Trenton Times, October 6, 2007: Mayors push poverty, education agenda

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TRENTON — Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa was inthe city yesterday to confer with Mayor Douglas H. Palmer onhow the U.S. Conference of Mayors can put their poverty andeducation platforms before Washington politicians and thepresidential candidates.

Villaraigosa, mayor of the country’s second largestcity, chaired the conference’s Task Force on Poverty,Work and Opportunity. Palmer is the conference’spresident.

At a breakfast meeting yesterday at the Trenton Marriottat Lafayette Yard hotel, Villaraigosa and Palmer say theirplans include a trip to the Iowa Caucus and possible tripsto the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries.

“Big cities around the country are grappling withpoverty and Washington has done little to address it,”Villaraigosa said. Cities, he said, contain 88 percent ofthe country’s wealth.

Palmer and Villaraigosa said the mayor’s conference,and their poverty task force, has already studied and pushedfor many of the issues, and they reflected on themyesterday.

For example, part of their message to politicians ispushing for ways to get low-income people the Earned Incometax Credit, a tax break of up to $4,500, but many people donot benefit because they don’t know it exists.

Villaraigosa said he was in New York Thursday meetingwith Mayor Michael Bloomberg about the tax credit.

And the mayors want to see more federal governmentinvestment in the idea of a universal preschool program,which the mayors conference believes could lift morechildren out of poverty by getting them into school earlier.

“There’s no question that education is a keyavenue with which to address poverty,” Villaraigosasaid. Lack of high school and college education, he said,has a direct relation to “the amount of wagesyou’ll make in your lifetime.”

“And too many people are working jobs with little orno benefits,” Villaraigosa said.

“We can’t just let the democratic agenda be puton the back burner in this election,” Palmer said.

Palmer and Villaraigosa, both Democrats, have eachendorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton for president in 2008, but themayors conference is bipartisan and does not endorse, but ithas the flexibility of having its Republican mayors workwith candidates in their party.

“That’s the beauty of the conference,”Palmer said. “We want whoever is going to be presidentto see what the impact issues are to America.”

“And we’re here trying to figure how best toput these recommendations on Congress and the presidentialcandidates agendas,” Villaraigosa said.

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