At the National League of Cities meeting in Washington, DC, President Bill Clinton continued to push his “common sense” gun safety proposals he has before the Congress. Specifically, he wants what the Conference of Mayors has been advocating for years and that is to close the gun show loophole, to require child safety locks and to ban the importation of large ammunition clips.
Over and over, mayors and police
chiefs have supported instachecks at gun shows. The checks are working in many
states when gun buy attempts are made by criminals in gun dealers’ stores. But
a mentally deranged person or a criminal can still buy a gun at a gun show in
many states and that’s the problem.
The rhetoric this week on the gun
safety issue has indeed escalated. First, we had Mr. Charlton Heston, Academy
Award winner – an outstanding actor – and current President of the National
Rifle Association, practically calling President Clinton a liar. And then the
rhetoric was almost of a nuclear quality when NRA Executive Vice President Wayne
LaPierre said President Clinton was “willing to accept a certain level of
killing to further his political agenda.” That statement was difficult for our
“I feel your pain” President to accept. He challenged LaPierre to get off
national TV, and to look into the eyes of the mother of little Kayla Rolland,
the 6-year old child who was shot by her 6-year old classmate. President Clinton
also said this week in Chicago that he was “just trying to keep more people
alive.” The war of rhetoric continues and, because we know that there are so
many guns out there in the hands of criminals and kids, it’s a scary
situation. We all wish the rhetoric would cool down. This is a political year
where many will be out there, most vulnerable, in harm’s way to violent
gunfire. Let us hope that Congress will meet with President Clinton and we will
see compromise legislation passing Congress this year that will save lives.
Conference President Denver Mayor Wellington E. Webb has said to his Colorado
legislature, to Congress, and to the nation: we need common sense gun safety
In the second largest city in France – Lyon – we are planning our first “Transatlantic Summit of Mayors” that will take place April 6-8. This initiative is part of our CITIES/2000 project, endorsed by our Executive Committee in January of 1999. We will continue our mission of advocating the role of the city in our national and international economy. Joining the USA delegation headed by our President, Mayor Webb, we will have delegations of mayors from France and Germany. Our U.S. Ambassador to France, Felix Rohatyn, and our U.S. Ambassador to Germany, John Kornblum, will take a prominent role in our discussions, which will center on globalization and the role of cities in the international economy.
In London this week, Conference President Webb spoke to the question of Londoners, for the first time in history, having an elected mayor with the first-ever mayoral race set for May 4. The mayor’s race in London is a top story in Europe and would perhaps be a top story in the USA if we were not having our own Presidential primaries. There are questions here from the British press concerning the powers that will be given to the new mayor. And there is reference to the strong personality of Mr. Ken Livingstone, the leading candidate. Today’s poll in the London Evening Standard shows Livingstone at 61 per cent over his opponent, Mr. Frank Dobson, the Labour candidate who has 16 per cent. Mr. Livingstone’s lead is now 45 percentage points ahead with election date set for May 4. These figures are not good for Mr. Tony Blair, who does not support Mr. Livingstone, but the chance of Downing Street coming up with a viable candidate is somewhat diminished with the latest polls. Mr. Livingstone’s style is different than the field of candidates. The Evening Standard comments on Livingstone’s style: “When Mr. Livingstone makes assertions about London, the police, the transport system, his own life in his usual cheerful, endearing, frank, look-you- in-the-eye fashion, many Londoners believe him.” As to the Labour candidate, according to the same editorial, “he (Mr. Dobson) is irrevocably branded as Downing Street’s stooge and he himself has done and said nothing since the campaign began to convince Londoners he is fit to be Mayor.” Further, the editorial states, “He (Dobson) looks like a carthorse in a race which may not otherwise contain many thoroughbreds, but at least offers some respectable looking hacks.” And so it goes here in Londontown – an elected mayor finally in 2000. The place will never be the same and the establishment is concerned. Let’s face it, London will survive this change and it’s long overdue.
Berlin – Webb Addresses Bundestag, German Parliament
Conference President Webb keynotes the Biennial “New Traditions” Conference in Berlin, Sunday, March 19. The site for his keynote is in the Bundestag – German Parliament. Mayor Webb is the third American to speak in the new Parliament building and his topic is “The Atlantic World from Denver: Reinventing Communities in the 21st Century.” He will continue to challenge all nations to use their cities as the great economic assets that they have become. We will report on the Berlin address in the next issue as U.S. Mayor goes to press before his address is presented.
Seattle Annual Meeting, June 9-13 – Bush/Gore
We have invited both Governor George
W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore to come and address our Annual Meeting in
Seattle. Many of you will be with the candidates as they campaign throughout the
nation in the coming months. We need your help in reminding both candidates that
we want them to be with us at our 68th Annual Conference of Mayors in Seattle,
June 9-13. Thanks for your help in getting the candidates to come and listen to
mayors in Seattle. We are armed with ideas and solutions to many of the
challenges we, as Americans, face. The candidates need to be in Seattle to hear
us in the dialogue that is being offered to them by our President, Mayor
And if you haven’t registered for our Annual Meeting, it’s not too early. Call Carol Edwards at 202-293-7330. It’s an election year and as we head toward the two nominating conventions – Republicans in Philadelphia in July and Democrats in Los Angeles in August, – we believe the Annual Meeting of The U.S. Conference of Mayors in Seattle in June will be the most important political pre-nominating convention forum. Both candidates must have a bold proposal for our cities because our local metro economies are driving this national economy, and mayors and cities must be heard if we are to continue this economic position we now hold. We’re number one. Mayors and cities help get us there and mayors and cities will continue to keep us there if we come together with a strong pro-city bipartisan agenda for our nation.