WASHINGTON -- The nation's big-city mayors, many of them struggling against the effects of the recession, have opened their winter meeting by attacking President Bush and setting out to find the presidential candidate who will best serve the nation's cities.
Boston Mayor Raymond Flynn, president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, set the tone yesterday when he denounced the president for declining to address the mayors, and accused him of concentrating on foreign affairs at the expense of the nation's urban areas.
"Unfortunately President Bush has not accepted our invitation," Mr. Flynn said. "It seems that he's more concerned with how to assist the former Soviet Union . . . than he is about what's happening here in cities all across America. If it's right to provide aid to hungry and homeless people in the former Soviet Union,then why isn't right to provide aid to hungry and homeless people here at home?"
But Mr. Flynn, along with several other mayors, also appeared to criticize Mr. Bush's would-be Democratic opponents by denouncing the tax cut plans that many of them have offered.
Although the mayors have not yet decided which of several economic revitalization proposals they will support, several of them saidthey were eager to stand behind legislation sponsored by U.S. Sens. Paul S. Sarbanes of Maryland and James R. Sasser of Tennessee. Under the legislation, $35 billion in one-time grants would be funneled to state and local governments for public works projects.
Mr. Sarbanes, who met with the mayors, said, "We want to put jobs out there right away, on the street, to counteract this economic downturn."