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President Fraser rallies NLC members.

NLC President Don Fraser led a leadership team of officers, Board members, state league presidents, and policy committee chairs in presenting a 1993 NLC Action Agenda to the membership, to President Bill Clinton, to the Congress, and to the nation last week.

Under Fraser's leadership, the nation's municipal leaders adopted a course of change and accepted responsibility to help pass and implement the President's economic recovery plan in the nation's cities and towns.

During an all-day meeting on Saturday, March 6 to set its agenda for the year, the NLC Board of Director" voted unanimously to adopt a resolution endorsing the President's three-part economic recovery plan and to set an Action Agenda for 1993. Fraser presented the Board's Action Agenda to the nation on Sunday morning on NBC and to the NLC delegates on Monday morning.

First, the Board set as its number one priority to work with the President and the Congress to implement an economic recovery plan to stimulate local economies in the short run and produce an environment for investment in communities and families over the long run. As part of the support for the President's plan, the Board committed to support not only the easy choices, but also the hard choices the President and Congress will have to make to significantly reduce federal deficits.

Second, the Board adopted an NLC Action Agenda which represents the top priorities as the nation's municipal leaders. The five-point Action Agenda for 1993 will shape NLC's advocacy, policy development, research, information, and communication activities this year. The five issues are:

* Restoring Safety in Cities and Towns

* Rebuilding Communities

* Reversing Federal Mandates

* Investing in Communities

* Reforming Health Care

The action agenda identifies major areas the NLC Leadership felt essential to building a stronger future for cities and towns, not just through changes in federal laws and regulations, but through a more comprehensive approach involving the input of all local elected officials. NLC President Fraser urged the entire NLC membership to join in shaping action on each of these issues by working together to identify needs, share information, and provide experiences about why these issues are important to the long-term future of our cities and towns.

Reviving Economies

On Sunday morning, First Vice President Sharpe James headlined a plenary session on Reviving Cities' Economies with former NLC President George Latimer, a special consultant to HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros, to present the Leadership response to the President's three-part economic recovery plan. Fresno Mayor Karen Humphrey responded at the session, moderated by National Public Television McNeil-Lehrer commentator Judy Woodruff, that "when you look at this program, it looks like NLC wrote it."

In introducing President Clinton to the leaders of the nation's cities and towns on Monday, Fraser formally presented the President with a bound copy of the Board resolution endorsing his three-part economic recovery plan. Fraser made clear to the President that through grass roots leadership of the state municipal league presidents. NLC was prepared not only to work to get the President's plan through the Congress, but also to accept responsibility and accountability for making it work at the local level.

Regional Meetings

On Monday afternoon, NLC's Officers, First Vice President Sharpe James, the Mayor of Newark; Second Vice President Carolyn Long Banks, Council-member of Atlanta; and Past Presidents Sidney Barthelemy. Cathy Reynolds, and Ferd Harrison joined by members of the Board, led four regional meetings to brief the entire membership on the 1993 Action Agenda and to develop strategies to implement the Agenda both in Washington and at home.

On Tuesday, the Officers met with the freshman class of the Congress at a special breakfast hosted by Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), the former mayor of Alexandria and former NLC Human Development Committee Chair. Afterward they held a quarterly leadership meeting with House Speaker Tom Foley (D-wash.) to discuss how NLC could coordinate with the Speaker to ensure passage and implementation of the President's economic recovery program.

Speaker Foley told the Officers he was mildly optimistic about the prospects, but "the package must hang together as a whole; there is no other alternative. If it fails, there will be a lot of anger and disappointment."

Foley said that while he recognized the broad support of municipal leaders for the economic recovery plan, he reported that many of his colleagues were not hearing from cities and towns: "If there is support, it's silent support." In response, NLC Past President Cathy Reynolds promised "to do everything we can, to send in those cards and letters, to make sure Congress is aware of our support."

The Officers' team then met with new Labor Secretary Robert Reich to brainstorm on ways to implement the summer youth job segment of the President's economic stimulus package and develop a collaborative working partnership with the Department of Labor on key NLC issues. Reich told the NLC Officers that President Clinton wants to make the summer youth program a major initiative. "I need your help to ensure that this program is as important and as real as the President envisions," he said.

Past President Ferd Harrison concluded the meeting by pledging NLC's support to Reich and the new administration. "We want to be part of this," Harrison said, "We are ready to help this administration make a difference."

The Officer leadership team next went to the White House to coordinate efforts on reviving local economies and implemting a working arrangement on the Action Agenda.

Finally, the NLC Officers and the leadership of the Human Development Committee, Chair, Dr. Wayne Creelman, Councilor from Cape Elizabeth, Maine, Maryann Mahaffey, President of the Detroit City Council, and Nancy Padilla, HD Vice Chair and Councilmember from Rochester, New York, met with HHS Secretary Donna Shalala to ensure NLC has a place at the table as the administration prepares its health care reform initiative, another key Action Agenda item.

For members of the Human Development Committee, the meeting concluded a day of meetings with representatives of several of the White House Task Force on Health Care Reform working groups.

Secretary Shalala also called on municipal officials to work in partnership with her on local Head Start program to help ensure that the funds to expand the programs improve quality included in the President' Economic Stimulus program are successful. She asked municipalities to work on developing outreach programs to ensure that the goal of immunizing all children is realized.

Also on Tuesday other leaders, such as Little Rock Director Sharon Priest, Chair of NLC's Transportation and Communications Policy and Steering Committee moderated a Town Meeting on Capitol Hill on infrastructure - one of NLC's Action Agenda items for 1993. NLC hosted a simultaneous Town Meeting on Labor and Personnel unfunded federal mandates on the Senate side to begin addressing still another of NLC's Action Agenda items.

And NLC Board member and Texas Municipal League President Gary McCaleb, the Mayor of Abilene, represented NLC at a press conference where Reps. Jim Moran and William Goodling (R-Pa.) introduced legislation to require greater federal accountability to protect cities and towns from unfunded mandates and federal preemptions.
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Title Annotation:Donald M. Fraser; National League of Cities
Author:Shafroth, Frank
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Mar 15, 1993
Words:1175
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