tv Mayors Speak at Christian Science Monitor Breakfast CSPAN August 3, 2017 2:42am-3:37am EDT
broadcast companies and is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. >> new orleans mayor mitch landrieu is also president of the u.s. conference of mayors. in washington, d.c., he spoke to about issues facing u.s. cities and the national policies that mayors would like to see congress address. he's joined by the mayors of columbia, south carolina, and mesa, arizona, at this event hosted by the christian science monitor. it's just under an hour. from the christian science monitor. this is about 55 minutes. >> here we go. maybe not. >> thank you. >> while they are micing mayor benjamin, i will start to keep us on schedule. thank you for coming. our guests are leaders of the u.s. conference of mayors. president mitch landrieu of new orleans, john giles of mesa, arizona.
he is standing in for mayor brian barnett of rochester hills, michigan, whose airplane was delayed. also is tom cochrane, the gentleman next to my colleague. executive director. the conference of mayors is a nonpartisan organization of cities of 30,000 are more. there are 1408 i am told. all the guest speakers are making their first visit. mayor landrieu's father spoke to our breakfast one to 1975 when he was mayor of new orleans, and once in 1979 as secretary of housing and urban development. so much for monitor breakfast trivia. good for you, good for you. i was not, obviously. >> i was 12.
>> the mayor is a graduate of catholic university. previously served in the louisiana house of representatives and served as louisiana's governor. mayor benjamin has been in office since 2010. his law degrees are from the university of south carolina. his previous government service includes appointment at the age of 29 to the governor's cabinet as director of the department of probation and parole and pardon services. mayor giles, like his counterparts here is a republican. he was the 40th mayor of mesa. reelected last august. has a degree in political science from brigham young university and earned his law degree from arizona state. welcome to one and all, and thus endeth the biographical portion. now the ground rules.
please, no live blogging or tweeting or filing of any kind on the breakfast is underway to give us time to listen to what our guests are saying. there is no embargo in the session ends. we will email several pictures of the session to all reporters and other officials here today as soon as the breakfast ends. if you would like to ask a question, please send me a subtle nonthreatening signal and i will happily call on one and all. we will offer our guests the opportunity to make opening comments in the mood to questions around the table. linda feldman, phil douglas, alan ferguson, and sammy snowing to start. thank you again for doing this. >> thank all of you for welcoming me and mayor benjamin and may or giles. on behalf of the united states conference of mayors. we come to washington for a number of different reasons. one to highlight the fact the
political back-and-forth in washington is not an abstract problem for the mayors of america. each and every one of us governs in real time, not in theory and philosophy. we are compelled every day to get the job done and solve problems, to find an answer. if we can't find an answer, we make one. that is the life we live every day. as we come to washington, d.c., become a powerful message. we are problem solvers. we are a bipartisan organization. the presence of mayor giles is the next formation point on that -- an explanation point on that. we have a large group of individuals that work with us in real-time to make sure the conference of mayors knows all the different viewpoints. represent 85% of the people in america that live in cities. the second thing i would like to highlight is we are not just and don't just have an urban agenda.
as was stated earlier, with 1408 cities that are are a part of the umbrella of the conference of mayors, and the cities and mayors understand rural and urban america need each other independent each other and have to talk to each other all the time. when we began to talk about how we solve problems, we do so when everybody is at the table. on behalf of the u.s. conference of mayors, we are heartened by what we have heard in washington, d.c. about republicans and democrats actually going back to regular order so we can have a robust discussion of solutions to some of the most difficult problems in america. we understand we can't talk about everything all the time. the mayors of america is interested in public safety and homeland security, infrastructure, health care. we are certainly interested in weighing in on tax reform. and to be able to identify concerns of the people of
america through the eyes of mayors who have to get stuff done. that is why we are here in washington today, to speak to those issues as we talk about senators -- as we talk to senators in congress and. -- and to our congressmen. i want to turn it over to mayor benjamin. thank you. mayor benjamin: thank you all for taking time to sit down with us today. we look forward to your questions, i think. we are representing america's cities and mayors. bipartisan, nonpartisan. men and women all across this country, from big cities, massive metropolitan areas, down to small towns and hamlets who are all focused on getting the job done. there are exciting things happening all across this country. 85% of our citizens live in cities.
88% of jobs are in cities. 91% of america's gdp is an metropolitan economies. cities have become the incubators of innovation find ways to direct capital to our communities and create jobs for our folks. i'm excited to tell the story of columbia, south carolina. some of the great successes we have achieved over the last several years. we are here in d.c. to promote the mayors' agenda for the future. we are excited about the change in the tone we have seen. we have engaged with our federal legislators. we continue to spend time making sure they understand we represent the same constituents. health care, how we approach tax reform.
we are working together to fundamentally improve the quality of life. we look forward to chatting with you and telling the story of america's cities. thank you. >> i'm excited to be here as well. some people might ask why mayors are in washington talking about issues like health care and tax reform. to me, it seems strange. why isn't anyone in washington talking about local issues? why are you messing around with our business? let us take care of things. i think it was tip o'neill that said all politics are local. we are here to say amen to that. we are street level politicians. we have the luxury of occasionally riding along with public safety personnel, police and fire, and seeing what health
care and tax reform and infrastructure mean. i am proud of the fact we are here to model the behavior to our congressional colleagues. i am registered as a republican, but i was elected in a nonpartisan election. that the environment in which i govern. when i was in law school i served as an intern for then congressman john mccain. that was 30 years ago. he had a big impact on my life back then. i have never been as proud of him as i was a week ago when he gave that stirring speech reminding us that we are here to model good behavior and we need adults in the room and her minor cells we are here to solve problems, not to promote agendas and to win at all costs. i am proud to be a mayor and remind some of my congressional colleagues that is what prompted
us to go into public service. i am proud to be with the cinnamon and look forward to your questions. >> that was a model of self-control by all three. we had opening statements from three people in six minutes. that may be a monitor breakfast land speed record. matt, would you call? our photographer is supposed to be here to take pictures. he would be nice of that happened. you never know. i will ask one question and a little go to dave to start. with difference has the trumpet -- the trump administration made to the american mayors in the city you represent? >> unfortunately, when president trump took office we saw the need to make comments about cities that i think most mayors were out of order, out of context and were not particularly inviting or reflective. he did not understand the role that cities in america play.
>> saying, for those watching at home on c-span, our cities are a disaster. you get shot walking to the store. they had no education. they have no jobs. >> as you mentioned, there are 1408 cities that are a part of our organization. it is not reflective of cities throughout america. as a matter of fact, as mere -- as mayor benjamin alluded to, some of the most forward leaning things happening in america are happening in cities. it is not an accident. that is because mayors, republican and democrat, urban and rural, are doing innovative things. they are becoming the laboratories of innovation and change. we can spend all day giving you thousands of examples of the great things mayors are doing throughout america. that kind and communicated to the mayors of america the president was perhaps uninformed at best. one of the things we wanted to do was not to resist, but to
educate and let folks know how you actually solve problem's in a way that is not ideologically based. all of you who cover washington for the startled if he came to our meetings. you would be refreshed i it. -- by it. nobody asks who is a republican and who was a democrat. ideas are tested based on whether they succeeded or failed. if there is a good thing that happened in columbia, the good people of new orleans borrow that gently and use that. same thing is true about louisville. we share information. as a matter of consequence then, we have created national policies by the accumulation of a lot of actions on mayors on the ground as opposed to necessarily federal imposition. that has been really good. we want to communicate, educated president and his team. would want to educate congress and model good for hader -- behavior for how you get
solutions on the ground. >> as an elected official in a statement public policy, iowa's -- i just always believed that tone was important -- i always believed tone was important. the importance of leadership in setting the proper town. -- the proper tone. the challenge is when the tone makes its way into policy. if it is talking about rocket -- the wrong-headed tax policy, for changes to the epa and the department of justice. those have a major perspective impact, the stabilizing even -- destabilizing even. obviously there is a lot to be done. thank god we have three branches of government. we are here today to effectively
interface with the legislative branch. a direct answer, and i tried to answer the question i asked, i think some of the president's rhetoric has been destabilizing. but i will tell you, on the ground mayors continue to get the job done. cdbg is working well in columbia, not just creating jobs but as a leader to bring additional private sector capital investment. we have to keep telling that story so we continue to push our congress to make sure that we continue to see the positive developments we're seeing here. they have to understand the importance of tax reform, and if in fact we go in that direction, with the preservation of the state and local tax and preservation of the tax and municipal bonds really means to delivering on infrastructure to help us get the job done.
as of right now it is a rhetoric issue. that continues to seep its way into policy making. so far it has not been positive. >> i agree. the rhetoric has been challenging. at the same time it is given us as mayors the opportunity to defend a lot of the things we do in our cities and re-examining why cdbg is important. coming to washington and reevaluating our relationship of the federal government and why that is important. from a republican perspective, change is good. renewed emphasis on things like infrastructure and -- renewed and tax reform. i think that is a healthy thing
for our communities and nation. the rhetoric, i cannot defend that. that has been nonproductive and damaging, but i think some of the changes associated with a regime change in the federal government has been a positive thing for us. it has been an opportunity to re-examine some important things like cdbg and working with the federal government that has not been entirely negative. >> i want to at this point as a message to the president. he will find the mayors are really tough and really resilient. we don't mind scrapping it up a little bit. we are not here to resist. we're here to construct. we are builders, not destroyers. you will find great partners if we are engaged in a constructive and thoughtful way. we actually find answers to really complicated problems. that is why the rhetoric -- we want to tone it down. the want to help solve the problems of america. most of the problems being solved are in cities. >> david lowder from the l.a.
times? >> i want to ask you about a speech you gave a while back that got a bit of attention. i am curious about what sort of -- what the reaction has been since then and what -- whether there have been -- whether it has been unexpected in terms of what you have heard from people and how they react to what you have to say. >> i was very surprised that the >> while first of all, i was very surprised that that speech, went viral. sad to say, a lot of us give good speeches all the time, that are mostly sit -- received locally and not nationally. speech, caught wind nationally, i think because, the country is coming to the realization that we are not in a
post-racial america, that race continues to to be a fairly significant part of what we do. this notion of being able to see each other as people and not judging each other on race, creed, color, sexual orientation or national origin, is something that the nation is interested in and continues to want to talk about. it is not -- it is an unfinished issue, one that i think we have to speak through. it was surprising to me that people were taken by it, and i think the narrow issue of the confederacy is something that has been with us for a long time, and it has also been with the country and i felt the need to speak clearly and directly to the issue. which i try to do in the comments that i made on that particular day. klein from abc. >> thank you for doing that. >> the president made comments last week about local law
goingement, talking about rougher on suspects and not protecting heads, even as the white house of course, has said that it is a joke. we heard a lot of fallout at the local level. i am curious how those comments were received, did you see any rollback with interactions with your union and police agencies. and you all view those comments as a joke. >> we will have mayor benjamin -- o read mayor benjamin: mayor benjamin. as he mentioned in the introduction, we have had our agency do a major transition into law enforcement status, l e one. i will tell you that the men and women of law enforcement who will run towards things, when everyone else is running against the other, and the other direction, that is something
that mayors will tell you every single day. supportnce that in our of law enforcement. it is important to realize, we can never accept the false stress of being pro-public safety, meaning that your anti-social justice. we actually believe that they are inextricably intertwined to read if in fact he wants to have safe cities, and it will tell you that across this country, , something are down that the president probably refers to in a 1980's new york city, when i was going up there. nowreality is that you have and credible law enforcement officers, who are working every single day to build significant committee trust and public trust. and that is essential. in our city, 400 plus law enforcement officers, believe -- policing a population of over
140,000 individuals, it is impossible to do that without having good strong committee ties in the community. thathat type of rhetoric, type of dialogue, and certainly not constructive to the body politics, and it is important we continue to innovate, move forward with an initiative best just a few years ago, called justice for all. year, andbe our third we mandated, and paid for, --hout doj resources, bad body cameras for each one of our officers. ofput in place a number trading modules for officers, for everything from non-conscious i.s., and their ability to recognize when someone is dealing with mental illness, the importance of understanding verbals -- learning how to talk down situations. we also put in place some
significant data-driven policies as well. if you were to come to our city now, and be able to determine exactly how many citizens wetext we had last year, probably had 7700 -- 7700 arrests. of deadly force and. we are able to go and see who the officer was, the race of the person that may have been engaged in that encounter, how it was independently investigated, and the disposition of that. using data to continue to build that type of trust. we are making strong moves in the right direction. we have got to make sure we keep russian, even in spite of that type of rhetoric. >> thank you, mayor? >> as a mayor, i don't think there is anything he could have said that could have been more disturbing. he has said a lot of things that
disagree with over the course of his tenure, but that has to be close to the top. as mayor benjamin alluded to, one of our main responsibilities as mayors is public safety, and working in community engagement and community outreach, to try to calm people's fears and respond to suspicions about how we police and our communities. so for the president to say what , he said, it could not have been more counter to what we work for on a daily basis. so i was extremely disappointed in those comments. i think you have seen mayors and police chiefs line up since those comments to try to repair the damage that was done. >> thank you. >> >> let me use this as an example to demonstrate that mayors don't want to resist, but be constructive. first of all, the number one issue on the agenda is public safety and homeland security
because mayors every day, each of us, commanders in chief of our own police departments 800,000 strong across america, , every day on the streets making sure that our law enforcement men and women have the tools that they need because they do heroic work but , simultaneously trying to keep our streets safe not only for our citizens, as a result of public safety threats, but homeland security threats and potential terrorist threats. those are new, imminent and ever-increasing. so, the way that mayors would not say to keep the streets of america safe, as to condemn cut police whole, to programs, and then tell police officers the way to peace is to batter suspects. that is not a prescription for success of that anyone who understands law enforcement, or war and peace, general patraeus or anybody else, is a way to go. what mayors will tell you, as what we have in our book, that if you want to engage us, help us, work with us.
to fulfill a common obligation to keep the streets of america safe. what you can do is make sure that the resources in the homeland security department for cities are directed and focused, that you actually help us find more law enforcement through the cops program, through the d.e.a., a.t.f., better trained, better supervised, understand constitutional policing, and then fully understand that local law enforcement are the tip of the spear. they are at the scene first -- they are the ones at the scene irrespective of what the first, impetus of the cause is. if it is a terrorist threat, like in boston or new york, maybe what you saw in orlando or not, if it's a public safety threat, you know who was there first? it is local law enforcement, local e.m.s., local trauma center. rather than creating a hostile relationship with cities as though they're places where you can't go, you have 800,000 strong forces, willing to work with you try to figure out a way , and help congress understand how you make the streets of america safe.
the fact of the matter is that the funding for these programs that help law enforcement have been cut the 88% since 1996 and the number continues to go down. if for example president trump wants to secure the streets of america and work with cities, there are a lot of ways to do that, that are constructive, forward leaning and as benjamin -- as mayor benjamin said, will allow us to engage in appropriate law enforcement techniques and simultaneously make the community safe but you cannot do that -- this is the -- seminal point, the future people not just on behavior, but based on race, creed, color or national origin, that's the first thing. and secondly, if you erode the trust between the police departments and communities. all of us can say with almost complete unanimity, that when you do something to erode the trust between police and the community, it is much more likely that the streets of america will be unsafe. so we would again ask them to rethink the language and rethink the policies that define the language and engage us constructively so that we together can help make the streets of america safe. that's our number one priority.
>> john from newsmax. thank you dave. and thank you for having the breakfast today. i would like to pick up on what mayor landrieu said about services being cut. law enforcement aside, relief for people and helping the homeless problem. have they been hurt by cuts? and more importantly, our private sector charities, the salvation army, united way, catholic charities, picking up the slack in any way in your cities? >> i know that each one of the mayors have something to say about this, but i will take the first crack. we are always better, always when we are together. we are always better when the federal government, state government, local government, not-for-profit, faith-based community, all of the people that are at the table assuming responsibility are actually there doing their part. that is always better. each one of the models in our cities rely on all of those
different community organizations. when one of us does not show up, someone has to pick up the is givensomebody who an opportunity is not going to have it. that's really the general rule. it is absolutely true the federal government has over time continued to walk away from the table on these issues. now, the budget this year is stable, but the proposed budget going forward cuts across , government. it will have a significant impact. mayor benjamin talked about community development block grants. i'll talk about something else. housing veterans who are homeless. mayor giles and i worked on this together, the country found something in common that was important, which was to make sure every veteran was given a home. and we worked significantly towards that. even though the funding has gone up, the president's allocation for veterans affairs, if the funding in hud goes down, both of those departments were used to actually provide the basis to
provide the resources to take veterans off the streets of america. so one of the concerns that we have, that we can testify to is , if the budget is implemented as recommended by the president, then actually we can tell you with fair certainty that the to helps that were used veterans get off the streets, are going to go away. and it is more likely that we will put veterans back on the streets. that is why mayors' practical view is important and not just theoretical. that is just one example. and of course if the federal , government pulls back, someone else has to fill the gap and that's generally private or not-for-profit concerns like catholic charities on the ground. >> we had an opportunity to affect the affordable housing crisis in our community. we decided that we would use cdbg fund for a couple of years. we would use it not just to get , grants for prospective homeowners of a $100,000 house.
giving them a $10,000 grant, we we decided we would sequester the funds and work with the private sector and also with non-profit partners to do home , actuallyning, to banks provide 6% of the , six mortgage, and we would use the cdbg fund to provide 20% of a second mortgage. what it did was that it allowed new homeowners at 80% of median income to get into the home with only $1000, out of pocket. because of the structure of the lawn -- loan, they stepped in with an interest rate that was lower than some of the previous customers at bank of america, bbnt, half percent below market. no pmi. it has been a fantastic program. we have been able to work with it over the last several years, and we now have a 125 million loan portfolio of citizens who are in housing who would not have been able to be in the
housing without this program, with a .01% default rate. our focus is that there are so many missed opportunities. as you continue to cut critical programs that are being deployed innovatively in every city represented in this room right now, and that's, i believe, the most central point that mayors want to stress on the hill and stress to each and every one of you. i encourage you to reach out to the mayors in individual cities, and identify two or three different programs that we are deploying locally that are working so well that if, in fact, we are able to develop wonderful strong partnerships here in washington, d.c. at the white house and on the hill, we can solve a whole lot of problems here. they're being solved locally. let's identify the very best programs, fund them and scale them up to address the major challenges facing americans. >> to pursue steve's points, one of the programs i am proud of in mesa, arizona, we had a medicare
grant the last 3 1/2 years to study how to better serve, provide medical care. the old model of you make a low acuity call, a 911 call on a health issue, and a fire truck with four firemen shows up to respond to that and how does , that make sense is obvious to every mayor in the country. we were at the point of the spear on that issue where we're sending out nurse practitioners with a firefighter rather and , the goal is to not transport that person to a private crowded emergency room but to provide medical treatment. when you do that, might you send the bill to medicare, medicaid, or an insurance company and recoup some of the cost on that. this was done as an innovative way for a city to respond to the affordable care act. to say what is the new normal here, and how can we lower health care courts, and be a better partner. maybe we havehat
come a long way in figuring that out, and then all of a sudden, wait a minute, we have a new administration and all of a sudden the affordable care act is old news and we will start from scratch. that is a little frustrating as a local official, i have to tell you. time, twok the last or three times that i was in d.c. it was right after the , president's skinny budget came out. cdbg was going to be abolished. and i remember that we went up to the hill to talk to our senators and congressmen and try to explain to them how life-threatening that would be in our communities and thankfully, they were reassuring and they said presidents come and go, don't worry, we have the purse strings and we understand what is important. thankfully they've come back with stable funding for cdbg. it has been in some ways heartening to see washington to some extent working and preserving some of the things that are important to cities. but it has also been somewhat frustrating in terms of the possibility of having to restart
all over again issues like , veterans housing and medicaid, and these things that are critically important to our cities. that is part of the reason we are here, to advocate for the continuation of those programs. >> so i'm going to do my time , keeper role and say we have about 20 minutes left. we had six. i will throw those names out for your ratification linda feldman , from the monitor. >> thank you. i have a couple of questions, i have -- i had a meeting with senators today, and i wonder how you can get beyond the feeling on the hill that mayors are in their hands out given the federal budget woes , that we have. i have a specific question for mayor landrieu, after you leave office, which is coming soon , what are your plans? there have been stories about the possibility of higher
office. any thoughts on what is next? >> you want me to go first? the first thing i will do is take a nap. [laughter] secondly, i don't have any plans. and i have about 261 days in office left. the city right now, as you know, and by the way all of you are invited, we're planning our 300th anniversary, which hopefully will be a spectacular, not only historical rendition of where the city was before katrina and the successes we made after it. the answer to your second question is mayors always communicate to our congressmen and senators, both individually and collectively. the mayors are the ones that are solving the most complicated problems in america and we're their partner. we are not a special interest. certainly not. we communicate to them about ways in which we use taxpayer dollars, to leverage private sector dollars to make a dollar go a lot further. and we actually make government work. i say this not because we are in
this room, i would say it anywhere. if you want to see innovative, wonderful things going on in america, get in your car and drive to almost any american city relating to any particular subject matter. mayor benjamin told you how he took cdbg dollars and leveraged that to put 150 people in a home and give them the american dream. we innovate around those things. all of the time. it is interesting to us that actually one thing we have to do is educate our senators and congressmen about what happens to federal dollars once they vet -- once they vote on the appropriations bill. they forget about it after that. that dollar goes on the ground on the street of america and it manifests itself in a person like mrs. jones who got the house, mr. smith who got the job training program and all of those things are formed by different streams of revenue that have gone through a whole bunch of different departments that we've pieced together. they have not pieced it together up here, and we are trying to come back and say, listen, look at what you created. if you take away the financial underpinning, a small part of what you contribute, look how
much you're going to lose, and how much weaker the country is going to be. we have constructive discussions like that with senators. i think we are beginning to see that congressmen and senators are beginning to listen to us because they're 85% of the people that actually live in the cities that we represent. and cities are intricately linked to the rural areas. >> a very brief answer our city , finished five of the last seven years with a budget surplus, and we have the same property tax rate we had a decade ago. we have upgraded by standard & poor's and moody's twice over the last several years. we have been able to create an environment that has led to well over $1.6 billion in capital investment in our urban core. the unemployment rate is lower than the national average at 4.2%. and we have finished every year with a balanced budget. i would love if the federal government and many of our many
state governments could also model that same type of behavior. it's important, i think that people realize that the money that we do come up here and advocate for reinvestment in our cities every year actually comes from our cities. federal dollars are not manna from heaven. these are taxpayer dollars that our citizens send out to washington, d.c. every april 15. so we want to see those dollars repatriated ekholm, and i think it is important. as we move forward with the and tax reform and other issues, it is very important that we ask the federal government to continue to be a partner and not shift some of those federal burdens onto our state and local governments. , around issue of infrastructure and preservation we've had bonds for the major , issues. we want to make sure they remain part of the voice, as we go forward. end, as has been , money isl money
money at the local level to read is not just ammunition used to win a lyrical battles. so i think what you see in the -- it is not just ammunition used to win the medical battles. so i think what you see in the cities represented here and with other mayors, we can stretch a dollar like the parents of a large family. we figure out how to get things done with what we have. i'll go back to my first statement we're here to model , good behavior. money is a precious commodity and it's best spent at the local level. oftentimes, and i'm sure the gentlemen have had the same experience, i've had cub scouts and girl scouts come up to my office, and i try to explain to them why there is a state government, federal government, and local government. if you need an aircraft carrier, it is always good to have the federal government. license,ed a driver's the state government is good to have as well. everything else the government provides for you comes from the city. we need to occasionally be here to remind our federal government that that's where the money ought to be best spent, where it is best spent.
so i don't think you are here so much with our hands out, but just to remind people of the obvious that sometimes escapes them. >> bill douglas from mcclatchy. >> for mayor benjamin, two questions. trump has talked about taking action against sanctuary cities. columbia has said it's not going to provide some information on immigrants. have you seen any impact yet on the president's vow on sanctuary cities? and, two, are you going to seek re-election? >> yes, i am seeking reelection. that's a good simple one. i am not taking a nap yet. [laughter] we can probably work that out. we had a visit up here. we met with the attorney general two or three months ago, and the now chief of staff, and at that
time he was the director of the secretary of homeland security. we endeavored over the course of those meetings, trying to get a clear message from the white house, homeland security, and the attorney general, department of justice, exactly what the definition of a sanctuary city was. and i think to this day we still don't have that clarity. are local governments going to work to apprehend those who violate the law, our cities, states, and country? absolutely. our officers will always do that. we will always work in the interest of preserving safe communities. when the administration is able to come and tell all of us exactly what it means to be a sanctuary city -- if it means we're going to treat people with dignity and respect, if it means we're going to make sure our offices have the resources to do the jobs that they're supposed to be doing every day, taking the most violent criminals off the street, we'll do that.
but we need to have clair -- we need to make sure that we have some clarity from the administration, and we have not received that yet. >> we appreciate you being here. i have a question about trade and nafta. in mid august, the first round of negotiations on nafta will be held here. i want to get a sense of how much effect that would have on your cities, the future of nafta would have on your cities. mayor giles, you have border. mayor landrieu, you have a big port. i don't know about columbia. so i wanted to get a feel for , what you will be watching for, as they make progress or start nafta renegotiations and a -- how muche of does trade contribute to your 'economies? >> nafta is a very big deal in a border state like arizona and a big part of mesa, arizona's, economy.
we were very troubled -- i go on trade delegations to mexico to encourage additional trade and to bolster that, much to the contrary of talking trash about mexico and trying to figure out how to make it more difficult to trade with them. so the renegotiation of the nafta, we're hoping that maybe we can spin that in a positive way. we're also using -- i think hopefully it will create some appetite with the administration for wanting to shine a positive light on some of the great trade relations that we have with mexico. we are on the cusp of announcing some great things in mesa relative to trade with mexico. so we're going to -- we choose to look at it in a positive way and to use it as an opportunity to highlight how well things are going in our relationship with mexico and the very positive economic impact that mexico has on border states like arizona. >> i would echo that. i think, from the city of new orleans, being a port city from
, the mouth of the river to new orleans, collectively we have one of the biggest ports in the world. trade is very important to us, new orleans is an international city so we are watching that very carefully, as well, again. in some instances i think the president's rhetoric might have gotten in front of constructive negotiations. we hope we can have that. i think all of us recognize that the country could do a better job making sure that trade is fair. and of course when people are being displaced from jobs, that all of us in the country do a better job of reconnecting people who may be losing jobs with job training to new jobs that the economy will produce. but again you do not have to , throw the baby out with the bath water and cast aspersions on the whole thing. there is a way for smart and constructive people with sharp elbows to get at the table and make a deal that works for everybody. trade is something that is the lifeblood of a lot of jobs in the cities that we're in and we hope the administration is open-minded about it.
>> transpacific trade initiative, too. >> u.s. conference of mayors has official positions on this in favor of the t.t.p., nafta and i assume cafta. i wasn't here at that time. one in five jobs in south carolina are attributed to the port of charleston. >> south carolina enjoys the position of having the number one car cap better investment in the country. in our city, there are people from 200 different countries who speak 90 different languages in addition to playing basketball and football and baseball. according to "u.s. news and world report," our school of business in dharamsala carolina, in the university of south carolina, has the number one international business program in the country, as well. we are interested in all issues regarding international trade and we will continue to be a voice on these issues.
>> sammy snelling from news mag. notice the oldest person in the room just called on the youngest person in the room. >> thank you so much for being here today. i want to go to the topic of sanctuary cities. thomas hohmann, acting director of u.s. immigration and customs enforcement, set up a white house press briefing. when some law enforcement agencies fail to honor detainees or serious criminal offenders, they undermine i.c.e.'s ability to protect public safety. most work with us and many don't in the largest cities, and that is where criminals flourish. what is your reaction to the statement and would you i.c.e?te with >> first of all, he's just wrong about that. i am not aware of any police department that releases violent criminals on the streets of america. irrespective of the immigration status, our police departments every day, where crime is manifesting itself, are out there aggressively making sure that the streets of america are
safe. as mayor benjamin said, we actually had two very long meetings. i think the gentleman was in the room. where we were asking the department of justice and homeland security to give us clear direction so we can police constitutionally. there is something called a due process clause, and there are things called warrants. our police chiefs across america have been engaging with them and that kind of rhetoric is really not helpful, especially from that particular podium. america -- so again, the mayors of america are here, we are present. we are happy to talk, and we continue to dialogue as much as we can to give them as much as assistance as we can. as long as it is constitutional and we do not rip the community but we have to be clear about this, the number one priority is taking violent criminals, especially those in gangs, off of the streets. but guess what. if you look at the numbers, it is not just in the immigrant community, it's in our communities, as well.
our police officers keep the streets safe irrespective of immigration status and we do so all the time and by the way, as a technical matter, in the city of new orleans -- mayor benjamin, it may be different for you -- when a person goes into the orleans parish jail and , puts their fingerprint, i.c.e. is communicated immediately about that and if i.c.e. is aware of that, everyone i know in the country says if you want to come get them and have a warrant to do so, then you should come. we want to again, continue to constructively communicate, but they have been vague about what they want, how to execute it and the resources to get that done. we are here and we continue to want to talk, but again, as we've said on four or five occasions, the heightened rhetoric doesn't help constructive solutions to problems that are real for us. >> i'm trying to overcome the loss of time and space and get in three questions in five minutes. i will let the mayor's answer -- mayor landrieu answer, and we
will go to deb barry from "u.s.a. today." >> the debate heating up over the national flood insurance program, which i know is a big deal particularly in louisiana. , can you speak to how that might play out? and secondly, arguments based on confederate monuments and flags, can you speak to how you see that playing out? landrieu i'll answer that : quickly. flood insurance is really important and having access is important if people are going to survive in all areas of the country, not just new orleans. people have realized after sandy, we're not the only one that's a threat for water. so it is very important that they get that right. on the confederate monuments issue, i think every local government and community has to make that decision for themselves. i made my thoughts well known. what the thoughts of the people of new orleans were. i think you have to take that on a local basis but there has to be a discussion and they ought to come to resolution about how the past, present and future play together.
>> we enjoyed a major flood two years ago, as well. obviously not just a flood insurance discussion but also it's helped us, all mayors, focus intently on climate issues as we have been leaders in this issue for years and will continue to do that. >> from "the new yorker"? >> i watched the treasury secretary yesterday or the day before meet up with americans for prosperity, they are partnering with it to close what they said were special interest loopholes when they do tax reform and the only one they identified was getting rid of the deductions for state and local taxes. i wondered what effect that would have on cities and do you guys think of yourselves as a special interest that needs to be taken care of? i mean, as in getting rid of deductions? >> sure.
we believe that repeal of the deductions would represent double taxation on our citizens who are already paying taxes locally and that would be a huge mistake. is that brief enough? is that short enough? > that was wonderful! that may be a record. >> the u.s. conference of mayors, total opposed to this issue. taxpayers are not a special interest. cities and state and local governments are not a special interest. most of these revisions were codified in the tax code in 1913 because they are pillars in the way in which we view taxation in america. the people, our citizens, the rate payers, the taxpayers, are not a special interest. and i think it is important that we continue to press that message. >> we have got two minutes. last question from national journal. >> thank you. mayor landrieu what is your , stance on abortion being used
as a litmus test for democrats? >> it's a bad mistake. >> thank you. [laughter] >> we have one minute left. landrieu on issues like that, : both parties should be big 10 parties and no party should have a litmus test relating to that or any other issue because there are lots of people in all of the parties that have a myriad of opinions on a lot of different issues. if your party is closed off to any particular person, you see this in the republican party and the democratic party, litmus tests are just bad ideas and not politically smart, either. >> any of the other mayors want to weigh in on that before we stop? hearing nothing, thank you all so very much for doing this. apologies for pressing on the time. we just wanted to get as many as we could. thanks, again. hope you come back. >> thank you. >> thank you for having us. >> thank you for having us. very nice to see you. [indiscernible]