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July 04, 2007

Richard Florida

Mayors Matter

« Talent Spikes | Main | Top Spending Counties »

In an increasingly spiky world, The Economist argues they do.

These days mayors seldom tackle an issue of national significance without pointing out how incompetent the federal response has been. Climate change is an especially fashionable stick with which to beat Washington. Two years ago, as the Kyoto protocol went into effect without America, Seattle's mayor called on other cities to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 7%—the same cut that would have been required of the nation. More than 500 have since signed the “cool mayors” agreement. Mr Bloomberg, for his part, has signed up more than 200 mayors for his gun-control alliance.

Ironically, mayors' reputations have also been helped by the dearth of federal cash that they complain about. Before revenue-sharing ceased in the 1980s they had a richly deserved reputation as beggars. Since then the shrewder mayors have turned themselves into salesmen. They lobby for corporate headquarters and sports teams and try to lure visitors to spruced-up city centres. John Hickenlooper's background as owner of a pub in downtown Denver prepared him well for such a role as mayor there.

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