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U.S. mayors clash with states over local control

U.S. mayors met in Baltimore last year. A new survey of U.S. mayors found a more positive view of the federal government in Washington, D.C. than of state governments. (Rex Features via AP Images)

U. S. mayors of cities with 100,000 residents or more gripe about friction with their closest partner: state governments. The tension was among the findings buried in the 2015 Menino Survey of Mayors, conducted by Boston University’s Initiative on Cities.

In the U. S., municipalities and states collaborate on a range of issues that include roads, environmental protection and economic development. According to the survey, which reflects the views of 89 mayors from 31 states, it’s a strained relationship. That’s due to fundamental disagreements over local authority. Surprisingly, perhaps, mayors describe their interactions with the federal government in Washington, D. C. in more positive terms. 

Meanwhile, the wish list for U. S. mayors appears to contain some contradictions. For example, city leaders cite new roads as a high priority along with bike infrastructure — even if it means sacrificing parking spots and driving lanes. Also on the list: greater investment in mass transit.  

The survey, released in January, was named for Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, who died in 2014. A summary of the key findings is available here and the full report is here.

Boston University Initiative on Cities

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