Peterson celebrates NLC's strengths.
"If there is anything that is clear to me about government, it is that the heavy lifting is done at the city level. More and more, the federal government and our state governments leave it to us to fix whatever is broken," he said. "I know from much firsthand experience, as a mayor, as past president of the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns, and as president of the National League of Cities, how much our state leagues and NLC can help us do our heavy lifting."
Peterson discussed the strength of cities as generators of ideas, as advocates for themselves and their communities and as supporters of each other.
NLC helps cities and towns accomplish these things and much more in an environment where cities must do more with less, he said.
"NLC cares about what we as local elected officials care about," he said. "And it gives us an opportunity to learn and to influence national as well as local policy."
NLC's commitment to advocacy led to many successes during the past year, Peterson said.
"A bill we have influenced that attacks predatory lending and the foreclosure crisis, increased funding for CDBG and the COPS program, and greater focus on local transportation and other infrastructure needs," he said. "We, as city leaders, are being asked to testify at hearings and to offer counsel on our priority issues. It has been a long time since the stature of local elected officials has been this high in Washington."
Peterson spoke about the unique opportunity created by having the conference in New Orleans, which is still recovering from Hurricane Katrina. NLC was the first major convention to commit to coming to New Orleans in the wake of the hurricane.
"The outstanding attendance level this week confirms the faith we placed in New Orleans, and the commitment the elected municipal leaders of America have to each other," he said. "This city has come a long way since 2005, and it still has a long way to go. But New Orleans represents so much in American culture and history. The music, the food, the architecture, the people ... we've always thought of these things when we thought of New Orleans. Now, courage, resilience and faith also come to mind."
In closing, Peterson told conference delegates it has been a privilege to serve as NLC president.
"I leave with fond memories, treasured friendships, and a sense of pride in being associated with NLC," he said. "Lest we get too carried away with ourselves, I often say that the job of city government isn't fancy--we pick up the trash, treat the wastewater, pave the streets, build the sidewalks, provide parks and public safety.... NLC has taught me how to do the basics better. And, it's taught me how to be a better leader, as well."
Peterson, who will leave office at the end of the year, was also honored with NLC's President's Award for his years of service to the organization. Incoming NLC President Cynthia McCollum, along with incoming NLC First Vice President Kathleen Novak. Immediate Past President James Hunt and Executive Director Donald J. Borut, presented the award to Peterson during the conference.
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|Title Annotation:||Mayor Bart Petersons views on works of National League of Cities|
|Author:||Hogan, Cyndy Liedtke|
|Publication:||Nation's Cities Weekly|
|Date:||Nov 26, 2007|
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