After spending an afternoon with President Obama in Germantown yesterday, Mayor Nutter traveled to the White House today to meet with the president about the nation's infrastructure needs.
"We have probably the best transportation multi-modal network of any country in the world. There's only one problem: We don't invest in it. We don't maintain it. And in many cases, it is completely falling apart," the mayor said in an interview as he returned by train to Philadelphia this afternoon.
Nutter was one of about eight mayors and governors - including Gov. Rendell - who joined Obama at a Rose Garden press conference as he continues to press Congress to support his $50 billion infrastructure plan.
"What infrastructure means to me is jobs, an investment in people," Nutter said, emphasizing that the city's African-American and Latino communities have been particularly hard hit by the recession in terms of high unemployment numbers. Toward that end, he said he talked with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who were also there, about the need to diversify the trade-union workforce.
The mayor noted some Philadelphia projects that he would push to benefit from those dollars if the president's proposal is approved. Among them are the creation of a $30 million electronic fare system for SEPTA, and a $5 billion overhaul of Philadelphia International Airport with new runways and gates, and strategies to reduce congestion.
One matter Nutter did not discuss were the cheers -- but more noticably the boos -- he received Sunday during the Germantown political rally led by Obama. He said the president did not bring it up, and neither did he.
"It's what happens when you are on the ground making some of the tough decisions we've had to make because of the economy, and also we've still got union contracts we are negotiating," the mayor said. "Under the circumstances, it was fine. It was not a big deal."
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