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City leaders take NLC message to Congressional leaders; NLC officers share concern and outlook with Mitchell, Foley.

NLC President Don Fraser and the NLC leadership met with House Speaker Tom Foley (D-Wash.) and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchel (D-Maine) in a demonstration of commitment to work with the new Congress and new Administration to deliver' and implement an economic plan to restart the nation's economy last week.

The NLC officers were scheduled to meet with House Public Works and Transportation Committee Chairman Norm Mineta (D-Calif) and with key members of President-elect Bill Clinton's new cabinet after the Weekly went to press.

Fraser and the NLC officers presented the NLC economic plan adopted by the full membership at last month's Congress of Cities in New Orleans in consultation with the Clinton transition team. They told the Congressional leaders they wanted to explore new ways to address the future and to face changing municipal roles and responsibilities which will require nontraditional responses.

The officers pledged to stand behind the new President and Congress on the difficult choices that must be made to change budget priorities and reduce the deficit.

Immediate Past President Glenda Hood told Speaker Foley: "Instead of coming to you with a list of problems, we come today to begin a new and ongoing relationship. We are the ones who face the problems day in and day out, so we are the ones who can make the difference between a federal program working or not.

Past President Sidney Barthelemy emphasized the importance of a close working relationship between NLC's leaders and the Congress' leaders, both to increase understanding of the issues and to begin to develop solutions. "We need to look at ways to channel resources differently to get results. You want results and we want results," Barthelemy said.

Past President Ferd Harrison reminded Foley that the National League of Cities spoke for communities of all sizes in every part of the nation.

Foley responded:

"You're right. The League is influential because of its broad constituency. Your organization has a unique opportunity to represent the country.

"Quarterly meetings with your leadership would be valuable to assess where we are."

NLC First Vice President Sharpe James told both Foley and Mitchell:

"There is still a 'misery index' out there. We can be a conduit to help people understand about the tough choices we have to make. We are here to say that whatever pain there is, we are willing not just to participate in making those decisions, but also in gaining the support of our citizens."

"We have the ability to get the armies behind you," added Hood.

Mitchell responded by telling the NLC leaders he agreed with everything that had been said:

"Obviously; .it's going to be very difficult. There will be great pressure to focus all efforts on deficit reduction. I --hope there will be an economic recovery program. I support the' kinds of proposal Mayor Fraser presented.

"I have the same feeling you do about the Administration and the promise and opportunities it holds. It is our responsibility to realize this promise."

Both Foley and Mitchell expressed concern about the high levels of expectation out of the new Administration and the recent increased deficit estimates. With deadlines on the national debt coming up in the Congress, they expressed concern about pitting city issues against ever tighter budget restraints.

Second Vice President Carolyn Long Banks advised the Congressional leaders that the Administration will need some quick successes to help with the pain of the coming choices. She said cities could have a key role in ensuring those successes.

Past President Cathy Reynolds responded to Foley's and Mitchell's concerns:

"Let the cities of this country come up with plans that will make a difference. We can help make things happen despite limited resources, because we know what works. But we need to act today so that we won't be sitting here ten years from now talking about the same problems."
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Title Annotation:National League of Cities, George Mitchell, Tom Foley
Author:Shafroth, Frank
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Jan 11, 1993
Previous Article:Economy tops local officials concerns.
Next Article:NLC founder, John Stutz, passes century mark.

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