Thursday, March 5, 2009

Q&A with the mayor

Now Jackson's taking questions from the audience, as all City Club speakers do. This is usually a mixed bag of good questions and bad, good answers and bad.

Talking about how to help the newly unemployed, Jackson says he also needs to help people who have barriers to employment. It is a Jackson signature -- he says, yes, I'll do that, and I'll also go farther and include the people who are usually left out.

In the speech, he quoted his 2005 campaign line, that he should be judged by whether "the least of us" are better off because of what he does. Here he restates that, but in a way that is a less stirring: "The pace is not set by the quickest, but the slowest, because I can't leave anybody behind." Maybe it's me, but I felt like the room was suddenly a tad uncomfortable -- that line plays into the common criticism against Jackson: too slow, too quiet! (He sort of tried to recover, saying, well, things need to move at a bunch of different speeds.)

Also, someone asked if the mayor knows how much money we'll get from the federal stimulus package. It's not nailed down yet. "We will get our share. And when we get it, we are prepared to spend it." It sounded funnier the way he said it -- he often understates for comic effect -- and the crowd laughed. The city has set up an internal structure for a quick turnaround, he says, so it can start projects as soon as the money comes.

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