Mayors' conference addresses crime, jobs
New York — Different ways to address the problem of crime in the United States were discussed by six big-city mayors Monday, with suggestions ranging from trying to put together the independent ''peices'' in the criminal justice system to a call for the death penalty for drug pushers who are arrested repeatedly.
The issues of crime, unemployment, and transportation were the focus of a forum sponsored by New York University's Urban Research Center.
The six mayors included Maurice A. Ferre of Miami, Raymond L. Flynn of Boston , Donald Fraser of Minneapolis, W. Wilson Goode of Philadelphia, Roger Hedgecock of San Diego, and Edward I. Koch of New York City.
There was little in the way of new ideas as the mayors debated the reasons for high crime and how best to deter it. Mayor Koch, pointing to the link between illegal drugs and crime, suggested the federal government pursue the idea of the death penalty as a deterrent.
Mayors Ferre and Hedgecock whose cities are both troubled by drug smuggling, agreed the death penalty is worth considering, while Mayors Fraser, Flynn, and Goode disagreed.
On the issue of jobs, both Koch and Goode said they would support a subminimum wage for youths under age 21 to try to bolster employment, particularly for minority youths. All of the mayors talked of ''partnerships's between federal, state, and local governments and the private sector to help the unemployed.
Mayor Fraser spoke of a state program to subsidize people without work experience making the transition to permanent employment in the provate sector. The state pays up to $4 an hour of a worker's wages, so long as the company keeps the employee at least a year.
''One of the biggest problems [for the unemployed] is giving them a track record,'' says Fraser. He says the federal government could adopt a similar program.
The one Republican on the panel, Mayor Hedgecock of San Diego, drew laughs from the audience when he described his city's trolley system, which was paid for without help from the federal government, uses an honor system for fares, and receives almost 75 percent of its revenues from fares. The other majors, particularly those in the Northeast, say heavy federal funding is needed to help their aging, high-priced transportation systems.