Jimmy Carter photo

Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Remarks at the Swearing In of Neil Goldschmidt as Secretary of Transportation and Moon Landrieu as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

September 24, 1979

THE PRESIDENT. This is really a happy day for me and for the country. Don't you agree? [Applause]

I think if we searched the Nation over, which I did, it would be impossible to find two men who are more conversant with the crucial issues that face our country in the area of transportation and the development of better communities—men who've got experience, men who know how to work with others, men who have a respect for the concerns and problems and doubts and fears, but, at the same time, of the aspirations and hopes and dreams of the American people, in communities of all sizes, both urban and rural, throughout the country.

There is a need to break down the barriers which exist between government and people, but also to break down the barriers that exist among different levels of government. I think we've made a lot of progress in that respect, and Moon Landrieu and Neil Goldschmidt have been in the forefront of that effort.

The problems tend to multiply, and they interrelate one with another. It's almost impossible to solve the problems of housing and education, of health, of the spirit of America, as long as we don't have national policies that provide a framework for the resolution of problems and the discussion of issues, as it relates to energy or transportation.

In the last 2 1/2 years, we have hammered out a basis on which these policies can now be firm and understood. We've not yet finished on energy. We'll make a major stride this year; we've been making excellent progress the last few days. We've not yet forged a comprehensive policy on transportation, but we are determined to do so. I think we've made a major stride in the evolution of an understandable urban policy, and we are now approaching the time of announcement of an equally comprehensive and effective rural policy.

I need, at my shoulder, leaders who can carry on this good work. And as you can well see, standing behind me, I've been successful in finding leaders of that kind.

Our country changes so rapidly. We are in a transition period now. I think when we look back on this from a historical perspective, we'll see that the emphasis on the elements that comprise a happy American's life are changing at this time.

We are facing, for the first time really, the realization that the resources that God gave us have limits and that we can't be wastrels in the future. To me, this is not a negative development. It's a basis on which we can be excited and innovative, preserve our individualism, but still work in a united fashion to have a better life, families closer, communities closer, a pride in taking individual steps to conserve and to save those precious things, which in itself is a patriotic contribution.

Neil Goldschmidt, as a mayor, has been in the forefront of the evolution of a practical demonstration of what transportation can mean to a city. He knows about crosstown transportation, but he also knows about crosscountry transportation of all kinds.

He's been on the job now, as you know, for several weeks, and he's begun to confront, in a successful way, problems that have been here for a long time, dealing with Rock Island Railroad, dealing with Westway, dealing with the allocation of resources for public transportation, highways, automobile efficiency, air pollution, airbags. The breadth of his responsibilities is awe-inspiring, and he's already begun to deal with those problems in a comprehensive and effective fashion.

I think Neil also knows how to interrelate the quality of life and participation of citizens in hammering out a successful answer to a complicated question. He's proven this.

Moon Landrieu has earned the admiration of every mayor and public official in our country with what he's done in New Orleans—a city of ancient history, a city of a wide range of ethnic groups, diverse points of view—with a desire to preserve the precious, but the need to resolve differences.

Moon has been in the forefront of some evolutionary changes that almost became revolutionary changes, and I have observed with admiration and have learned from him how he's dealt with the basic question of civil rights, human rights. When it wasn't easy in the South, Moon Landrieu stood firm and said there's no longer any place for discrimination or racism. And he did this in such a way that he marshaled the support of his entire community and won an overwhelming victory and, I think, had he wanted to, could have been mayor for a long time.

And he was successful in revitalizing an area that I hope will always retain its character, because it's one of America's fine possessions. And in the 'process, he let the people of New Orleans feel that the future was not dismal or discouraging, but exciting and promising.

So, for these reasons and for many others, I'm very grateful to have this opportunity to introduce to the Nation and to have .join my Cabinet these two men.

And I see former mayors of New York here, who remember very well when New York City was in a dangerous condition and there needed to be some broad-based national support for New York's effort to save itself. And Moon Landrieu traveled the country to marshal the support of other people in Georgia and in Louisiana and in Kansas and in California to support New York City. He convinced me, along with Mayor Beame and others, that this should be done. And I made that commitment as a candidate, and we've carried out that commitment.

And now I don't think anyone could deny that what Moon Landrieu espoused as a mayor of New Orleans, ,joining with his partner and partners throughout the country, including New York, that our great city of New York has a new life. I hope he'll do that with every city, ranging from New York City down to Plains, Georgia, and I have confidence that he will.

Now I'd like to ask Margaret Goldschmidt and Judge Steinbock to come forward to administer the oath to Neil Goldschmidt as Secretary of Transportation.

[At this point, Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Irving Steinbock administered the oath of office.]

And now I'd like to ask Moon and Verna and Judge Calogero to come forward for the oath. And Moon, it would be nice if your family joined you. I hope the photographers have a wide-angie lens. [Laughter] I might say that—well, I think I'll say that I'm not sure that Moon's family will grow this fast the next 5 years. [Laughter]

[At this point, Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Pascal Calogero administered the oath of office.]

I won't give them another introduction, but I'd like for Neil Goldschmidt and then for Moon to say a word to the group.

SECRETARY GOLDSCHMIDT. Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, Mrs. Carter, friends:

I cannot think of a nicer occasion than to come to the service of my country with a good friend like Moon Landrieu.

It is a wonderful feeling that among so many fine public servants who have been elected to high office, including' many who are mayors, and the staffs who have supported us and worked so hard—it's a pleasure to be here on all of their behalfs.

I did not travel a particularly long road to come here. My age, I think, is witness to that fact. But I come through a very, I guess, traditional route. I am a graduate of public education in the United States, a public education afforded by the taxpayers of my communities and the communities all over our land. To a Congress which has, for so long, appropriated the funds to make it possible for people like myself to go to school and to aspire to high office and to serve my country, you have my deep thanks. To my family, which has come with me today and to whom I owe so much, I guess they already understand how I feel.

I hope that the promise of these years can be fulfilled. And I have given the President my pledge, and I will give it to all of you—friends and those that I hope to meet as I travel and move about the United States on the President's behalf-that I will do everything in my power to make life in the United States a good one for all of those to whom I owe a best effort.

There has been much written about how difficult these times are. And for those of us who got our education not on the battlefields of Europe, but on the battlefields of Mississippi, those of us who got our understanding of higher education in the free speech movement in California, and for those of us who have had our beliefs challenged by Vietnam, everything in the future looks bright, looks hopeful, and looks possible.

And I look forward to working with everybody in this country who feels as I do—and I think that's just about everybody—that they wouldn't live anyplace on the Earth before they'd live in America, to keep building, to keep growing, and keep loving.

Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT. And now the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

SECRETARY LANDRIEU. Thank you, Mr. President, Mrs. Carter, Mr. Vice President.

Neil Goldschmidt has always had a great capacity for brevity and for expressing precisely what's on his mind. I've never had that particular talent. [Laughter]

Mr. President, first I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve once again. It's a great privilege to be back in the Government and to be working with those who are laboring to rebuild urban America. And I couldn't be more honored myself than to be sworn in with a man such as Neil Goldschmidt, a man whom I admired from the first moment that I met him. He bristles with energy and intelligence and with commitment.

It always struck me as a marvelous thing that Neil Goldschmidt, as a young man far removed from the South, took time out from his duties to go into the freedom marches during the great civil rights crusades. We've been very, very warm friends, and I'm honored to be serving with you, Neil. As a matter of fact, he's probably the outstanding mayor in the country, unless you walked in the audience and shook hands with John Rousakis or with John Olivier from Sunset- [laughter] —or with the 50 or so other mayors who are out there.

Just one word about urban America. I read the other day on a plaque that Secretary Weaver had placed on the HUD building when it was dedicated, and this is what he said, and I think it's important to recollect this. He said, "Today we're engaged in rebuilding the urban areas of the United States, a task so large that it amounts to recreating them, a task as ambitious as any nation has ever set for itself." That was said in 1966. It was only in 1965 that this child of a department was founded, and I think we can date from that moment the kind of formalization of our war against urban decay that this Nation undertook. And it occurred to me that that is only about 13 years ago or 14 years ago, not even one-half the life of an average home mortgage, and yet we've done much in that period of time, despite our impatience.

Each President, each Congress, each Secretary of this Department has added new tools to the urban workbox. We developed model cities and general revenue sharing, community development block grants, aid to mass transit, and, of course, under the leadership of President Carter, the most significant urban statement of all—the development of a national urban policy and the beginning of the formation of a partnership between those of us in public office and the private sector, and the recognition by him that we, the politicians, did not build America, but rather it was built by the private sector. And as our cities are rebuilt, it will be rebuilt by the private sector, but hopefully in an atmosphere created by the public sector, one of assistance and aid, one of encouragement, permitting the private enterprise system to do what it knows how to do best, to build and to move and to create.

So, Mr. President, I'm very, very honored to be with you in that movement, and I'm very pleased that I have the chance to serve with so many distinguished public officials who serve in your Cabinet.

In closing, I would like to thank the rather substantial number of people who came up from New Orleans, very much like the Peanut Brigade, Mr. President, who followed you around the country. I've been fortunate in having some very dear and close friends. I also thank the many mayors and county execs and housing officials and others from the constituency groups who are here. I'll give you my best.

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 10:37 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House.

Jimmy Carter, Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Remarks at the Swearing In of Neil Goldschmidt as Secretary of Transportation and Moon Landrieu as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/248315

Filed Under




Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives