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Time to think about our cities' futures.

The National League of Cities will be meeting December 2-5, 1993, in Orlando, Fla. The theme for the 70th Annual Congress of Cities and Exposition is "Cities in Action - Working Together - Rethinking, Reforming, Rebuilding."

These pretty powerful words and concepts. If we look closely at what the league is offering at the upcoming conference, maybe we can educate ourselves.

Let's try it!

PUBLIC SAFETY

Rethinking - The criminals and "bad guys" should no longer be in charge. Local citizens want to take back their right to a safe city.

Reforming - Programs are available to help reclaim safe cities. We can train or retrain law enforcement specialists; ordinances are passed and enforced; parents and young people are being educated on the law, safety and on crime prevention.

Rebuilding - Cities like Brained are demanding more of their safety officials and seem to be willing to work together with law enforcement to create safer cities.

INFRASTRUCTURE

Rethinking - How should limited tax dollars be spent? Where should the emphasis be placed? The answer more often comes back as roads, streets, sewers, utilities - the necessities and not so much the "frills."

Reforming - Comprehensive plans; applications for state and federal dollars; taking a closer look at the condition of our basic systems and determining how they can be improved.

Rebuilding - Investing dollars wisely to repair what is repairable and replace what could be potentially dangerous seems to be the plan that works when faced with serious problems and limited dollars.

MANDATES:

Rethinking - States mandate and expect local units of government to enact the mandates and have the dollars available to do so. Local units of government don't have those dollars, regardless of how fiscally conservative they've been in the past.

Reforming - Lt. Gov. Dyrstad has had a subcommittee established during the last couple of years that has looked at mandates, defined what a mandate is, how it should be structured and how it should be financed.

Rebuilding - It is the sub-committee's feeling (and the feeling of most citizens, I believe) that if something is so important that it must be mandated by the state, then it should also be funded by the state. We'll need to watch and see the legislature's reaction to these proposals and the reaction of the governor, as well.

LOCAL ECONOMY

Rethinking - Listed as the key industry on most handouts regarding the City of Brainerd is tourism. Although that is accurate, Brainerd is also a health care center, education center, government center and an industrial center.

Reforming - People do want to establish a business here or move their already established business to the area. When that kind of economic development occurs, the city needs to accept the responsibility of providing the necessary goods and services to all of its citizens, new and old alike.

Rebuilding - Quality housing needs to be built or current housing upgraded; retail stores need to provide the necessary goods; service businesses like restaurants, day care, etc. need to be available; and entertainment options are also important. The City of Brainerd is working diligently on each of these options.

HEALTH CARE

Rethinking - The State of Minnesota's recently enacted health plan, along with President and Mrs. Clinton's concern for health care, have caused many individuals to look beyond their own health care plans to plans that will give all citizens some health care coverage.

Reforming - That means changes in the insurance area, medical profession, and in government. What health care coverage/services will the individual be able to provide? What health care coverage/services can employers provide? What health care coverage/services should government be required to provide?

Rebuilding - Because of these trends, cities such as Brainerd are moving toward enlarged nursing home facilities, expanded hospital facilities and emergency services, an Alzheimer's facility and businesses offering health care packages to employees as part of their salary.

YOUTH, EDUCATION

THE FAMILY

Rethinking - Times have changed. The average family, mom (who stayed home and worked), dad, two kids (one boy, one girl) and a dog, doesn't exist much any more. We now have single parent families, families where both parents work, children that have sued their parents for independence, etc.

Reforming - When families change, services within the city need to change, as well.

Rebuilding - Day care, youth centers, museums, YMCA activities, co-curricular school activities, and city recreation programs become necessary to supplement home life. Counseling services, food distribution, financial aid, and health care providers play important roles, as well. Because families and family members have become so independent, rebuilding a family structure and/or rebuilding cities to meet changing demands, becomes an important challenge.

GOVERNMENT

Rethinking - Prior to 1972 (around the time of the Watergate scandal), most people were content to let government run its course. Since then, citizens have become more vocal about their government (local, state & national) and have become more active participants in its operation.

Reforming - Our current government system is not perfect, but if you do some reading, you realize that the socialistic economic systems in the Scandinavian countries and communism in the former Soviet Union have been less effective or have failed. Democracy appears to be the way to go governmentally, with modifications.

Rebuilding - The more information government can share with its constituents and the more involved citizens become in their government is perhaps the closest we can come in doing the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Also needed are programs that allow the sharing of services between municipalities, and perhaps user fees, property tax reform, etc.

VISION AND CHANGE

Rethinking - Planning now for the Brainerd of the future.

Reforming - Which is the appropriate concept: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," or "If it ain't broke, break it?"

Rebuilding - More than ever before in local government, we need to build teams and join efforts to create and maintain a city that meets the need of its citizens both now and into the 21st century.

I've always been told that knowledge is power. Here in the City of Brainerd during the last several years, we have also seen how the power of knowledge can be transformed into action through our efforts at rethinking, reforming and rebuilding our community.

It's time to think about our cities' futures, and this sounds like a great way to do it!

Join the "Countdown to Orlando"!

From the moment you step off the airplane at our world-class internatioanl airport, to the minute you leave our balmy climate, your visit to Orlando for the 70th annual Congress of Cities and Exposition is sure to be memorable!

This is your chance to register for the nation's premiere event for elected officials from cities across America. Never has the opportunity been so great to learn from one another as governing and leading our communities become a bigger challenge than ever The general sessions, workshops and special speakers at the annual conference will help equip each of us to meet the challenges we face each day.

And, while we learn and grow through the program's events, the networking opportunities are just as great! Here in the world's hospitality capital, NLC conference attendees will be treated to Orlando's finest in entertainment, cuisine and fun. This is where you have the chance to share ideas with fellow elected officials from around the U.S. - making new friends and gaining insight into how other communities have handled the very challenges you may also face in your hometown.

Join us in Orlando for the NLC Congress of Cities. The countdown continues to what will be a highlight of your year!
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Title Annotation:includes related article on Orlando, Florida; adapted from an article in the Brainerd, Minnesota, Daily Dispatch
Author:Cumberland, Bonnie; Hood, Glenda E.
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Oct 18, 1993
Words:1252
Previous Article:What your constituents need to know about unfunded federal mandates.
Next Article:Special workshops round out Congress of Cities program events.
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