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Mayors Conference: Congress has abandoned cities

January 18, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
"Help our cities": That was the message Wednesday from Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in the Washington, D.C. The mayor also paid a visit to the White House.

Villaraigosa is the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. And there is a nearly unanimous feeling that metropolitan areas have been abandoned by Congress.

The mayors released a report Wednesday showing anemic economic growth of 1.3 percent last year and projecting only 2 percent this year.

"The findings are pretty stark and clear: While D.C. dithers, our metro areas are driving America's recovery," said Villaraigosa.

The wakeup call was a reason for the mayor's visit to the White House for a meeting with President Obama. Villaraigosa wants help in convincing Congress to invest in highways and transportation for jobs.

"He's got to keep on fighting for America's cities. He's got to keep on sending home the message to this Congress: It's time for them to do their job," said Villaraigosa.

Villaraigosa and other mayors also met with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to share their concerns.

"What happened? It really begs the question: What is the Congress doing each and every day when while they supposedly work for the American people while millions of Americans are out of work?" said Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

"If you were to put a grade on last year, you'd have to give them an 'F' for failure," said Villaraigosa. "They didn't do much in the way of job creation. But they have an opportunity."

According to Villaraigosa's office, it was a brief meeting with Obama, but they were able to get their message across about Congress and jobs.