Mayor Richard M. Daley today repeated his call that the federal and state governments move quickly toward passing legislation that will boost the struggling economy, create jobs and re-build the nation's aging roads, bridges, schools and water systems.
The nation's economy is in crisis," Daley said in a news conference held at the Merchandise Mart.
"Together, at every level of government, we have a responsibility to do our part and get it back on track and so that we begin to restore America's promise."
He pointed to two environmental projects - the City's own "Green Office Challenge" and "Earth Hour, - in which the City partners with the World Wildlife Federation, as efforts individuals and businesses can undertake right now both to save money in difficult economic times and help the City meet the goals contained in its "Climate Action Plan."
The "Green Office Challenge" initiative is aimed at encouraging the operators or tenants of high rise office buildings to save energy, increase recycling and water efficiency and reduce paper.
"Earth Hour" - to be held March 28 - is a nationwide event in which lights are turned out for one hour to call attention to the importance of the fight against global climate change.
Last year in the Chicago area, more than 2.7 million persons turned out their lights for "Earth Hour, resulting in a seven per cent reduction in electricity usage during that time.
The Mayor said that the nation's first priority should be to create new jobs so that working families can get back to work, pay their bills, keep their homes and protect their life savings.
He said that over the last year, more than 2.5 million Americans have lost their jobs. During that time more than 100,000 people in Illinois have become unemployed.
The Illinois unemployment rate as of December was 7.6% - up from 5.3% one year ago.
"There are many important ways to kick start our nation's economy which I support, including giving tax cuts to our working families and businesses. We also need to extend jobless benefits and provide greater support to the poorest Americans. We need to support aid to our nation's cities and to our schools," Daley said.
"But, most people agree that if we want to turn around our economy, now, we need to create new jobs, now, and the best way to create new jobs, now, is to invest in building and repairing our nation's infrastructure," he said.
The Mayor said that Chicago is doing its part. Its recent lease of Midway Airport will enable the City to invest in infrastructure and create thousands of new jobs at the very time they're needed.
Daley thanked President Obama for accepting his responsibility and offering a plan to protect working families and jump start the economy right now.
"Over the next few weeks, we have no more important job than to make sure Congress passes a responsible and equitable economic stimulus package," Daley said.
"But once again, I want to encourage the Illinois General Assembly and the Governor to enact a long term infrastructure plan of its own - including funds to build new schools, bridges and highways and to improve public transportation and community anchors," he said.
Daley said that a combination of help from government and actions by individuals and businesses can see the nation through its economic difficulties.
He characterized the "Green Office Challenge" and "Earth Hour" as things that can be done in difficult economic times to help save companies and residents money, enhance the quality of life of residents and position the city for future economic growth and prosperity.
"I am happy to report that since the launch of the Climate Action Plan, we have received commitments from more than 50 property managers and more than 100 office tenants to participate in the Challenge. We look to downtown commercial property managers and office tenants to demonstrate leadership in environmental performance," Daley said.
"Those that take part in what we see as a friendly competition will get a head start on meeting the critical targets we've adopted to reduce global warming pollution and pave the way for other companies to follow," he said.
For example, by improving their recycling program for office materials - including paper, electronics, light bulbs, batteries and construction materials, the Merchandise Mart is diverting 743 tons of material from landfills per year, he said.
Daley thanked the partners have helped the City get the program up and running:
Daley said more environmentally efficient office buildings are critical to helping Chicago reduce its impact on the planet's changing climate and that the City is looking to downtown commercial property managers and office tenants to demonstrate leadership in environmental performance.
Participating in the Green Office Challenge allows businesses - and Chicago - to get a head start on meeting the critical targets the City has adopted to reduce global warming pollution, he said.
Interested parties can get more info via email at: email@example.com or visit the program Web site at: www.chicagogreenofficechallenge.org
Chicago will serve as a national flagship city for the "Earth Hour" event.