Charleston Mayor Joe Riley has joined around 60 other mayors from around the country in the nation’s capital today to meet with President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. Riley is a member of The Conference of Mayors, which will also meet with Attorney General Eric Holder, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
Mayor Riley says it’s important to reconnect with the President and Vice President. “We have a lot of work to do, in getting our country and communities back to work, so brain storming with them, how is the best way to make the best use of these stimulus funds, will help our citizens get back to work, and help our economy turn around and start moving forward.”
In speaking to the mayors today, the president invoked his own name-and-shame policy, warning them that he will “call them out” if they waste the money from his massive economic stimulus plan. “We cannot tolerate business as usual, not in Washington, not in our state capitals, not in America’s cities and towns. We will use the new tools, what the recovery act gives us, to watch the taxpayer’s money with more rigor and transparency than ever.” Obama promoted the website “Recovery.gov” which allows all Americans to see how their money is being spent.
Mayor Riley says his most important mission now is to get as much information as he can about the stimulus funds, “to maximize the benefits of their use for our community and for our country. You know the mayors worked very hard in support of this stimulus package, as did the governors, and I think we all want to make sure it’s successful.”
The total cost of projects submitted by Charleston are just over a billion dollars. Eleven million would go to public safety. Projects include more police officers and a new WI-FI surveillance system for the city. Riley says public safety projects would create almost 100 jobs. Charleston County has requested almost $560,000,000 of the stimulus funds, $515,000,000 of which would go to road projects.