The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


In the Loop

White House to Establish Office of Urban Policy

By Al Kamen
The intense back-stabbing amongst Democrats for top jobs in the Obama administration assumes there are a fixed number of jobs worth having. But it's looking likely that some extremely choice, even consequential, jobs are going to be created by the new administration.

For example, plans are underway to establish a White House Office of Urban Policy in order to better coordinate federal efforts to help America's cities, according to Obama transition co-chair Valerie Jarrett.

"He's going to have a White House chief of urban policy," Jarrett told the Trotter Group, an organization of black columnists.

She declined to divulge any names of potential choices for the post. "I'm sure there are plenty of candidates. It's a great job," Jarrett said.

Despite the many national problems confronting the new administration, she continued, Obama remains committed to earlier pledges to establish such an office. "Because he began as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago, he understands at the local level is really where you can impact change and that local government can play a vital role as we try to jump start our economy," she said. "So having somebody in the White House, because there are so many different agencies that really can impact urban America and to have one person whose job it is to really pull all of that together, is really a critical position. And there are plenty of terrific candidates for that spot."

Posted at 3:55 PM ET on Nov 10, 2008  | Category:  In the Loop
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The creation of federal level office of Urban Policy, that would design an effective urban agenda strategy, and create policies that would be implemented by HUD or any other urban issues agency; would be great improvement for the cities and the nation. It is an ironic paradox that America is the only Superpower that disdains its cities.Show me a country or nation that has achieved cultural,intellectual and economic excellence in which the impetus derived from its small towns and suburbs?
Though unstated but patently obvious, the fear and contempt of "Urban America"(read Black and Poor America),is rooted in the racialized historic socio economic divide between African American/Latinos and Whites the is interwoven into the psyche of a still largely residentially segregated America that gets to view the other through the cypher of the Media. Those who believe that aid to the cities is a waste of federal money should remember that there are billions of federal(taxpayer) dollars being spent daily to kill other human beings in Iraq and Afghanistan and not just the combatants but innocent women and children. While millions of Americans mostly "people of color"are lkanguing inthe cities and living in conditions that in many places mirror Third World nation ghettos.

Posted by: joneill1 | November 13, 2008 11:33 AM

As a person who got her Master's in Urban Policy (i.e. Master of Science in Fake America policy), I would say that an Office of Urban Policy could be an interesting liason for the various departments that in some way effect urban infrastructure--physical, social, and economic. HUD has been inherently broken for decades. The last guy who could have fixed it was Jack Kemp--a Republican whose party ran him out of town for his very forward thinking ideas--much of which consisted of bringing the Urban part of HUD's moniker back into play.

Like it or not our urban centers are crumbling and continuous sprawl strains an already fragile infrastructure. In order for cities to prosper someone who can help bring folks to the table that are working on issues related to urban improvements--education, job creation, housing (not just low income, but moderate and workforce (you know for teachers and such...) is incredibly important.

Posted by: kjjonzee | November 12, 2008 3:17 PM

Urban Policy = shoveling more of our tax dollars to corrupt big-city mayors and unions.

We've seen this movie before.

Posted by: rkinneypa | November 11, 2008 1:41 PM


That's an interesting historical point, and I hope that Obama will revitalize the urban development side of HUD--but I think an Office of Urban Policy might serve a different purpose. Like the NSC or National Economic Council or Domestic Policy Council, this office could coordinate urban policy efforts across departments and agencies--including not just HUD, but HHS, Education, SBA, Justice, Labor, etc. I think it wold difficult, bureaucratically, to do that kind of coordination from within HUD--there's too much turf consciousness for one department to easily take direction form another. The NEC or DPC could coordinate, but then urban policy might get lost in a crowd of issues, as it has before setting up a special office might be a way of singling out this issue for focused attention. It's interesting that Jarrett is the one talking about this office; I wonder if she (a former deputy mayor of Chicago) would take it on herself, bringing to it a high profile and great access to the president.

Posted by: slvn | November 11, 2008 9:36 AM

That is a great idea as our cities have been Ignored for too long and Ms. Jarrett would be the perfect head for this office as a long-time public servant of the mayor in Chicago and other high-city jobs, she understands the needs of urban America and would be fair and work for all of the people not just African Americans. City schools are crumbling and many look like prisons. Many schools lack books for the students to take home. There are a host of problems, I am sure, that Ms. Jarrett is well aware of and can work on for the betterment of all.

Posted by: dsoulplane | November 11, 2008 9:36 AM

I'll bet John Edwards is really regretting his recent behavior - Obama was going to support him in a poverty center, too. I'm excited to see what the Obama administration can do! It's going to be a slow slog...

Posted by: bethechange1 | November 10, 2008 8:08 PM

Urban Policy? I'll bet Republicans can't imagine why Dems would waste their time establishing a Department of Fake America.

Al's post is linked on along with other top news items & opinions on the transition.

Posted by: marieburns | November 10, 2008 8:02 PM

In regards to this election, Pat Buchanan's class the largest degree.
Obama appeals to the have not’s, those content with not improving their own lot in life; those who feel disenfranchised,
and the most liberal among us.
The psychology of his campaign was brilliant, manipulating our fears and
concerns while making them feel excited to
be changing history. Just like Karl Marx
did all those years ago.
Over 200 years ago Alexander Tyler said
“A democracy will continue to exist up
until the time that voters discover they
can vote themselves generous gifts from
the public treasury.” “From that moment on, the majority always vote for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse
due to loose fiscal policy, which is
always followed by a dictatorship.”
“The average age of the world’s greatest
civilizations from the beginning of
history, has been about 200 years”
And awaaaayyy we go......

Posted by: Theresa_Felts | November 10, 2008 7:47 PM

A little history lesson.

President Lyndon B. Johnson has the exact same idea.

On 9 September, 1965, he established the Department of Housing and Urban Development for the exact same purpose. Over time, it has largely scaled back its urban development function and now focuses primarily on housing.

Really hope an Obama administration learns these lessons from history. Why did HUD scale back urban development? Would it not make more sense to bring back that part of HUD rather then establishing a whole bureaucracy?

We blamed the League of Nations for all its faults and so established the United Nations. Yet we just repeated on the idealism and forgot to correct all the flaws.

Posted by: Corey_NY | November 10, 2008 7:21 PM

America is BACK!

And so are our cities, which, per capita, create fewer global warming emissions and are more efficient in energy use than either the suburbs or rural areas.


Posted by: WillSeattle | November 10, 2008 6:25 PM

Or as Sarah Palin likes to call it, the Office of "Fake America" Policy.

Posted by: ManUnitdFan | November 10, 2008 4:39 PM

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