Durham mayor meets with Obama

DURHAM Bell was among dozens of mayors invited to the White House to discuss how cities will create jobs under the terms of the national stimulus package, which Obama signed into law Tuesday.

The meeting included key members of the president's cabinet, who discussed how cities can use stimulus money to help jump-start the economy.

President Obama told the group he'll be watching to see how the money is spent, and he told them he won't hesitate to call them out if he sees the money used wastefully.

"The American people are watching. They need this plan to work. And they expect to see the money they worked so hard to earn spent in its intended purpose without waste, inefficiency, or fraud," he told the mayors.

With Durham facing the possibility of a budget gap in the millions, Bell said he gained confidence from the meeting.

"I feel good knowing that - you know - we're all in this together and it was a sense that we're going to have to work together to get it out," he said.

Like many other North Carolina mayors, Bell has a long list of "shovel ready" construction projects that he says could quickly be started with federal money.

"I don't think we'll have a problem in identifying once we know for sure which funds we can use to apply to those projects," he said.

The city wants funding for 29 projects totaling more than $100 million. The goal is creating hundreds of new jobs.

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