Address to the International City Managers Association

September 20, 1972

The word federalism stems from the Latin word fedus, meaning a covenant, a compact of faith. But faith in our national leadership has been fast disappearing. The meaning of federalism, as originally written by James Madison in his Federalist Papers, has been forgotten. Today, instead of a compact of faith between our people, suspicion and doubt as to men's motives and government actions dilute the effectiveness of almost every level of government.

I understand that Vice President Agnew was here yesterday, and I appreciate the opportunity to follow him. I'm looking forward to doing that also on January 20th.

I understand though that there is a new Agnew, and, frankly, I'm somewhat sorry to hear that. We were all just getting accustomed to those bumptious bleatings bombastically broadcast by our Baltimore barrister.

But we've never been bored by the Veep, we've only been badgered by his banalities. The old Agnew was an expert in the use of the media. He did well on television. He did just as well on radio. As a matter of fact, one day my wife picked him up on our blender.

We meet today at a time when blending is not the most characteristic or typical situation in the world. Instead of that, we hear and read about battlefield action around the globe -- Vietnam and Lebanon, Israel, Kenya and Ulster -- each one is a dateline of death and destruction, each one a further indication of our inability to live with one another.

But there are other battlefields, other datelines that receive little public attention. These are the battlegrounds of metropolitan America, our cities, and the dateline could be Newark or San Jose, Dallas or Richmond. It could be Little Rock, where Tom Meriweather, one of your award winners, has done an admirable job in bringing minorities into the city management, or Dayton, where Jim Kroondy has involved citizens in government. It could be any of a hundred towns in America, where each day in the life of the mayor or city manager is a fight for survival -- where each hour is a fight just to meet the demands and provide the services that our people need. And because you have been forced to wage this fight without adequate support, the casualties have been enormous.

We all know what they are: fewer police on our streets, fewer firemen, cutbacks in sanitation service, bus strikes in Newark, in Detroit and Johnstown, crime up 11% across the nation, school shutdowns in Youngstown and Canton and Dayton, and increasing poverty. You have lived with the hard reality of being in the frontlines with little support. You have been truly the lost battalions of this war. And you know that there is no longer any time to talk about safe issues in a safe way. It is time for choice to be made.

President Nixon himself has called this election the political choice of the century. On November 7th, the choice of the century will be between a hollow phrase and a hollow program, the new federalism of the Nixon Administration, as compared to a new American alliance proposed by George McGovern.

The word federalism stems from the Latin word fedus, meaning a covenant, a compact of faith. But faith in our national leadership has been fast disappearing. The meaning of federalism, as originally written by James Madison in his Federalist Papers, has been forgotten. Today, instead of a compact of faith between our people, suspicion and doubt as to men's motives and government actions dilute the effectiveness of almost every level of government.

Growing numbers of citizens have become convinced the government of the people, by the people, and for the people has become too often manipulation of the people by the bureaucrats for the benefit of new special interests. We have heard the slogans of peace, but we live with the reality of war. We have heard the talk about tax reform, but we live with a system that is unfair to all save the crafty. We have listened to debate over welfare reform, but still live with a system that demeans its recipients, bankrupts local governments and stirs resentment in those who are unfairly taxed to pay for the costs.

We see evidence of the need for a national health security program, but we live with the reality of outrageous costs -- $97 for a hospital bed for a single day, as much as some people earn in a whole week -- $1175 for a simple appendectomy -- as much as $1400 sometimes for the delivery of a mother with her baby. We have heard of the need for law and order, but we see former members of the White House staff indicted for breaking and entering in the night, for tapping private telephones, and stealing private papers.

We have heard the rhetoric of the need to assist urban America, but we live with the reality of metropolitan governments teetering on the ragged edge of fiscal disaster. The reality of school systems, sinking beneath deficits, libraries and museums and hospitals and recreational programs being cut or cancelled.

So I've come today agreeing with President Nixon that this election offers the political choice of the century -- a choice based on the hard facts of fiscal neglect by the government versus the specific, alternative proposals made by George McGovern. It is a choice that will mean much for the future of our cities and our land.

Under the McGovern-Shriver administration, that war, half a world away, will be ended. And the energy and optimism that meaning is typical of and traditional in America will be redirected to winning the war here at home. But to win this hometown war will require more than just a single program or a lot of words. It's going to take money -- a subject that Vice President Agnew did not mention in his address yesterday. Instead of talking about your practical needs, he told you that Richard Nixon has ended the paternalistic, patronizing thinking that was dominant in Washington throughout much of the 1960's.

Well, a quick look at the record indicates to me that there has not been one single domestic program enacted during the 1960's that the Nixon Administration has ended. They have reduced programs like the Neighborhood Youth Corps or the Job Corps or Model Cities. They have neglected programs like Headstart and Medicare Alert and scrimped on programs like housing for low and middle-income, families, but they haven't ended any of them. They've only ended the good faith in the intentions of the federal government. The Vice President also told you that in an election year the public takes the measure of a man in office, examines his record in detail, and judges him by comparison with his opponent, and by examining whatever that opponent may offer in the way of alternative to the established record. The established record of the Nixon Administration is, to coin a phrase, perfectly clear. The Nixon Administration impounds dollars, it vetoes legislation, it strangles existing programs. It gives no life or hope for the future.

For example, in fiscal year 1971, the Nixon Administration withheld almost $600 million from Housing and Urban Development programs. It withheld $215 million appropriated for urban renewal. It withheld $200 million appropriated for water and sewer programs. In fiscal year 1970, it impounded $53 million that Congress had already appropriated for housing and urban redevelopment and rehabilitation loans, $5 million for new communities, $500 million for basic water and sewer programs, $300 million from the urban mass transit program. This year, at least $300 million have been withheld from water and sewer programs. Sewage and disposal facilities already under construction have been brought to a stop -- mute monuments to the hollowness of the new federalism. In January of 1970, the appropriation bill for the Department of HEW was vetoed by the President. In August of 1970, the appropriation bill for the Department of Housing and Urban Development was vetoed. The Hill-Burton hospital construction bill was vetoed, and the education appropriation bill was vetoed. In June of 1971 a bill to provide $5.6 billion for accelerated public works in your communities was vetoed. And that's only part of the record.

The Administration says that it is fighting inflation. That is their excuse for doubling the number of unemployed, thus, paralyzing families in your cities as if you were the enemy -- as if the American public were their foe. They have doubled the cost of welfare -- costs which your working citizens must pay. And having forced millions out of work and put them on welfare, they sanctimoniously preach about the work ethic versus the welfare ethic. I say that is unethical. That is no ethics.

They have permitted the slow and systematic destruction of our neighborhoods -- the signs of neglect are all around us. For example, in the city of New York, one hospital has an entire new wing that is locked because no one can be hired to staff it. In Louisville, Kentucky, public libraries have had to let their staff go and halt the purchase of new books. Cities have reached the limit that they can raise through taxes and of the debts that they can bear. Capital budgets must be financed in many cases by bonds, but when was the last time any of you passed a large, major bond issue?

Heroin comes screaming into our cities, in particular now from Indochina, and it's coming in record quantities and results in record profits for organized crime. Several months ago the police chief of Washington, D.C. said that crime in the nation's capital would not be an issue in November because the rate at which crime has been increasing has been reduced. But when the rate is reduced on a much bigger base, the total number of crimes in that city has continued to increase. And on a typical weekend in the very month that he was mentioning this there were six murders, eight rapes, two stabbings, and twenty-two robberies f more than $500 -- more in each category than four years earlier. Today's paper reports that violent crime in Minneapolis has risen 80% in the second quarter of 1972 and up 62% in the first six months of this year. And these figures reveal more and more crimes are typical of conditions nationwide.

These are the facts -- hard evidence of the ineffectiveness of the new federalism, because the Administration has refused to recognize that the one fundamental instrument that city managers need in order to cope with their problems, in order to govern effectively, and to administer programs at a state, county, and local level, is money.

The Nixon Administration seems to be against spending money for Americans in America. Under our administration, we will use $15 billion, saved through tax reforms, to help you to reduce local property taxes. Under our administration, the federal government will finance one-third of the cost of public education. We will end the deliberate and callous neglect of the man and woman who want to work but can find no jobs.

As I said, the Nixon Administration during its three and a half years has doubled the number of jobless in this country, doubled the cost of welfare, and in doing so, has increased the taxes on everyone. Under our administration, $6 billion will be used to create one million new public service jobs in metropolitan areas by 1975. This program will put thousands of men and women to work as policemen, firefighters, sanitation workers, health assistants, librarians, etc. This program is not a handout. This money comes from your neighborhoods; it's going back to you as a handup.

Above all, we intend to provide a job for every American who is ready, willing and able to work, and we intend to put this country back to work. We intend to spend enough money to house our people adequately and decently – enough money to help you build the number of schools and homes that you need and not the number that Washington says.

The McGovern-Shriver administration will revise the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration and enable the funds from that agency to go directly to the police departments in the metropolitan areas that most need them. Less than 50% of the LEAA funds were actually spent last year because of red tape and administrative confusion. That's the kind of red tape that Vice President Agnew spoke about yesterday. That's the kind of red tape that the Nixon Administration has somehow or other failed to cut through. Local police departments need more help -- not more tough talk.

Too much of your time and energy is wasted trying to get separate approval on separate projects. Too much staff work goes into cutting through and understanding federal regulations. The McGovern-Shriver administration intends to see to it that there will be block grants and annual funding for community wide projects. Under our administration, the men and women who take the heat, all of you city managers and mayors, will have a voice in all federal grants that go to your communities. We intend to rebuild and re-instill the sense of community in America with both resources and leadership. We intend to concentrate our effort on urban America -- on the neighborhoods where most of our people's lives are centered.

For too long, mayors, city managers, county executives been forced to live on the edge of disaster. It's about time you again have the help that will enable you to quit living from crisis to crisis and be able to step back from the brink of social and fiscal disaster. It's about time we recognized the real enemy of this country, which is the frustration bred in neighborhoods where inadequate education, constant cycles of poverty, high crime rates, poor housing are more than just facts on a balance sheet – they are a way of life. And that way of life has to be stopped, because our nation is only as strong as our people.

None of us -- no one city, no one county, and no one region -- can long survive without the kind of directions and resources that I have been talking about today. You know it, and I know it. And more than that, the millions of Americans who live in metropolitan areas of America know it, because they live with the reality of smog-filled skies, traffic jams, declining city services, and growing discontent. It is our obligation to them and to ourselves to do more than just survive. We must prevail. But I'm not here today just to promise -- especially, not just to promise money. We spend money on education, but some people say we should get more education for the money.

But we all realize that money alone cannot reach the human spirit. We spend money on hospital buildings. Many question whether buildings alone provide the care and the warmth that cures. Money is, as the Bible says, the root of all evils. Surely I will not say money is the source of all good. It is only necessary but not sufficient.

Thus, I don't want to speak to you only as professional people, because you also, all of you, are citizens. We need your techniques and skills, but we also need your spirit. We need, as the French say, 1'esprit, or a lift, or a breath, in Hebrew. We need the breath of life. God breathed upon the clay and made man. We have to breathe spirit into our cities -- the spirit of faith.

No presidential candidate in my lifetime has trusted the American people more than George McGovern. His tough tax reform program, his gutsy challenge to military waste. He has no secret plans, only public plans publicly debated. George McGovern is a man in whom the people can put faith, because he has put faith in them. We need the spirit of hope, because where there are no jobs, where people are underemployed or threatened, life is only half a life. It is bleak, lonely; often, it is almost savage. Life is right only with hope, and the rock-bottom foundation for hope is a livelihood.

A nation at work is a sign of hope. And we need the spirit of charity. Cities today show too much tension, surliness, impatience and horn-blowing. We want people to live and to like each other, to like their cities, to feel familiar and at home in their cities. I have walked the streets of Jerusalem and Rome, Paris and London quietly at night without ever seeing a policeman in sight. Cities are made to be lived in and loved -- to radiate a fire of the spirit. And that is the spirit and the atmosphere we want to help you to recreate in our cities. And with you help, we will succeed.

Thank you.