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Member councils focus on solutions for their special needs.

The four NLC member councils convened during the Congress of Cities in Orlando, Fla., to focus on the special needs of cities participating in each group. The meetings capped a full year of learning and networking on everything from economic redevelopment, the economic importance of climate protection, best practices for small cities and town/gown issues.

First Tier Suburbs Council

The First Tier Suburbs Council (FTS) and its steering committee discussed economic redevelopment and city-developer relationships, and made recommendations about the FTS Council's 2009 agenda.

During the FTS Council meeting, developers met with city officials from across the country to continue to engage in an open dialogue about how to create local redevelopment processes that are receptive to developers and meet the needs and goals of communities. David Wallace, developer and former mayor of Sugar Land, Texas, Larry Kilduff, developer from Mequon, Wisc., and Fred Johnson, developer from Columbia, S.C., joined the FTS Council for this discussion.

Kilduff suggested that, from a developer's perspective, it is helpful for city officials to understand the deal and to have political will.

"Know the details of the development proposal so that you can ensure that your city is getting what it expects," Kilduff said. "If the city is on board from the beginning, you need to be able to support the agreement in the face of opposition and have the political will to see it through completion."

More information about this topic can be found in City-Developer Relations: Working Together Toward Redevelopment, an NLC Municipal Action Guide, at www.nlc.org.

Looking forward to 2009, the FTS Council will continue to address economic redevelopment, with a particular focus on infrastructure improvements. The 2008 chair of the FTS Council is Mayor A. Keith McDonald, Bartlett, Tenn.

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Large Cities Council

The Large Cities Council (LCC, formerly the Central Cities Council) spent much of this year focusing on how it can best serve the large city members of NLC. Led by Chair Nancy Carter, councilmember, Charlotte, N.C., the council developed a survey that was geared to identifying the most important issues for large cities across the nation.

According to the survey responses, infrastructure, unemployment, home foreclosures, public safety, education, and environmental issues were the most crucial concerns for large cities.

Using this list and NLC's legislative priorities for 2009, the council will develop a large cities lobbying strategy that the council will pursue in 2009. The strategy will include developing a clear message on large city priorities and meeting with key policy makers during NLC's Congressional City Conference in March in Washington, D.C. Details are yet to be confirmed but activities would include either a lobbying visit or an invitation to a member of Congress or a representative of the Administration to speak at a LCC breakfast meeting.

For the third straight year, LCC held a mid-year meeting, convening jointly with the Transportation Infrastructure and Services steering committee. During this meeting, the council discussed regional transportation planning and climate protection.

Small Cities Council

At the recent Small Cities Council (SCC) meeting chaired by Mayor Shawn Larsen of Rexburg, Idaho, council members received a briefing on NLC's City Practice Online Database, were introduced to the first City Practices Brief specifically geared to small cities and heard a presentation by a CVS Caremark representative about the NLC-sponsored Prescription Discount Card Program.

As part of its 2008 agenda, the council reviewed NLC's City Practice Online Database. This database is a searchable collection of more than 6,000 local government programs and practices. These are current programs in cities and towns across the nation and cover a multitude of topics.

The database presentation was given by NLC staffer Larry Foxman, coordinator of city program resources. Foxman gave an overview of the database, explained how it can be accessed online, and explained how a city submits examples to the database. Foxman also mentioned that over the next few months he will be identifying city programs that are most useful to small cities and towns and ways to get that information out in the most user friendly way.

In the summer, SCC members were given the opportunity to submit their own examples as part of an effort to get more small city solutions into the database. As a result, the SCC unveiled its first City Practices Brief entitled, "Small Cities Share Solutions." This brief is available on NLC's website at www.nlc.org.

NLC City Practice Briefs provide a selection of city practices and programs on specific topics to assist municipal officials faced with decisions. The SCC brief highlights small community public safety, community leadership and sustainable development programs.

A representative from CVS Caremark spoke to the council about the new NLC-sponsored Prescription Drug Discount Program, which is being offered to NLC member cities. Through this program, cities are able to offer savings on prescription drugs to residents who are without health insurance, a traditional benefit plan, or have prescriptions that are not covered by insurance.

University Communities Council

The University Communities Council (UCC), under the leadership of Chair Joycelyn Johnson, councilmember, Winston-Salem, N.C., held discussions about increasing membership in UCC, collaborating with other town/gown organizations and educating and preparing youth for the 21st century work force.

Members of the UCC Steering Committee shared their efforts to recruit NLC members, especially those with colleges and universities within their borders, to join UCC.

Ben White, mayor, College Station, Texas, and Randy Riggs, councilmember, Waco, Texas, detailed their initiative to develop a town/gown constituency group within the Texas Municipal League. Others were encouraged to take the lead to contact their state leagues to explore the feasibility of increasing the networking opportunities for leaders in town/gown communities. In addition, Johnson met with state league directors during the conference to extol the benefits of UCC to NLC members.

Continuing one of UCC's goals of developing collaborations, members of the steering committee and full council met with Chip Boyles, executive director of the newly formed International Town & Gown Association (ITGA). ITGA was established in September by the City of Clemson, S.C., and Clemson University. It is a nonprofit membership organization whose mission is to provide a network of resources to assist civic leaders, university officials, faculty, neighborhood residents, and students to collaborate on common services, programs, academic research, and citizen issues, creating an improved quality of life for all residents, students, visitors, faculty and staff. UCC members were invited to join and be a part of sharing and shaping the goals and activities of ITGA.

Finally, the steering committee and council continued their dialogue with NLC's Audrey Hutchinson, program director, education and after-school initiatives, and Andrew Moore, senior fellow, NLC's Institute of Youth, Education and Families. They provided strategies, tools and policies to assist local elected officials in supporting the development and expansion of the Alternative High School Initiative (AHSI).

AHSI is a network of youth development organizations, with NLC being a convener, with more than 200 sites nationwide committed to creating educational opportunities for young people for whom traditional school settings have not been successful.

During the membership meeting, Elliot Washor, co-director of the Big Picture Company, an NLC partner and AHSI convener, briefed participants about the work of his organization. The Big Picture Company utilizes a rigorous, highly personalized curriculum combined with academic work and real-world experiential and inquiry-driven learning. Washor enthusiastically offered to assist local elected officials in exploring models under the initiative.

Details: For more information about joining a member council, contact Cathy Spain, director, NLC's Center for Member Programs at (202) 626-3123 or spain@nlc.org.

by NLC Staff
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Title Annotation:National League of Cities. First Tier Suburbs Council
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Article Type:Conference notes
Geographic Code:1U5FL
Date:Dec 8, 2008
Words:1267
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