tv Sens. Cory Booker Jeff Merkley Others Address the U.S. Conference of... CSPAN January 25, 2019 1:52am-2:51am EST
her own car. she has her own health care plan and 401k, and she recently earned a job offer to move and work in switzerland. who today don't have opportunities like isabel's, to rethink education, to aim as high as students to, and to be bold for their future and hours. so let -- and ours. so let's keep students, all students, at the center of every conversation and everything we do. thank you for everything you do to serve your communities. thanks very much. [applause]
>> good afternoon, mayors. it is a great privilege to introduce to you, senator jeff merkley, known for enforcing tough questions, highlighting the plight of separating families at the border, and while we have a joint watching his national leadership, i want you to know he hasn't lost track of his local communities, as well. a couple months ago, senator mercury's staffk merkley's staff called our office expressing the senator's key zir desire to visit gresham. the senator wanted to come to gresham and personally tour our waste water treatment plant. well now, in fairness, our treatment plant's pretty cool, previously the city of gresham's largest energy consumer. it is now one of the nation's first net zero waste water
treatment plants. and so the senator came for his visit, asking many detailed questions to our plant manager. so many detailed questions that they tried to ask him if he had consulting -- could get him on a consulting contract. he's not lost faith of where local government is. he knows what mayors are up against. he has been a strong supporter for my office and the fellow mayors of this great state of oregon. and he does such a great job for oregon. ladies and gentlemen, senator jeff merkley. [applause] sen. merkley: thank you so much, mayor. it's a pleasure to be here with you all. and with not only shane bemis from gresham, also ted wheeler from portland, and jason snyder from tigard, steve callaway from hillsboro, and any doyle from beaverton. so thank you to the oregon mayors for making it all the way across the country. [applause]
merkley: now, mayor bemis was talking about a pretty big accomplishment, taking the biggest energy hog in gresham and turning it into a net positive energy by generating energy from what they call f.o.g., fats, oils, and grease, which is also a bit of a euphemism for sewage. but you all didn't even give him applause for that big accomplishment, so how about a little appreciation to gresham setting that great example? [applause] sen. merkley: climate chaos is effecting people all over the world, certainly in our states and in our cities. back home in oregon, we see our fishermen affected by warmer, smaller streams, and warmer, more acidic oceans. our farmers affected by droughts. we see our forests and our logging industry affected by the forest fires. but we see the cities very much affected. you know, portland, from some of
the smoke this last year, on some days was the fourth most polluted air, i'm told, in the world. and san francisco, on certain days, was worse than beijing. so the smoke from those fires is having a big, big impact. and we see different impacts all across america. in new hampshire, we see warmer winters, meaning more ticks, meaning a lot more lyme disease. in florida, we see the red tide that's gone 10 months out of 12 on the gulf side. in fact, when i was down there, people were not only complaining about the toxins on their lungs but also the stench from the dying sea life. we're talking about taking inland vacations. throughout the southeast, the impact of the hurricanes, from idaho on through california, horrific forest fires and of course the enormous tragedy of the entire town of paradise being obliterated this last summer. all of this, these facts on the ground, we're not talking computer models somewhere into the future. we're talking facts on the ground right now. and all of this is reinforced by
the u.n. climate report and the fourth national climate assessment that came out a few weeks ago from the trump administration. and i know you as mayors see the impact in so many other ways , including saltwater intrusion and drained aquifers and floods . and the list goes on and on. which is why i'm so glad that as mayors, you're taking a stand across america. lobbying during the recovery act for the energy efficiency and conservation block grant program. how about if we lobby now and get that into the 2020 spending bills at the end of this year? [applause] sen. merkley: you're adopting a variety of clean air policies aiming for 100% and you've spoken out, 400 mayors or so , speaking out about being still in for the international paris agreement. thank you to the still-in mayors across america. [applause] sen. merkley: and then there's all these different projects
that you're experimenting with and providing an example to other cities. the example from gresham with their wastewater treatment. from glenreensburg, kansas, with l.e.d. street lights. plano, texas encouraging a switch to renewables. evanston, illinois, community choice electricity aggregation enabling residences and small businesses to utilize renewable energy. atlanta, georgia, ensuring all of their large properties have to be l.e.a.d. certifyied repeatedly every 10 years. and portland, oregon, with mayor ted wheeler. mayor, where are you? somewhere in here. not seeing him. but the team from portland, we did an initiative in oregon, the clean energy community benefits initiative. and so this was the people of the city speaking up and saying,
hey, what if we put a fee on our very largest retailers, a 1% fee, and that 1% fee would proceed to go -- and this is on their sales -- would proceed to go to a whole variety of energy-saving, energy-efficiency, social economic justices projects within the city? and so when you saw initiatives fail all across the country, this one passed 65%-35%. an enormous victory as we take on climate chaos. so, you all deserve a federal partner. you deserve one, but you don't have one. we need partnership at the federal level on modest sized projects, such as those energy efficiency block grants. renewable energy tax credits. a city energy savings program to go with the rural energy savings program. how about zero-interest loans that would cover the difference in the cost between a diesel bus
and an electric bus? and be paid back with the savings in maintenance and fuel? how about maintaining the electric car tax credits that are expiring this year for three of our major brands made in america? and how about big visions like keeping the ground, keeping the ground is a bill i introduced in 2016 that said our citizen-owned fossil fuel should no longer be leased out to be extracted and burned. if we're going to work in partnership with the rest of the world to take on climate chaos, we can't still be selling what we own as fossil fuels. or how about another big vision? in 2017, i introduced 100% by 50%. -- 100% by 2050. 100% clean and renewable energy by the year 2050. this laid out a vision and roadmap for every energy sector of our economy.
it included a just transition for fossil fuel workers. underserved, minority, innercity communities. it proceeded to lay out that vision in detail so that we could start to wrestle with implementing such a roadmap. well that vision, the principles to that vision, are being represented now by another name . and that is a green new deal. i encourage you to think about the principles that are in that and to help drive the strategy of utilizing renewable energy and driving this transition to 100%. now, we are in the place where so much has happened over our generation. in a single generation, we've increased carbon in our atmosphere by 30%. from the time i was born until i'm standing here on this stage before you. in a single generation, we have decimated a large share of the
world's forests. the lungs of our planet. in a single generation, we have seen a fivefold increase in the rate of carbon pollution going from about half a point per year to about 2 1/2 points per million -- parts per million in a single year. so, as much as we think we're so, as much as we think we're taking on this challenge, the problem is actually getting worse with every decade. we're accelerating our carbon pollution. we're not decelerating and eliminating, which means we as human civilization have a lot of work to do very, very quickly. the feedback loops are scary. there was a picture a couple weeks ago of a lake in alaska that was boiling. and you might initially think, well that's a hotspring. but it wasn't a hot spring. it was cold water. cold water boiling with fine methane from underneath the lake coming up at such a rapid rate, it was a rolling boil.
methane methane, as we all know, pound for pound, or space for space, far more damaging to our climate than carbon dioxide. over a 20-year period, 80-plus times, 84 times more damaging. franklin roosevelt said these are unprecedented and unusual times in which we must resolve to resume the country's march along the path of real progress, of real justice, of real equality. it was a time, he said, for a new deal for the american people. well, these are unprecedented and unusual times. we see devastation of rural assets with forests and farming and fishing, but we see enormous costs being imposed on our urban centers that you all work to represent and improve.
so it's a time where we all have to come together. forget democrat and republican or east coast and west coast or rural or urban. this is a challenge unlike any human civilization has faced on this planet. so we can take it on at the federal level, but not right now. responsibility has shifted to the local level. to our cities. and as city leaders, so many of you have signed up for the vision, the vision of 100% renewable energy and putting out an action plan to take the first steps in that direction. if you haven't signed up for that vision yet, please consider doing so. sierra club is working with cities all over the nation. more than 90 cities have now signed up to that effort. consider doing that. consider working with your colleges, with your places of worship, and with your companies to develop a 100% resolution and
an action plan. some 75 or so fortune 500 companies have laid out a 100% vision and an action plan for their companies. so this is something that can involve all of us at every level. in fact, it must involve all of us at every level working together in this fight to save our beautiful blue-green planet for this generation and all the generations to come. thank you so much. >> [applause] >> i want to thank senator merkley for being with us here today. when our next speaker took office five years ago, new york bill de blasio made
pre-k for every child a reality in the nation's largest city. mayors all across the country followed suit. in the years since, new york has been at the forefront of the affordable housing, worker protections, and mental health. this year, mayor de blasio came out of the gate with more big ideas that he's going to share with us here today. so please join me in welcoming uscm trustee and the mayor of new york city, the big apple, bill de blasio. >> [applause] mayor de blasio: thank you so much, steve. steve, i have to tell you, you have been providing tremendous leadership for this organization. i want to thank everyone. give steve a round of applause. >> [applause] mayor de blasio: now, i have to tell you, i had the joy of being in columbia, south carolina, with steve benjamin back during the leadership meeting back in september. and i want to tell you, everyone, you do not know what love really is, what true love really is, until you spend time
walking around columbia, south carolina, with steve benjamin, because he loves his city and his city loves him back. and it's a beautiful thing to see, but i have to tell you, i look back fondly to september because it feels like a long, long time ago. i don't think any of us imagined that when we gathered here, we would be in the midst of the longest government shutdown in united states history. and i have to tell you something, as a mayor, in my city, i've led my city through all sorts of challenges. through terrorist attacks, through the ebola crisis, the worst blizzard in our history, and every time i knew it was my job to reassure people to tell the people of my city it was going to be ok.
last week was the first time in over five years i have been mayor that i could not face the cameras and give the people of my city that reassurance. my team just finished running the numbers on how hard this shutdown is going to hit our city. what it's going to do to everyday new yorkers. in our city alone, people, everyday people are are going to lose half a billion dollars every month in direct support. things that make it possible to make ends meet. half a billion dollars every month. 2 million people i represent. people who are struggling to get by with will lose food stamps, money, theyt rent
will lose school lunches. no matter what we do, no matter how hard we try, no matter how deep we dig, there's no way the city of new york can possibly plug a gap that wide. i know that every mayor in this room is in the same impossible situation. and we know we can't make people whole when our federal government fails us. that makes me angry. it makes me angry because we spend our days trying to keep our streets safe, we spend our days trying to fix our schools. we try and make up for federal government that won't invest in housing or roads or transit. we somehow, everyone in this room, somehow we balance our budgets and we save for a rainy day, and then we get handed this shutdown. and it is a man-made crisis, a crisis created in the oval
office that threatens everything all of us have worked so hard to accomplish. it didn't have to be this way. and our cities deserve better than this. and working americans deserve better than this. >> [applause] i want tolasio: applaud everyone in this room for stepping up in the middle of this crisis, and a particular thank you to washington mayor muriel bouser, who has been so strong making sure people got the food they need in the midst of this crisis. >> [applause] mayor de blasio: the stories we are reading, the things we are seeing from our own people, this is what this shutdown is doing. a lot of you may have heard the story of the grandmother trying to eke out $50 a day driving an uber so she can pay for groceries and pay for diapers for her granddaughter.
on the news this morning, a middle-aged man who spent 20 years in public service who now worries he's about to lose his home to foreclosure. or the diabetic down to her last of insulin rationing what's left. she's summed up the situation's cost, the human cost in one heartbreaking sentence. she said, i just went to bed and i hoped i'd wake up. that's what's happening in this country. this is a moment of acute crisis. and it has laid bare something that has been broken for a long, long time. for many of the families that we serve every day, people who work so hard, the reality is that
missing a single paycheck has brought them to their knees. that is the perilous insecurity in which working people have lived in this country for years and all across this country, working people haven't been paid what they deserve, they are not living the lives they deserve. there are millions of people in my city and tens of millions all over this country who are boxed into lives that just aren't working for them and their families. and we know this. we see it with our own eyes. no matter how hard they try. no matter how long the hours they work, their budgets overwhelmed them, their schedules, the stress in their lives, it's become too much. and we all understand it. we all feel it. the constant pressure undermining the quality of our lives. i know you can relate to this.
go and ask the people you represent these simple questions. are you spending enough time with your family? do you have time for yourself? do you see your life getting better this year or are you just hanging on? whether your city is big or small, whether it's urban or rural, east or west, the answers are going to be the same. we know the root of the problem. for decades, working people have gotten more and more productive. they have worked longer and longer hours and then at same time, they have gotten less and less of the wealth that they create. and the sad truth is it's no accident. it's an agenda. an agenda that has dominated our
country from reaganomics to trump's tax give away to the corporations and the wealthy. an agenda that spreads a conventional wisdom about all the things we can't do, that the richest nation in the world can't afford health care for all its people. that we can't afford to invest in public transit and infrastructure. that we can't can afford to give our kids early childhood education or free college tuition. that we have no choice but to watch this planet burn up slowly but surely. and somehow we can't afford to save it. that's the conventional wisdom. here's what i had to say to that conventional wisdom. we actually do have the money to solve these problems. and i know where the money is. this country has spent decades
taking from working people and concentrating the wealth in the hands of the 1%. that's where the money is. washington told working people not to worry, all that money will trickle down and find its way to them. it never did. it's time for this country to recognize there's plenty of money in the world. there's plenty of money in this nation. it's just in the wrong hands. the 1% may have gamed the system all these years, but it doesn't have to be that way. and right now, cities big and small are showing this whole nation the kind of country we can have when we do things the other way around. under mayor carter, st. paul just became the latest city to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. >> [applause] inor de blasio: philadelphia, mayor jim kenney required businesses to implement
a fair workweek so people could have time with their families and their children. >> [applause] mayor de blasio: charlotte mayor, dayton mayor, san antonio mayor, they are all investing big in universal pre-k, every child getting a strong early start. >> [applause] mayor de blasio: in seattle, the mayor just signed a bill called the domestic workers bill of rights, helping those hard working people. >> [applause] mayor de blasio: and earlier this month, i announced that new york city will guarantee health care for all our people. guarantee. >> [applause] mayor de blasio: no matter your income, no matter where you were born, in the nation's largest city, you will get the health care you need. it is a guarantee. when people know once and for all it's guaranteed, they will actually go to the doctor. they won't end up in the
emergency room as a last resort when you know you can go to a primary care doctor when you have the name and address of your doctor. people will get healthy. families will get healthy. we all become stronger when everyone gets to be healthy. that's not all. we also recognize that people needed something else. they needed to get some more time back, because we're all living such busy, such rushed lives and we need time for ourselves and our families. so this year, new york city will become the first city in the nation to mandate two weeks of paid personal time for all working people. >> [applause] mayor de blasio: it's time we give working people back some of the wealth and prosperity they have created with their hard-earned time, their labor has made such a difference. they need to benefit from it.
and we all deserve to be there for our families, for the people we love, but also to take care of ourselves. we deserve a life that's not just running from one thing to another. we deserve some happiness in our lives. >> [applause] mayor de blasio: if you think about it, that's what government should be all about. it's in our founding document. the pursuit of happiness. well, in one way that's what we all apply ourselves to. helping people to live better. giving parents more time to enjoy their kids and teach them, nurture them. giving health care to everyone means that people not only live better, but they have some time because they are not in that emergency room hour after hour. they are not hospitalized when they don't have to be. giving workers a bigger part of the paycheck they already earned gives them the time and the the
freedom to live a better life. don't let anyone tell you this is impossible. don't let them tell you it's too costly. in cities across the country, we are burying the conventional wisdom. we're showing that things can be done in a better way. you see it across the country. there's a new agenda and you see it all over this country. it's the agenda that favors working people and lifts them up. you can see it in city halls from birmingham to boulder, colorado, new orleans to new york, we are showing we can do the things that we were told for so long were impossible. we can put working people first. we can give them a fair share of the wealth that they create. cities are showing the way and, my friends, when cities lead, the rest of the country follows. it make it is a better country for everyone. thank you. keep up the good work, everyone. god bless you all. >> [applause]
>> thank you mayor de blasio. i will call back to the stage on thehane bemis progress he has made in the youth involvement initiative. >> [applause] mayor bemis: thank you to you and to tom cochran for carving out some space for this distinguished conference to consider our future by engaging our youth. i'm very pleased to report on the progress of the youth involvement task force. during our annual meeting in boston, we launched the youth involvement task force with helping mayors engage directly with youth in their cities. we heard from young leaders like david hogg and alfonzo of parkland. we heard from a tenacious young woman who is partnering with mayor walsh and leading efforts within the boston youth council. we heard from 15 youth from around the world who are working
with their local leaders to address some of the most important issues of the day. after boston, we knew that we had a lot of work to do and we knew we had a lot to learn. we launched a best practice survey to hear about what mayors are doing to involve youth in policymaking, leadership development, internship programs and voter registration. we found mayors are doing some great work in each of these areas. 54 cities participated in the survey. 80% of the cities surveyed had an active youth council that engaged in policy. 89% had a program that helped youth learn leadership and professional skills. also 89% had a thriving internship for programs for youth. perhaps the single most important thing any mayor can do for the future. and 54% of the cities surveyed engaged in voter registration opportunities. we took what we found in the survey and we created a best
practice report so mayors could learn from those going above and beyond in these areas. per reports in front of you -- i encourage everyone to take a look at it. over the summer, we wanted to help move the needle on voter registration so we worked with david hogg and the students from marjory stoneman douglas to energize mayors around registering voters. mayors hosted events, visited schools and participated in get out the vote campaigns to ensure all residents could go to the polls. more than 200 mayors, democrats, republicans and independents participated in this effort. saw during the midterms, a record number of youth showed up to make their voices heard. i want to thank all of the mayors who joined in mayors for our lives to help make it possible. we have a lot of great work ahead of us. i highly encourage all mayors to join the task force so all young people in our cities have a seat at the table and a chance to realize their potential as future leaders.
with that, i would like to introduce one of those young leaders who is making an impact in so many ways. he turned his worst day, a horrible tragedy at his school, into a powerful national movement. ladies and gentlemen, mr. david hogg. >> [applause] mr. hogg: thank you. i want to start off just to talk about the shutdown a little bit. i promise i won't go on too long. but as a child that comes from a teacher and former retired fbi agent, i know what it's like to
go through a shutdown. as a child, i grew up in a household in los angeles and oftentimes we would struggle to make ends meet because housing is expensive in california. housing is expensive in southern california where i lived before i moved to florida when the fbi transferred my father. i spent a couple minutes volunteering at jose's restaurant on pennsylvania avenue to help feed federal workers. >> [applause] mr. hogg: what i think a lot of people don't realize about this shutdown is these are not just 800,000 people. these are 800,000 families. i worked with people to feed a family of 11 because the father didn't have enough money to pay for groceries. that's not the america we should have right now. it is 2019, and this is one of the most bipartisan groups of government leaders in america
and some of the future federal leaders of america. one thing i would encourage each of you to do is continue your bipartisanship with the understanding when you shutdown a government, it's not just a political stunt. you are actively upsetting families. you are actively making children question where their next meal is going to come from. you are sacrificing over one million people's housing because many people face the risk of eviction because their rent is not being subsidized by the federal government. primarily in zip codes often affected by gun violence that politicians do not want to talk about, because they don't see them as politically important. what we have to do across america is come together not just as americans, but as human beings with the understanding that no matter where gun violence is occurring, no matter how many people are killed in an instant of gun violence. and you are mayor
one of the many that get a text message when somebody is killed in your city as a result of preventable gun violence, you need to care about that person no matter whether it's one person that's shot or whether it's 17 like it was at my high school. ending gun violence in one zip code is not ending gun violence. ending gun violence in every zip code for every person, no matter what they look like, where they come from is what ending gun violence has to look like. >> [applause] as i'm sure many of you have future plans for congress and the federal government, i hope you continue to realize you as a political leader cannot face -- base the validity of violence or suffering based off their zip code, the sexual orientation that they have or the number of figures in their bank account, because in america we treat everybody equal because they are all human beings. >> [applause] on from that,ng it's time to look to what kind of america we wish to create.
the america i like to create is an america with two things. one, an america that represents what it say it is does on paper. and one where gun violence doesn't occur anymore. one of the best ways of doing that is getting the people most at risk for gun violence involved in their local government, to give them hope, to give them representation from their community from a young person. the reason why youth voter turnout is so low across the country is because of two reasons. first off, we don't see people that look like us running for office. whether that be our age or the color of our skin, often times from the thousands of young people that i worked with across the country, we want to see change. we want to create change in this country that needs it. where the young are so oppressed, where -- i will remind you again -- 800,000 families don't know where their next meal is going to come from. many of them have over two children. that is 1.6 million children that don't know how they are going to be fed.
that is over 1.6 million moms and dads that don't know where their next meal is going to come from. the best thing we can do is what we started to do over the past year since the shooting at my high school. thanks to the work of mayor eric garcetti and mayor de blasio, we have formed what is known as mayors for our lives, the convening of 200 mayors to create youth voter registration drives in their cities. because of work like theirs in the crowd that i hope will join in the future, in florida this year the numbers just cannot and we nearly doubled the voting turnout for 18 to 29-year-olds. >> [applause] mayors, as leaders, i hope that you recognize that a young person speaking out, don't say that a young person speaking out is not what this country needs. that's far from the truth. don't write them off as being too naive to create change. a young person speaking out and other people from previous generations saying they don't
know what they are talking about is not an excuse not to be politically involved. that's an excuse to fund their education. >> [applause] young people, just like every other demographic, need representation within local government. the best way to get young people involved in your local is to stop writing them off. stop writing off whatever they are talking about is complaining because they are a young person. any person that's talking about an issue that affects them is not complaining. they are talking about an issue that they don't want the next generation to face. it is our responsibility as people that live in america for the next generation to make sure that the next generation has a better and brighter future than the current one. the only way we do that is by fighting for voter registration in our cities. the only way by doing that is making sure that everybody in america, no matter where they come from, no matter whether or not they have the proper identification, is able to go out and vote. >> [applause]
mayors, i everyone of you if you don't already to follow cities like boston in creating a youth council where people can speak their voice, or in los angeles where there's a youth task force to talk about knowiolence, because we that the primary groups affected by gun violence have to be the ones to talk about it. and lastly, i hope you understand that approaching gun violence and stopping gun violence is not just stopping mass shootings. stopping gun violence is stopping every shooting. >> [applause] one of the best ways of doing that is funding violence intervention programs. that don't overincarcerate them and feel more isolated from their own community. use people that have been on similar life tracks of the at-risk youth in your communities to talk to them and stop them from being incarcerated and work with them to stop gun violence. one of the number one predictors
of somebody shooting someone else within cities is being shot before. if we don't have people to respond at our hospitals, they have been able to take that community from 17 murders in one year to one murder in 17 years with only a couple million dollars. not only is that morally responsible, that's fiscally responsible. it costs states billions of dollars a year to treat preventable gun violence that never should have occurred in the first place. take a long hard look at your city and realize that the youth do want to be involved. the only thing preventing them is other people not listening. so go out there and listen. go out there and fight for your youth. because the second we fight for the young men of today and the young women of today is when we create the better politicians of tomorrow that don't shut down the government and starve families. thank you. >> [applause]
>> we are so excited about david and his young colleagues' leadership. he believes leadership without action is just a conversation. seeing him in this space is heartwarming. our next speaker needs no introduction. to this conference cory booker was mayor of newark, new jersey from 2006 to 2013. as mayor he chaired our task force in educational excellence. senator, he has been on the forefront of international issues. his most recent accompaniment is with senator tim scott from south carolina to include provisions in last years tax law. as a co-author and architect of a recently passed first step act, senator booker was instrumental in the most
sweeping criminal justice reform law passed in decades, again on a bipartisan basis. senator booker is a defender of human rights, a promoter of justice for all people, and person whoa always -- and a person who tells you where he stands. please welcome a former mayor and senator from new jersey, our friend cory booker. >> [applause] thank youoker: everybody. thank you. cannot tell you what this means to me to be a mayor. the "wall street journal" when i got elected to the senate said there's only been 21 people in the united states history to go from being a mayor to being a united states senator. and i'll tell you what. that's probably why we have such problems with federal government. there's not more mayors there. when i first took my first trip
to d.c., i was a newly minted mayor in 2006. i'm sitting in a big meeting just minding my own business and this very senior senator from the biggest state population wise in our nation gets up and runs over to me and goes, you. i like, senator feinstein, what did i do? she goes you have the hardest job in all of american politics. and so i want to be very practical right now in my remarks. i don't want to be lofty. i want to talk to other people who are technicians who are have to get it done, who know where you live, who you can't shop in your supermarket in half an hour. you have to allocate an hour and a half. and make sure you have constituents. i want to talk to people not as the senator from new jersey, but really just as a fellow mayor. now there is no republican or democratic way to fix a pothole.
we live in a nation where there's common pain, but we have lost our sense of common purpose. when i was mayor, i worked with anybody who could help me fix things and i happen to be mayor of a city where i was elected that was right before the globe fell into a recession and when the globe is in a recession, many of the cities you see depression-like circumstances what i learned quickly is so much of government often does things that are stupid. we would much rather invest on the back end of a problem than make the smart investments early that would prevent the problems from getting acute in the fist place. we live in a nation that has so many things that you all understand when i talk about the value of federally qualified health centers and the difference it can make in giving people access to preventive care opposed to doing the more expensive thing of not making that strategic government investment and paying so much more on the back end of that problem.
seattle, washington, they did a study that looked at what's more expennive. to have mentally ill homeless people on the streets or to put them in supportive housing. all of us who have constructed supportive housing know how expensive supportive housing is. seattle ran the numbers. they found for about 23 people they saved taxpayers about $1 million by putting them in housing. because everyone in this room knows where people who are homeless and mentally ill often end up, in our hospital emergency rooms and in our jails. we have to as a country stop doing what's stupid and expensive and start investing in the things that are smart, economically effective and reflect our morals. we live in a country with unconscionable gun violence. this young man who spoke up speaks to me.
i'm the only united states senator that lives in an inner-city community. the median income where i live is $14,000 per household. i had shootings in my neighborhood last week. i had someone killed at the top of the the block where i live. do you know how expensive a gunshot wound is? i have gone to emergency rooms and asked them. for nonfatal gunshot wounds, the costs are hundreds of thousands of dollars. when we have common sense things that we could do, forget left or right. forget republican or democrat. if we just did a balance sheet analysis and laid it on top of that our moral values, we would be a nation that knows what's more expensive. giving that child stability at home, not having a parent constantly worrying about a paycheck. i have a friend of mine that works for an i-hop.
works full-time job, tries to catch extra shifts trying to raise three boys. even with all of that hard work, she doesn't make enough money so she relies on food stamps. she relies on public housing. the instability in her life because of low wages has a multiplier of costs to us as a citizenry. when her child is sick, the hospital is right across the street from the ihop. she has to make that terrible decision that millions of americans do. do i stay here and get this paycheck for the day or go across the street where my child is gasping for air and be by the bedside. we're making decisions that are costing the most valuable natural resource this country has and everyone in this room, republican or democrat, knows the most valuable natural resource in a global knowledge-based economy is the genius of our children. and yet we have a nation that won't even make the smart
investments in water infrastructure. i had a lot of meetings with mayors. i was across the street meeting with mayors from the south talking about water infrastructure. he will now that's not the sexiest issue to be talking about. but when you sit with mayors, you're talking about how can i squeeze more efficiency out of my parking meters because i have urgent needs. we have a nation right now where people think flint, michigan is an anomaly, but it is not. over 1000 of our jurisdictions children have twice the blood lead levels as the children in flint. what cost is that to us? it is a human tragedy. it is morally irresponsible for the most powerful nation to have children living in communities where it's easier to find unleaded gasoline than unleaded water. but we know we have a nation that if you have an elevated blood level -- you don't even
need lead poisoning -- that child's success in life goes down. their productivity goes down. their executive functions are un inhibited. it's more likely for them to get in trouble. these are not left-right issues, these are just about how we make our country strong, economically vibrant and how we make ourselves successful. i remember -- i got down to the senate and met with both sides of the political aisle, which i did. to have friendships and relationships. i remember talking to one senator. i can show you evidence-based how to invest a dollar of taxpayer money to save $5 to $7 for taxpayers. he says wow, that sounds incredible. it's not sexy. it's called nurse family partnerships. >> [applause] senator booker: you have an at-risk mom get a visit from a nurse. not only does that reduce emergency room visits, it reduces the chances of getting in trouble with the police and not just the good, even -- the
kid, even the mother. we have got to get back to a country that makes smart investments in infrastructure, smart investments in tech and innovation centers. smart investments in human capital. we are hurting as a in addition as a result of not doing it. i'll tell you whiegtright now, it kills me that i know in the new york metropolitan area, which i like to call the newark much paladin area, a dollar invested in infrastructure in that area nationally returns over 100% return in my area $2 to $3. we have trains in the northeast corridor that run half an hour slower than in the 1960s. meanwhile china has completed 18,000 miles of high speed rail. we are letting other nations outinvest us. this is why my time as a senator has been trying to do things practically that will empower
leaders around this country to design programs that can make a difference and get investment. the criminal justice reform bill we have, i like to argue this from a moral issue. but dear god, when our nation is letting its bridges and tunnels and roads crumble, the one area we outinfrastructured the planet earth was building prisons and jails to warehouse human potential. we were building a new prison or jail one every 10 days from the time i was in law school to the time i was mayor. more people in jail in the south than on college campuses. and what do we do? we're treating the biggest mental health facilities in our country are our prisons and jails, which aren't addressing the problem and are the more expensive way to do it. why did i work with tim scott on the opportunity zones? because capital is lazy. every mayor here knows you have investment worthy projects, but you can't attract institutional capital. you can't get developers to
come. and so we pass what will end up being the most powerful economic development legislation coming out of washington in decades because now that everyone here has a shot at having an opportunity zone, i have been meeting with people all over the country in baltimore. prudential financial is going to be making its first opportunity zone investments in converting a loan standing brownsfield site into a vibrant area. in alabama, a vacant public school in the opportunity zone is redeveloped into a $12 million state of the art memory care center. and hbcus launched a black college focused opportunity fund that will invest in mixed use properties near hbcus. we can do impossible things in america. >> [applause] senator booker: there is no
problem in this country that we can't address. the problem is not can we, it's do we have the collective will ? and that brings me to my close. look, y'all. i am the sky that went off to college and went to stanford, oxford, yale. my dad is like, boy, you got more degrees than the month of july, but you ain't hot. life ain't about the degrees you get, it's about the service you give. so my hero was jeffrey canada. i decided to move into a tough neighborhood like jeffrey canada did in the central florida newark, new jersey. the map behind me in my desk is the map of the central ward of newark, because i will never forget the people that brought me to the game. >> [applause] senator booker: and i want to confess something to you. i didn't have the vision that's in this room when i started. first i moved on to martin
luther king boulevard and i was moving my stuff into my apartment next to an abandoned building being used for drugs. and somebody stole my stuff out of my car. i was a little intimidated by the neighborhood. there is an old definition of faith that says when you come to the end of the light faith is when you're about to step into the darkness, one of two things is going to happen. you find solid ground or the universe will send you people to teach you how to fly. i got my phd from stanford and on the streets of newark. i'll tell you one of my best professors. i walked up to her this arrogant young law student. she says who is it? i'm corey booker from yale law school. i'm moving into the neighborhood to help out. she gives me this look like boy, you're the one that needs sop help. she takes me down to martin luther king boulevard and says if you want to help me, tell me what you see around you. mayors, you would do it differently, but back then in my
20's, she said, described the neighborhood. i see a crack house. i started describing. the more i talked the more upset she looked. and then finally i stopped talking. she goes, you can't help me and she starts walking away. i'm confused. so i run after her and grab her from behind, very respectfully -- and said what are you talking about? she goes waves her finger in my face. boy, you need to understand. the world you see outside of you is a reflection of what you have inside of you. and if you're one of those people that only sees problems and darkness, that's all it's ever going to be. if you're one of those stubborn people who every time you open your eyes, you see hope, you see opportunity, you see love. you see the face of god. then you can be one of those people that helps me. i am tired that we have become a nation cynical about our potential.
cynical in the way we look at our problems as if they are bigger than us. when american history is a screaming testimony to the perpetual achievement of the impossible. there were slums and child labor, but people saw public education and workers rights. there was slavery, people saw freedom. we are a nation that looked into the sky and saw not a dream in the moon, but a destiny. we are the visionary people that has this dream. and on days after martin luther king's day, i want to end by challenging you about that dream. there's some folk here from tennessee. you go to memphis right now to the site that martin luther king was murdered, and there's a little plaque there. i love it when i go. it's a quote from the torah. it's a quote from the bible.
it's taken from that moment when joseph's brothers see joseph and they are about to throw him into the well, into the darkness. i'm telling you right now, we are in the pit right now. these are dark times in america. we're tearing each other apart. when we fail to show a more courageous empathy. when we change nations that look to create a beloved community and now we say we're going to tolerate each other. we're in the pit right now. we need leaders like you who lead with love, and love is not seeing the child as they are, love is seeing the child as he could be, as he should be, as he will be if we invest in that child. so what is written there right where martin luther king was murdered is is what joseph's brothers said when they saw joseph approaching before they threw him in the pit. but you know, joseph ascended. he rose up into the palace. i believe that's our destiny to rise again. we will rise. what does it say?
as as i close, what does it say on that little plaque? the words from the torah are written there. it says "behold, here cometh the dreamer. let us slay him and see what becomes of his dream." my visionary fellow mayors, the dream is in jeopardy. as langston hughes said, there's a dream in this land with its back against the wall, to save the dream for one we must save the dream for all. you all are the dream keepers. you are the visionaries. you are the people and the words of our ancestors that don't see things as they are and ask why you see things as they could be and should be and must be and ask why not. i don't know where america is going, but i know the mayors are going to help lead us to the mountain top. thank you, everybody. >> [applause]
announcer: more from the u.s. conference of mayors with a discussion on housing policy with the mayors of san francisco and philadelphia. they talk about combating homelessness and how the government shutdown is affecting low income families. >> we are very pleased to see you here for this best practice