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Boston and New York mayors
to boycott St Patrick’s parades
Boston, 11 March 2014: It looks less and less likely that gay war veterans will be allowed to march openly in this year’s Boston St Patrick’s Day Parade. Until last Thursday, the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, the parade’s sponsor, and MassEquality, Massachusetts’ largest gay rights group, appeared to be close to a deal ending the two-decade prohibition against gays openly marching. At some stage it appeared that Martin Walsh, the city’s new mayor, had succeeded in persuading the organiser to issue an invitation to the gay rights group but it came with a caveat. Marchers were not allowed to identify themselves as gay. MassEquality rejected the conditions.
The ban on gays has existed since 1995 when the US Supreme Court sided with the march’s organisers arguing that the Veterans Council, as a private organisation, had the right to exclude groups. Previously, lower courts had ruled in favour of the Irish-American Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Group of Boston, which wanted to march in the St Patrick’s Day parade. A gay group participated in the parade in 1993 but its members faced, what the Boston Globe described, a 5-mile gantlet of hostility that sometimes threatened to erupt into wide-scale violence. The 1994 St Patrick’s Day Parade was cancelled.
Boston Mayor Walsh has indicated to the Veterans Council that he would only attend the St Patrick’s Day Parade if it was inclusive. In an interview with an Irish radio station he said that at present he would not attend the parade because of a it’s ban on gay groups but that he was still trying to negotiate something so he could make it inclusive. The mayor also reminded the parade’s organisers that Irish people had been oppressed throughout history so their attitude was at odds with their celebration of Irishness. “Excluding isn’t the way to be inclusive. I think it’s far beyond the time to stop looking at oppressing people. For me it’s about inclusion. Excluding people is the wrong message and as Mayor of the City of Boston I will not tolerate that.”
New York’s Mayor Bill de Blaiso, is taking the same stance as Martin Walsh in refusing to attend his city’s St. Partick’s Day parade over the ban on open expression of gay rights.
Meanwhile, Irish politicians from all parties have called on the organisers of the Boston and New York St Patrick’s Days Parades to allow gay people to openly participate in the events, however, Ireland’s prime minister (Taoiseach) Enda Kenny has confirmed he would attend the New York parade, saying it was about Irishness and not sexuality. In Ireland, gay groups are invited to and take part in all parades celebrating Patrick, the Saint of Irish people across the world.
Oklahoma City Mayor
wins historic fourth term
Oklahoma City, 5 March 2014: Mick Cornett made history yesterday when he became Oklahoma City’s first four-term mayor. While the size of his victory - he won some 66 per cent of the vote - suggests his re-election was a foregone conclusion, Mayor Cornett actually had to fight off a very spirited and eloquent opponent. City Councillor Ed Shadid, who was supported by the police and fire unions, acknowledged that the city had done well under the stewardship of Mick Cornett but contended that the less well off section of society had lost out.
Mick Cornett is a local boy made good. He was born and grew up in the city. He graduated from its Putnam City High School in 1976, where he excelled in athletics. He then obtained a degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma, where he later returned to teach the subject following a successful career in television and newspaper journalism in the city, including stints as a sports reporter and the city hall beat. Cornett was first elected mayor in 2004. In 2006, a few months after being re-elected to a second term, he made a bid to become a Republican candidate for Congress but was defeated in the primaries by Oklahoma State’s then Lt. Governor and now Governor Mary Fallin.
In 2010, Mayor Cornett was awarded the World Mayor Commendation for services to his city. He was narrowly defeated for the World Mayor Prize by Mexico City’s former mayor Marcelo Ebrard. His election to a fourth mayoral term has made him an eligible candidate for the 2014 Prize.
During his year in office, Mike Cornett has been an enthusiastic supporter of ‘Metropolitan Area Projects (MAPS). The current MAPS 3 is a US$777 public works and development project, funded by a temporary voter-approved increase in sales tax. Under MAPS 3, Oklahoma City plans to build a new convention center, lay down a 28-hectare park and spend $130 million on public transport, including a modern tram system.
The mayor has also gained national recognition for taking on obesity. While losing weight himself, he brought along thousands of other residents who collectively shed one million pounds.
Mayors urged to regulate
smartphone taxi operators
Seattle, 28 February 2014: After the death of a young girl in a traffic accident in San Francisco, mayors from across North America are coming under pressure to regulate smartphone taxi services like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar. The companies have developed apps that allow user to call for cars using their phones. Typically, drivers, who use their own cars, are contracted to but not employed by the operators. The companies maintain they provide ridesharing facilities rather than a traditional taxi service.
Since its launch in 2009 in San Francisco, Uber has been served with a number of cease-and-desist notices by cities and municipal transport agencies, which claimed that the company was providing unlicensed taxi services. In New York City, the Taxi and Limousine Commission has discouraged drivers from co-operating with Uber, while in December 2012, Toronto charged Uber with ‘25 municipal licensing offences, including operation of an unlicensed taxi brokerage and unlicensed limo service’. City officials said they had advised the company to comply with local regulations and pointed out that rival taxi dispatch apps had obtained licenses.
Last year, California created a new category of taxi services. Transportation Network Companies (TNC) describes companies like Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and others, that use apps to connect passengers with drivers using their personal, non-commercial vehicles. TNC drivers must fulfill a number of obligations and carry liability insurance.
The latest controversy arose when an Uber driver struck and killed a six-year-old girl on New Years Eve in San Francisco. The parents of the girl have filed a lawsuit against the driver and the company. But Uber insists that it has no case to answer as the driver was not carrying a passenger at the time of the accident and was therefore not working for the company. The parents’ lawyers, however, maintain that the driver was a Uber contractor because he was logged on to the company’s app.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has now threatened to shut down Uber and similar operators unless they carry more insurance. "They have to start accepting a certain level of regulation. The situation that happened in San Francisco with the little girl, I don't want to see replicated in the city of Seattle,” he said.
In an interview the Mayor added that he had met with the companies but so far they had not agreed to be insured at a comprehensive enough level. "I have not ordered, nor did my predecessor order, a cease-and-desist order on any of the new players. But if we can't sort out these insurance issues, I would certainly take that into consideration."
A spokesman for Uber said his company was offering a safe, reliable and convenient service for riders and drivers in Seattle.
Meanwhile, the Seattle City Council taxi committee approved a cap on the number of drivers working for companies like Uber.
Uber provides taxi services in 79 cities, including 37 in North America, 5 in Latin America, 14 in Europe, 17 in Asia and also a few cities in the Middle East and South Africa.
Phoenix Mayor condemns
proposed anti-gay law
Arizona, 23 February 2014: The Mayor of Phoenix, Arizona, has denounced a legislative bill that would allow businesses, church and social groups as well as individuals to discriminate against gay people. Last Wednesday and Thursday, both Houses of the State of Arizona approved a proposed law which would make is legal for anyone to refuse serving gays and lesbians by citing religious beliefs. Mayor Greg Stanton has now called on State Governor Jan Brewer to veto the bill.
Talking to journalists, Mayor Stanton said discrimination was not only morally wrong but also bad for business. “It would put a national and international spotlight on Arizona in a way that’s unhelpful to our economy. The bill, as it stands, would allow businesses and individuals to refuse to serve LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender) patrons and certain other groups of people, if the refusal is rooted in religious faith. It’s the wrong direction to go.”
The discriminatory bill was supported by the Republican majorities in both, Arizona’s Senate and House of Representatives. To become law it will now have to be signed by the State Governor. Although Jan Brewer is a Republican and has described herself as conservative, she declined to sign a similar bill a year ago. Supporters of the measure declared the bill was not about discrimination but protecting religious freedom. A spokesman for the conservative Center for Arizona Policy said there was growing hostility toward religion and the law would protect people who want to conduct their business in line with their religious beliefs.
Arizona business groups support the Mayor Stanton’s stance. The Greater Phoenix Economic Council has warned that such a law would have negative economic effects, and that’s an argument Stanton makes as well. “It would discourage tourism and also discourage businesses from locating in Arizona, he says. Tourism is a major aspect of sunny and scenic Arizona’s economy, and stands to be even more so with the state hosting the Super Bowl next year.”
Mayor Stanton noted with pride that while Arizona was considered a conservative state, Phoenix was one of the most tolerant cities in the US, obtaining a perfect 100/100 score in the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index. “The city I lead is a very open city, and we love our diversity,” he said. (27 February update: Governor Jan Brewer has refused to sign the bill in its present form.)
Greg Stanton took office in January 2012.
New York Mayor reiterates
campaign against inequality
New York City, 11 February 2014: New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio made economic inequality the central theme of his first State of the City Address. The mayor, who took over from Michael Bloomberg on 1 January, reiterated his description of New York as a Tale of two Cities, saying that while Wall Street has rebounded above its pre-crisis levels, for millions of ordinary citizens the economic recovery has been slow in coming. “Good jobs that pay decent wages are all too scarce,” he said. De Blasio further stressed that inequality also existed in housing, health care and education.
In his speech, the New York Mayor expressed his determination to push ahead with a controversial tax increase for people earning more than US$500,000 a year. “For those making between $500,000 and a million dollars a year, it means an average increase of about 970 dollars. But to the young minds that we help shape, the pre-teen lives that we keep safe, the generation of working New Yorkers that we put on a path to success, it will be priceless.”
Replying to critics, who claim that New York State will not approve any tax increases, the mayor said he did not ask the State to raise income tax but allow New York City to tax its own wealthiest residents. “Raising taxes on the rich makes our commitment to our kids more than just words. It makes that commitment real. It makes that commitment fair and it offers a promise to our kids that they can rely on.”
Mayor De Blasio also promised to protect New York’s half-million undocumented (illegal) immigrants. The city will introduce this year municipal ID cards, which will be available to all New Yorkers. They will allow everybody, irrespective of their immigration status, to open bank accounts, rent properties and access city services. “To all of my fellow New Yorkers who are undocumented, I say New York City is your home too and we will not force any of our residents to live their lives in the shadows.”
Bill De Blasio has never made a secret of his admiration for, perhaps, New York’s greatest mayor ever, Fiorello La Guardia. "A mayor who cannot look fifty or seventy-five years ahead is not worthy of being in City Hall," De Blasio quoted his hero.
US cities worried over
treatment of muni bonds
New York City, 1 February 2014: American cities are worried that proposals concerning municipal bonds will greatly reduce their ability to issue new or re-finance old debt. The US Federal Reserve is discussing new rules, which would prevent banks from including municipal debt in their holdings of legally required liquid assets. Following the 2008 financial crisis, banks will be obliged to hold enough liquid assets to meet cash needs for 30 days. US city and state treasurers say that municipal bonds are safe, easily tradable instruments and should thus be part of any liquid reserve requirements.
The financial market has already seen a significant fall in sales of US municipal bonds. The financial information provider Thomson Reuters reported yesterday that in January the sale of new muni bonds fell to its lowest level for two years. “Total bond issuance of US$17.63 billion for the month was the smallest since $17.11 billion sold in January 2012 and a third less than the $26.53 billion issued in January 2013. Altogether, only 581 deals came to market during the month, the smallest number since February 2011.”
Reuters reported that North Carolina treasurer Janet Cowell wrote to the Federal Reserve saying that the proposed rules would rob financial institutions of a very safe source of liquidity and prevent institutions from using municipal bonds to diversify their portfolios. "This will increase borrowing costs, leading to increased taxes and rates for citizens and delayed or foregone capital projects," she added. North Carolina’s comments were supported by several US cities including Houston and Junction City. A number of big banks have also voiced their concerns. Bank of America’s treasurer said the proposals included a number of new operational requirements, which introduced uncertainties and added unnecessary burdens.
New York Mayor urges
fight against inequality
26 January 2014: In his first speech in front of a national audience, New York City’s new mayor criticised the US government and Congress for inaction over urban needs. Bill de Blasio urged fellow mayors to forge a national consensus over social issues like pre-kindergarten education and paid sick leave but also around strategic investment in affordable housing and public transportation. “There is a long tradition of mayors being ahead of the curve and working for the notion of shared prosperity and working for the notion of people rising together, even when it wasn’t in vogue in the national debate,” De Blasio told the US Conference of Mayors.
De Blasio, who during last year’s election campaign described New York City under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg as a ‘tale of two cities’, said without mayors the distance between Wall Street and Main Street would be even greater than today. “We have to thank America’s city mayors for the forward motion, for the progress we’re making. I wish we could say that we could thank the Congress, but let’s be honest. That’s not where the progress is coming from. It’s coming from you,” De Blasio told his appreciative audience. In his speech, Mayor De Blasio also singled out a number of US mayors and praised them for being at the forefront of the economic recovery during the past five years. He particularly mentioned Baltimore’s Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Oklahoma City’s Mayor Mick and Sacramento’s Kevin Johnson.
De Blasio went to great length to explain his election pledge to raise taxes on people with incomes of more than $500,000 and up to underwrite the expansion of early education to all children. Quoting from the charitable organisation Ounce of Prevention Fund, the mayor said that without high quality early childhood intervention, an at-risk child was 25 per cent more likely to drop out of school; 40 per cent more likely to be a teen parent; 50 per cent more likely to be placed in special education; 60 per cent more likely never to attend college and 70 per cent more likely to be arrested for a violent crime.
American cities expecting
economic and job growth
Washington DC, 23 January 2014: Economic growth and job creation will return to most US cities in 2014. A report published yesterday by the US Conference of Mayors (USCM) predict that nearly all of the country’s 363 metropolitan areas are expected to see real economic growth this year, unlike in 2013 when 97 metropolitan areas experienced declining economies. The report also shows that nearly all (340) of the metros expect to see real Gross Metropolitan Growth (GMP) of one per cent or higher, compared to only 183 metros seeing the same growth in 2013. Scott Smith, Mayor of Mesa and current USCM president, described the figures as welcome news and a sign that US cities and metro areas were finally turning the corner and moving toward steady economic recovery.
Mayor Scott also complimented the US Congress for finally agreeing to a non-partisan budget. “The bi-partisan budget agreement is an example that Republicans and Democrats in Congress can in fact work together for the good of Americans and their cities.” But he also stressed that America needed this spirit of cooperation to continue for the nation’s metro areas to thrive.
2014 Forecast for US metro economies
Gross Metro Product (GMP)
• Nearly all (356) of America’s 363 metro areas are projected to experience real (inflation adjusted) economic growth in 2014, up dramatically from 2013 when 97 had declining economies.
• 69 US metros (19%) are projected to see real economic growth (GMP) of 3.0% or higher in 2014; 226 metros (62%) in 2014 are expected to have real GMP growth of 2.0% or higher.
• 340 metros (93%) are expected to see real growth of 1.0% or higher, compared to 183 metros in 2013.
• Nearly all US metro areas (357) are projected to return to job growth in 2014.
• Only 17 metros will see job growth of 3.0% or higher; one-third (121) are forecast to see job growth of 2.0% or higher, compared to 77 metros in 2013.
• 297 metros (82%) have a projected job growth of 1.0% or higher in 2014, compared to 185 metros which saw 1.0% or higher in 2013.
• 128 metros (35%) are projected to have an unemployment rate of 7.0% or higher for 2014.
• 148 metros (40%) are projected to have a 2014 unemployment rate of 6.0% or less.
For comparison, the US national economy is expected to grow by 2.7 per cent in 2014 and 3.2 per cent in 2015, with the unemployment rate falling from 6.5 per cent this year to below six per cent in 12 months’ time.
Suburbs are bad
for the environment
San Francisco, 22 January 2014: While numerous studies have demonstrated that population-dense cities contribute less greenhouse-gas emissions per person than rural areas, it is less known that the environmental progress achieved in urban centres is often cancelled out by energy consumption in the suburbs. New research by the University of California found that US suburbs account for half of all household greenhouse gas emissions, even though they account for less than half the country’s population. The average carbon footprint of households living in the centre of large, population-dense cities is about 50 per cent below average, while households in distant suburbs are up to twice the average.
The researchers found that the primary drivers of carbon footprints are household income, vehicle ownership and home size, all of which are considerably higher in suburbs. Other important factors include population density, the carbon intensity of electricity production, energy prices and weather. In some parts of the US, motor vehicles are the largest source of emissions, while in other locations it might be electricity, food or goods and services. California, for example, has relatively low emissions associated with household electricity, but large emissions from transportation. The opposite is true in parts of the Midwest, where electricity is produced largely from coal.
According to the research, increasing population density alone, for example, appears not to be a very effective strategy for reducing emissions. A 10-fold increase in population density in central cities corresponds to only 25 per cent lower greenhouse gas emissions and high carbon suburbanisation results as an unintended side effect. Increasing population density in suburbs is even more problematic, the research claims. Surprisingly, population dense suburbs have significantly higher carbon footprints than less dense suburbs, due largely to higher incomes and resulting consumption. “Population dense suburbs also tend to create their own suburbs, which is bad news for the climate.”
The authors argue that cities need to step out of traditional roles in planning urban infrastructure and learn how to better understand the needs of residents in order to craft policies and programmes that enable the adoption of energy and carbon-efficient technologies and practices. “The real opportunity is tailoring climate solutions to demographically similar populations within locations. Suburbs are excellent candidates for a combination of solar photovoltaic systems, electric vehicles and energy-efficient technologies.”
Houston Mayor marries
her long-time partner
Houston, 18 January 2014: Houston Mayor Annise Parker married her partner of 23 years Kathy Hubbard last Thursday in Palm Springs, California. Ms Parker, who became the first openly gay mayor of a major US city in 2010, tweeted after the ceremony that she couldn’t be happier. "I am privileged to now be the wife of the woman I have loved for more than two decades,” she added.
Close friends of the couple were never in any doubt that Ms Parker and Ms Hubbard would marry one day, but until recently the mayor has said she would not get married until same-sex unions became legal in Texas. She apparently changed her mind after the US Supreme Court struck down the federal Defence of Marriage Act, which, while not prohibiting same-sex marriages, prevented gay couples from receiving federal benefits available to partners in heterosexual marriages.
Last November, Mayor Parker caused controversy by announcing that the City of Houston would start to offer health insurance benefits to the spouses of all legally married city employees, gay or heterosexual. The mayor’s political opponents accused her of violating a voter-approved amendment to the city charter, which had banned the practice. After having taken legal advice the mayor said that based on the right to equal protection under the law, it was unconstitutional for the city to continue to deny benefits to the same-sex spouses of our employees who are legally married. "We believe that the only constitutional, just, right and fair thing to do is to extend benefits to all of our married employees, whether they are heterosexual or same-sex couples."
A senior Republican accused Mayor Parker of bringing California and New York values to Texas. “These are values Texans don't subscribe to. Texans have defined their position on marriage in the form of a constitutional amendment,” Jared Woodfill said.
In the US same-sex marriage is legal in Massachusetts, California (where Annise Parker got married), Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, Washington DC, New York State, Washington, Maine, Maryland, Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, Hawaii, Illinois and New Mexico. Oregon, Nevada, Wisconsin and Colorado grant civil partnerships.
High school shooting interrupts
mayors’ meeting with Obama
Washington DC, 14 December 2014: The topic of discussions at Friday’s meeting between US President Barack Obama, Vice President Biden and 16 newly elected city mayors turned from economics to gun control after news came in of a high school shooting in Colorado. New York’s mayor-elect Bill de Blasio praised the city’s outgoing mayor, Michael Bloomberg, for his engagement with Mayors against Illegal Guns and vowed continue the battle against gun violence. After last year’s tragedy, when a gunman killed 26 children and teachers at an elementary school in Connecticut, President Obama and most big-city mayors advocated stricter gun control but so far have achieved little in the face of opposition in Congress and a strong campaign by America’s pro-gun lobby.
President Obama also told the mayors that his administration would support them in their efforts to combat growing inequalities in American society. De Blasio said after the meeting that the President spoke with real passion. Obama was a strong supporter of De Blasio during the campaign prior to last month’s mayoral elections and was encouraged that New Yorkers responded with enthusiasm to policies that would help lower-income Americans.
President Obama and the mayors agreed that the most pressing issue was the extension of unemployment benefits, which was left out of the current bi-partisan fiscal plan making its way through Congress. The mayors suggested separate legislation to help more than one million jobless Americans whose benefits will soon expire. “You’ve got potentially 1.3 million people who, over Christmas, are going to lose their unemployment benefits, at a time when it’s still very difficult for a lot of folks to find a job,” Barak Obama said. “And that’s not just bad for those individuals and for those families. That’s bad for our economy and that’s bad for our cities.”
The meeting with the US President and Joseph Biden was attended by the mayors and mayors-elect from New York City, Boston, Charlotte, Jersey City, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Toledo, Cincinnati, Rochester, St. Petersburg, Seattle and Detroit.
Canadian mayor to go on
trial on three fraud charges
Toronto, 11 December 2013: The mayor of London, Ontario, will go on trial in May to defend himself against three charges of fraud. Joe Fontana, who assumed office two years ago, is accused of using taxpayers' money to help pay for his son's wedding reception in June 2005. The mayor, who was a Member of Parliament at the time, is charged with fraud, breach of trust by a public official and passing forged documents. Fontana has denied any wrongdoing and refused to resign. He even indicated that he would seek in second term in October 2014.
The press has also raised the matter of the mayor’s involvement in a suspended charity trust run by his son. It is alleged that despite the suspension the trust was still operating and using its charity number.
Joe Fontana, a member of the Liberal Party, won the 2010 mayoral contest by defeating the incumbent mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best by three percentage points. Four years earlier, in 2006, he was soundly beaten by her. During his 18 years as an MP, Fontana was often mentioned as a possible party leader.
Gay-friendly cities no longer the
sole preserve of northern USA
New York City, 23 November 2013: America’s largest cities and those in states governed by Democratic administrations provide the most gay-friendly environments, while municipal administrations in smaller cities and in those located in southern states are least likely to have introduced laws protecting and benefitting the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transsexual) communities. But, in a new report, some big cities in Republican states, where laws are less favourable to gays and lesbians, also scored well.
The Human Rights Campaign and the Equality Federation Institute, gave 25 out of 291 US cities surveyed a perfect score of 100. Naturally, many top-scorers are still cities in Democratic-leaning states that allow same-sex marriage, like New York, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle. But Phoenix, Austin and Kansas City were also awarded maximum points.
The report’s authors hope that publication of the Municipal Equality Index will encourage cities to introduce more gay-friendly city ordinances. San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro said his city had passed a series of non-discrimination laws after scoring ‘only’ 48 points in the inaugural report. This year’s survey gave San Antonio a score of 86 points out of 100.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said he was proud to be mayor of the first deep southern city to achieve a perfect score of 100. He explained that Atlanta had a rich history of upholding equal opportunity to all people. “Atlanta’s commitment to equality includes outlawing discrimination based upon a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity.”
In a introduction to the report, Richard Florida, director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto, writes that when a city is inclusive it sends a signal that it is diverse and meritocratic. “the creative class cannot be bound by social categories of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and more that we as a society have imposed on ourselves. Creativity and economic growth require diversity,” he explained.
State-by-state review of most gay-friendly US cities
(City with the highest score in each state
and all those cities scoring maximum points)
Other key findings:
• 291 cities with a population total of 77,851,822 were surveyed.
• 25 cities received perfect scores of 100 points.
• Of cities that scored 100, eight cities came from states without comprehensive relationship recognition and without statewide non-discrimination laws.
• 10% of cities scored over 96 points, 25% scored over 78 points. The average score was 57 points, half of cities scored over 60 points. 25% of cities scored 35 points or fewer; and 3.5% of cities scored 10 points or fewer.
If you think your mayor is among the best in the world, nominate him or her now for the 2014 World Mayor Prize
Boston and New York mayors to miss St Patrick’s Day parades
Oklahoma City Mayor
wins historic fourth term
Mayors urged to regulate smartphone taxi operators
Phoenix Mayor condemns proposed anti-gay law
New York Mayor reiterates campaign against inequality
US cities worried over treatment of muni bonds
New York Mayor urges fight against inequality
American cities expecting economic and job growth
Suburbs are bad for the environment
Houston Mayor marries her long-time partner (Photo: Houston Mayor Annise Parker - on the right - with her wife Kathy Hubbard)
High school shooting interrupts mayors’ meeting with Obama
Canadian mayor to go on trial on three fraud charges (Photo: London Mayor Joe Fontana)
Gay-friendly cities no longer the sole preserve of northern USA