Mayor Nutter flies to the Windy City tonight for a meeting tomorrow with a group of mayors and President-elect Barack Obama's transition team focusing on urban policy.
"I think President-elect Obama is very serious about this," Nutter said yesterday. "I think he recognizes that 83 percent of people live in a metropolitan area. He wants cities to be part of the solution."
Nutter is one of a number of municipal leaders tapped by the U.S. Conference of Mayors to meet with top Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett tomorrow. Nutter expects to powwow with the other mayors before the session.
One Obama campaign pledge was to create a White House Office of Urban Policy. Nutter said he expects to talk about how the office will be set up, and the issues it should tackle.
"I think it could be great for the country, but obviously it needs structure: What is it going to do, how will it function?" Nutter asked. He said an ex-mayor would be a good pick to head the office, but stressed that he was not interested in such a job.
Nutter has already pushed for direct federal aid to cities. Last month he delivered a letter to the Treasury Department - that he and several other mayors signed - asking that cities be allowed to borrow some bailout money to shore up pension funds, ease cash-flow problems and kick-start infrastructure projects. Nutter said that tomorrow he expects to discuss support for infrastructure projects and pensions.
"There is a tremendous amount of concern that there [be] a specific provision and a pool of dollars directly available for cities," said Nutter of future stimulus efforts.
Another idea Nutter would like the Obama administration to consider is to bring back general revenue-sharing, federal funding that Congress once provided to cities and states. The program was started in 1972, but was killed in 1987 under President Ronald Reagan. *