to learn. En each class, I learn more. Thank you for the opportunity that you have given the community, to seniors and to people of all ages. My experience has been wonderful.”

“I have learned a lot in a computer that it is very entertaining. The teacher is very special. I wanted to learn a lot and also hope to work in a place. I feel this computer class mean a lot to individuals. It’s like going to a place and to me it looked kind of scary but in reality its not. It’s like going for a vacation with nice individuals, and especially the teachers are nice and the ones who work there too. It’s like being in the library and you are learning and having much fun. It’s unexplainable. The Miami Herald Newspaper advertisement got me to these classes and to me it’s like a dream come true. I am very grateful for this and the United States of America also the government. Thank You. God Bless America.”

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Bike Miami is coming: Sunday, November 9th

As Mayor of the City of Miami, I am proud to announce a special event that I am hosting in Downtown Miami on Sunday, November 9th: Bike Miami.

From 10am to 3pm, the City of Miami will close East Flagler and the Downtown portion of South Miami Avenue to vehicular traffic so that pedestrians and bicyclists can explore the city in a new way.

Bike Miami is an opportunity for all of us to enjoy the natural beauty of Miami’s waterfront and the restoration of Downtown with family and friends. Walk along the BayWalk, ride your bike down South Miami Avenue, learn more about the city’s bicycle and pedestrian friendly initiatives at a special outdoor presentation at 11am.
Shops, restaurants and cafés will be open and there will be a special free yoga class in the Park.

You are encouraged to take public transit to Bike Miami – bring your bicycle on the bus or Metrorail. There will be covered bike valet parking at Mary Brickell Village and outdoor bike parking between Bayfront Park and the Bayside Marketplace. Vehicle Parking will also be available at the Miami-Dade Cultural Center, Bayside, Mary Brickell Village and many other garages throughout the area.

Bike Miami is a community event that is open and free to everyone. I hope to see you there.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My Question to The Presidential Candidates

Tonight, the two presidential candidates will hold their second debate. I was asked by The Washington Post to ask a question that I would like answered by Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama if Miami hosted tonight’s town-hall-style presidential debate. After much thought, I decided to ask them about how they would address Anti-American populism expanding in Latin American, a subject that has been virtually absent from the Campaign debate, in spite of the fact that these troubling events are happening in our own backyard.
My question, along with that of several other mayors, was published today in the Post’s Topic A section. You can read my question below. We will have to wait until tonight to find out if the candidates answer it.

Four years ago, a foreign policy debate between George Bush and John Kerry was held in Miami, a city whose population is over 60 percent foreign-born and that is truly a cultural and commercial hub to Latin America and the Caribbean. Throughout the debate and the campaign, events in the Western Hemisphere were never mentioned. In the current campaign season, this has not changed.
Anti-American populism is expanding in our back yard. Venezuela's Hugo Chávez holds joint military exercises with Russia and expels U.S. diplomats. Evo Morales of Bolivia and Manuel Zelaya of Honduras follow suit. In Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega decries American imperialism. Regional economies continue to falter while Chinese investment greatly increases. Meanwhile, Haiti disintegrates under crushing poverty, and a military dictatorship continues to rule in Cuba.
We worry about events half a world away while we generally ignore the world to our south.
What will your comprehensive policy be toward this hemisphere? Will you support existing and proposed free-trade agreements, and what impact might these have on our economy and that of the region? Which countries would you add to the visa waiver list, thus increasing tourism and economic ties? How will you address the underlying causes in the region that drive migration to the United States?
Finally, what do you propose to assure that anti-Americanism is replaced with neighborly mutual understanding and the spread of democracy in this hemisphere?


Mayor of Miami and president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors”

Read the whole article in The Washington Post.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Mayors Action Forum: Environment and Energy, Miami

One of the first things that I did as President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors was to launch a series of national mayors action forums to provide the opportunity for my colleagues and I to learn from each other and to develop a strong, clear urban agenda that we will present to the next President of the United States. World scientists have repeatedly warned us about the seriousness and effects of climate change – yet, Washington sleeps while America’s mayors act.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of hosting 22 fellow mayors and several mayors’ representatives to discuss plans for environmental and energy sustainability and to reveal our first-ever Metro Green Jobs Report. For the first time, we can measure green jobs being created in our cities and metropolitan economies, the economic engines that drive the U.S. country. This Green Jobs Index means we can track green jobs that are being created in our metro areas as we move to a carbon-free economy. Moreover, it demonstrates that acting aggressively today will produce enormous and sustainable economic benefits for all Americans. Today, there are 750,000 green jobs throughout the United States and, within the next 30 years, green jobs will account for the fastest growing segment of the American workforce and 4.2 million new jobs.

It was an enriching and focused meeting and we benefited from visiting experts such as Luke Tilley, Senior Economist for the U.S. Regional Service of Global Insight; HM Keith Allen, Consul-General of the United Kingdom; and, of course, President Bill Clinton.

Our conversation raised a number of issues, including emissions trading, setting national reduction targets, local and international cap-and-trade programs, and the development of city climate action plans, like MiPlan. President Clinton reiterated his support for Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants, a key component of the Mayors’ 10-Point Plan, as a means of developing “islands of success” in cities across America.

This week, my fellow mayors and I will put our ideas and experiences into the development of a new, official U.S. Conference of Mayors urban agenda. It is imperative that the presidential candidates connect with the real struggles and concerns of America’s cities – including the need to protect our natural resources while investing in the economic opportunities that energy self-sufficiency will provide.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Our nation is at a crossroads, and Washington must act now. With that in mind, I sent the following letter today to Congress on behalf of the nation’s mayors urging Congress to move quickly to address the current national financial crisis:

Dear House and Senate Leaders and Members of Congress:

I am writing to you in my capacity as President of the United States Conference of Mayors. The current dysfunctions in the financial markets are having major economic impacts across the country, in particular to large urban centers. I list just five of those impacts below:

Loss of jobs/Loss of economic development and growth
From January through August 2008, the US economy has lost over 605,000 jobs (an additional 105,000 job losses are expected in September) and total unemployment now totals 2.2 million. The consolidation in the banking industry that is occurring due to our current financial distress will only exacerbate the situation. For cities like New York that rely on personal income taxes for a major source of their operational cash, the impact will be devastating, adding to the shortfalls in property tax collections resulting from the national housing crisis.

Cities drive the national economy. Metro economies now account for 86% of national employment, 90% of labor income and 90% of the Gross Domestic Product. Metropolitan areas are the economic engines of America because we invest in our neighborhoods, we invest in our people.

Let there be no doubt, our current national economic crisis is having, and will continue to have, a severe impact on our ability to continue investing in our nation’s growth. Rising unemployment and reductions in personal income are putting a significant strain on our budgets and our ability to deliver services and promote economic development.

Let there also be no doubt, it is at a time like this that the American people require more from their Mayors. Increases in crime are already evident in many areas. Job training and job placement become more important than ever. Budgets cuts in schools result in the elimination of after school programs designed to keep our young people off the streets, away from trouble.

We are delighted by the recent continuous reference to Main Street and its new-found popularity. We are delighted that Washington seems to be re-discovering what Mayors have long known, that Main Street is America’s cities.

Strong and prosperous cities are a strong and prosperous America.

Loss of confidence
A loss of confidence in our banking system is also currently playing out in what should be simple determinations of what constitutes safe havens for operational funds (let alone long-term investments). For example, the City of Miami holds approximately $10 Million of liquid cash and investments to cover day-to-day expenses.

When Wachovia’s financial distress was coming to light, we seriously considered pulling out our funds. Even though we have State legislative protection against failing public depositories, had Wachovia collapsed it may have been months before access to our cash would have occurred and in that event, short-term borrowing for liquidity would have been either very expensive or downright impossible.

Access to Credit Denied/Delayed/Costly
Prior to the most recent bank failures and consolidations, the municipal bond market was averaging $5-7 Billion per week in new bond issuances. Over the past two weeks, the average of entries into the marketplace has diminished to well under $1 Billion per week and the visible supply of new issues has backed up to over $15 Billion. These numbers represent a delay of necessary capital projects that help spur job creation.

For those municipalities that have been able to access the market over the past two weeks, their entry has come at a price of between 75-85 basis points in stated interest costs and an additional interest penalty of 30-35 basis points in order to get their transactions done. The overall effect of the current economic crisis on municipal debt has been an increase of approximately 1.0% -1.20% in interest costs over the period prior to two weeks ago. When cities issue debt in the tens and hundreds of millions of dollars, these changes in borrowing costs represent significant added costs to taxpayers. Additionally, some municipalities simply cannot afford to issue debt at these interest rate levels.

Lost Values in Pension Funds and 401K retirement accounts
Citizens around the country rely on their retirement savings accounts and pension funds to provide for themselves in their golden years. These funds have lost millions in value as a result of the losses being suffered in the stock market. In fact, the Dow Jones’ loss of 777 points in a single day reduced equity values by more than $1 trillion. For municipalities around the country, these losses directly translate to increased pension contributions from already strained city budgets.

Foreclosures and Housing Values
Property taxation represents local government’s largest revenue source. With 1.7 million foreclosure proceedings in 2007 and an estimated 2.3 million additional foreclosure proceedings expected in 2008, cities have had to adjust, and will continue to adjust, their operating budgets downward to offset lost property tax revenues. Cities realize that housing markets fluctuate and they plan accordingly utilizing budgetary reserves. However, the magnitude of foreclosures and their expected long-term impact on national housing stock will greatly upset the ability of cities to address the needs of the American people.

On behalf of the American people, the US Conference of Mayors urges and expects Congress to move quickly to adopt a thorough solution to address the national financial crisis for the long term, a solution that benefits both Main Street America and Wall Street.


Manny A. Diaz
PresidentU.S. Conference of Mayors