Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Blog

  • State and Local Officials Praise Appointment of Muñoz as Domestic Policy Director

    On Tuesday, President Obama announced that he will appoint current Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Cecilia Muñoz as the new Director of the Domestic Policy Council. Several of the state and local officials and associations who have worked with Muñoz in her current role spoke out to applaud the decision.

    Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley:

    “I commend President Obama on appointing Cecilia Muñoz as Director of the Domestic Policy Council.  In her role as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, Cecilia made it a priority to understand the challenges faced by governors and to support initiatives aimed at speeding up America’s jobs recovery.  Her hard work and commitment to working collaboratively with governors has reflected the President’s recognition of the critical role that states play in creating and implementing public policy to create jobs and move our states forward. I look forward to continuing to work with Cecilia in her new role.”

    Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick:

    “Cecilia Muñoz is an excellent choice to lead the Domestic Policy Council. Cecilia understands that policy only matters at the point where it touches people, and her knowledge of our economy, health care, infrastructure and immigration systems will help President Obama continue his strong progress on the domestic front.”

  • State, Local Officials Mark the End of War in Iraq

    On Wednesday, President Obama visited Fort Bragg, North Carolina to commemorate the end of the war in Iraq and thank troops for their service. Several state and local officials who served in the armed forces in Iraq spoke about what the President’s actions to end the war means to them and their fellow veterans.

     Maryland Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown is in the US Army Reserves.

     “Through careful planning, negotiating and timing, the President has fulfilled his commitment to the American people to responsibly end the War in Iraq. The efforts of President Obama and our military and diplomatic leaders have given the Iraqi people the tools they need to assume the responsibilities and the challenges that lie ahead.  Although the war has ended, we must always remember the sacrifice made by so many, especially the 4,500 American service members we lost to this conflict. It is our collective responsibility to honor their memory by ensuring that all those brave men and women who served receive the care and benefits they have so rightly earned.”

     Maine State Representative Alex Cornell du Houx is in the US Navy Reserves.

     “I am incredibly thankful that President Obama has stayed true on his promise to get our troops out of Iraq.  The President has shown that he is committed to securing Iraq’s freedom and independence, and the Iraqis have shown that they are willing and able now to lead this fight on their own.  As a Marine serving in Fallujah, I had the opportunity to experience what happened in Iraq. I am thankful that we have done what we came to do, and am grateful to bring our troops home. The day I came home was one of the happiest, not only of my life, but of my friends’ and family as well. The men and women of our military have, with skill and bravery, brought Iraq back from the brink. Today, they can all be proud of what they’ve accomplished and overjoyed to be coming home. Thousands of brave men and women (4,500) have lost their lives in service to their country over the last 9 years in Iraq. This is an end worthy of their sacrifice.”

  • Louisville Leaders Discuss Jobs, Food and Innovation with White House

    On Monday, we held our second Virtual Town Hall with Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and 25 local leaders, where we discussed important issues facing Louisville and the country, including jobs, local food, and innovation.

    Assistant Secretary for Economic Development John Fernandez kicked off the discussion, telling the group assembled in Louisville about President Obama’s Select USA Initiative to attract and retain investment in the American economy, the progress of the National Export Initiative toward the goal of doubling American exports over the next five years, and the developments in the President’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership.  In addition, Assistant Secretary Fernandez who previously served as Mayor of Bloomington, Indiana discussed with Mayor Fischer the importance of regional strategies and ways to continue to grow the Louisville economy from the bottom up by making investments in public-private partnerships that accelerate job creation. 

    Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan followed with a dialogue about local food and access to healthy nutrition. Deputy Secretary Merrigan detailed the “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” Initiative to carry out President Obama’s commitment to strengthening local and regional food systems. She shared examples of innovative ways cities are educating students about food sourcing, including bringing farmers into schools to talk about their crops and sharing farmer “trading cards” to help explain the connection between food, agriculture, community and the environment.  During the discussion, we heard from Louisville-based Grasshoppers Distribution, a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) organization dedicated to making available “locally grown produce, meats, cheeses and dairy from over 60 local family farms”.

    Aneesh Chopra, the U.S. Chief Technology Officer, closed the conversation with a report on his previous visit to the Louisville Idea Festival in September and encouraged Louisville leaders to participate in the $1 billion health care innovation challenge to support compelling new ideas to deliver better health and improved care at lower costs to people enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.  Ted Smith, Louisville’s Director of Innovation, helped lead the conversation on using data and technology to better inform educational outcomes, an effort in response to the CTO’s challenge issued during his remarks at EDUCAUSE.

    This Virtual Town Hall was a great opportunity to hear directly from community leaders in Louisville on how federal, local and private sector groups can partner to improve services for everyone. We look forward to “virtually” visiting more communities across the country in the months to come.

  • Mayors, Attorneys General Speak Out on CFPB Nomination

    On Wednesday, 61 mayors from 32 states wrote a letter to Congressional Leaders calling on them to confirm Richard Cordray as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). In the letter, the mayors explain:

    In the wake of the financial crisis, the CFPB is intended to help the marketplace operate more effectively by ensuring that consumers have the information they need to understand the terms of their agreements with financial companies, many of which are currently unregulated. Without a Director, the new CFPB is hamstrung in its ability to hold these firms accountable and to rein in some of the financial practices that contributed to the economic downturn, hurting communities across America…

    …Too much is at stake for this nomination to fall prey to politics as usual in Washington. We urge you to end this gridlock and confirm Richard Cordray as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

    The mayor’s letter follows a letter from 37 Attorneys General across the country in October urging a swift confirmation for Mr. Cordray:

    The CFPB is intended to make basic financial practices such as taking out a mortgage or a loan more clear and transparent. It is also charged with ferreting out unfair lending practices. Mr. Cordray knows that such actions will not only protect consumers but will also assist community bankers and other financial companies that are committed to honest dealing and quality customer service. He is determined to use a balanced approach to the financial services industry. As head of the CFPB, Mr. Cordray will be an honest broker and strong advocate for both businesses and consumers that are committed to following the rules.

    You can read more about the CFPB at http://www.consumerfinance.gov/.

  • Why Scranton Needs the Payroll Tax Cut

    The President is traveling across the country to show how the American Jobs Act will help modernize our schools, rebuild our infrastructure, and put Americans back to work. On Wednesday the President was in Scranton, Pennsylvania where he pushed Congress to act to extend and expand the payroll tax cut that has given tax breaks to millions of families across the country this year.

    Pennsylvania State Senator John Blake reflects on the President’s remarks in Scranton:

    Last week I had the deep honor and pleasure to meet President Obama during his visit to Scranton, Pennsylvania in my 22nd Senatorial District.  The President came to Scranton -- his Vice-President’s boyhood home, with a message that resonated deeply and well with the people of this city and indeed with families throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania. He came to talk about jobs and economic growth.  The President has had jobs and the economy on the top of his agenda since the day he took office three years ago -- and my commentary here would be incomplete if I failed to remind those reading it that our nation was losing over 700,000 jobs per month on the day the President took office.  The President policies stopped this economic free-fall and as a result we have seen the economy add private sector jobs for 21 straight months.

  • EPA Announces Smart Growth Achievement Award Winners

    Normal Illinois EPA

    The Uptown Normal Roundabout was named an EPA 2011 Smart Growth Achievement Award Winner. (Photo by Scott Shingley, courtesy of the Town of Normal, Illinois) December 5, 2011.

    Last week, EPA announced the winners of the 2011 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement. This annual award recognizes American communities that employ innovative approaches to development that use resources efficiently, create new economic opportunities, and make neighborhoods healthier and cleaner.

    The 2011 winners are:

    • St. Louis, Missouri: Overall Excellence Award - With the Old North St. Louis Revitalization Initiative, community leaders redefined and rebuilt a historic neighborhood to attract new residents, economic growth, and much-needed amenities such as a grocery store.
      Preservation and reuse of historic buildings helped protect the Old North neighborhood's distinctive character.
       
    • Albuquerque, New Mexico: Smart Growth and Green Building Award - Silver Gardens Apartments is the first LEED Platinum-certified affordable housing project in the Southwest. Close to downtown, it is also near a variety of transportation options, making it easy for residents to reach jobs.
       
    • El Paso, Texas: Programs, Policies and Regulations Award - Plan El Paso 2010 is a comprehensive, transit-oriented development plan that will help link neighborhoods to greater economic opportunity and to one another.  It provides a blueprint for investment in new homes and jobs.
       
    • Howard, South Dakota: Rural Smart Growth Award - This town, smaller than many city high schools, revitalized its downtown and created new jobs and economic opportunities by building Maroney Commons. This green building houses a rural learning center that offers training for green energy and rural healthcare jobs, a hotel, a restaurant, and other amenities.
       
    • Normal, Illinois: Civic Places Award - The Uptown Normal Roundabout, originally designed to manage traffic, has evolved into a civic gathering place that draws people to nearby businesses. Its pleasant green space and water features keep polluted runoff out of the local creek.

    These five communities have thought creatively about how to make better use of their existing assets and how to achieve multiple environmental, economic, and social goals with new investments. They can be models for other communities around the country, demonstrating creative solutions to development-related challenges.

    Click to learn more about these five award winners the National Award for Smart Growth Achievement, and EPA's smart growth work. You can also see videos highlighting each of the five winning communities-St. Louis, MO; Normal, IL; El Paso, TX; Albuquerque, NM; and Howard, SD.

    Bob Perciasepe is the Deputy Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency