Questions about President Obama's commitment to urban policy have gained momentum over the last few weeks, with media outlets from the National Journal to Politico asking whether a national urban agenda has been put "on the back burner." But the head of the White House Office of Urban Affairs Adolfo Carrion soon emerged from a media blackout and gave an interview to The Washington Post.
Then, suddenly, over the weekend the White House announced that it was convening an Urban and Metropolitan Policy Roundtable today to round up ideas from policymakers, politicians, and urban policy experts. An urban policy "listening tour" will follow.
Though this is less robust a beginning than federal urban policy advocates might have liked, President Obama will address the Roundtable, which (hopefully) demonstrates his continued commitment to cities.
The Obama administration continues to talk a good game: the statements Carrion has made and the reporting on the Office of Urban Affairs reflects analysis that I put forward in a report "No Economic Recovery Without Cities." Carrion has been emphasizing the need to coordinate government agencies (and federal, state, and local governments) and devise a metropolitan agenda after at least fifty years without one.
Though the Obama administration certainly has a lot on its plate, it should not view urban policy as a distraction from more pressing concerns. Far from it, cities are critical to economic recovery.
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