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Action speaks louder than words.

Action speaks louder than words.

Sixteen days after taking office, President Clinton met at the White House with leaders of America's cities.

His message during a one hour meeting was clear: He intends to work with' and through local government-- immediately-to stimulate the economy, and over the long term, to address the broader needs of citizens in our cities and towns.

The elected officials arrived at the White House accompanied by HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros, a past president of NLC and former mayor of San Antonio. Earlier in the day, Cisneres had conducted a special briefing with the group of local government leaders, in which he shared his thinking on initiatives he intended to carry out to expedite HUD's CDBG and other housing programs.

The fact and the symbolism of the two meeting is significant to those of us concerned about and dedicated to addressing the problems of urban America. After a decade of draconian federal budget cute theirs is reason to hope that this administration is prepared to work in partnership with local government

Clinton's actions in putting local officials in two top cabinet posts spoke volumes to cities his first week in office. First, the President appointed not only former mayor Cisneres to HUD, but also Faderico Pena, former Denver mayor, to head the Department of Transportation. Both are respected former mayors who have front-line experience balancing budgete, working with and confronting the federal government when necessary and in demonstrating that local government works.

Within days of his inauguration, the Preside. nt has reached out to a bipartisan group of local government leaders and made sure they had an extended meeting with his top staff. By nature, I am an optimist, but even the most cynical would have to acknowledge that this is a positive beginning.

At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, the leaders of the Senate and House, Majority Leader Mitchell and House Speaker Foley, met with NLC's officers in early January and agreed to meet on a regular basis to discuss legislative proposals affecting cities and towns. The addition of 15 former local elected officials to the new Congress should give additional voice to cities and towns.

I have long believed that collaboration is essential to the effectiveness of the intergoverrmental system The initiative that groups representing cities, counties and states began months ago, to develop shared agendas and program priorities takes on even greater significance with these positive federal actions of late.

At the initiative of the National Governor's Association, the elected leaders of the major state and local government associations in Washington, D.C. are working to find a common voice on such issues as deficit reduction, health care reform and reforms to the federal system. Organizations concerned about economic and community development have been working for months to identify common policy positions and shared priorities to be able to speak to the Congress and administration with a unified voice.

In the best sense of collaboration, we are trying to put aside our differences, because we all seek the common good. We want what's best for all Americans. I hope our actions speak for our efforts as we try to find our common voice.

The meetings with President Clinton and Secretary Cisneros were a cooperative effort between the leadership of NLC and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. I am optimistic that there will be many more such meetings as the issues and concerns of America's cities and towns appear to have finally found their way, back onto the national agenda.

On Inauguration Day, NLC hung a banner outside our building on Pennsylvania Avenue - midway from Capitol Hill and the White House.

It said, "Mr. President: Cities Are Ready for Change."

He's acting like he got our message
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Title Annotation:Bill Clinton administration
Author:Borut, Donald J.
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Feb 15, 1993
Previous Article:Cisneros plans increased role for cities.
Next Article:Clinton, Congress plan fast track for economic stimulus.

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