THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AND VICE PRESIDENT IN COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT ANNOUNCEMENT TELEPHONE CALL
The Oval Office
1:25 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, can you all hear me? Governor Jones?
GOVERNOR JONES: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Mayor Harris?
MAYOR HARRIS: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT: Mayor Campbell?
MAYOR CAMPBELL: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Mayor Daley?
MAYOR DALEY: Here.
THE PRESIDENT: Mayor Cleveland -- Cleaver. Mayor Cleaver?
MAYOR CLEAVER: Here.
THE PRESIDENT: Mayor Steineger?
MAYOR STEINEGER: Here.
THE PRESIDENT: Mayor Schmoke?
MAYOR SCHMOKE: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Mayor Menino?
MAYOR MENINO: Here.
THE PRESIDENT: Mayor Archer?
MAYOR ARCHER: Here, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Mayor Rendell?
MAYOR RENDELL: Here.
THE PRESIDENT: Mayor Webster?
MAYOR WEBSTER: Here.
THE PRESIDENT: Mayor Rendell, that's the weakest "here" I ever heard out of you. Are you sure you're there? (Laughter.)
MAYOR RENDELL: You don't want us to tell you what's happening here. You don't want to get into it. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Mayor Guiliani?
MAYOR GUILIANI: Hello, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Is Congressman Rangel there with you?
MAYOR GUILIANI: Yes, he is.
CONGRESSMAN RANGEL: Hello, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Watch him close --
MAYOR GUILIANI: Former Mayor Dinkins is here, also.
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, great. It's good to hear your voice, Mayor.
FORMER MAYOR DINKINS: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Mayor White?
MAYOR WHITE: I'm right here, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Mayor Lanier?
MAYOR LANIER: Here, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Jerry Rickett from Kentucky?
MR. RICKETT: Here, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Willis Brumfield?
MR. BRUMFIELD: Yes, sir, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: It's great to hear all of you. And I want to congratulate you for being selected as empowerment zones and supplemental zones and enhanced enterprise communities. As I'm sure you know, we had 500 applications from people all across America who wanted to be a part of this program; and yours were the best. I hope you're all very, very proud of what you have done.
I want to thank the Vice President and Secretary Cisneros and the others in our administration who worked on setting up the genuinely competitive process to honestly review all of these applications. And I want to thank you for your participation, as well as all the others.
I know the Vice President wants to say a few words, but let me say that when I ran for President in 1992, I advocated setting up these empowerment zone ideas. I advocated seeing if we could have a partnership between the national government, grass-roots communities and the private sector to get investment going in places where too many people have been left behind. And I believe that we can do it. We are not only making this announcement today, I want you to know we're going to stay with you all through this process. We're going to work hard with you. And we're going to make sure that all of us do our part to have a success.
Mr. Vice President.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you. And to all of you who have won this designation, congratulations. I want you to know something that you probably already have a keen sense of, and that is that President Clinton from day one has pushed as hard as humanly possible to bring this idea into reality. He asked me to head this empowerment board, and tremendous work has been done by Secretary Cisneros, who, of course, has designated the urban zones, and Secretary Mike Espy who has designated the rural zones.
And we're also announcing today a large number of enterprise communities. And in a short while we'll be talking about that as well.
I'd just like to say that every application was a tremendous step forward. And the ones that are on the line here are the very best. So congratulations to all of you.
THE PRESIDENT: I wanted to say just a word about a couple of things that were done. If I might -- I wish I had time to talk about all these projects -- but I wanted to say a special word of appreciation for Detroit getting more than $2 billion in private sector commitments to help revitalize the city, including a commitment by the auto companies to train and hire residents of empowerment zones, as well as local banks investing over a billion dollars in homeownership and small businesses in the zone. That made a big difference, because after all, we've got to know that the private sector is going to carry the bulk of the load.
And Mayor Archer, I want to congratulate you on that.
MAYOR ARCHER: Thank you very much, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: And I also wanted to say something about the Mid-Delta project in Mississippi. You know, that's very near my home state and where I grew up. And I know a lot about the conflicts that have existed too long in the communities there. And I thought the spirit of cooperation that was manifested in the black and the white communities really made a big difference to me and to all of us when we reviewed this application.
If you can keep that going, we're going to change a lot of people's preconceptions about what it's like in the deep South, and we're also going to give a lot of people jobs and opportunities who don't have it.
I want to congratulate you, Willis Brumfield, and all the people who worked with you on this application.
MAYOR BRUMFIELD: Thank you, Mr. President, and we are committed to see this on through to success.
THE PRESIDENT: I know you'll do it.
I wanted to say, too, just a word about the joint projects, the one that won the Empowerment Zone and the other -- that's Philadelphia and Camden -- and the other one in Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas. We believe that regional cooperation is very, very important. And I want to congratulate the mayors of Philadelphia and Camden, here on the phone, I know, for showing the potential for regional cooperation across state lines. And I also want to congratulate Mayor Cleaver of Kansas City for what he did. I thank you for what you did --
MAYOR CLEAVER: Well, thank you, Mr. President. Mayor Joe Steineger and I work very well together and we intend to make this work and demonstrate to you and the nation that states can cooperate in spite of the invisible lines that sometimes separate them.
MAYOR RENDELL: Mr. President, I can assure you that Camden and Philadelphia will also demonstrate the ability for a regional approach to solving many of our common problems.
MAYOR STEINEGER: Mr. President, I want to say thank you from Kansas City, Kansas. Mayor Cleaver and myself have worked very well; our staffs worked well. We appreciate very much you doing what you said you would do, and that's put the money where the need is. So, thank you so much for that.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mayor Steineger.
I wanted to say a couple of more words. Chicago had over 200 organizations participating in the application. I've always thought that Chicago had the advantage of still having an enormous strength in its grass-roots communities, but when I saw that 200 organizations had participated in the application process, that certainly is evidence of it. And it's a real tribute to Mayor Daley, to the leadership that you and others are providing out there.
MAYOR DALEY: Mr. President, I want to thank the community organizations, our fine elected officials -- Senator Braun is here -- former Congressman Dan Rostenkowski, who fought for this -- elected officials providing not only jobs but economic opportunities for the people within the empowerment zones.
THE PRESIDENT: I'm glad Dan Rostenkowski's there with you. And there's no telling how many times he talked to everybody about that application and reminded us that you had a couple hundred groups working on it. I hear him laughing in the background. I just want him to know that, even though I'm getting older, I haven't lost my memory. (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: This is Vice President Gore. I'd like to say just a word about Baltimore and how important it is that Baltimore understands clearly how important job creation is to the family future. The plan that Baltimore submitted is going to train and connect empowerment zone residents with the city's largest job generators -- the health care industry, life science, and tourist industries. And it was a most impressive application, again, as all of these were.
MAYOR SCHMOKE: Thank you, Mr. Vice President. I just want you to know that I happen to have -- this is Mayor Schmoke -- I happen to have on a Johns Hopkins Children's Center tie that reminds us of the importance of Hopkins as an institution. It's our largest private employer. And certainly it's near and dear to your heart. And I thank you, Mr. President, for your faith in us. We're going to do a good job here. We'll show people that cities are the centers of expanding opportunity, as you've said on many different occasions, and really show that a partnership with the federal government pays great dividends not only for our cities, but for the entire nation.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I happened to meet with Senator Mikulski again this morning, too. And you all know, of course, how hard she worked on this legislation and setting up this program.
MAYOR SCHMOKE: I just want to thank our congressional delegation for doing the outstanding job that they did. Senator Mikulski was with us last night, and Senator Sarbanes, of course, was out of the country. But Congressman Mfume and Congressman Cardin also worked very hard. Everyone at HUD did an outstanding job. And we thank you all again.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Also, if I may, Mr. President, I'd just like to say that the New York application is a perfect example of different levels of government working together in a single cooperative way. Both the city and state governments have separately agreed to match the $100 million federal grant. And it is really a terrific application.
MAYOR GUILIANI: Mr. Vice President, this is Mayor Guiliani. This process began under Mayor Dinkins, who's here with me, and was carried through by my administration. We've worked very closely together on it. Of course, none of it would have happened, from our point of view, without the leadership of Congressman Rangel, who was the common thread that brought them both together. So I want to thank you for your kind words and for your cooperation. I want to thank them because this really has been a joint process here in New York City, State, all of the community groups, with Congressman Rangel being the glue that held it together. Thank you, Congressman.
CONGRESSMAN RANGEL: Thank you, Mr. Mayor; thank you, Dave Dinkins for stamping this. And I think that it really has brought our communities together, all of our elected officials together. And I want to thank Dan Rostenkowski and Senator Moynihan, because without them in the conference on the budget, our dreams would never become a reality. And Mr. President and Vice President, you know how New Yorkers feel about New York, and we hope that this is going to be the flagship to show that when government takes the time out to form a partnership with business and to make certain our youngsters are going to have the training and the opportunity envisioned to meet the challenges of the future, I think that this will go the longest way to get rid of teenage pregnancies and to stomp out crime and violence and the things that all Americans would like to see improved.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, Congressman Rangel, go ahead -- who's on the phone?
MAYOR DINKINS: This is Dave Dinkins.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Dave.
MAYOR DINKINS: I just want to say that you will recall that we have here in New York City in 1990 a so-called urban summit. And many of the mayors participating in this effort who are listening now will recall that one of the conclusions we reached was that as though our cities will build this nation. And the work that we did also showed that suburbia cared about urban centers. So we think that this is a splendid effort. I want to congratulate my friend, Charlie Rangel, and Mayor Guiliani for continuing the work that we've started. And I'm so pleased to be here today.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me just say a word of special appreciation to Charlie Rangel for one thing he did. When we were -- when I brought this empowerment zone idea to the Congress, Charlie strongly urged that we not only have tax incentives, but that we have some federal investment to encourage some state and local investment and to show that the government would be a partner with the private sector. And I think he was -- he was right about that. And I thank him for it. And I think we've got a stronger program today as a result of it.
I also want to say to Mayor Schmoke, I liked hearing --I could hear the smile in your voice. When I saw you a couple of days ago, you looked like an expectant father with worry in your eyes, and I couldn't say a word to you. So I hope you will forgive me, but -- (laughter).
MAYOR SCHMOKE: I hope that I didn't look like I was pleading too much. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: It's never pleasant to see a grown man cry, but you did a graceful job of it.
MAYOR SCHMOKE: I really do appreciate it. Everybody in the city does.
THE PRESIDENT: I want to say a special word before we get off this telephone call about Atlanta, because -- (applause) --
MAYOR STEINEGER: Could have had a crowd here in Kansas City.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I'd have done it earlier if I'd known you were all on the phone. (Laughter.)
The thing I want to emphasize about Atlanta is the integration of the social services and the public safety and the physical development of the community to make what they call urban villages, and to do it in a way that coordinates what's being done with the Olympic games. I think that is so important that a city instead of trying to just emphasize everything that's going well and hiding all of its problems is going to try to use the run-up to the Olympics to actually solve its problems and show that effort in a positive way. And, Mayor Campbell, you deserve a lot of credit for that. that's a very impressive thing to do.
MAYOR CAMPBELL: Mr. President and Mr. Vice President, first, let me say thank you on behalf of the people of Atlanta. Not only do we need it desperately, but I think based upon the objectives in the application that we put forward, we really empower people to take back their own communities. And your commitment to urban areas is manifest here. And we will not let you down.
And also let me say that we are very proud to have an outstanding -- I happen to think the best -- governor in the country, Governor Zell Miller, who is here with us -- (applause) -- and who, as you know, has made education a top priority. And Georgia is the only state in the country where a child can go all the way through college without paying anything. And we have our Congressman John Lewis, the best congressman that we could hope for -- (applause) -- and who is standing here. And we have, of course, everyone's favorite mayor, and that's former Mayor Maynard Jackson who is here -- (applause) -- who began this process. (Applause.)
And last, of course, as you know, we're going to have a little small event a few years from now that we hope you'll come down and join us. We have the organizers -- Billy Payne, who is here also, who has joined us. (Applause.)
So we have -- Mr. President, we could not be more grateful for this wonderful holiday present to the people of Atlanta and to the people of the South. And we really appreciate your leadership and the leadership of Vice President Gore in this -- and Secretary Cisneros, all of whom gave us great leadership in this effort.
MAYOR RENDELL: And, Mr. President, this is Mayor Rendell from Philadelphia, and we wanted to recognize Senator Bradley, who is here with us who, as you know, put the bi-state application into the law. And, secondly, and lastly, we want to say thanks to you and the Vice President and the Secretary for not losing faith in American cities. And there are a lot of people who worked very hard in their application, and they want to tell you that we're not going to let you down. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Got a few people in Philadephia, too.
MAYOR RENDELL: Then don't intend to let you down, Mr. President. They're going to make this thing work.
MAYOR WHITE: Mr. President, this is Mike White from Cleveland, Ohio -- our red room, flanked by more than 180 civic governmental citizens of our city who are committed to making this empowerment zone designation work. I want to promise you, on behalf of all of our citizens who have worked so hard and so diligently in our neighborhoods to move our city forward and make it a true allAmerican city, that we're going to succeed with this program and we are going to show you and the administration and the country that, as our cities go, so goes the country, and we're going to be a shining example of your vision for empowerment zones.
I want to just, while you are here, thank, also, Congressman Stokes, who could not be here today, who really was a pillar in this process. I know he button-holed you so many times, along with the Vice President, and along with Congressman Fingerhut, who helped make this a success. It's a partnership, a shared effort at all levels. And we do want to thank you, and the people of the City of Cleveland all at this moment want to say hello to you and the Vice President. (Applause.)
MAYOR MENINO: Tom Menino from Boston. How are you?
THE PRESIDENT: Mayor Menino?
MAYOR MENINO: How are you doing?
THE PRESIDENT: Fine. How are you?
MAYOR MENINO: I feel great today. Thank you very much for the $25 million you've given to us. And I want to say to you, thank you for your commitment to the cities. You haven't walked away from us. You've been there every step of the way, and I've got a screen here showing all the grants you've given us over the last several years -- millions of dollars. This grant will go further to create more jobs in our city.
Mr. President, it's interesting that the banks of our city have come forward, also, to match the grants you gave us, the flexible capital to help in the creation of more jobs in our city. So I want to thank the banks, also, for their spirit of cooperation.
But, to my left, I have our senior Senator, Senator Kennedy, who always delivers for us. Here he is, Mr. President. (Applause.)
SENATOR KENNEDY: Mr. President, we were going to say we're $75 million short, but -- (laughter) -- in any event we're deeply grateful for this recognition.
THE PRESIDENT: I would have bet my life you would have said that.
SENATOR KENNEDY: And I want to, at the outset -- Joe Moakley and Congressman Kennedy and John Kerry were really enormously -- both Congressman Kennedy and John Kerry being on the committee and working with our other colleagues getting this by. But Tommy Menino has been really the great leader for the "comeback city." And here today are some of the finest neighborhood activists in any city of the country. And you always have a good welcome here, and everyone here is committed to making this the best in the country.
So we challenge all of our other sister cities around the country, and hope they'll come to Boston to see the very best.
MAYOR LANIER: Mr. President, this is Bob Lanier in Houston, and I'd like to accept that challenge -- (laughter) -- because we really want to work to make this the best application in the country. We think we've made some progress on neighborhood safety and diversity. We'll put this application to good work, adding jobs. And we really appreciate the recognition that this -- and the money -- that this grant represents.
THE PRESIDENT: Let me just say one thing. Mayor Lanier, I really think all of America is in your debt in proving that the crime rate can be reduced in a breath-taking fashion in a relatively short time. And if you can do as much with this assistance as you've done in reducing the crime rate, then we can all come to Houston and learn some things.
And I want to say to Mayor Menino, I've had the honor to be in Boston several times since you've been Mayor, and it's wonderful to be in a place with that kind of energy and that kind of togetherness. And you deserve a lot of credit for it. We're looking forward to working with you.
Mayor Harris, were you on the line?
MAYOR HARRIS: Yes, Mr. President. How are you? (Applause.) Mr. President, that's the sound of a lot of grateful people. We're very apprciative of the designation and we obviously look forward to working with you and with your administration on these initiatives. We know how important they are to our city, and obviously, the cities around America.
So we want to tell you how proud we are of the initiative. We obviously were not as happy as we would have been if we had gotten the entire empowerment zone initiative, but we're going to see if we can start a multiplier effect. Four times 25 is 100, right?
THE PRESIDENT: That's it.
MAYOR HARRIS: Well, we thank you for this, and we certainly hope that the administration will not only know how grateful we are, but that the Congress will also be supportive of these initiatives. Cities really need these kinds of programs, these kinds of hopeful signs of a federal government that really does understand the problems in the cities. And we know you do, and we hope that that message will be shared with the rest of the Congress.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. I hope Congress will support us, too. We believe in this and we're going to keep pushing it.
MAYOR HARRIS: -- he's been very forthright in his commitment to the administration and certainly forthright in his advocacy on behalf of our city. And we hope that you'll extend, as we will, our gratitude for his help.
THE PRESIDENT: Let me say right before we sign off, I want to give our friends in Kentucky, Governor Jones and Jerry Rickett and Mr. Rodriguez and our friends in south Texas the opportunity to say anything they want to say before we sign off.
MR. RICKETT: Mr. President, this is Jerry Rickett, from Kentucky. We're working in southeastern Kentucky, and we're doing a joint effort, public and private sector. We're trying to significantly reduce the poverty rate in three distressed southeastern Kentucky countries. And we sincerely appreciate your initiative and your designation of our program. We plan to leverage up to $70 million of other funds.
MR. RODRIQUEZ: Valley empowerment zone task force committee. We want to really thank you for this intiative that came about, your initiative. We have Congressman Kika de la Garza here with us. He really worked hard to get our application to you.
This is the best Christmas present that the Rio Grande Valley has ever received. And we owe it all to you and to Vice President Gore, and of course Kika de la Garza and Mr. Cisneros.
Again, thank you for making the Valley a new frontier instead of the last frontier. Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Let me just say a brief word to you, sir, and to all of you in these rural districts. I also want to emphasize very strongly how hard Secretary Mike Espy worked on these projects. He and I worked for years before I ever dreamed of running for President on the problems of rural economic development in the Mississippi Delta, which is still the poorest part of our country. And then when I had the chance to go to south Texas and a chance to go to eastern Kentucky in the campaign and to see what people were dealing with and what they were working with, it was obvious to me that we needed to try a different approach. And so I want to thank again Secretary Cisneros and Secrtary Espy for the work they did and the long effort that all of us have made in the area of rural development, which is too often forgotten. We're really pulling for all of you.
And let me say to those of you in South Texas, you couldn't be better represented than you have been by Kika de la Garza. He talked to me so often about this project. And he cared so deeply about it. And he does deserve a lot of the credit for your success today.
MAYOR ARCHER: Mr. President, this is Dennis Archer. I just wanted to let you know that sitting here are two senators, Carl Levin and Donald Riegle, and Congressman John Conyers and a bunch of media, and everybody who helped to put the Detroit application together. We've got a huge room downstairs that's packed -- couldn't all fit in here. But we'd like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. One, two, three -- Merry Christmas!
Thank you, Mr. President.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Happy new year.
MAYOR JONES: Mr. President, this is Brereton Jones in Kentucky. It's pretty hard to get a word in edgewise here. There are a lot of happy people. But let me tell you, you've heard a lot of applause, and most of it's come from Clinton, Jackson and Wayne Counties in Kentucky. We're very, very appreciative. You're doing exactly what you said you were going to do in the campaign, and we have great respect for that.
THE PRESIDENT: I thank you all. And I also want to send our congratulations to Los Angeles, which could not be on the telephone call today, but we're very proud of them and looking forward to working with them and all the other communities. I really believe that you all are going to do something special and different and really meaningful.
And I wish you a Merry Christmas. I want to give the Vice President a chance to say a couple of words, and we're going to sign off.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Congratulations again. Have a great holiday season, and happy new year. You've gotten a jump on a happy new year. Let's make the best of it.
THE PRESIDENT: God bless you, folks.
END1:51 P.M. EST