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US mayors back
President Obama’s
immigration reforms

New York City, 26 January 2015:
More than thirty US mayors have come out in support of President Barrack Obama’s plans to reform immigration by filing an amicus brief* in the Texas vs. United States lawsuit. Last December, Texas together with 16 other US states brought a lawsuit that seeks to block the President’s executive action on immigration which would give an estimated four million people, who are currently illegally in the US, the chance to gain work permits and remain in the country. The state governors maintain that their lawsuit is not about immigration but about presidential power and the rule of law.

The amicus brief, organised by the mayors of New York City and Los Angeles, argues that the public interest across the US is served clearly and overwhelmingly by implementing immigration reform by executive action. The brief also argues that blocking executive action with a preliminary injunction would stall desperately needed changes to the federal government’s immigration policies. The cities represented by the amici mayors together account for approximately 28.2 million people, including 7.5 million immigrants.

This joint effort to offer the court the crucial perspective of American cities is an outcome of the December immigration summit hosted by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the organizing efforts of the Cities United for Immigration Action (CUIA) coalition. By submitting this ‘friend of the court’ brief, America’s mayors are hoping to make a strong statement in support of the US President’s plan to grant administrative relief to over four million undocumented children and adults.

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said President Obama took a bold step in the right direction by easing the burden for some of those who currently lived in the shadows. “I am proud to stand with mayors De Blasio, Garcetti and many others in support of the President’s executive action on immigration,” she added.

*An amicus brief is a document that is filed in a court by someone who is not directly related to the case under consideration. The additional information found in such a document can be useful for the judge evaluating the case, and it becomes part of the official case record.

US states party to the lawsuit against the US government:
• Texas; • Alabama; • Georgia; • Idaho; • Indiana; • Kansas; • Louisiana; • Montana; • Nebraska; • South Carolina; • Texas; • Utah; • West Virginia; • Wisconsin

Mayors who have signed on to the amicus brief
• Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York City, New York; • Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles, California; • Mayor Kasim Reed, Atlanta, Georgia; • Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Baltimore, Maryland; • Mayor Byron Brown, Buffalo, New York; • Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago, Illinois; • Mayor Steve Benjamin, Columbia, South Carolina; • Mayor Nan Whaley, Dayton, Ohio; • Mayor Michael Hancock, Denver, Colorado; • Mayor Muriel Bowser, Washington, D.C. ; • Mayor Pedro Segarra, Hartford, Connecticut; • Mayor Annise Parker, Houston, Texas; • Mayor Steven Fulop, Jersey City, New Jersey; • Mayor Paul Soglin, Madison, Wisconsin ; • Mayor Ras Baraka, Newark, New Jersey; • Mayor Michael Nutter, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; • Mayor Bill Peduto, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; • Mayor Charles Hales, Portland, Oregon; • Mayor John Dickert, Racine, Wisconsin; • Mayor Tom Butt, Richmond, California; • Mayor Lovely Warren, Rochester, New York ; • Mayor Ralph Becker, Salt Lake City, Utah; • Mayor Ed Lee, San Francisco, California; • Mayor Gary McCarthy, Schenectady, New York; • Mayor Ed Murray, Seattle, Washington; • Mayor Francis Slay, St. Louis, Missouri ; • Mayor Marilyn Strickland, Tacoma, Washington; • Mayor Mike Spano, Yonkers, New York; • Mayor Karen Majewski, Hamtramck, Michigan ; • Mayor Virg Bernero, Lansing, Michigan; • Mayor Tom Barrett, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; • Mayor Betsy Hodges, Minneapolis, Minnesota; • Mayor Greg Stanton, Phoenix, Arizona


American cities with tech
and energy industries
performed best in 2014

Los Angeles, 9 January 2015:
American cities whose economies are strongly linked to technology and energy have performed best in the 2014 Milken report, which measures job and wage growth as well as the concentration of high-technology industries. Even though San Francisco removed Austin from the nation’s number-one spot, Texas still had five of its cities ranked among the top 10. No East-Coast cities featured among the top 25. The authors of the ‘Best-Performing Cities’ report said that technology and shale energy were the biggest factor behind America’s booming cities. Technology centres captured 13 of the top 25, with metros containing both creative- and scientific-based industries performing best.

San Francisco achieved the top rank for the first time in the 15-year history of the index. Propelling the gains: the city's number-one finish in wage growth over both the past five-year and one-year periods. "Young, technology-skilled workers are flocking to San Francisco, driving up wages and driving down unemployment in these sectors below two per cent," said the report.

Texas claimed five of the top 10 positions among large metropolitan areas. A special Texas blend of technology, energy strength, and a favourable business climate boosted Texan metro economies.

East-Coast and ‘Rust-Belt’ cities fared badly in the Milken Institute report. New York City fell from 34th spot in 2013 to 62nd 12 months later, while Washington DC dropped 39 places to 84th place. The best placed East-Coast metro area was Cambridge, MA, ranked 34th, down from 23rd in 2013, while Boston improved slightly from 46th to 44th place. Detroit, which late last year emerged from bankruptcy was ranked 193rd.

Looking forward to the 2015 ranking, many economist predict that, with oil prices falling to below US$50 a barrel, many cities which rely heavily on the energy sectors for job and revenue growth, will stagnate or see their fortunes reversed. It is widely believed that the exploration of shale oil and gas needs an oil price of above $70 to be profitable.

The three best-performing smaller cities were Fargo (ND), Columbus (IN) and Victoria (TX).

Economic ranking of the
most prominent US cities

City
2014 rank
2013 rank
San Francisco, CA
1
3
Austin, TX
2
1
Provo, UT
3
2
San Jose, CA
4
4
Raleigh, NC
5
13
Salt Lake City, UT
6
5
Houston, TX
7
8
Fort Worth, TX
8
16
Dallas, TX
9
7
San Antonio, TX
10
12
Seattle, WA
11
6
Denver, CO
12
15
~
~
~
Portland, OR
16
21
San Diego, CA
22
43
Cambridge, MA
34
23
Baltimore, MD
38
36
Los Angeles, CA
42
97
Boston, MA
44
46
Oklahoma City, OK
46
28
Atlanta, GA
50
41
New York City, NY
62
34
Phoenix, AZ
65
66
New Orleans, LA
67
88
Kansas City, MO
77
68
Pittsburgh, PA
79
31
Washington DC
84
45
Miami, FL
85
144
Chicago, IL
97
86
Honolulu, HI
99
105
Richmond, VA
108
111
Philadelphia, PA
110
109
St Louis, MO
127
143
Rochester, NY
141
119
Las Vegas, NV
144
192
Memphis, TN
145
150
Detroit, MI
193
167
Source: Best Performing Cities 2014 by the Milken Institute


US police forces
find it hard to recruit
from ethnic minorities

New York City, 7 January 2015:
Since the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, last August, there have been renewed calls from across the US to recruit more officers from ethnic minorities. Commentators argue that the racial mix of a police force should reflect the make-up of the community it serves. Recent research has shown that white Americans are overrepresented in 68 out of the 75 largest police forces in the US*. The overrepresentation is particularly high in Jersey City, Newark (NJ), Sacramento (CA) as well as in the NY cities of Rochester and Buffalo. Brownsville (TX) and Los Angeles have police forces whose racial and ethnic mix most reflects that of their cities’ populations.

Most of America’s police forces are keen to diversify but find it harder and harder to recruit young blacks. While the percentage of police officers from racial or ethnic minorities has increased from 17 per cent in the 1980s to 25 per cent now, the trend seems to be stalling. Many police chiefs say that despite their best efforts, young black people were just not interested in joining the police. Cedric Alexander, the president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, said even though many police forces were predominantly recruiting in black schools they just can’t get more black officers. He explained that 40 years ago, when he joined the police, young blacks took up police jobs to make things better from within. “Today young bright people have far better opportunities in the private sector,” Alexander added.

US cities where whites are in a minority but are overrepresented in the police
City
Racial majority*
Estimated overrepresentation of whites in police force*
Jersey City (NJ) Hispanics 28%
44%
Newark (NJ) Blacks 51%
43%
Santa Ana (CA) Hispanics 78%
34%
San Jose, CA Hispanics 33%
32%
Cleveland, OH Blacks 53%
30%
San Bernardino, CA Hispanics 58%
28%
Memphis, TN Blacks 62%
28%
Milwaukee, WI Blacks 39%
27%
Detroit, MI Blacks 82%
26%
Dallas, TX Hispanics 42%
22%
Houston, TX Hispanics 42%
20%
Birmingham, AL Blacks 74%
20%
St Louis, MO Blacks 50%
19%
Miami, FL Hispanics 70%
17%
Baltimore, MD Blacks 64%
16%
Philadelphia, PA Blacks 43%
13%
Washington DC Blacks 52%
11%
New Orleans, LA Blacks 59%
8%
Los Angeles, CA Hispanics 48%
4%
Sources: American Community Survey (2010), FiveThirtyEight.com, PublicSource.org, NPR.org


The killing of two officers
widens rift between NYC’s
mayor and the police

New York City, 22 December 2014:
New York City’s largest police union accused the city’s mayor of sharing responsibility for the killing of two police officers who were shot dead on Saturday. Patrick Lynch, the president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, told journalists that blood on the hands starts at the steps of City Hall in the office of the mayor. The union leader’s remarks followed weeks of rising tension between the city’s police force, NYPD, and City Hall after Mayor Bill de Blasio criticised a grand jury verdict that cleared a police officer who had caused the death of Eric Garner, a black suspect, by holding him down in an illegal chokehold earlier this year.

The mayor described the jury’s verdict as a national moment of pain and added that that racial profiling and distrust between African Americans and the police was a problem for all New Yorkers. “It is a problem for all Americans. It's all our problem.” The New York verdict came nine days after a grand jury in Ferguson (Missouri) decided not to indict a white police officer, who had shot dead an unarmed black man. New York’s police were further infuriated when the mayor, whose wife is black, allegedly told a journalist that he had advised his teenage son to take special care in any encounter with police officers.

During last year’s election campaign, Bill de Basio accused his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, of allowing the NPYD too much of a free hand. But, although he halted ‘stop-and-frisk, a practise which predominantly targeted young African Americans, Mayor de Blasio acted supportively towards the city police force during his first year in office. He repeatedly praised officers for their handling of the city-wide protests following the Ferguson and Garner grand jury verdicts.

Supporters of the mayor, many of whom believe that statements made by union leaders are not representative of the views of many ordinary police officers, have told the NPYD that the mayor’s efforts to rebuild the trust of the black community in the police force does not constitute a vilification of the police. Even former mayor Rudolph Giuliani, whose zero tolerance policies endeared him to the police, said the police union had gone too far in blaming the mayor for last Saturday’s death of two officers.


American mayors form
action coalition to push
for immigration reform

New York City, 12 December 2014:
Mayors from 43 US cities have joined in a coalition to support President Obama’s recent executive order to legalise the status of some five million undocumented immigrants. The coalition, United Cities for Immigration action, which includes cities such as Los Angeles, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Houston, Seattle and New York, was set up two weeks ago to back the President against the Republican opposition and, more importantly, to create a nationwide framework that will give illegal immigrants the confidence to register with the authorities. There are hundreds of thousands of immigrants who have lived and worked in the US for many years but have never had any dealings with local or state offices.

Earlier this week, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio hosted a summit of mayors to exchange views on how the changes to immigration should be implemented and could be co-ordinated. Mayor de Blasio stressed the need to reach all eligible immigrants through community outreach and public educations and to safeguard immigrants from fraudulent services. The mayor also told his guests that it was vital businesses, faith groups and local community organisations should become involved in the process as early as possible.

"The president's plan to act on immigration reform is crucial to creating a more just country, and the federal government is depending on cities to implement the plan," de Blasio said. "It is critical that we get it right. Mayors are in the trenches and see firsthand the need for comprehensive immigration reform. We will take this opportunity to lay the ground work for a deeper national movement from the grassroots up."

The New York summit of mayors marked the launch of a forum that allows local leaders to swap tips on how to prepare for once the millions of immigrants who qualify for the President’s actions are able to begin the application process, expected as soon as February. Mayors hope to kick off a social media campaign to spur action and awareness across the country. Also in February, elected officials are planning a “Mayoral Lobby Day” for city officials to ascend on Capitol Hill and lobby members of Congress who do not support comprehensive immigration reform.

Some of the mayors who have signed up to United Cities for Immigration Action:
• Christopher Taylor, Mayor of Ann Arbor, MI
• Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Mayor of Baltimore, MD
• Don Gerard, Mayor of Champaign, IL
• Nan Whaley, Mayor of Dayton, OH
• Michael E. Duggan, Mayor of Detroit, MI
• Dayne Walling, Mayor of Flint, MI
• Pedro E. Segarra, Mayor of Hartford, CT
• Bobby Hopewell, Mayor of Kalamazoo, MI
• Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles, CA
• Betsy Hodges, Mayor of Minneapolis, MN
• Marian McClellan, Mayor of Oak Park, MI
• Greg Stanton, Mayor of Phoenix, AZ
• Kurt R. Metzger, Mayor of Pleasant Ridge, MI
• Charlie Hales, Mayor of Portland, OR
• Gayle McLaughlin, Mayor of Richmond, CA
• Kevin Johnson, Mayor of Sacramento, CA
• Ed Lee, Mayor of San Francisco, CA
• Francis G. Slay, Mayor of St. Louis, MO
• Vincent Gray, Mayor of Washington, D.C.
• Kasim Reed, Mayor of Atlanta, GA
• Byron Brown, Mayor of Buffalo, NY
• Michael B. Coleman, Mayor of Columbus, OH
• Michael B. Hancock, Mayor of Denver, CO
• Nathan Triplett, Mayor of East Lansing, MI
• Karen Majewski, Mayor of Hamtramck, MI
• Annise Parker, Mayor of Houston, TX
• Virg Bernero, Mayor of Lansing, MI
• Paul Soglin, Mayor of Madison, WI
• Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City, NY
• Michael Nutter, Mayor of Philadelphia, PA
• William Peduto, Mayor of Pittsburgh, PA
• Michael F. Brennan , Mayor of Portland, ME
• Angel Taveras, Mayor of Providence, RI
• Lovely A. Warren, Mayor of Rochester, NY
• Ralph Becker, Mayor of Salt Lake City, UT
• Ed Murray, Mayor of Seattle, WA
• Marilyn Strickland, Mayor of Tacoma, WA


Two African-American
mayors cause furore
with Ferguson comments

Sacramento / Rochester, 27 November 2014:
Two African-American mayors were criticised by their own police forces after they condemned the decision by a grand jury not to indict a police offer who had shot an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, in August. Sacramento (CA) Mayor Kevin Johnson, who is also the current president of the US Conference of Mayors, called the grand jury’s decision a sad day for America. “When you think about injustice and all the things that have happened over the history of time. This one just doesn’t feel right.” In a Facebook posting Rochester’s (NY) Mayor Lovely Warren wrote that the Ferguson shooting was about a “young, unarmed black man and an authority figure who had little regard for this young man's life.”

The head of the Sacramento police union said that his members were upset with the comments made by Mayor Johnson. He described the mayor’s remarks as a slap in the face to law enforcement across America. “The mayor shouldn’t be disappointed, he should be relieved that the grand jury did not find Wilson (the officer who killed the teenager Michael Brown) acted in a heinous fashion.”

As president of the US Conference of Mayors, Kevin Johnson offered a more measured response to the grand jury verdict, asking the prosecuting attorney to release the full transcript of the grand jury proceedings. But he also repeated that justice would have been better served by an examination of the evidence in a court of law. “America’s mayors strongly believe that there should have been open-court proceedings in the case of the officer-involved shooting of Michael Brown so that the evidence could have been presented in a public forum and a verdict could have been rendered by a jury.”

In Rochester, Mayor Warren’s Facebook posting caused furore with critics asking the mayor that she, as an attorney, should support the judicial system. The brother of a Rochester police officer killed on duty in September was particularly scathing. He asked the mayor whether she stood by her officers or “the animal that murdered his brother”.

On 9 August the black teenager Michael Brown was shot dead by Darren Wilson, a white police officer. According to eyewitnesses, Officer Wilson pursued Michael Brown after an altercation and fired 12 shots, with six hitting the teenager. On Monday, 24 November, an St Louis grand jury decided there was not enough evidence to prosecute the police officer.

Grand juries, which originate in medieval English law, were thought a useful legal tool when private individuals could still bring criminal charges in 18th century America. Jurors would decide whether there was enough evidence to bring an accused to court.

Research by the Washington Post shows that the number of justified police killings in the US has increase from 2.63 per 10,000 violent crimes in 2001 to 3.38 in 2012, even though violent crime fell from 1.9 million to 1.2 million incidents during the same period.


Vancouver mayor
re-elected despite
disappointing voters

Vancouver, 16 November 2014:
There were few surprises in yesterday’s local elections in British Columbia on the Canadian Pacific Coast. As expected Vancouver’s incumbent Mayor Gregor Robertson won a third term, albeit less convincingly than opinion polls had predicted. During the campaign, Kirk LaPointe, the mayor’s principal opponent and former managing editor at the Vancouver Sun, reminded voters of some of the controversies that have surrounded the mayor since he was first elected in 2008. In Surrey, British Columbia’s second-largest city, Linda Hepner will replace Dianne Watts, the still popular incumbent, who decided not to seek re-election.

Gregor Robertson, who, after a number blunders, has sometimes been dubbed ‘the Mayor who likes to say Sorry’ - even late in the election race he apologised for not meeting residents’ expectations - fought an aggressive campaign, accusing his opponent of being reckless, confused and backward. The Mayor has also pledged to serve out his third term and not to contest the 2015 general election.

In Surrey BC, most commentators expected a tight finish between former Mayor Dough McCallum and Linda Hepner, a long-time ally of outgoing Mayor Dianne Watts. At the end Ms Hepner won by a landslide, defeating her opponent by 43,000 to 23,000 votes. Her slate ‘Surrey First’ also won all eight council seats. Mayor-elect Hepner campaigned on continuing the policies that have seen Surrey through massive growth in the last decade. The city of about half a million people southeast of Vancouver is growing at a rate of about 1,000 people a month, with some people predicting it to exceed Vancouver in population in three decades. Dough McCallum, who served three terms as Mayor of Surrey between 1996 and 2005 before being defeated by Dianne Watts, said he would now withdraw from politics.

In Victoria, BC, Councillor Lisa Helps defeated incumbent Mayor Dean Fortins by a mere 89 votes, while in Abbotsford the incumbent Bruce Banman suffered a similar fate at the hands of Councillor Henry Braun.


Canada’s most notorious
mayors are given
short shrift by voters

Toronto, 29 October 2014:
On Monday, 27 October, voters in Canada replaced two of the country’s most controversial mayors as well as its best-loved one. Gone are Toronto’s Rob Ford, who will always be remembered for lying about his use of illegal drugs; Winnipeg’s Sam Katz, who refused to resign even after a city-commissioned report tied him to the over-priced construction of several fire stations; and Mississauga’s 93-year old Hazel McCallion, who did not seek re-election after 34 years in office.

Ms McCallion, nicknamed, ‘Hurrican Hazel’ because of her outspoken political style, has long been Canada’s most respected mayor, even when, in 2011, a judge found that she had acted unethically when pushing for a real estate deal in which her son was involved. She was later cleared of any charges because the project did not progress. During her years in office, Mississauga grew from a collection of small communities at the doorstep of Toronto to Canada’s sixth-largest city. Hazel McCallin was awarded several national and international honours, including the Canadian Order of Merit, the German Order of Merit and runner-up for the 2005 World Mayor Prize. The high esteem, which she still enjoys in Mississauga, helped Bonnie Crombie to win this month’s mayoral election. Ms Crombie and her principal rival, Steven Mahoney, were neck and neck in opinion polls during most of the campaign until, in early October, Bonnie Crombie was endorsed by Hazel McCallion. The endorsement provided her with an almost overnight poll lead of 25 per cent. On Monday, Ms Crombie defeated her rival by 63.5 per cent of the vote to 28.7 per cent.

In neighbouring Toronto, John Tory defeated Douglas Ford, who took over his brother’s candidacy after the incumbent mayor withdrew from the race for health reasons. Mr Tory, who describes himself as a moderate conservative, was supported by Canada’s centre-left Liberal Party but not by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s ruling Conservative Party. Indeed, the Prime Minister praised the Ford brothers only days before Mayor Rob Ford’s crack cocaine habit became public knowledge. Toronto may have elected a more enlightened mayor but the city is still split between liberals and right-wing conservatives, a situation emphasised by the fact that voters re-elected most die-hard Fordian city councillors.

The size of Brian Bowman’s win in Winnipeg’s mayoral election on 22 October shocked some and surprised many. Prior to election day, the mayor-elect’s main rival Judy Wasylycia-Leis had led in all but one opinion polls and most commentators believed 2014 was her year after she put up a strong fight against Mayor Sam Katz in the 2010 mayoral contest. Then, she won almost 43 per cent of the vote compared to a mere 25 per cent this month. Unlike Wasylycia-Leis, who served in both the national and Manitoba parliaments, Brian Bowman has never held elected office. He will be Winnipeg’s first mayor of aboriginal descent and was supported by Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative Party. His first brush with politics was in Mexico, where, in 1997, he interned in the office of Mexico’s foreign minister. He is said to have briefed the minister on the cross-border flow of professionals under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

In Brampton, Ontario, Linda Jeffrey defeated the sitting Mayor Susan Fennell, whose final term was marred by a spending scandal involving her and members of her administration. An independent report concluded that the mayor and her staff broke spending rules 266 times and alleged that the Ms Fennel accumulated more than CAN$320,000 of questionable expenses. Mayor-elect Linda Jeffrey, a Liberal, was born in Cork, Ireland, and moved to Brampton in 1983. She was a member of Ontario’s legislative assembly from 2007 until 2014 during which time she also occupied a number of ministerial posts.

One of a few success stories for incumbent mayors occurred in Canada’s capital Ottawa, where Mayor Jim Watson was re-elected by 76 per cent of voters. Mr Watson first served as Mayor of Ottawa from 1997 until 2000 when he resigned to become CEO of the Canadian Tourism Commission. In 2003, under the Liberal Party banner, he entered Ontario’s provincial parliament. After the Liberal’s success in the 2007 provincial elections, he was appointed Minister of Municipal Affairs, a post he held until, in 2010, he decided to run again for Mayor of Ottawa. He won that year’s election with almost 50 per cent of the vote.

In other election, Drew Dilkens was elected Mayor of Windsor and Dave Jaworsky Mayor of Waterloo, while in Woolwich Sandy Shantz defeated the incumbent Todd Cowan, who faces a police probe into his expenses claims. Voters in Surrey, British Columbia, will decide on 15 November who will succeed Dianne Watts. Ms Watts has declared her ambition to enter national politics.

Christian conservatives
attack Houston Mayor
over gay equal rights

Houston, 20 October 2014:
Christian conservatives have declared Houston’s Annise Parker America’s most dangerous mayor. Religious websites and right-wing media outlets have accused the mayor, who is openly lebian, of being part of a campaign by ‘radical homosexuals’ to silence Christians. Reverend Jesse Peterson, founder of Brotherhood of a new Destiny, wrote that Mayor Parker wanted to criminalise and censor anyone who spoke out against the ‘perverse LGBT agenda’. The attack on the mayor and her administration followed a subpoena sent to some pastors actively involved in collecting petition signatures against Houston's Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO).

In January of this year, at the beginning of her third term, Mayor Parker announced that the city would pass non-discrimination ordinance that included gender identity and sexual orientation. In her inaugural address she said: “To ensure the full participation of every Houstonian in the business and civic life of this great city, it is time to pass a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance that adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the protections most Houstonians take for granted.”

HERO bans discrimination among businesses that serve the public, private employers, in housing and in city employment and city contracting. But even though religious institutions are exempt, the ordinance has come under attack from conservative Christians and right-wing politicians. After opponents failed to force a voter referendum against the ordinance, they mounted a legal challenge. Houston has suspended enforcement of the ordinance until the lawsuit is set to be resolved next year.

Earlier this month, lawyers, working for the city, issued subpoenas against a number or religious leaders asking for sight of all communications, including sermons, related to the repeal petition. The inclusion of the word ‘sermon’ enraged opponents of HERO, who accused the mayor of wanting to silence churches.

Before journalists, Mayor Parker admitted that the subpoenas were worded to broadly and that ‘sermons’ should not have been mentioned. "We don't need to intrude on matters of faith to have equal rights in Houston, and it was never the intention of the city of Houston to intrude on any matters of faith or to get between a pastor and their parishioners," Parker said. "We don't want their sermons; we want the instructions on the petition process. That's always what we wanted and, again, they knew that's what we wanted because that's the subject of the lawsuit."

But even dropping sermons from the subpoenas failed to quite her critics. Former Republican Governor of Arkansas and presidential candidate called on ‘every pastor in America’ to send their sermons to Annise Parker. “I hope she gets thousands and thousands of sermons,” he said on his Fox News show. Rev Peterson, meanwhile, accuses Mayor Parker to wanting to allow transgender men to use female toilets.


The vast majority
of America’s largest
cities are liberal

Boston, 11 August 2014:
The vast majority of large American cities are fundamentally liberal-leaning. New research conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of California (UCLA) found that out 51 cities with populations of more than 250,000 only eleven could be described as conservative. Two cities are neutral while the rest are liberal. The researchers named Meza, Arizona, as the country’s most conservative city, while, unsurprisingly, San Francisco emerged as America’s most liberal city. Additional research by City Mayors also showed that while four of the 15 most conservative cities in the US had Democrat mayors none of the 15 most liberal ones were led by Republicans.

The MIT/UCLA research examined the average policy preferences of residents in the 51 US cities with populations exceeding 250,000. The researchers then compared them to the policies of those cities to see if political leanings were reflected in tax burdens and other city operations. "The policies enacted by cities across a range of policy areas correspond with the liberal-conservative positions of their citizens on national policy issues," the authors wrote.

Mesa, a Phoenix-area suburb with a population of about 468,000, easily grabbed the top spot for most conservative city in the country. Oklahoma City and Virginia Beach followed as the next most right-leaning. The research confirmed the status of San Francisco, Washington DC and Seattle as cities as trail-blazing liberal cities.

There has been some criticism of the study’s methodology. Some analysts commented that the research did not urban structure into account. Many of the most conservative cities on this list (e.g. Jacksonville, Las Vegas, Omaha, Oklahoma City, Colorado Springs) are in traditionally mono-centric urban areas, but in the middle of the 20th century annexed large portions of what would be suburban municipalities in other metro areas. Others are purely suburban municipalities (e.g. Mesa, Aurora, Anaheim) that just happen to occupy more land than suburbs usually do. “What would be more interesting is to look at the primary core cities (as defined by the Census Bureau) of, say, the largest 50 or 100 metropolitan areas. Oklahoma City would probably win out.”

Americas most conservative cities and their mayors
City
Mayor & politics
Mesa, AZ Scott Smith, Republican
Oklahoma City, OK Mick Cornett, Republican
Virginia Beach, VA William Sessoms, Republican
Colorado Springs, CO Steve Bach, Independent
Jacksonville, FL Alvin Brown, Democrat
Arlington, TX Robert Chuck, Independent
Anaheim, CA Tom Tait, Republican
Omaha, NE Jean Stothert, Republican
Tulsa, OK Dewey Bartlett, Republican
Aurora, CO Steve Hogan, Republican
Forth Worth, TX Betsy Price, Independent
Fresno, CA Ashley Swearengin, Republican
Corpus Christi, TX Nelda Martinez, Democrat
San Antonio, TX Julian Castro, Democrat
Nashville, TN Karl Dean, Democrat

America’s most liberal cities and their mayors
City
Mayor & politics
San Francisco, CA Edwin Lee, Democrat
Washington, DC Vincent Gray, Democrat
Seattle, WA Ed Murray, Democrat
Oakland, CA Jean Quan, Democrat
Boston, MA Marty Walsh, Democrat
Minneapolis, MN Betsy Hodges, Democrat
Detroit, MI Mike Duggan, Democrat
New York, NY Bill de Blasio, Democrat
Buffalo, NY Bryon Brown, Democrat
Baltimore, MD Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Democrat
Chicago, IL Rahm Emanuel, Democrat
Portland, OR Charlie Hales, Democrat
St Paul, MN Chris Coleman, Democrat
Austin, TX Lee Leffingwell, Democrat
St Louis, MO Francis Slay, Democrat
Philadelphia, PA Michael Nutter, Democrat

Source: MIT and UCLA with additional research by City Mayors


Less than 20 per cent
of America’s cities are
led by women mayors

New York City, 9 July 2014:
Less than 20 per cent of America’s city mayors are women. Following mayoral elections across the US last November, data shows that of 1,351 cities with more than 30,000 inhabitants, only 249, or 18.4 per cent, were led by women. The share of women mayors among very large US cities is even lower. Houston’s Annise Parker is the only woman governing a city with more than one million people. Twenty of America’s 150 largest cities have women at the top (13.3%). Nine of them belong to the Democratic Party, seven are Republicans, while four mayors are non-aligned.

The longest-serving mayor from the group of top-20 female mayors is Laurene Weste from Santa Clarita, California. Mayors, who assumed office this year, include Betsy Hodges (Minneapolis) and Lovely Warren (Rochester).

In 2010, Susan Carroll and Kira Sanbonmatsu presented a paper to Midwest Science Association, which investigates the backgrounds of women mayors and their decision to seek municipal office for the first time. The authors found that while it was generally assumed that women fare well in local politics, the number of women mayors in larger cities had not increased over time.

Women mayors among America’s top 150 cities
City
Population
Mayor
Mayor since
Party
Houston, Texas
2,099,451
Annise Parker
01/2010
Dem
Fort Worth, Texas
741,206
Betsy Price
7/2011
Rep
Baltimore, Maryland
620,961
Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
2/2010
Dem
Las Vegas, Nevada
583,756
Carolyn Goodman
7/2011
Ind
Fresno, Californai
494,665
Ashley Swearengin
1/2009
Rep
Omaha, Nebraska
408,958
Jean Stothert
6/2013
Rep
Raleigh, North Carolina
403,892
Nancy McFarlene
10/2011
Ind
Oakland, California
390,724
Jean Quan
1/2011
Dem
Minneapolis, Minnesota
390,050
Betsy Hodges
1/2014
Dem
Corpus Christi, Texas
305,215
Nelda Martinez
2012
Ind
Greensboro, North Carolina
269,666
Nancy Vaughn
12/2013
Dem
Chula Vista, California
243,916
Cheryl Cox
2006
Rep
Irving, Texas
216,290
Beth Van Duyne
2011
Rep
Rochester, New York
210,532
Lovely Warren
1/2014
Dem
Tacoma, Washington
198,397
Marilyn Strickland
1/2010
Ind
Fontana, California
196,069
Acquanetta Warren
12/2010
Rep
Columbus, Georgia
189,885
Teresa Tomlinson
01/2011
Dem
Knoxville, Tennessee
178,874
Madeline Rogero
12/2011
Dem
Santa Clarita, California
176,320
Laurene Weste
1998
Rep
Port St. Lucie, Florida
164,603
JoAnn Faiella
1/2011
Dem
Dem = Democrat, Rep = Republican, Ind = Independent and non-aligned (Research carried out July 2014)


White Americans are
a minority in most of
the largest US cities

Washington DC, 10 April 2014:
While ethnically America is still predominantly White (2), in many of the country’s largest cities people of European ancestry are in a minority. Overall, White Americans make up 63.7 per cent of the US population, Hispanic or Latino Americans account for 16.4 per cent with African Americans on 12.6 per cent. But in 18 out of the 25 largest US cities, White Americans comprise less than half of the population. The cities with largest African American populations include Detroit (83%), Memphis (63%) and Washington DC (51%). El Paso has the largest share of Hispanic Americans (81%), while San Francisco is home to more Asian Americans (33%) than any other large US city.

In Detroit, Memphis and Washington DC African Americans form the majority, while Hispanic Americans account for more than 50 per cent of the populations in El Paso and San Antonio - in Los Angeles, 48.5 per cent of people describe themselves as Latino. In San Francisco and San Jose, both in California, Americans of Asian origin represent almost one third of the total population.

Ethnic make-up of America’s largest cities
City
Population (1)
Black (3)
Hispanic (4)
Asian (5)
New York City; New York
8,336,697
25.5%
28.6%
12.7%
Los Angeles; California
3,857,799
9.6%
48.5%
11.3%
Chicago; Illinois
2,714,856
32.9%
28.9%
5.5%
Houston; Texas
2,160,821
23.7%
37.4%
6.0%
Philadelphia; Pennsylvania
1,547,607
43.4%
12.3%
6.3%
Phoenix; Arizona
1,488,750
6.5%
40.8%
3.2%
San Antonio; Texas
1,382,951
6.9%
63.2%
2.4%
San Diego; California
1,338,348
6.7%
28.8%
15.9%
Dallas; Texas
1,241,162
25.0%
42.4%
2.9%
San Jose; California
982,765
3.2%
33.2%
32.0%
Austin; Texas
842,592
8.1%
35.1%
6.3%
Jacksonville; Florida
836,507
30.7%
7.7%
4.3%
Indianapolis; Indiana
834,852
27.5%
9.4%
2.1%
San Francisco; California
825,863
6.1%
15.1%
33.3%
Columbus; Ohio
809,798
28.0%
5.6%
4.1%
Fort Worth; Texas
777,992
18.0%
33.8%
3.5%
Charlotte; North Carolina
775,202
35.0%
13.1%
5.0%
Detroit; Michigan
701,475
82.7
6.8%
1.1%
El Paso; Texas
672,538
3.4%
80.7%
1.2%
Memphis; Tennessee
655,155
63.3%
6.5%
1.6%
Boston, Massachusetts
636,479
22.4%
17.5%
8.9%
Seattle, Washington
634,535
7.9%
6.6%
13.8%
Denver, Colorado
634,265
9.9%
34.7%
3.1%
Washington, DC
632,323
50.7%
9.1%
3.5%
Nashville-Davidson, Tennessee
624,496
28.4%
10.0%
3.1%
(1) 2012 data supplied by the US Census Bureau and compiled by City Mayors
(2) 2010 data: White Americans have ethnic origins in Europe but can include people from the Middle East and North Africa
(3) 20210 data: Black or African American have ethnic origins in sub-Sahara Africa.
(4) 2010 data: Hispanic or Latino Americans have ethnic origins in the Latin-speaking countries of Latin America, Portugal and Spain.
(5) 2010 data: Asian Americans have ethnic origins in the Far East, Southeast Asia and South Asia.







World Mayor 2014
26 mayors from across the world are competing for this year’s World Mayor Prize. THE WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED ON 3 FEBRUARY 2015




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White Americans are a minority in most of the largest US cities