Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Blog

  • Mayors Support John Bryson for Commerce Secretary

    At a time when the nation is focused on jobs, we need a Commerce Secretary who knows American business - a leader who has led a company through crisis, created jobs and has a firsthand understanding of the challenges facing US companies.  And that's exactly the experience that President Obama's nominee John Bryson has. 

    Mayor Bob Foster of Long Beach, California says of his friend John Bryson:

    "John Bryson is an excellent choice for Secretary of Commerce.  I have known John for more than 30 years as a person of impeccable integrity with a strong sense of public service.  

    John and I worked together at Edison International.  He was a unique CEO at Edison in that he always made sure business success did not mean a disregard for the environment or social progress.  Under his leadership, Edison developed the largest portfolio of renewable energy in the country and made energy efficiency as one of its top priorities.  It’s an unusual business practice for a company to spend millions on reducing the use of its product, but John understood that it was in the best interest for customers, California, and the company to reduce electrical use.  His strong sense of social purpose helped Edison become an environmental leader with a worldwide reputation.

    John is the kind of person you need in business today.  He understands the need for profit but he also knows that success should include environmental sustainability and good corporate citizenship."

    In addition, the U.S. Conference of Mayors spoke out about John Bryson, urging his confirmation in a letter to Senate leaders:

    "Mr. Bryson brings a wealth of experience from both the public and private sectors that will help create jobs and make America more competitive in the global economy. Most importantly, he knows that the private sector is the engine for job creation. As local leaders, we know that John Bryson can encourage economic growth, help provide jobs for our residents, and forge a direct connection with Mayors and the needs of our cities. He knows how to get the job done with fewer resources. He knows how to manage and lead under pressure. He is the ideal candidate to become Commerce Secretary."

    You can read more from voices ranging from the COO of Facebook to the former Treasury Secretary John Snow on why John Bryson should be our next Commerce Secretary.

  • Ohio Mayors Urge Action on American Jobs Act

    On Thursday, a bi-partisan group of 23 mayors from cities across Ohio sent a letter to the Ohio Congressional delegation urging action on the American Jobs Act to put Ohioans back to work:

    As Mayors serving in the great State of Ohio, we ask you to work with urgency to pass the American Jobs Act. The Act will help Ohio’s cities and its citizens.

    Only a few weeks ago, The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services announced that the statewide unemployment rate for August was up again to 9.1%. That means that more than half a million Ohioans are out of work. Without proactive steps from our federal leaders, those numbers will only get worse.

    The American Jobs Act provides $5 billion in funding to keep police officers and firefighters working. It will put Ohioans to work rehabbing distressed homes, small business, and schools. It helps employ people with a history of service, like veterans and teachers. The Act invests in cities by investing heavily in transportation infrastructure; putting Ohioans to work building roads, bridges and trains. It also provides much needed assistance to the long-term unemployed, helping them end the frustrating process of searching for a job. And, the American Jobs Act will help every Ohio worker by creating a tax cut of $1500 for the typical family.

    Ohioans want to go back to work. Ohioans want to be a part of a stronger economy. The American Jobs Act is the right plan. Please act quickly to pass The American Jobs Act.

  • Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon: The American Jobs Act Will Prepare Our Students for the Jobs of Tomorrow

    Today, President Obama visited Eastfield College, a community college in Mesquite, Texas, where he delivered remarks urging Congress to pass the American Jobs Act to keep teachers in the classroom and rebuild schools across our nation.

    Illinois Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon reflects on her recent tour of community colleges in her state, and how the American Jobs Act will help strengthen schools and prepare students for future jobs across the nation.

    When President Obama spoke about how the the American Jobs Act would help modernize our nation's community colleges, I immediately thought of two respiratory therapy students I met this week in Chicago. They lauded their school for having high-tech equipment used in a hospital setting, but said their computer-based lessons didn’t always work. The wireless internet connection was too spotty in their classrooms.

    As Lt. Governor in President Obama’s home state of Illinois, I serve as the Governor’s point person on education reform. This year, I made it my mission to visit our 48 community colleges, from the biggest schools in the cities to the smallest schools on rural roads. I am learning what schools are doing to help more students attain a meaningful college certificate or degree, and what policymakers can do to ensure we train the best educated workforce in the country and in the world.

    The tour confirmed what I've learned from my husband's 20 years of community college teaching. Community colleges are where it’s at -- in terms of accessibility, affordability and flexibility. They open their doors to people from all sorts of backgrounds and provide job training, two-year degrees and transfer credits at less than half the cost of universities. What is really special about these institutions is their relationships with local employers and their responsiveness to changes in our economy.

    I have visited community colleges that installed wind turbines to provide clean energy for their campuses and training for the future workforce. Each semester, students can take apart, rebuild and maintain the turbines, skills they can translate directly to the expanding renewable energy field. And I’m impressed by the number of schools that can boast about 100 percent placement in nursing, welding, diesel mechanics and other skilled jobs here in Illinois, at a time when so many people are facing layoffs in other professions.

    But the overwhelming message I receive from community colleges is that they can do even more. Many of our two-year colleges were built during the 1960s and 1970s and are in need of upgrades to train workers for jobs in 2011 and beyond. To build green energy programs, schools need money to invest in wind turbines and solar panels. To meet the demand for medical technician and nursing shortages, schools need to have the equipment being used in hospitals and clinics.

    The American Jobs Act would commit $5 billion to repair and modernize community colleges. The money would pay for major classroom renovations, from plumbing upgrades to refurbishing science labs to increasing wireless access for students. It would fill a gap in our state resources and ensure these important institutions keep pace with the needs of employers. Regardless of our politics, we can agree on one thing: our workforce needs to be ready for the new economy. That is why I support the American Jobs Act. It will create construction and maintenance jobs now, and prepare our students for the jobs of tomorrow. Let’s work together to pass it today.

    Jewel James is the Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs

  • Mayors and Cabinet Officials Join to Talk Jobs

    Cabaldon and Vilsack Press Conference

    West Sacramento Mayor Chris Cabaldon speaks at an event with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, September 26, 2011. (Photo by NRCS California – US Department of Agriculture) October 4, 2011.

    Over the last month, a number of Cabinet Secretaries and mayors came together to talk about how the American Jobs Act would help communities across the country. Below are just a few of the many events from last week where local officials joined the Administration in calling for action to spur job creation immediately:

    West Sacramento

    On Monday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon visited the Port of West Sacramento to talk about how the American Jobs Act would create jobs and strengthen California’s economy. In California, the Act would provide a tax cut for over 710,000 businesses, support the jobs of 37,300 teachers and first responders and immediately provide over 51,500 construction workers a job improving highways and other critical infrastructure.


    On Thursday, Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis held a press conference at a bridge in downtown Minneapolis to discuss how the American Jobs Act payroll tax cuts and hiring incentives could lead to creating 1.9 million jobs as the country's infrastructure is repaired. In Minnesota, the Jobs Act would make immediate investments in highway and transit modernization of at least $600 million to support approximately 7,900 local jobs.


    On Thursday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was joined by Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn at the Seattle-Tacoma Airport where Secretary Vilsack announced five major agricultural research projects, including awards to universities in Washington, aimed at developing regional, renewable energy markets, generating rural jobs, and decreasing America’s dependence on foreign oil. Secretary Vilsack and Mayor McGinn also spoke about how passing the American Jobs Act could give the typical Washington state household a tax cut of approximately $1,860 by expanding the payroll tax cut.


    On Friday, U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk joined Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter for a visit to Superfit, Inc., a jewelry manufacturer in downtown Philadelphia. Superfit, Inc., which is owned and operated by Gena Alulis recently relocated its headquarters to downtown Philadelphia, where the company was able to expand production and hire additional employees. The American Jobs Act would provide a small business tax cut to Ms. Alulis, which will allow her to bring on even more workers.


    On Friday, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett joined Secretary Hilda Solis at a turbine construction site at the Jones Island wastewater plant to talk about how the American Jobs Act would invest $575 million in high-priority transportation projects throughout Wisconsin, including more than 1,100 bridges in need of repair. The transportation spending alone would help return 7,500 of the state's unemployed laborers to work

  • Secretary Donovan Talks with Local Leaders About the Impact of the American Jobs Act and Project Rebuild

    Donovan Call with Locals

    Secretary Donovan listens on a conference call with city and county leaders discussing the American Jobs Act and Project Rebuild, September 29, 2011. (Photo by Erica Jacquez, HUD)

    On Thursday, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and I hosted a call with nearly 200 local officials to talk about the President’s American Jobs Act, specifically discussing Project Rebuild, which would create nearly 200,000 jobs and put people back to work immediately rehabilitating foreclosed homes, businesses and communities, leveraging private capital and other public-private collaborations.

    Secretary Donovan explained how Project Rebuild is based on the success of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), an Obama Administration initiative that has directed $7 billion into American neighborhoods that have been hardest hit by the housing crisis. The NSP is creating nearly 90,000 jobs in the construction industry by renovating or rebuilding nearly 95,000 properties that are vacant or abandoned as a result of foreclosures or longer-term neighborhood decline.  The NSP program has provided three rounds of funding and has been extremely popular with local officials across the country.

    Project Rebuild will provide an additional $15 billion for investment in these proven strategies that leverage private capital and expertise to rehabilitate hundreds of thousands of properties in communities across the country.

    On the call, Secretary Donovan, city and county officials from over 30 states discussed the urgency of passing the American Jobs Act to help distressed neighborhoods now and how regional cooperatives and small communities can take part in Project Rebuild.  Secretary Donovan also took detailed questions from local officials about how NSP works and how they can better utilize NSP and Project Rebuild to rehabilitate the neighborhoods hardest-hit by the foreclosure crisis.

    The Secretary and I urged every local official on the call to stand up and make their voices heard  about the American Jobs Act. 

    If you have questions about Project Rebuild or the American Jobs Act, email us at

    David Agnew is the Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs


  • Kansas City Mayor: Jobs Are at the Forefront of People’s Minds

    Kansas City Mayor Sly James can tell his city is in trouble by looking up at the sky. "There are no more cranes. When there are no more cranes in the city, that’s not a good sign. Because that means not much is getting done. The ripple effect of not being able to build has a huge impact on all sorts of other subsidiary industries. We have roads that are in need of repair and rebuilding, we have bridges that need work, we have water systems that are in desperate need of reworking. And we need the assistance of the Federal government in order to get those big-ticket items done."

    The American Job Act will help James answer the one question he says the residents of his Missouri city ask any time he leaves the office, “'Mayor, where can I get a job? Mayor can you help me get a job? Mayor can you help my brother or my mother get a job?”'Jobs are at the forefront of people’s minds."

    Watch Kansas City Mayor Sly James Support the American Jobs Act, here

    See how other mayors say the American Jobs Act will impact their cities:

    Mayor Dayne Walling of Flint, Michigan
    Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, California
    Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore, Maryland
    Mayor Michael Hancock of Denver, Colorado
    Mayor Mark Mallory of Cincinnati, Ohio
    Mayor Greg Fischer of Louisville, Kentucky
    Mayor Phil Gordon of Phoenix, Arizona