This year all of us together face a new problem that none of those who sat in these chairs has faced before. It is a disastrous dismantling of the federal-local partnership. It is a meat-axe chopping of the domestic obligations of government.

These are not in the category of threats or distant storm clouds, but the realities of the next 90 to 120 days. The mood, our response, must not be gloom or timidity or uncertainty or hang-dog apologetics. We must be determined to stand up for what is right in the face of what I can only call disrespect: a disrespect for our cities, disrespect for the people who govern them and disrespect for the people who live in them.

Now if you think that the word "disrespect" is too strong, then I don't know any other word that describes what is happening. "Miscommunication" or "misunderstanding" doesn't explain it. The only word that I can find that fits the bill is "disrespect."

How else can one account for the fact that since 1980, when urban programs were $69 billion in our nation's budget, that today they are $17 billion -- a dramatic cut? Yet over that same period of time, the deficit has grown from $27 billion to $200 billion. Picture that for a minute: a deficit that has grown from $27 to $200 billion, our programs have gone from $69 billion to $17 billion, and it is we who are blamed for the deficit.

It is just not true, and don't you believe it!