President Carter, acknowledging that his urban policy is in some trouble in Congress, yesterday signed four executive orders to give administrative support to the nation's cities.
During an Executive Office Building signing ceremony, the president noted that of the 14 legislative proposals on the urban policy he set forth last March, "most have made good progress, some are on the verge of being passed and others are hotly debated" in Congress.
In the meantime, the executive branch is putting into effect nearly 100 administrative decisions to aid cities, including the orders formally signed yesterday, he said.
The orders, generally praised by mayors, state legislators, county officials and organization heads invited to the signing, mandate:
Creation of an Interagency Coordinating Council, to serve as central channel in Washington for the scattered agencies, handling aid to cities.This group, headed by presidential assistant Jack Watson, has been in operation since March, administration officials said.
That the General Services Administration, procuring agency for federal goods and services, give priority to suppliers that operate in areas of high unemployment, to support places with large "labor surplus" problems.
That all executive agencies, through GSA, give priority consideration to central city areas in choosing sites for federal offices and facilities.
That the Office of Management and Budget analyze all major new programs or policy changes to see if they will adversely affect cities. There is no requirement that federal agencies withdraw or alter those found to be detrimental.
Clarence Mitchell, Washington director of the NAACP, praised Carter, telling him his critics "don't give enough credit for the things you do . . . this is another of a series of climaxes in your career as president."
Similarly, Denver Mayor William H. McNichols Jr., president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, said the "fashion" of criticizing the president should change. McNichols said the orders "may not be highly visible but [they are] innovative and significant."
The National League of Cities, at a news conference before the signing, also commended the action, but said it is inadequate, to accomplish Carter's stated goals.
The order for analysis of federal programs' impact on cities fails to commit enough resources for the problem, St. Louis Mayor James Conway said at the NLC briefing, admitting it is "probably all the system can bear at the moment."
Another critic, during the signing ceremony, questioned the exclusion of the Postal Service from the directive to give central cities priority in selecting building sites. That agency is "one of the main elements" in government desertion of downtowns, he said. GSA administrator Jay Solomon said that although Postal Service cooperation has been sought, the independent agency is beyond the reaches of the order.