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Citing Domestic Economic Crisis, U.S. Mayors Back Resolution to Redirect War Funds Home

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Mayors from cities nationwide have endorsed a resolution calling on Congress to end funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and instead spend the money at home. The measure from the U.S. Conference of Mayors was drafted and pushed through by the activist group CodePink. We speak with the resolution’s sponsor, Kitty Piercy, mayor of Eugene, Oregon. [includes rush transcript]

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Mayors from cities nationwide have endorsed a resolution calling on Congress to end funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and spend the money at home instead. The measure from the U.S. Conference of Mayors was drafted and pushed through by the activist group CodePink. We’re joined on the phone now by the measure’s lead sponsor, Kitty Piercy, the mayor of Eugene, Oregon, joining us from Eugene.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Mayor Piercy. Tell us about this resolution.

MAYOR KITTY PIERCY: Thank you for inviting me. I think the light is finally—sun is finally rising here on the West Coast.

So, you know, this is a resolution that basically says that America is in a lot of trouble, and families are in need, and we need to be spending that money that we’re now spending on wars at home to reinvest in our families and our cities and in jobs and a future for the young people growing up right now. And so, the mayors supported that, and I think it’s a strong voice. Over 1,200 communities in this country were represented by that vote on that resolution. I think it’s a very strong statement.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, we’re talking to you on the phone in Eugene, Oregon. You did not go to the Baltimore conference?

MAYOR KITTY PIERCY: That’s the irony of all of this, is that I had made up—the last three years, we’ve cut $20 million from our city budget. And when we’re asking our employees to take furlough days and make all kinds of sacrifices, I’ve really limited my travel to necessity. And I decided I couldn’t make it to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and I didn’t plan on going. But I had signed on to co-sponsor CodePink’s resolution. And then the mayor of Los Angeles was going to be the lead sponsor. I don’t know why he decided he couldn’t do it, but he decided he couldn’t do it. And they were looking and having a hard time getting that lead sponsor set up, and so I told them, “I’m not going, but if you need to be the lead sponsor, I believe in this. I think it’s important.” That’s why I’m not able even to go.

So, I stepped up to take that on, and we worked it through from our office. And then, ironically enough, the committee chair that that resolution was going to go to at the Conference of Mayors was Sam Adams from Portland up here. So I talked to him and asked him if he would help carry it through when it got there. And so, we just worked it from—we worked it from here. And I think it’s a very strong statement from the mayors. And as you probably know, it’s the first time since the Vietnam War that they’ve taken a position on American military position. So that makes it even stronger, I think.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Mayor Piercy, it seemed to me, listening to the President last night, that he, right away, was responding to your concerns, when, in his speech, he said it’s time for America to turn to nation building at home, not in Afghanistan, although obviously there’s questions as to the degree of U.S. involvement that will continue in Afghanistan.


JUAN GONZALEZ: But could you talk about what your fellow mayors have been discussing with you, as they see these enormous expenditures of money in these wars abroad and the problems that they’re facing in their own cities?

MAYOR KITTY PIERCY: I think it’s a concern everywhere, and I’ll just give you an example in Oregon. You know, our state budget is in such crisis that we’re—you know, we’re hardly able to fund anything. Our county, every day we’re reading in the paper about them having to cut human services, supports of all kinds for people in need, just when they need it the most. We have really a state in economic crisis here, and we’re just one of many states in that position. We have very high unemployment. We really—I would say not so much, honestly, nation building—we’re a nation—I’d say reinvesting in the people of this country is what we need. And if I were the president, I guess I’d be very careful about letting the words “mission accomplished” come out of my mouth.

AMY GOODMAN: I just wanted to read you the last paragraph of the Los Angeles Times editorial. And it’s interesting. Although Villaraigosa backed off, Mayor Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, to be the lead sponsor, he’s become its spokesperson of the resolution —


AMY GOODMAN: — because he is now the head of the Conference of Mayors. But the Los Angeles Times last paragraph of their editorial says, “Given the fact that cities depend on federal spending, it’s perfectly defensible for mayors to lobby the White House for 'jobs, jobs, jobs,' as a group of them — including Los Angeles’ Antonio Villaraigosa — did on Monday. But the mayors lose some credibility when they stray into world affairs. All politics are not local.” Your response, finally, Mayor Piercy?

MAYOR KITTY PIERCY: I actually totally disagree with that, because I think every national decision that’s made comes to roost in our communities, with our families on the ground here in our cities. And I really believe strongly in the voice of mayors together. I certainly understood that, and goodness knows, we haven’t solved this either, but, you know, it’s the mayors who emerged the climate change issue and brought it to a national scale by joining together across the country. I think the mayors of this country, who see everyday people every day and see how federal policies affect families’ lives and the struggles that people are having, I think they are just the voices that need to be heard and to join together to work hand in hand with our federal government to try to find a way to get this country back on track.

AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you for being with us, Mayor Kitty Piercy, mayor of Eugene, Oregon, speaking from there, sworn in in January 2005, reelected to a second term in 2008, lead sponsor of the resolution endorsed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors this week calling on Congress to redirect military spending to domestic priorities. And thanks to Gareth Porter, historian and investigative journalist. This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. Speaking of cities in distress, next up, Detroit, Michigan. Stay with us.

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