Dixon, mayors ask Obama for more direct funding

December 20, 2008|By Annie Linskey | Annie Linskey,annie.linskey@baltsun.com

A group of mayors that met with President-elect Barack Obama's transition team this week pushed for the federal government to send aid directly to the nation's cash-strapped cities rather than routing it through the states, Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon said at a news conference yesterday.

"That is just one of the big issues that every mayor talked about," Dixon said. "If you eliminate money going through the state, it really provides more to the local jurisdictions."

Dixon was one of 13 mayors who met with Valerie Jarrett, a senior Obama adviser, in Chicago on Thursday morning. The mayor's chief of staff, Demaune Millard, also attended the meeting.

"Metropolitan cities have been neglected over the past eight years," Dixon said. "It was very refreshing because we haven't had that kind of dialogue and voice."

The mayors also discussed the impact of federal consent decrees - such as the 2002 order that Baltimore revamp its wastewater management system.

Toward the end of the 2 1/2 -hour meeting, Obama came in to greet the mayors and their aides. Dixon said she chatted about Obama's plan to visit Baltimore on Jan. 17, on his way to the Jan. 20 inauguration.

Details of that stop have not been made final, but the mayor said she hopes Obama can address residents gathered in front of City Hall from the building's second-floor balcony.

"I think it would just be phenomenal," Dixon said, adding that she envisioned an American flag draped over City Hall. "It would be a great honor."

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