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Teleconference Remarks on the Interagency Task Force Initiative for St. Petersburg, Florida

December 03, 1996

The President. Hello.

Mayor David J. Fischer. Hello.

The President. Mr. Mayor.

Mayor Fischer. This is Mayor Fischer here, Mr. President.

The President. Hello, Mayor. It's nice to hear your voice. I'm here with the Vice President and Secretary Cisneros and Senator Bob Graham. And I think Congressman Young and Congressman Bilirakis are on the phone. And I know you've got some community leaders there. And I appreciate everyone being a part of this conference call today.

When we met in October, I was very impressed by your willingness and determination to address the longstanding problems in your city, and I sent Secretary Cisneros and an interagency task force to St. Petersburg. And as you know, they and your community leaders have agreed that more Federal involvement is necessary. And we've had some recommendations for action that involve a real partnership among Federal agencies, city officials, community leaders. And with that in mind, I have directed the Federal agencies, through their representatives here at the White House—and they're all gathered here—to begin with the proposed initiatives in the November 25th memo that Secretary Cisneros sent me.

A Federal coordinator who will report to the community empowerment board, which is chaired by the Vice President, will be appointed to work on the ground with you in St. Petersburg. And I'd also like to see the necessary steps taken to put together a local advisory board with broad-based membership as outlined in the memo.

I think that this is going to be a difficult period for you, but I am very impressed by the work you've done, Mr. Mayor, and those who are supporting you. And I am confident that you can work through this. We want to be a good partner to you.

I want to thank all the Florida officials who have supported this. Governor Chiles is not on the phone today, but he talked to me about this extensively—he and the Lieutenant Governor did—when I was with them. And Senator Graham is here with me, and we had a long talk about it the last time I was in Florida. And I thank Congressman Young and Congressman Bilirakis for being on the phone. But most of all, we're proud to assist you. We know this is your challenge and your future, but we think we've got a good plan, and we want to be a good partner.

And I'd like to ask the Vice President just to say a word, and then perhaps the others who are here will be able to speak as well.

[At this point, the Vice President, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros, Senator Bob Graham, Representative C.W. Bill Young, Representative Michael Bilirakis, and Mayor Fischer made brief remarks on the St. Petersburg empowerment zone initiative.]

The President. Thank you, Mr. Mayor. I know you've got some other community leaders there, and let me just say to all of them, we're pulling for you. We appreciate what you're going through. We want to be here to support you. We know that you can realize your vision of how you want your community to work, how you want people to feel who are living there, and we're determined to stay with you all the way through.

Thank you very much, Mr. Mayor, again, for contacting me, for coming to see me, and for making me aware of the situation. We're going to keep going, and we'll be there with you every step of the way.

Mayor Fischer. Well, thank you very much. We appreciate you calling us this morning, and your response has been overwhelming. Thank you.

The President. Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Goodbye.

NOTE: The President spoke at 9:50 a.m. from the Oval Office at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Gov. Lawton Chiles and Lt. Gov. Buddy MacKay of Florida.

William J. Clinton, Teleconference Remarks on the Interagency Task Force Initiative for St. Petersburg, Florida Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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