By Lucia Mouat, writer of The Christian Science Monitor
The Christian Science Monitor
NEW York Mayor David Dinkins hopes to build a strong new lobbying force for cities that will reverse a 10-year pattern of federal fiscal neglect.
In response to his invitation, more than three dozen mayors from major US cities will meet in New York for a three-day-summit starting Nov. 11. They will talk about their problems and map plans for partnerships with businesses, suburbs, and other groups. Focusing on their strengths as centers of culture, commerce, and jobs, they intend to draft an urban agenda that could once again make them strong partners in the national political debate.
A privately financed nationwide survey commissioned by Mayor Dinkins shows a willingness in the United States at large to help cities solve some of their toughest problems. More than two-thirds of those living outside the limits of major cities say they would be willing to pay more taxes to help with housing for the urban poor, AIDS treatment and prevention, education, and drug rehabilitation facilities. Many see the value of their homes as closely linked to the fiscal well being of nearby cities.
The conference, first suggested by the mayor last June and planned in cooperation with the National League of Cities and the US Conference of Mayors, comes at a moment when many cities are particularly hard pressed. New York City and nearby Philadelphia expect significant shortfalls in current budgets. Yet Dinkins spokeswoman Catie Marshall insists that the summit's purpose is "much, much broader than just going to Congress with a tin cup. …