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Mayors await stimulus plan, transparency

Feb. 20, 2009 at 5:32 PM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- U.S. mayors say they aren't worried about President Barack Obama calling them out if they fail to spend public money wisely because their constituents will.

"We have plenty of constituents who will be -- who will be doing that before the president does," Miami Mayor Manny Diaz said Friday after Obama spoke with members of the National Conference of Mayors about the $787 billion stimulus package.

Obama told 80 mayors if he finds that a program is wasteful or a pet project -- whether federal, state or local -- he "will not hesitate to call them out on it and put a stop to it."

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said he was concerned about how quickly the funds would reach the cities.

"It took two and a half years before any money really hit the city of New Orleans after Katrina," Nagin said. "And I made the point that if this stimulus money travels on the same track, then there will be lots of unspent dollars at the end of this initiative."

Nagin, a Democrat, also said Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, was engaging in political posturing when he said he's considering refusing the state's share of the $787 billion economic stimulus package.

"I don't think it's going to impede us," Nagin said, because of a provision in the legislation that allows state legislatures to accept the money if a governor doesn't. "And I told the governor personally, any dollars he does not want, we will take them gladly."

Charlotte, N.C., Mayor Pat McCrory, a Republican, said he didn't agree with all parts of the stimulus package, but since it's law, "I want it to work the best way it can."

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