Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Partisanship Takes Backseat to Oakland Post for Jerry Brown

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Partisanship Takes Backseat to Oakland Post for Jerry Brown

Article excerpt

Former California Governor, former Democratic candidate for President, and one-time '60s flower child Jerry Brown told the National Press Club recently that he's looking forward to moving away from the partisan roles he's played in the past and settling into his new role as non-partisan Mayor of Oakland.

For now, that is.

As featured speaker at a National Press Club weekly luncheon, Mayor-Elect Brown politely declined to answer most of the political questions posed to him by various reporters in the room and concentrated instead on his issue du jour: "The Unfinished Urban Agenda."

"There was a time when the object of government was the pursuit of the good, the emphasis on civic virtue," Brown said. "That the classic concept of what a `polis,' a city government, the political, is all about. And we've gone a long way from that."

With references to authors such as Jane Jacobs ("The Life and Death of Great American Cities") and think-tankers like Bruce Katz of the Brooking Institute, Brown told his listeners that the key to long-term prosperity in the United States is creation of a stronger link between inner cities and surrounding communities.

"There's a link between the suburbs and the cities, and the two will rise or fall together," Brown said. "We are looking today at the exodus from the central cities and the continuing and expanding sprawl over former prime agricultural lands. We are getting now a connection between the blight in the city and the blight in the countryside."

That regional link has been a hot topic on many fronts lately. Along with prominent coverage from national columnists like David Broder and E.J Dionne, two NLC committees -- Community and Economic Development, and Transportation Communications -- discussed at their recent spring meetings how to better connect cities and suburban areas, as well as how to effectively plan new development. …

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