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Local officials come together to shape change; NLC members focus on a better future.

In reunion-like fashion, thousands of local elected officials came together at the 70th Annual Congress of Cities and Exposition In Orlando for a spirited exchange of ideas in planned activities including preconference seminars, issue-intense mini tracks or impromptu get-togethers over coffee or lunch, in convention hallways, and on shuttle buses.

Under the leadership of NLC President Don Fraser, and with sunshine and warm weather, 4,000 delegates and their staff attended a litany of workshops, meetings and sessions to return home with innovative approaches to solve local problems.

With a hometown comfort-level hovering in the air, many local officials found support among colleagues lending confidence to take risks and try something new or perhaps just enough support to hang in there against sometimes overwhelming odds.

"I come here for the comradery. Meeting and talking with other officials helps me remember I'm not alone," said three-time Congress of Cities attendee Ron Black, councilman, Poplar Bluff, Mo. "These are tough times. After all, my salary only amounts to a dollar and that's usually in the form of a plaque at the end of the year," said Black, who added that the conference provides away to calm frustrations.

Local Elected Officials participated in a variety of meetings to develop the National Municipal Policy for 1994. Topics of public safety to include crime, violence and community policing, global economies, health care reform and welfare reform headed discussions at the Board of Directors meetings, constituency group meetings, and state league meetings.

Preconference seminars kicked off the Congress of Cities offering participants a chance to concentrate on a variety of leadership issues including effective media relations. Facilitator Karen Kalish, president of Kalish Communications in Washington, D.C. combined video and role playing to help local officials improve media relations.

Participants were presented with the dos and don'ts of dealing with the media, including the mundane and sometimes overlooked like the best color suit, socks and shoes and the improper use of a tie.

"Don't wear a really colorful or busy tie because the audience will concentrate too much on the tie and not on you," Kalish told the group of about 200.

Local officials were challenged to be more than attendees at this year's introduction of mini tracks on public safety, infrastructure, local economies, mandates, health care, small cities, and youth, education and families. One facilitator led each track, which included four concurrent workshops each featuring a different panel. Workshop participants were encouraged to interact with the facilitator and panelists by presenting ideas from their hometown for open discussion and problem solving.

Amber Travsky, mayor of Laramie, Wyo. talked about the fears and apprehension of public private partnerships as her city embarks upon building a water treatment facility. The infrastructure track workshop on infrastructure financing offered Travsky and others the latest on creative municipal financing and ways to protect local interests.

This year's closing event was a huge success, as Orlando's Sea World opened its doors and gave delegates a private run of the theme park centered by a sand sculpture of a city or town and a display of the words National League of Cities and its Logo. The event included a barbecue style dinner and a show starring Shamu the whale.
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Title Annotation:National League of Cities
Author:Baker, Denise
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Dec 13, 1993
Previous Article:Congress, administration put crime bill on fast track.
Next Article:NLC membership elects Sharpe James to lead cities in '94.

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