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N.Y., L.A. Mayors Discuss Cities’ Challenges, Successes

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa recently sat down together with the NewsHour. They discussed what they can accomplish in their cities that the federal government cannot.

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    I talked with them about the challenges of running big cities and what they can do that the federal government isn't. And this was before Mayor Bloomberg announced his change in party affiliation. And for the record, I host a monthly interview program for Bloomberg Television, part of a multimedia company of which Michael Bloomberg is majority owner but, as mayor, does not involve himself in its operations.

    Mayor Bloomberg, Mayor Villaraigosa, thank you both for talking with us. We appreciate it. You both represent the two largest cities in the United States, 3,000 miles apart. In many ways, you're polar opposites. One of you comes out of the international business financial community. You come out of Latino politics. And yet, when you look at your views on the issues and on the things, the problems you've got to solve, it's very similar.

    How do you explain that, Mayor Bloomberg?

    MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, Mayor of New York City: Because cities all have the same problems. Big cities have the same problems, whether it's immigration, or education, or crime on the streets, or creating jobs, balancing the budget, helping our cultural institutions competing for tourists. We do exactly the same thing for virtually identical markets. We just happen to be 3,000 miles away.


    How do you explain it?

    ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA, Mayor of Los Angeles: I think mayors of big cities and small cities are much closer to people. They're not as distant from people as elected officials in Washington might be, for instance. And I think there's — you're more practical, because you have to be. You recognize that people want you to get things done and that you can't just focus on ideology, but ideas and, more importantly, results.


    Let's talk about some of those issues, the environment. Mayor Bloomberg, you first. You've launched this big problem, cut carbon emissions by, what, 30 percent by the next quarter of a century. Were you really forced to do this because the federal government wasn't doing anything?


    Well, the federal government is not doing anything. I was forced to do it because it's the right thing for the people that live in New York City.

    We have neighborhoods where the kids go to hospitals with asthma attacks at four times the national average. We have an economy that can't expand because the roads can't handle any more cars. We have a place where people aren't comfortable breathing the air, or don't get enough power in the summer, or the sewerage system overflows.

    It's those kinds of environmental things that I have to address. There are reasons to do it, to stop global warming or mitigate the problems. But for the local needs of our city, I have to do it. And what I've tried to say is, we're not going to do it, as you point out, for 20 years from now or 30 years from now. We're going to try to do some of it a lot quicker, get the things going. And the city, the city government, as opposed to the city, is going to get it done while I'm still in office.