Monday January 22, 2007
Bridges project, crime fighting, affordable housing on Abramson’s agenda
Mayor Jerry Abramson will join hundreds of leading mayors in Washington, D.C. this week to urge the new Congress to focus more attention on pressing challenges facing America’s cities – from crime fighting and homeland security to affordable housing and transportation.
“When it comes to major challenges facing our hometowns, Washington has not been a full partner over the past decade,” Abramson said. “In the past, the Bush Administration and Congress have stepped away from successful programs that helped fight crime and build stronger neighborhoods. It’s time they get back on our team.”
Abramson will attend the winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and is scheduled to meet privately with several area lawmakers including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and U.S. Reps. John Yarmuth, Ben Chandler, Hal Rogers and Baron Hill of Southern Indiana.
Abramson and a handful of other large city mayors have been invited to meet with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to discuss how the Democratic-led Congress can help strengthen cities.
Among the top priorities for Abramson on the trip:
Shoring up the federal funding commitment to the Ohio River Bridges Project. The region’s economic future depends on building two new bridges and replacing the tangled Spaghetti Junction. Federal funds are the source of 80 percent of such major interstate projects.
Renewing the federal-local partnership to prevent crime. The Bush Administration and Congress have slashed funding that Louisville and other communities used to put police on the streets and invest in crime-fighting technology.
Restoring deep funding cuts to block grant programs that strengthen neighborhoods. Mayors will urge Congress to fund programs that cities use to improve blighted neighborhoods, spur economic development and provide job training for adults and after-school programs for children.
Putting the hope back in HOPE VI and other affordable housing programs. The Bush Administration and Congress scuttled the HOPE VI program that was a key to the Park DuValle and Liberty Green housing revitalization efforts in Louisville. Mayors will ask Congress to restore HOPE VI funding and support other efforts to help the working poor purchase homes.
Deputy Mayor William Summers IV will join the mayor in Washington for a related summit on reducing the flow of illegal guns. The meeting of Mayors Against Illegal Guns will focus on stronger penalties for gun crimes, help for police in tracing illegal guns and increased funding for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Abramson will host a luncheon for representatives of Louisville corporations, education and union groups active in Washington to discuss federal issues important to Louisville. U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville is the featured speaker.
Abramson departs Monday night and will return Friday afternoon.