Friday, February 20, 2009

Obama creates Office of Urban Affairs; still waiting to see if he plans to do likewise for rural concerns

President Obama signed an executive order yesterday creating the White House Office of Urban Affairs. We've asked the White House Office of Media Affairs, which handles press inquiries from outside Washington, if he plans to create an office for rural affairs. Stay tuned. UPDATE, Feb. 21: Still no word from the White House. Meanwhile, the headline in the Detroit Free Press says "Obama shows he's an urban guy."

Obama's order says "about 80 percent of Americans live in urban areas," but that stretches the truth to the breaking point. That is the figure for people who live in metropolitan areas, which include suburbs that most Americans would not consider "urban," and even large swaths of land that are still rural. The order adds that "The economic health and social vitality of our urban communities are critically important to the prosperity and quality of life for Americans." Rural advocates would say that's also true of rural areas.

The move comes as no surprise to insiders. Al Kamen reported on The Washington Post's "44" blog on Nov. 10 that such an office would be created because Obama had promised it and still believed in the idea. He quoted transition co-chair Valerie Jarrett: "Because he began as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago, he understands at the local level is really where you can impact change and that local government can play a vital role as we try to jump start our economy. So having somebody in the White House, because there are so many different agencies that really can impact urban America and to have one person whose job it is to really pull all of that together, is really a critical position."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And the new head of OUA makes his first quote to the Washington Post: ""I'm excited because this president is taking urban America out of the desert it's been in for eight years."

Sounds like a productive start.....