tv U.S. Conference of Mayors Holds Winter Meetings Opening Session CSPAN March 8, 2022 4:02am-5:27am EST
meeting in washington, d.c.. this runs an hour and 20 minutes. >> this meeting is being recorded. >> hey, tom, are you there? >> i'm here. >> is this thing on? has it started yet? >> nope, we're just about to get ready. >> how many folks we got coming in on this one? >> we've got hundreds out there. hundreds of them ready to go. >> another day, another zoom. how many of these things do you think we've done? >> i think since march of 2020, probably over 500 at this point.
>> well, that's about 161 million for zoom. if you think about the 65 and one billion we have coming direct he will and god knows we want to thank nan and jeff and also david, all the mayors who have worked so hard to bring this money home directly to our cities. so, let's bring them in. >> all right, tom. letting them in right now. >> let's do it. ♪ >> we can't hear you. we can't hear you. you're on mute. please take your mute off. thank you.
tom: hi. i'm tom cochrane. we want to welcome you to the 90th winter meeting of the united states conference of mayors here in washington, d.c.. [applause] tom: from the music of richard rogers and the lyrics of oscar hammer stein, they gave us "oklahoma" in 1944. they gave us "south pacific" in 1949.
but somewhere in 1945 they gave us "carousel". and so i offer these words from one of the most beautiful songs in my opinion that's ever been written. and i dedicate these words to you. when you walk through a storm, hold your head up high and don't be afraid of the dark. walk on through the rain. walk on through the rain. walk on through the wind, though your dreams be tossed and blown. walk on, walk on. with hope in your heart. and you will never, ever walk alone.
so many times during this time, since we last met here in this hotel in 2020, mayors have been alone. you've been in the dark. we have had this pandemic. we have had mass shootings. we've had social uprisings, black lives matter demonstrations there was a time when people demonstrated in front of city halls. now they come to your homes. the demonstrators come to your homes. the left is upset. defund the police. the right want more cops. and so you have to console your son, your daughter, your mother, your father, your spouse, your
partner, your loved ones. and yet after uconn sole -- you console all of those people, it's just not really good enough. you have to console each other. when the mass shootings happened in el paso, a few days later a brother dubbed his sister. they came together and that's what mayors do. they come together, they reach out. they reach out to each other. they console each other in a healing in a way, and it gives them leadership and courage. and so it's very special, it's very special the way that the mayors support each other and we want to continue to do that. in our leadership meeting i talked about the scientific work of dr. emil. he was a sociologist who
established the academic discipline of sociology. and in 1895 he was credited in what he termed a collective ever vessence. that is when a group of individuals come together in a certain way, that when they are simple in a fashion, a certain electricity is created, leading participants to act as a group, going beyond what they might do as an individual. he sought to establish and describe this sense of energy and harmony when people feel they have a shared purpose. modern research shows us that they have found that people laugh five times as much when they are with others. if you don't believe, that you should have been in the bar last night at 10:00. i went to bed and i heard them laughing, i felt very good. we were all back together.
we are social animals. mayors love people. we are agree gairious. mayors are people people. ladies and gentlemen, we left this hotel in 2020, we didn't know what the hell was in front of us. but we had the collective he wasser vessence and lo and behold, boom, we found zoom. [laughter] i went into my staff room and i said, listen, we're going to have zooms like music lessons. monday, wednesday and friday. and we did. 500 of them. and while, we forged together with all of you, we never gave up. then they had this cares act. do you remember that?
listen, let me tell you something. it was trouble. trouble in river city. the mayor of miami called me and said, listen, nobody in florida got your damn money down here but jacksonville. [laughter] so i said, i called, i said to myself, self, call the national league of cities. let's turn these small cities on and we did. we did. you know, we could not hug each other, we could not touch each other, we couldn't get near each other but we kept this spirit of conference of mayors alive. to rise above bitter partisanship, to rise above hate and this pandemic. to produce a collective consensus of 67.1 billion dollars coming directly not just to new york, not just to chicago, but good old butler, georgia, where i grew up. they got some damn money too. so everybody got a piece of it. and let me tell you something. nancy pelosi, she is the queen of this piece of legislation.
i cannot tell you, she is -- [applause] daddy was a mayor, brother was a mayor, and although she's got that san francisco feel, she's still a baltimore girl. so when she comes to this organization, i hope you'll give her a standing ovation to thank her, to make sure that, you know, we had the direct funding. today in our great federal city, our capital, washington, d.c., we are finally together again. the challenge of america, you know, you do the pot holes, you pick up the trash. you wipe away the tears but the challenge of america always comes from the main street. in your neighborhoods. but i say unto you, those of you
who come with us can be a part of history. a part of history on the right side of history. in 1963, a young president came to hawaii and he came up five points civil rights and we supported him. we supported president johnson in 1964, a white mayor, a businessman from atlanta, georgia, named ivan and, came and testified for public am daitions. in 1965, we stood with president johnson and worked with him on the voting rights act. which is threatened today. and you may not know this, but in 1963, in the headquarters of the conference of mayors, my former boss worked with rustin to help dr. king with the march on washington. with president nixon we had e.p.a..
we had cdbg. we had incredible relationships with president nixon. then of course later in 1971 you stood, the mayor stood in philadelphia to say, bring our boys home. we went on record against the vietnam war. so through the years, we were there with president carter on women's rights. and we did everything we could in the 1980's with the aids epidemic. and a young dark-haired doctor named dr. fauci came to this hotel and we told the american people about the aids epidemic. there's something about this group called the conference of mayors. we build bridges, we do buildings, we have beautiful cities but there's this social movement that we have that's very special. some presidents have said we have to be great again. i say we are great. we are great.
[applause] and i'll tell you this. you know, i was very impressed with president what president george w. bush said in shanksville, pennsylvania. talking about the front line workers. i feel like that mayors in this room are front line workers. he said, i don't know what they're talking about. you are america. the america that i know. and you mayors are the conference of mayors, continue to take us through the storm no matter who is in the state house, no matter who is in the white house, no matter who is in congress, together, you know, now and always, mayors have, mayors can and mayors will make the difference. i was very encouraged today with president suarez. some of them look like my grandchildren. [laughter] i swear to god.
i mean, i'm old as hell, let me tell you right now. but let me tell you something. i listened to mr. barnett and ms. fischer. i'm listening to these young mayors. and i'll tell you. one of my favorite people was francis sinatra. this is what he said. out of the tree of life i just picked a plum. you came along and everything started to hum. still there's a real good debt, the best is yet to come. jack kennedy said, let us go forth. ronald reagan said, you ain't seen nothing yet. thank you very much. [applause] announcer: ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the united states congress of mayors president, mayor francis suarez.
[applause] mayor suarez: i forgot to take off the mute button. had to roll with that zoom joke. good afternoon, mayors. and welcome to the official opening session of the 90th winter meeting of the u.s. conference of mayors. we have mayors from 41 states. we have mayors representing every size community as well. mayors gathered here represent every corner, every creed and every version of american life. can we have all the mayors please stand up. [applause] we also know that we can't have a conference like this without thanking the following organizations for their partnership, sponsorship and collaboration during this year's winter meeting.
first, the american beverage association, the american hotel and lodging association. americans for art. comcast. dolc. the marion kauffman foundation. godaddy. godaddy. godaddy. just keep saying it. you keep laughing, i'm going to keep saying it. h.d.r.. i.k.e. smart city. sidewalk infrastructure partners. starbucks. where's my espresso? where are you guys? double espresso, waiting on that. no? wells fargo. and please give them all a big round of applause. [applause] so now it's my distinct honor and pleasure to introduce the district of columbia mayor, mayor missouri yell bowser, to -- muriel bowser, to welcome us
to her city and hometown. thank you. [applause] mayor bowser: well, good afternoon, everyone. i'm going to risk this in a room full of mayors by saying, welcome to the best city in the world. [laughter] it is my pleasure to welcome to you washington, d.c.. to thank you all for your leadership. i want to thank you, mayor swaryz, and congratulate you -- suarez, and congratulate you on assuming our leadership of mayors. i want to thank tom and his team for bringing us all together in person. let's give the u.s. conference a big round of applause. [applause] i have to emphasize what's been said. that we represent the governments that have been working day in and day out to keep our communities safe.
we've been doing it in person, we're keeping our schools open and our business sectors thriving and our communities moving forward. for nearly two years our cities have grappled with this coronavirus and we have evolved with this virus. and although the pandemic has prevented from us hosting our big embassy reception this year, i am hopeful that we will return to that big celebration very soon. i know that our ability to move forward has been aided by the efforts of the biden-harris administration and the american rescue plan. and the infrastructure and jobs act. [applause] i am quite sure that your cities have experienced what we have,
with the transformative infusion of dollars. thanks to these investments, d.c. is set to rehabilitate and replace some of our oldest high-cost bridges and highways and replace them with new infrastructure. in addition to traditional infrastructure we're also poised to build out charging stations, more high speed internet and we will continue to improve our water infrastructure. we know too that we're looking forward to other investments like continuing to reduce prescription drug costs, expanding affordable housing, expanding the child care tax credit, and for goodness sakes, having more of our children in free pre-k. these are not contentious issues. these are supports that recognize the reality of what
everyday americans are experiencing. and as mayors, we know that covid is not our only emergency. and, tom, you're quite right. we're responding to gun violence that has increased in cities and towns and we're facing new concerns about housing and homelessness, cybersecurity and climate change. and we're doing it all at once. we know too that we're focused on our very democracy and focused on making sure that we're protecting the precious right to vote and for us in d.c., getting the right to vote in congress. and that is why -- [applause] it is so important that we pass the john lewis voting rights act and 591st state admissions act for washington, d.c.. when cities come together we can rise to our nation's largest challenges. and as mayors we have been at the forefront, whether we are giving out tests, making sure
people are getting vaccinated, getting masked, you name it. we've done it in the last two years. in the next -- and the next two years may even be the most important because we're also in charge of the comeback is what i like to say in d.c.. and that comeback has to be worthy of the 24-month sacrifice that we've made. and i know that we can do it we're going to work with the conference to make sure that the federal government is going to be right there with us. whether it's testing, saving public transit, transforming our downtowns, making more and better use of our public spaces. this is what will bring back america's cities and i know we can make it happen. welcome to washington, d.c., keep pushing, mayors, we can get this done. [applause] ♪ mayor suarez: true to form,
the minute i went backstage, there was an espresso from starbucks waiting for me. wherever you are, the former president, president fischer, put me in charge of -- for all the business councilmembers, thank you. now i'm pleased to call our new c.e.o. and executive director to the stage, tom cochran. that was a joke. [laughter] come on over here, tom. ♪ tom: i'm coming out to thank a very special person. she is the 79th president of the united states conference of mayors, nan whaley. [applause] i have served, i started here at the age of 12 and i served 54
presidents and and i think, you know, her political leadership and political skills surpasses most. she's got a heart as big as ohio and i hope they know that. my final thing to say is this. she's the best person i've ever known to get drunk with. [laughter] ladies and gentlemen, watch the video. ♪ >> joining us now, president of the u.s. conference of mayors, the mayor of dayton, ohio, nan whaley. mayor, it's great to have you on the show this morning. >> i will find you in your city and hunt you down and i'll come home to roost on that.
this is what we're made to do. they need to hear from us. they need to feel the heat. we just have to be ferocious about it and i'm into being ferocious on this i'm looking forward to having -- on this. i'm looking forward to the senate feeling the power of the u.s. mayors. >> mayors have had to face mas shootings. mayor whaly and mayor pedudo. why do mayors act and senators dismoant. >> we're in the streets. we know the family members. >> we see the blood. >> when i first became president of the u.s. conference of mayors the first thing we did was send a letter to the biden white house to say hey, these are a list of things we feel we can be in partnership to do more. less than a month later the president responded with ways we asked.
we're grateful for this partnership we're seeing. >> i think of how seattle mayor jimmy durkin took on the onslaught of covid and helped prepare the nation for its retail. i think of how mural bowzer stood up to rioters do rioters. she met the tear gas the next day to create black lives matter plaza. and i remember mayor flores who went on tv while he was fighting coronavirus to speak to the nation of its seriousness. nearly every night i turn on my tv or look at my social media and see a mayor being interstliend crisis of the day. and i must say we have given the nation the leadership it deserves. >> never has it been more important for us to pull
together. these have been trying times but i have never been prouder of how you, the nation's mayors, have step towpped face our shared channels head on. this is not the time for shrinking or shalllow leadership. instead, we must be bold. decisive. and truthful to the american public. we're not out of the woods yet, it's clear that vaccines are working. america is back open for business. and there are better days ahead. one big reason for that is the assistance directed thwart states and cities, an accomplishment i personally and this organization are quite proud of. america's mayors have have been and still are on the front thriefns pandemic. cities are bearing the brunt of efforts to keep people healthy and safe and the costs were significant. we needed washington to support us as we fought the virus on the ground and prepared to fight the long-term negative impacts of
covid. jess williams, who was mentioned here, the mayor of arlington, texas, andy were -- and i were tapped to reed the conference's efforts to secure fiscal assistance for the cities. a mid western democrat and southern republican, i think we made quite a pair. just today the conference of mayors sent a letter to congressional leadership. >> $65.1 billion. every city in this country gets a part of that $65.1 billion. we could not have done it without nan. and jeff williams. and so it was an honor to be part of that. i just want every to understand just how important she was in doing that. >> as you all know, lawmakers in washington have begun to debate
the next phase of a people's agenda. we used to joke we were in infrastructure week for an entire four years as mayors. a reinvestment like this, an investment in water, technology and communications is a priority for mayors. we have an opportunity before us to transform the backbone of this country. that's why i'm proud to say that today i, along with 369 bipartisan mayors, representing all 50 states, have sent a joint letter to the bipartisan congressional leadership expressing our support for the bipartisan infrastructure framework that recently came together in the senate and is supported by president biden. in closing, i want to acknowledge that so many of the challenges be us are not easily solved. but that's what being a mayor is
all about. running toward, not away from, problems. casting aside politics and partisanship to serve a higher calling. to support our residents, all of them, and our communities above all else. this spirit drives the u.s. conference of mayors. since i first joined this ofergnyization it has inspired me to seek out bold ideas and fight for them. i know my fellow mayors feel the same. i am honor to have had been elected to lead the conference and to have the friendship and support of those of you here today. let's show this country, especially those in washington, that big things are still possible. thank you. [applause] tom: ladies and gentlemen, the
one and only nan whaly. -- whaley. [applause] mayor whaley: you guys, you look beautiful in person. oh my gosh. i am so excited to be here with you all today. and there's nowhere i love being more than in a room full of mayors. let me start by thanking tom cochran for that wild and wonderful introduction. completely untrue. and video. but more importantly i want to thank tom for his friendship and
support during my first term as mayor of dayton and in my leadership of this organization. i want to thank all the staff of the conference of mayors who do great work every single day and all they did to help us realize a historic year of accomplishment. thank you all for your friendship and your cons tan support of every mayor in this room. you know who you are. and you make us all look as good as possible. mayor suarez, i know you'll do an amazing job leading this organization for the next 18 months and thank you for all you did for being vice president. being a mayor was the honor of my lifetime and one of the most fulfilling parts of that was working with other mayors, particularly with the united states conference of mayors. becoming involved in this organization is one of the best decisions i have ever made. usdm has allowed me to meet mayors all over the country to
learn from and lean on. you know, being a mayor can be lonely. the buck stops with you. as i always say, if you're the mayor, you don't have the luxury of say, that's not my problem. for better or for worse, this is a particularly you neeblg and challenging job that only a handful of people really, truly understand. one of the first things i did was attend the city's design in louisville, kentucky. i was hooked. i can honestly say many of my proudest accomplishments in dayton were hatched from that meeting. uskm also gave me an avenue to get involved in national advocacy. there's no democrat or republican way to fib a pothole and too often folks in this city forget that. the idea of mayors coming together across party lines to fight for what is best for
cities was so power. to me that we replicated it in ohio. i am very proud i co-founded the ohio mayors' alliance, a bipartisan grandpa of mayors from ohio's largest 30 cities. o.m.a. is the first of its kind and finally gives our state's cities a real voice at the state house. and i'd like the ohio mayors to please stand up because they're the most awesome. o-h! and all of you were also there for me in the toughest of times. this was especially true when the community faced a mass shooting. so many mayor, literally hundreds, reached out just to check in on me. just as powerfully, mayors from communities that had experienced similar tragedies reached out to offer advice and guidance.
i tried my best to pay that forward as other mayors have to face such tragedies. it is simply unacceptable that our national policy failures have allowed these maz shootings to continue with the burden placed on local communities. this organization rallied around the mayor of el paso and i after shootings in our city and put out a bipartisan call for gun legislation. when i became president of the conference one of the first things we did wassen a letter sign lid 7 mayors and tom cochran to push biden -- president biden, congratulating him and his administration on steps they were taking to address gun violence. the president listened and acted. president biden and attorney general garland announced steps that a.t.f. would take to hold rogue gun dealers accountable. and the justice department
launched five cross jurisdictional strike forces to help reduce gun violence by disrupting illegal firearms trafficking in key regions across this country as well as taking other key action. but clearly there is still so much more to be done. i have faith all of you will continue this work and honor those who have lost their lives to such senseless and preventable violence. please do not give up. what i appreciate about usdm, its staff, all of you, and the leadership, is that you have always given me the opportunity to develop my leadership and that is why it was such an honor to be chosen by other mayors to lead mayors. i'm so proud of what we accomplished while i was president of usdm, while our nation is more polarized than ever, republican, independent and democratic mayors came together to get thing doans for our communities and pass
legislation that will have historic impact. i do not need to tell this room that the covid-19 pandemic has been an absolute disaster for our cities. our residents were disproportionately impacted, businesses closed and local revenue plummeted. yet for a time, support for state and local governments was on the cutting block from covid relief packages. our community has born the brunt of that crisis but the aid needed became a political football. but your hard work paid off. even before i became president i was so honored to be asked to co-lead the effort to pass the american rescue plan. our weekly zooms and bipartisan lobbying got our communities the resources we need to weather the storm and come out stronger than before. i want to es paryblly thank my partner in that effort, former mayor jeff williams of
arlington, who organized 80 minors in texas to the support of arpa and i'd like you to welcome former mayor of arlington, jeff williams, to say a few words. please welcome him. [applause] mayor williams: this is a woman you want to serve with. she brings passion and enthusiasm and makes everyone want to serve. she was awesome throughout the many zoom calls and conferences we had in seeking direct funding for our cities. it was an honor to serve, needless to say, but nan you are awesome. let's give mayor nan whaley another hand. thank you. and tom cochran, did y'all know he's a bulldog. a georgia bulldog. and yes, his determination, his wisdom, experience and his
ability to work through whatever diversity that we had or adversity we had he made it happen. tom, you're a tremendous leader here for our conference and thank you for encouraging all of us. thank you, tom cochran. [applause] and then the u.s. conference of mayors staff. so many, dave gatten, dave burn they spent countless hours and used their skills to make this happen. this endeavor we expected would only last two or three month, not over a year. and then lastly, i need to thank each one of you because the mayors came together to make this happen. you worked hard. in fact, so many of our zoom conferences, you guys participated in. and we discussed the fact that it was more than just the physical health care that we were faced with. we had mental health issues we had to deal with. and then obviously the economic and financial needs of our
citizens that had to be addressed. one particular zoom call that stands out was with the mayors of indiana. they -- many of those cities had not recovered from the recession in 2009-2010. they were still suffering before the pandemic ever hit. and with it, it just added to the challenges. and they listed out so many. it was so difficult. and nan and i are just going whoa. that is pretty amazing the challenges they still faced. but here was what was inspiring. the mayors of indiana were not giving up. they had resolve, they knew that the answer was to get direct funding to our cities because mayors know where the needs are. this is how we can get to recovery. well, inspired all of us and in addition to that, each and every one of those zoom conferences that took place across the nation, more and more mayors came together, they reached out
to their elected officials. they made the difference. and then, yes, the mayors stood together as a strong front of the u.s. conference of mayors to make a difference. and our stature had risen and it resulted in a record amount of direct funding to cities. and this conference has been very uplifting because we have heard how those rescue funds are being put to use and the benefits that are happening. not spending, but investing and making a difference. and yes we have a huge responsibility ahead to continue to spend those because we need to show our nation that one of the best investments they can make is direct funding to our cities. well thank you, thank you to mayor nan whaley, tom cochran and especially thank you to each one of you mayors for stepping up and making a difference and because of us standing together and showing america how we can
work together, it is a great day in washington, d.c., isn't it? awesome. [applause] mayor whaley: when i came -- became uscm president, one of my priorities was protecting the $65.1 billion emergency fiscal assistance we got through arpasm together we prevented any clawback as was seriously on the table for some time in congress. we worked closely with the white house and treasury department to make sure the regulations met our local needs. but we didn't stop there. for decades, our nation has been failing our cities by failing to seriously invest in our infrastructure. our roads, our bridges, our
water systems, our public transit, our climate resilience, all suffered from national disinvestment. and once again, mayors get it done. and i say that sincerely. without the work of mayors, i'm not sure this bill would have passed. i was so, so proud to work with oklahoma city mayor david holt and all of you to get this historic bill across the finish line. mayor holt, where are you? i want to recognize first, you're the funniest mayor in this room but secondly you're the best to work with. please give mayor david holt a round of applause. [applause] because of your effort we have a once in a generation opportunity to invest in our communities. we can make our communities more
sustainable, more resilient and more just. not only is this action important on behalf of the american people but it's important evidence of what is possible with bipartisanship. mayors understand what it means to put partisanship aside, roll up our sleeves and get to work. because the work isn't done. our nation and our cities still face monumental channels. we cannot continue moving our country forward until we finally pass the voting rights legislation. [applause] in my final days as your president, we issued a bipartisan letter, a bipartisan letter to the senate urging passage of the essential voting rights protection laws. the john lewis voting rights advancement act and the freedom to vote act must be passed by the senate and must be signed into law. full stop.
[applause] as our letter stated, american democracy is stronger when all eligible voters participate in elections. yet voting rights are under historic attack and our very democracy is threatened by state actions. this cannot be allowed. and there's so much more to do to ensure our country and our cities fully recover from covid-19 and come back stronger than before. that is why it's vie tl to finally pass the build back better agenda and give every kid, every family, and every community the opportunity to thrive. now mayors, these challenges are daunting. but i can think of no better group of leaders to take them on. while i was your president it was only for six short months, i feel like we had a pretty good run together. historic investments in cities and the people who live and work in them. a president who listens and invites us to the white house,
who knew. all of us working together not just as democrats or republicans or independents, but as mayors. to help lead the nation and our cities through unprecedented times. from the bottom of my heart, i thank all of you for making all of these accomplishments possible. they're not mine. they are ours together. and more importantly, they are the american people's. those who have given us the privilege to serve them and lead them. let me end with this. in addition to being a place for policy and advocacy, and the sharing of ideas, this organization is truly a family. regardless what any of us go on to do after being mayor, i know that we will all look back on our time together and say that in good times and in bad, we had each other's back. you all will always be in my
heart and i know that you will continue to blaze a path forward that makes our great nation stronger and more equitable for all. thank you all. you are terrific. and you all are my heroes. thank you. [applause] i love you guys. [applause] you guys, i got a lot done that last week. as one of my last acts as president of the conference of mayors i made an executive decision to formally recognize someone who has dedicated his life to public service and worked tirelessly to protect our most vulnerable citizens. he fought for changes to our national law to provide us all with more tools to protect our citizens and the environment.
most of us are dedicated to improving our communities but the former mayor of lima, ohio, david berger, dedicated over 3 # years as mayor and another 12 years in community service. he fought for all of us by drawing national attention to a stubbornly difficult and sometimes boring topic, the impact that unfunded federal mandates had for our most economically vulnerable citizens. in 2009, the conference convened the e.p.a. and the 12 angry mayors in a pivotal meeting that forever changed the way the federal agency deals with cities. mayor berger tirelessly began educating congress and the administration about the unintended household financial burden of rising water utility bills on the least financially capable people in our society. a direct result of his efforts is the growing awareness of federal mandate injustices and
congress adopted a new amendment to the clean water act that provides mayors with the tool, a new tool, to called integrated planning that more accurately accounts for household financial impacts when they set permanent conditions. i want to personally thank mayor berger for working on this issue for over a decade and making a real difference for us all. i want to officially present mayor david berg we are the united states conference of mayors joseph p. riley jr. award for leadership and colonel for his outstanding leadership and tireless work in promoting economic justice to our most vulnerable citizens as well as protecting the nation's public health and water and wastewater needs. mayor dave berger, will you please come up and accept this award. [applause]
privileged to be part of the u.s. conference of mayors and the ohio mayors' alliance and the support that came from all of you, but i also had a partner who today shares with me the fact that it's our 42nd wedding anniversary. so, dear -- i think you're out there. [applause] i love you. thank you for all the support that you gave me through these years. finally, i just do want to thank tom cochran, the staff, judy, dr. rich anderson, everyone who makes this organization what it is. it's absolutely critical to not just our local communities but to our nation that this organization remains vital and focused because what's on the agenda today is nothing less
organization. miami is a very special place. the statue of liberty looks to europe. miami is the capital of latin america. miami looks to the west, miami looks to the east, to the south, and to the north. it is a great pri leng -- privilege to be there. a very emotional day. young andrew, the son of the mayor, give the pledge of allegiance. i think he's 9 years old. i told young andrew, i said, andrew, you run for mayor, you come here and i'll be back to give you the gavel. [laughter] the other thing that was very special was his father, xavier suarez, who was a mayor back in the 1980's and 1990's. so i thought about that. we've had a situation here where we've had father and son mayors.
we had -- in tempe we had the mitchells. in chicago we had the dalys. in new orleans we had the landrieus and morials. in jackson, mississippi, we have the lamumbas. now twhef suarezs. ladies and gentlemen, let's watch the video. thank you. [video clip] >> more americans aring afterred. >> fears of -- is this a harbinger of things to come. >> our strength is forged in our adversity. >> our city is number one in the nation in tech job migration.
we've reduced poverty by 50%. our primary duty is to inspire. to inspire each and every one of us to reach and to dream and to love and to be compassionate of others. to make sure that we stop focusing on the things that divide us. start focusing on the things that unite us. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, the 80th president of the united states conference of mayors, francis x. suarez from miami, florida. [applause] mayor suarez: we got the miami
cheering section in full effect. thank you so much. after that beautiful tribute that mayor berger gave to his wife, if i don't say something nice about any wife who is in the back i may sleep on the couch. what's impressive about this conference is there's never a time when you don't get good advice. the past presidents who are here, president benjamin, president fisher, president barnett, president kownts, of course. president kownts told my staff this morning, mr. mayoring you have to smile more when you're up there. they need to feel your personality. so -- and then a couple of weeks ago, tom said, mr. mayor you've got to talk slower. and i said, tom, it's hard. i'm so caffeinated, you know what i mean? if you hear me talking slow and smiling at the same time you'll know why. honored guests, fellow mayor, ladies and gentlemen. let me first thank the u.s. conference of mayors and my
brother and sister mayors for entrusted me with the presidency of this incredible organization. and the role of representing all of america's cities. the greek statesman pericles once said, all good things in this world flow to our cities because of their greatness. and we see in our cities across the country the future of american innovation, creativity, freedom, and greatness. let me also thank and welcome back all of you for your service to our nation and to one another. this greatness has also been especially apparent in the words and deeds, service and valor, of our mayors and first responders of the covid-19 pandemic. mayors have stood on the front line of american democracy. we have served our citizens in need.
assisted the afflicted. housed the dispossessed. supported the dislocated and comforted those in despair. it is great to see you. to hear you. and to connect with all of you. in person and personally. thank you. [applause] it is to -- it is in this, the ordinary actions of everyday life we have witnessed the extraordinary virtues of everyday americans. the past year has been a year of extraordinary, ordinary days. for me, december 4 of 2020 was a pretty normal day. i came home. i was exhausted. i think you can all relate with that. i laid down in my work clothes, didn't have the strength to take them off. and of course i pulled out my phone to distract myself. in my case, i opened up twitter.
and as i was checking my timeline i came across a tweet, a tweet that said, hey, guy, what if we move silicon valley to miami. as you saw a moment ago, i responded very innocently, how can i help? and that set off an extraordinary set of events. it was a very innocent tweet. it was simple and honest and an impulse i've had for my 12 years of public service. you see, many years ago, i realized that for any city to thrive, they have to have a growing tech ecosystem. today i have a 3-year-old. that every single day shows me how to take a selfie with her pacifier. so whether i like tech or not or regardless of what party i'm from, it's not a partisan issue. we all want the jobs and careers that give meaning to our lives
and value to our families. on that, we all agree. and as cities, we have a choice. whether we ignore the opportunities of tech and pretend they don't exist and let it leave us behind or embrace them, leif raj them for the gad of our people so that our tomorrows will be better than our yesterdays. i believe that by using technology we can economically empower a new generation that can earn, invest, and own the fruits of its own labor. even now, the debate over the role of crypto currency is an example. i can give you a little tutorial after, one-on-one. we believe crypto currency and the use of blockchain can open up the economy to individuals and groups that have historically been excluded by the free market and financial institutions.
this is why in consultation with vice president hillary sheevy and the u.s. conference of mayors and all you brother and sister mayors i will ask a america's mayors to join me to form a crypto compact for america that advances nonpartisan policies to continue the growth of an open and fair accessible and accountable crypto currency market that promotes innovation and innovators for a generation. [applause] you can tell how many have digital wallets. as mayors, we know the power of telling our story. each of us tells the story of our cities in a unique and beautiful way. and so last december, after the so-called tweet heard around the world, i did something very atypical for myself as a public
official. i tweeted about everything. about 800 times alone in the month of december. i even tweeted in the middle of the night with elon musk. by the way, it was an awesome conversation with my wife when i woke up. so i shared the story of our transformation through over 200cafec tirvetion o tech talks. a cuban version of a podcast. we have helped our city create a template for success that transcended a moment and is now part of a larger american tech movement. in just december, my tweets connected with a portal of positivity that garnered over 29 million impressions. that's one in every 10 americans. simply put, in this new world, if we can work anywhere, you want to live somewhere where taxes are low, quality of life is high, and your community
respects you. and the k.p.i.'s are there to prove it. american cities are leading the way on national recovery and on this tech expansion. in miami, we've created thousands of steady jobs and high-paying careers and having unemployment rate of 3.7%. which is almost an entire point better than the rest of the state of florida. our cities are the tech center of the new american innovation revolution. and mayors must lead the way. we believe this is the start of something america has never seen until now. if the 20th century was our industrial revolution, the 21st semplegry will celebrate the american technological revolution that will attract and integrate more individuals, more capital, and more innovative ideas. particularly from communities
and areas that push innovators out. to seize this opportunity i am offering an agenda for america called america forever. this is an agenda that is broad. inclusive. and rooted in freedom for all. it is based on investing in public safety. embracing new technology. expanding our hard and soft infrastructure. and ensuring that our nation remains economically and environmentally resilient. thank you again, mayor berger, for your work on that committee. it is an agenda that realizes that an american that lasts forever must work for everyone. everywhere. it welcomes every american from every party, every region, every city, and every state. and it offers a vision for an american where everyone can and should succeed. we know that for everyone to
succeed, education must be the great equalizer. it unlocks hidden potential. it drives inknow vailings. it ensures success. we must be open to all types of schools that teach all types of learners from the academic to the technical. we must welcome the full spectrum of good schools for parents and we must place our children at the center of any education policy. and i want to take a minute to recognize mayor lori lightfoot, i know you're there somewhere, mayor. i told you i was going to call you out, for standing up for chicago's kids and patients -- parents last week and insisting the best place for children to be educated is in the classroom. we stand with you. [applause] as mayor we need to support each other. our kids come first. before politics or party.
to truly create a land of opportunity for all we need to create more schools that are targeted to teach children to succeed in an ever more disruptive world. as mayors, we know that a big part of our future is billing out hard and soft infrastructure. whether you build back better or build forward, we all need to build more. we need to build new clie montana adaptive infrastructure that lasts forever and helps everyone. from transportation to housing, we need to build for those who have been left behind. and our country is measured by how we take care of the least, the last, and the lost. for example, in miami we launched a functional zero plan on homelessness. because we whreve that everyone is worthy of living a dignified life that is not on our streets. we currently have 510 homeless
and have allocated the funds through arpa to get to zero. this is a cham that i invite all cities in america to embark upon. one that must be tackled with the help of the federal and state governments and also by having solutions among each other and in the conference of mayors. as mayors, we also know that growing the size of government and increasing deficits creates a vicious cycle of excessive taxation and fleeing residents. every democrat and every republican will agree. that fiscal sanity is the basis for shared growth, shared opportunity, and shared prosperity. and it's based on a simple concept, arithmetic. whether you are a reagan republican or a clinton democrat, we all agree that we need to tackle inflation before it tackles us. inflation is a tax on senior
citizens, young people, working people, and poor people. for poor people and young people, inflation wipes out hard-earned savings. for seniors on a fixed income, inflation makes it harder to pay for food, med case and rent. as mayor we see it firsthand and we need to lobby our federal government to stop it. any thriving city is based on a growing economy and every growing economy is based on having a safe city. public safety is the foundation of our quality of life. american cities must be safe and secure for all who live in them. no exceptions, no excuses. it is a commitment to safety and security that has defined our country and set us apart from the world. as mayors we owe it to our
residents to increase, not decrease, funding for our police because being a police officer is the hardest job in america today. plus applause never has a profession been asked to do so much for so little pay with so much scrutiny. we have to work together to get crime and homicide rates down across america, just as we did this past year in miami. to support the mission of public safety we must invest in the guardians of public safety, our police. the last two years have been a long and challenging journey. but one final lesson we've all learned as mayors is that our stories is america's story. our country is a vast city of newcomers and natives, an imperfect people building a more
perfect union. we are a nation that remains true to its heritage but renews and reinvents itself every sickle day. we're a nation that's strong and resilient. that defies elitist opinions and surprises outsider assumptions. we come in all colors but we are bound by a common identity and values and what we have done for our cities, can and will be done across our country. you know, mayor steve benjamin and tom cochran often remind me that the future of america is found in our cities. they account for 85% of our population. and 91% of our economy. and if we get our cities right, we get our country right. and by god's grace and our own hard work we can make america a nation of cities that last forever and works for everyone. thank you and god bless each and
>> all right. so if i can have everyone's attention. as i just mentioned in our inaugural address, one of the key priorities in my teen injure as president is addressing the critical issue of climate change mitigation and resiliency. we're all aware of the tremendous channels before us. we need to redaws our carbon footprint drastically and quickly while simultaneously planning for the climate impacts we are already beginning to face. as mayors we can implement a lot of substantive changes but we need an all hands on deck a i proach if we have any hope of solving these issues. that's why i'm pleased to announce that the drches of mayors and wells fargo have embarked on a new partnership to focus on identifying the
financial and policy barriers to decarbonization and climate resiliency as identified solutions and best practices. wells fargo has been a longtime supporter of the conference of mayors as both a business councilmember and a sponsor of our community win initiatives. here to talk more about our new initiative and other opportunities for the public and private sector to work together i'm pleased that we are injined by our longtime friend bill daley. bill: thank you.
francis: let's go straight to the questions. how do you envision wells fargo working across the country to address climate change? bill: first, let me thank you for giving us 59 wells fargo a chance to focus on climate change. climate change is one of the most important issues we face. you can't do it aand the private sector can't do it alone. the grant of the conference and the program we hope to develop with the conference is to work with you, work with the private sector in your communities as you try to figure out how to build resiliency because of the issues that are coming to your cities. and so, we think it's a collaborative effort with the conference and the individual mayors. and we're excited about it. it's another collaboration we've done with the conference on top of some other really successful ones.
francis: wells fargo recently lost a $50 million clean tech initiative. tell us about that and how it impacts cities in america. bill: we can't solve this problem without new technologies. we've created this $50 million grant to help incubators across the country work with high tech companies, work with companies that are new to scale up to get to market solutions to some of the problems that seem to be insurmountable right now. but without the new technology, i know each of you in your cities work with startups and companies that are addressing the unique problems of your cities, but those that are working on climate technologies to help us solve this problem are vital if we're going to succeed. we made commitments to be net
zero by 2050 in our financing. nobody, quite frankly, has a sense of how to do that today without real technology improvements. so investing in the technology through our incubator program will be vital, in our opinion, and i would encourage you as we go around the country looking for high tech companies and startups to help solve these problems to engage with us on this program. francis: we all know the impact of climate change often falls disproportionately on low-income, and black and indigenous people of color communities and amplifies our existing economic challenges. how is wells fargo addressing the issue of climate justice? bill: it's a serious issue. we're trying to do it starting with some of our grants from our philanthropic giving and working with organizations. 40% of our grants last year in the climate area went toking or
neizations focused on how to work with community groups and people in community that was been severely affected by climate and they're mostly in a social justice kay communities of color that have been disproportionately negatively a.f.c.ked by climate change. as you build your efforts to -- in resiliency against this surge, whether it's the coastal -- seacoast rising, wildfires, the communities of color, we're engaging with those communities to work with organizations to ask how do you want to solve this? and then work with the city, quite frankly, to make sure as you put your programs together, as you think of things that will address these issues, you're sensitive to the social injustice that has occurred by virtue of climate change over the last number of years. francis: wells fargo recently announced a goal of net zero.
miami did it this year in earth day this past year during earth day. we also joined c-40. tell us what drove that decision to be a leader and how you're going to achieve this goal? this is obviously an ambitious goal. bill: it is an ambitious goal but unless you set a goal and you have a north star to go after if you don't do that you'll never get anywhere near it. so we set this goal. our c.o., charlie sharp is committed to it. it's an enterprise-wide effort. we also committed that between now and 2030, eight year, we will invest $500 billion in investments into the climate change area and for climate friendly investment. so it's an enterprise-wide effort. we're taking a lack at our branches. how to make them friendlier to climate and working with our entire organization. obviously when you look at the
impact of these, whether it's the wild it is fires, whether it's the hurricanes, the economic impact in community, the economic impact for our customers, is enormous and the risk to financial institutions and their balance sheet, quite frankly, other the next number of years, is enormous. we've got to address it. got to set a goal in order to make progress. we're excited about it. but this transition will be difficult. and you have to work with the private sector. we have to work with you and with other government agencies to make this transition. and the private sector, not just the big companies, the real challenge will be with the small and medium-sized companies who don't have resources like we do to address this. so as you put your plans together to address climate, really consider how do you engage small or medium-sized businesses to make them aware that they need to change?
francis: you sort of alluded to this in the last question but a big bank, not different from a big state. you're a big organization but you also have a ton more customers, people you influence, that you affect. through your own policies, through your own objectives. how do you advocate for policy you think will help your customers get to where you want to get to as an organization? bill: we tried to advocate -- for example the infrastructure bill, we waited on behalf of some of the efforts on that bill that discuss climate and the difficult yous you're having. i think that's where we're weighing in. obviously there's lots of issues we all weigh in on here in washington that seems at times not to be addressed. in any adequate way. but me the mayors seem to find a way around that. that's why they're so important to us and to our communities that we do business in.
francis: we know not all businesses are created equal in terms of size. large businesses have a huge advantage in terms of scale. to be able to deal with these problems much more so than maybe smaller businesses. what role do you see wells fargo having to address concerns and discrepancies and capability? bill: we're working with small business customers and middle sized businesses who really, when you look at what drives the economy of america it's the small and medium-sized businesses. our bankers are out there talking about not only our commitments and changes that have to be made as we go forward but how -- and work with them and bring resources to them so that they better understand what they need to do in their businesses. and i think there's a receptivity but it is -- this is a marathon, not a sprint. we've got to look at it that way. francis: no doubt about it, that's why some of these goals are so far out there.
what would you want mayors to take away in terms of how to work with your organization to work toward a low-carbon future? bill: it's a question most mayors understand better than most businesses. the private sector has to work with you and you have to work with them to make this work. there's no way you can put together a real efficient resiliency plan for your city without the private sector weighing in on that and helping you and you helping them make this transition. you could be the leaders, we at wells fargo in those communities where we do business want to be part of that. i think our program with the conference will help that. and our incubator program around the country to try to encourage technology companies to address some of the really fundamentally difficult problems with trying to make this transition to a different carbon-free economy. so i would just encourage you to take the lead but get that private sector in your
communities to understand it, accept it and lead with you. francis: will listen, you've been chief of staff for a president, we have to listen to you. blip more importantly i'm a son of a mayor. francis: that's right. well said. thank you for this robust discussion. we all know that we are in it together. you know, this is a challenge that has to be sort of all hands on deck. private sector working with the public sector. certainly banking and finance and the customer service and innovation that your organization provides is going to be pivotal. in helping us achieve some of these long-standing difficult goals to meet which as you said will be challenging for different communities, will be challenging for different-sized cities and different-sized organizations. if you have any parting thoughts for us? bill: i just look forward to -- we look forward at wells fargo, we appreciate the relationship we have with the conference as i mentioned but also many of the cities represented here.
i see mayor turner and so many others that are important partners of ours. and we appreciate the business we do with you. we appreciate the leadership that you give this country and help us and the comups we try to do business. in. francis: thank you so much. thank you for understanding us. thank you for this discussion. bill: thanks a lot. thank you. [applause]