July 19, 2003
Mayor’s Press Office
MAYOR DALEY ANNOUNCES NEW GREAT LAKES CITIES INITIATIVE OFFICE IN CHICAGO; SEEKS STRONGER ROLE FOR MAYORS IN LAKES POLICY
Mayor Richard M. Daley today announced the opening of a new office in Chicago to help mayors develop and advocate programs to improve the Great Lakes.
The office will house the Great Lakes Cities Initiative, an organization of mayors of U.S. and Canadian cities on the Great Lakes. It will develop policy proposals; share ideas and programs among cities; and work for legislation to protect and restore the Great Lakes.
The Initiative grew out of a conference of U.S. and Canadian mayors that Daley convened last November.
“For years, Great Lakes policies have been made in Washington, Ottawa and the various state and provincial capitals with little or no input from the mayors of the shoreline cities,” Daley said at a news conference at the Foster Avenue Beach.
“Yet mayors make critical decisions almost every day on issues regarding the lakes: providing safe beaches, repairing the shoreline, managing wastewater discharges, conserving drinking water, controlling invasive species and regulating lakefront development.
“The lakes are essential to the quality of life in our cities, and the cities have a vital interest in seeing that the lakes are protected for future generations.”
The new office was made possible by a $250,000 grant from the Joyce Foundation to the Northeast Midwest Institute, a not-for-profit research organization that promotes the interests of Northeastern and Midwestern states in Washington, D.C. The Institute will staff the Initiative office.
“This initiative will give the mayors of Great Lakes cities a positive voice in the future of this outstanding resource,” said David Ullrich, the Initiative’s executive director and a former deputy regional administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Chicago.
"We are delighted that the mayors of Great Lakes cities are taking a more active role in protecting and restoring the lakes," said Ellen Alberding, President of the Joyce Foundation. "We know that mayors are on the front lines dealing with Great Lakes issues. And they know first-hand what a tremendous asset the lakes are to this region. Given our long-term commitment to protecting the Great Lakes environment, we are pleased to support this effort."
Daley reported that two Great Lakes restoration bills were introduced in Congress earlier this week. Both would create a Great Lakes Advisory Board to set priorities for restoration of the Great Lakes. The board would include eight mayors selected by the Great Lakes Cities Initiative, eight Great Lakes governors and representatives of various federal agencies.
The House bill is sponsored by Representatives Rahm Emanuel of Chicago and Mark Kirk of Highland Park and 16 co-sponsors, including Representatives Jan Schakowsky, William Lipinski, Danny Davis and Bobby Rush, all of Chicago. It would authorize $4 billion over five years for Great Lakes improvement projects consistent with priorities identified by the Great Lakes Advisory Board.
The Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Mike DeWine of Ohio and co-sponsored by Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois and five other senators, would authorize $6 billion over 10 years. The money would be disbursed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, based on recommendations of the Great Lakes Advisory Board.
Daley thanked the members of Congress for their leadership and vowed to work with his fellow mayors for passage of a Great Lakes Protection and Restoration Plan.
“We know how important the Great Lakes are to the economies of our cities and to the quality of life of our residents,” he said. “And we are committed to keeping the lakes free of contamination.”
The Great Lakes Cities Initiative represents cities from the eight states bordering the Great Lakes, as well as the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. Members of its Steering Committee are Mayors Scott L. King of Gary; Jane Campbell of Cleveland; Richard E. Filippi of Erie, Pa.; William A. Johnson Jr. of Rochester, N.Y.; Gary Becker of Racine, Wis.; Jerry Irby of Marquette, Mich.; and Mayor Daley.
Based in Chicago with assets of $650 million, the Joyce Foundation supports efforts to strengthen public policies in ways that improve the quality of life in the Midwest. Joyce has been a long-time funder of efforts to protect the natural environment of the Great Lakes by improving public policies on water quality and infrastructure, agriculture, energy, transportation and land use.