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Data: Menino Survey of Mayors; Chart: Axios Visuals

U.S. mayors tend to be an optimistic bunch, but a poll released Thursday finds them unusually pessimistic about prospects for post-pandemic recovery.

Why it matters: In a survey of mayors of 130 U.S. cities with more than 75,000 residents, 80% expect racial health disparities to widen, and an alarming number predict that schools, transit systems and small businesses will continue to suffer through 2021 and beyond.

Details: The Menino Survey of Mayors, conducted annually by Boston University's Initiative on Cities (and named for former Boston mayor Thomas Menino), normally finds respondents upbeat about the future.

  • This year, 45% of mayors foresee "dramatic" cuts to school budgets, while 38% expect big cuts to parks and recreation and 35% to mass transit.
  • "Only around one-third expect small businesses that closed due to the COVID-19 economy will be quickly replaced by new ones," according to a news release.
  • The mayors paint a bleak outlook for city centers, with 60% anticipating a permanent reduction in in-person retail shopping and the same percent saying that downtown office buildings will become "less desirable."

The bottom line: "A lot of mayors think that it’s going to be a long time before they see a return to normal," Graham Wilson, director of B.U.'s Initiative on Cities, tells Axios.

  • "The mayors believe that they really need more fiscal help — that the CARES Act was not enough for cities, it was not enough for small businesses."

Go deeper

Dec 23, 2020 - Health

Axios-Ipsos poll: Surviving COVID makes people take it more seriously

Data: Axios/Ipsos survey; Chart: Axios Visuals

People who have survived a coronavirus infection say the experience made them take the pandemic more seriously, according to an Axios/Ipsos survey— the first to focus exclusively on people who have contracted the virus.

The big picture: A vocal group of White House officials, state officials and conservative pundits have argued for months that the virus simply is not that big a deal for the people who don’t die or become seriously ill. But that’s not how those patients themselves see it.

Kim Hart, author of Cities
Jan 29, 2020 - Technology

The battle over 5G deployment in America's cities

The fate of the national race to build 5G wireless service depends on how effectively the guts of the network — namely, hundreds of thousands of bulky antennas — are placed in cities.

Why it matters: While global tensions mount over pressure to build 5G networks as fast as possible, U.S. cities are in a fight of their own with telecom carriers and federal regulators over how new 5G antennas — or small cells — will be scattered throughout downtowns and neighborhoods.

Ina Fried, author of Login
36 mins ago - Technology

Scoop: Google is investigating the actions of another top AI ethicist

Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Photo by Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Google is investigating recent actions by Margaret Mitchell, who helps lead the company's ethical AI team, Axios has confirmed.

Why it matters: The probe follows the forced exit of Timnit Gebru, a prominent researcher also on the AI ethics team at Google whose ouster ignited a firestorm among Google employees.