Mayor Shirley Franklin: "Invest or die"

MayorTV is a challenge from America’s Mayors to 2008 candidates: start talking about cities! MayorTV asked Mayor Franklin what she thought a national agenda for cities should look like.

“Infrastructure isn’t sexy.”

So says Mayor Shirley Franklin of Atlanta. In her far-ranging MayorTV interview, she was the first to admit that aquaducts, sewage facilities and desalination plants don’t exactly grab headlines.

That is, until the worst drought in 100 years hit the Southeast.

With reports that Atlanta has only three months of water left, Mayor Franklin is dealing with an infrastructure problem of biblical proportions. Naturally, “It all comes back to water, water, water — everywhere,” says Mayor Franklin. “Water is my top 10 priorities. Or top 20.”

Washington, meanwhile, has compounded the drought by drastically cutting their investment in water infrastructure. “In the 1970s, the federal government gave cities 75 cents of every dollar they needed to build water and sewer systems,” she explained. “Today, we get pennies on the dollar.” The result? Leaking pipes, failing equipment, wasteful systems — at a time when waste means disaster.

“There was a major campaign for the last presidential election called Vote or Die,” the Mayor told us. “I would modify that to say, Invest or Die. Invest, or Atlanta’s economy — and the national economy — is going to shrivel up and die.”

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