Government isn’t working — so mayors say hire them – POLITICO

Mayors across the country are counting on voters to act on their frustration with Washington and state capitals — by electing them instead.

Most years when a mayor runs for higher office, the pitch is simple: They’ve managed smaller governments, so they’re ready for a promotion. This year, they’re looking to tap into something deeper and more basic: a demand for government to do something. Anything.

All the clichés about there not being a Republican or Democratic way of picking up the garbage or being answerable to constituents take on extra resonance in the era of President Donald Trump’s Twitter tantrums and shutdowns where Congress takes two weeks to debate how to keep the government open for a few more weeks.

That’s the message mayors overall are pushing at the winter meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors that convened this week in Washington. “We may see some people send out tweets, but we’re fixing the streets,” was Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s spoken-word formulation.

But the number who are adopting that message in campaigns for higher office this year has taken many by surprise.

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Article: Government isn’t working — so mayors say hire them | POLITICO by EDWARD-ISAAC DOVERE, 01/25/2018

 Photo: Timothy D. Easley/AP Photo

Bucking Trump, These Cities, States and Companies Commit to Paris Accord – The New York Times

It was unclear how, exactly, that submission to the United Nations would take place. Christiana Figueres, a former top United Nations climate official, said there was currently no formal mechanism for entities that were not countries to be full parties to the Paris accord.

Ms. Figueres, who described the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw as a “vacuous political melodrama,” said the American government was required to continue reporting its emissions to the United Nations because a formal withdrawal would not take place for several years.

But Ms. Figueres, the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change until last year, said the Bloomberg group’s submission could be included in future reports the United Nations compiled on the progress made by the signatories of the Paris deal.

Read the Article at the Source: Bucking Trump, These Cities, States and Companies Commit to Paris Accord – The New York Times

There are 195 countries committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions as part of the 2015 agreement.

Still, producing what Mr. Bloomberg described as a “parallel” pledge would indicate that leadership in the fight against climate change in the United States had shifted from the federal government to lower levels of government, academia and industry.

Mr. Bloomberg, a United Nations envoy on climate, is a political independent who has been among the critics of Mr. Trump’s climate and energy policies.

Mayors of cities including Los Angeles, Atlanta and Salt Lake City have signed on — along with Pittsburgh, which Mr. Trump mentioned in his speech announcing the withdrawal — as have Hewlett-Packard, Mars and dozens of other companies.

Finish the Article at the Source: Bucking Trump, These Cities, States and Companies Commit to Paris Accord – The New York Times

We need global data on women’s participation in local government | CitiScope

Celestine Ketcha Courtès (left), mayor of Bangangté, Cameroon, sits next to Fatimetou Abdel Malick, mayor of Tevragh Zeina, Mauritania, at an event in November 2015. (UCLG/Flickr/cc)

What proportion of the world’s mayors and councillors are women? Which cities and regions are world leaders in gender balance in local institutions and why? Answering these questions is more difficult than it may appear at first glance. Despite the growing consensus on the role that women’s participation plays in sustainable development, there is no globally comparable data on the proportion of women in local elected office.

That gap could have major impact. It has been demonstrated that when women have greater voice and participation in public administrations, public resources are more likely to be allocated toward investments in human development priorities, including child health, nutrition and access to employment.

That’s why it’s so important that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the global anti-poverty agenda that entered into force last year, directly address the issue of women’s political participation. Under the framework, Goal 5 on gender equality and women’s empowerment includes a specific target to “ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life.”

Read more at the source: We need global data on women’s participation in local government

The representation of women in elected office in local institutions is a vital part of this target. It is essential that women are included in decision-making at the local level and are not excluded from the governance of our cities and territories. Further, local institutions provide a pipeline of candidates to national parliaments and executive positions, meaning that closing the gender gap in national leadership depends on addressing the issue at local level.

Achieving gender balance in local government is also important for achieving Goal 16, which addresses issues of transparency, strong institutions and access to justice. Two targets beneath this goal pledge governments to bolster accountability and representativeness in institutions at all levels.

[See: How Seberang Perai’s first female mayor is reducing waste and boosting citizen engagement]

So if there are no official statistics on women in local government, what is the anecdotal evidence? At UCLG, the world association of local and regional governments, we estimate that around 20 percent of local councillors and just 5 percent of mayors worldwide are women, with significant variations between world regions and countries.

While such numbers are striking, they are just estimates. Reliable data is needed to obtain an accurate picture of the current state of affairs and to effectively monitor progress on SDG 5.

Be Counted

That’s why on 13 March, a delegation of female mayors will gather in New York in parallel to the annual session of the U. N. Commission on the Status of Women to launch the “Be Counted” campaign, calling for better global data on women in locally elected office.

“Around 20 percent of local councillors and just 5 percent of mayors worldwide are women.”

The Be Counted campaign aims to support efforts led by UN Women and backed by global networks of local and regional governments to develop an indicator for Goal 5. Such indicators, which remain under discussion, offer specific metrics that governments and civil society can track to gauge progress on the goals and related targets.

[See: If cities are to ‘leave no one behind’, disaggregated data is invaluable]

The new campaign is urging the development of the proposed Indicator 5.5.1, which would pledge governments to measure the “Proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments and local governments”.

Under the current proposal, Indicator 5.5.1 is not exhaustive. For instance, it doesn’t measure the proportion of female mayors or of women in other executive roles. Nevertheless, identifying and developing globally comparable data sources on the proportion of elected women in local councils would represent a huge step forward with regard to the current information black hole.

Such action would help to address the dearth of information on gender equality in local governments across the world. It also would enable the international community and development professionals worldwide to identify and share good practices in promoting women’s participation in public life.

Where are some such good practices taking place today? Look, for example, at the introduction of quotas for women in local government in many countries in South Asia, which have resulted in significant increases in the number of women being elected.

[See: Bangladesh’s only female big-city mayor may also be its most effective]

Likewise, we have found that local government associations can play an important role in providing resources. This is the case of the Canadian Federation of Municipalities’ scholarship for women in municipal government, as well as the  the association of Basque municipalities’ “welcome guide” for locally elected women.

While these are strong models, better data would help to target support toward municipalities that are lagging behind on female representation.

At the outset of the SDGs process, a high-level panel appointed by former U. N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon to advise on the global development agenda called for a “data revolution”, using existing and new sources of data to fully integrate statistics into decision-making. It’s now time for this revolution to include indicators on gender equality in local government, the institution charged with achieving all 17 SDGs on the ground.

Author(s):

Emilia SáizBegoña Lasagabaster

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Celestine Ketcha Courtès (left), mayor of Bangangté, Cameroon, sits next to Fatimetou Abdel Malick, mayor of Tevragh Zeina, Mauritania, at an event in November 2015. (UCLG/Flickr/cc)

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City LeadershipWomen’s RightsCities and the SDGsUnited Cities and Local GovernmentsFinance/Governance

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The way to do so is by developing a robust indicator under the Sustainable Development Goals.

Why I’m an Unabashed Fan of America’s Mayors

Lobbyists aside, spending quality time with elected officials is not high on anyone’s priority list these days. But I often tell people how much I love walking into a room of mayors.

It’s not just because of their reputation for progressive action, from advocating inclusion and tolerance to closing the gender wage gap. As American politicians go, mayors are cut from a different cloth: They often have the heart of a humanitarian, but they combine it with the management ethos of the accountable executive. They genuinely enjoy meeting new people and hearing from constituents, and those who don’t won’t last long. Some even have the luxury of being above the political fray.

My office, the Boston University Initiative on Cities, leads a rigorous annual survey of America’s mayors, so we spend a lot of time interviewing them about their priorities and views on a wide range of issues. The Menino Survey of Mayors, along with other projects that have us spending time with former mayors, also provide an opportunity to get to know some of the men and women at the helm of City Hall.

Read more at the source: Why I’m an Unabashed Fan of America’s Mayors

We find that mayors are generally focused on three priorities underpinning community vitality: physical, economic and human infrastructure. Mayors seek to provide safe, clean streets and reliable transportation networks, from roads and mass transit to bikeways. They work to build strong, stable local economies with jobs across the income spectrum, and ensure solid municipal fiscal health. But mayors aren’t just concerned with building an attractive stage, they think about the actors on it. As we learned in the 2016 survey, mayors are particularly worried about their constituents living in poverty.

 

Not all mayors are above reproach, nor do they hold a monopoly on empathy and good governance, but after spending a lot of time with these city leaders, I’ve found most have these five things in common.

Mayors don’t necessarily see themselves as politicians. As one big city mayor told us, “I don’t like politics. I force myself to go through elections, but I’m more of a public administrator than a politician.” Indeed, many mayors have the luxury of political neutrality if they choose; in the 30 largest cities in the U.S., less than a third of local elections are partisan, meaning the mayor does not have to run on a party ticket. Many mayors run for office to solve a problem in their community, like fixing the city’s finances, or because they believe it to be the best way to help people. For most, the title of mayor is not a stepping-stone to more political power or prestige. Three-quarters of mayors we interviewed this year said they had been seriously recruited to run for higher office, but the vast majority also said they would prefer a role outside government as their next gig. Perhaps their reluctance to stay in the political arena should be expected — two-thirds of the more than 100 mayors we talked to have a background in business. Politics is not their natural home.

Mayors like spending time with their constituents. Unlike governors, legislators and members of Congress, mayors have the benefit of constant — even unrelenting — face time with those they serve. They live among them every day. As Lisa Wong, the former Mayor of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, said, “being mayor is one of the most personal jobs out there. You belong to the people. You’re shopping in the community, you’re living in the community, you’re working there, you’re serving the people. It is a 24/7 job.” It’s not simply that mayors have to spend time with their constituents, most prefer to. Even with a wealth of new engagement technologies available to them, the majority of mayors say they rely on face-to-face interactions, including events, informal interactions and — yes — community meetings to stay in tune with constituent needs.

Mayors surround themselves with diverse voices. When I need to feel hopeful about the future of public service, I just look around City Hall. The corridors teem with both longtime civil servants and young staffers who reflect the incredible diversity of America’s cities. And cities of all sizes have formal advisory groups, such as youth councils, women’s councils, and immigrant or African-American commissions, which yield even more voices and perspectives. Mayors also value fresh perspective and may seek talent from beyond city limits. When Michael Nutter, the former mayor of Philadelphia, first took office he said he drew inspiration from former President John F. Kennedy’s push to ignite a generation’s interest in service. To build a team for his new administration, Nutter “put out a call to the best and the brightest, and thousands of people from across the country sent their resumes.”

Mayors are doers, and the best kind of impatient. In the United States, a tremendous number of powers are devolved to local government, where responsibilities may include trash collection, public safety, housing, education, mass transit, snow removal, zoning, health code enforcement, building inspections, animal control, library services, maintenance of parks, streets and open space, provision of water and sewer … and so on. The mix varies depending on city size, region and other factors, but local government is generally responsible for our quality of life on a day-to-day basis. When it comes to overseeing that portfolio of duties and making improvements, many mayors seem to possess a relentless drive to make every day count. One mayor, a former city councilor, described his realization that the pace of the job was unrelenting: “When you are a legislator, time is your friend. You can put in a piece of legislation, take a break, take some time, work on it some more … . For the executive, time is your enemy. There is never enough of it.” Speaking pointedly about his colleagues in Washington, another said, “the production rate in Congress would make me crazy in less than a month.”

Mayors are gearing up for a political fight, whether they like it or not. Cities’ battles with the federal government over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies have been making headlines and show no signs of easing. With Republicans now controlling the majority of state legislatures and governorships, along with Congress and the White House, and Democrats still holding the majority of mayors’ offices, new tensions will inevitability arise. Most cities lack home rule (which itself doesn’t confer true autonomy) and have always had to contend with and defer to their legislatures. Still, examples are rife of new efforts to override local control, from the Tennessee legislature’s initiative to stop a mass transit project in Nashville to the Pennsylvania legislature seeking to preempt Philadelphia’s recent pay equity law. Thankfully, we also find that mayors are natural collaborators. In the battles ahead, they will find a way forward.

More than ever before, it feels as though these reluctant politicians are also America’s conscience, using their roles as public servants to listen to and lift up the most vulnerable. If my son someday tells me he’s running for class president, I might just wish he were running for class mayor instead.

Mayors WorldWide Will Act on Climate, Whatever Trump Does – Scientific American

Source: Mayors WorldWide Will Act on Climate, Whatever Trump Does – Scientific American

Mayors WorldWide Will Act on Climate, Whatever Trump Does – Scientific American.

Rahm Emanuel, mayor of Chicago, from left, speaks while Wong Kam-Sing, secretory of the environment for Hong Kong, and Gregor Robertson, mayor of Vancouver, listen during a press conference at the C40 Mayors Summit in Mexico City, Mexico, on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016.

Leaders from 90 world “megacities” meeting in Mexico City this week are sending a message that they plan to act on climate change—whatever national leaders do.

The sixth C40 Mayors Summit is occurring one year after the landmark conference in Paris, at which nearly 200 countries agreed to take steps to limit warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius compared with preindustrial levels. But it is also taking place in the shadow of last month’s election of President-elect Donald Trump, who has promised to “cancel” U.S. participation in the agreement.

In a call with reporters ahead of the conference Monday, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg acknowledged that the world has “a lot of concern” about the track Trump is likely to take on warming.

“But mayors, as we know, have never waited for Washington to act here in the United States,” said Bloomberg, who is also the United Nations’ special envoy for cities and climate change. “They’ve never waited for an international treaty to take steps to protect their citizens and improve public health. And whatever happens, mayors will continue leading by example.”

Bloomberg and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who is the incoming chairwoman of the group, released a report this week showing that the world’s large cities would need to peak emissions by 2020 and then nearly halve carbon emissions for every citizen in a decade to avoid the worst impacts of warming. This compares with a business-as-usual trajectory of a 35 percent increase in emissions over the next four years.

The so-called Deadline 2020 analysis proposes that city governments focus on placing key sectors in building, transportation and urban development on a low-carbon pathway. It estimated a price tag of $375 billion over the next four years for new climate-friendly infrastructure in C40’s 90 cities.

It also set ambitious reduction targets for urban centers. While cities would take the same steps over the next 14 years to achieve either the 2 C target or Paris’ more aspirational goal of containing warming to 1.5 C, the difference between the two goals becomes more pronounced after 2030. The report found that the tighter goal would require cities to zero out their emissions on a net basis by midcentury and make them negative in the second half of the century.

Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and Realdania offered a joint pledge of $40 million toward supporting actions in cities. It’s part of a recent trend in private-sector support for initiatives on research, phasing out chemicals and other climate issues. But Bloomberg sidestepped a question about whether private dollars might replace some or all of the public commitments the Obama administration made to the Green Climate Fund if Trump withdraws U.S. support.

“Since we haven’t been getting a lot from the federal government, it’s hard to argue that they can cut back a lot,” he said.

“But in all fairness to Trump, we don’t know what he’s going to want to do,” Bloomberg added. The president-elect repeatedly said on the campaign trail that he would rescind all funding for climate programs, signaling out U.N. funds in particular as something he would eliminate.

‘Get on with it’

Today at the summit, Hidalgo will launch an initiative aimed at fostering female leadership on climate issues at the city level. Mayors, including Muriel Bowser of Washington, D.C., will participate in the rollout of the Women4Climate initiative, which will provide a platform for climate leaders to mentor younger women and provide networking and capacity-building opportunities.

Research has shown that women in low- and moderate-income countries are more at risk than men of suffering from natural disasters or water and food shortages linked to climate change. But data on how warming might affect women in urban environments are scarcer, and Hidalgo’s initiative will support research into that.

Hidalgo, who is the daughter of Spanish immigrants to France and became Paris’ mayor in 2014, has frequently discussed climate change as a social justice issue with gender implications. She’s not alone. The bench of female climate leaders is very deep, including U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change chief Patricia Espinosa and her predecessor, Christiana Figueres; national leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel; and a number of mayors.

“Women are a very determined lot,” said Lord Mayor Clover Moore of Sydney, Australia, who will participate in the rollout. “I think we hang in there, notwithstanding misogyny and notwithstanding, as I have received, attacks from right-wing media in our city. And we do that because we believe that action is critical, and if we don’t take the action, the future could be disastrous.”

Moore offered her city as an example of how municipal governments can continue to make strides on climate action even as the federal government goes a different way. Australia repealed its carbon tax two years ago and has often been seen as a laggard in the international climate process, though it has ratified the Paris deal. Moore noted that Sydney has made climate action a priority.

With 80 percent of world emissions emanating from urban areas, action at the city level can add up to significant reductions, she said.

“I think the message to U.S. cities is that it’s more incumbent than ever that you get on with it, because it’s up to you, notwithstanding your federal leadership,” she said.

Reprinted from ClimateWire with permission from E&E News. E&E provides daily coverage of essential energy and environmental news at www.eenews.net.