Mayors came to Chicago last Friday and worked all day in one room at ten tables in small groupings using their time and their brains to develop transition proposals for the next President of The United States. United States Conference of Mayors President Boise Mayor H. Brent Coles, reminded the mayors assembled that after election day mayors must be ready to help the President-elect and his team as we all go forward with a new Administration. 'After hours of give and take discussions, ten team leaders gave their reports and there was across the board discussion of the various issues involved which affect the well being of all American citizens.
Over the next few weeks mayors and staff will continue to develop the proposals as we prepare for our September Leadership Meeting in Boise and Sun Valley, Idaho.
While others wonder who is going to be elected the next President of The United States, the mayors here in Chicago know there is work to be done with the Bush team or the Gore team. Our overall objective is to get the new White House to look at mayors as public CEOs who are working with their county officials to keep the local/metro economies of the United States strong, and thus continue to keep the national economy as strong as it is today.
Need for Strong Rails Policy
One new topic in Chicago, a top priority of The U.S. Conference of Mayors President Coles, is the need for a strong national rails policy in the U.S.A. Meridian (MS) Mayor John Robert Smith, the leading mayor in our group to develop a new AMTRAK policy, has been appointed along with North Little Rock Mayor Patrick Henry Hays to lead this Policy Transition Team. At the Rail Policy table, discussion centered on the need for light rail projects across America. All agree that we can't make the highways wider and we aren't going to build airports. Today's "drive time" to work, school or play is a serious problem for urban, suburban and metro America. There is today in our nation, some brilliant planning going on with light rail and other like projects. It is agreed that we should promote and publicize these projects with special emphasis on the "quality of life" aspects of rail travel, be it short commutes or longer, faster travel from city to city. From the policy deliberations in Chicago the Mayoral Rails Policy Team will reach out to other rail advocacy organizations and groups to help forge a new and dynamic coalition advocating for expanded rail projects in our nation.
Initially, the mayors are supporting S.1900, legislation which would invest up to $10 billion dollars over the next ten years in emerging high-speed passenger rail corridors all across the country. This legislation has bipartisan support in the House and Senate and mayors in Chicago urged us to get other Senators behind this bill.
On Tuesday of this week, Conference President H. Brent Coles testified before the Senate Finance Subcommittee, urging action on this important legislation before the 106th Congress adjourns.
Our hope is to get S.1900 enacted as a first step in building a rail policy for the nation.
Philadelphia/Republican National Convention
Republican Mayors are headed to Philadelphia for the Republican National Convention which begins this weekend. Omaha Mayor Hal Daub has worked hard within the Republican Party to provide a strong presence for mayors and local officials. As I informed the Republican Mayors in my memo dated July 19th, there are two main events: a reception Sunday evening at the Loews Hotel/Millennium Hall and a mayoral dinner Tuesday night at the Philadelphia Marriott. There will also be a hospitality area located in the Pavilion Area for mayors and local officials.
Today, the President of The U.S. Conference of Mayors, Boise Mayor H. Brent Coles, the President of The National League of Cities, Wichita Mayor Bob Knight and the President of The National Association of Counties, King County (WA) Commissioner Jane Hague are all Republicans. The Presidents of our three local government organizations will together present a strong message for cities and counties to the Bush campaign. Earlier, Platform Chair Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson reached out to a number of Republican mayors for policy input. Republican mayors feel more confident in this election year that Governor Bush and his team are interested in developing a campaign strategy that supports key priority issues of the city and county elected officials.
Los Angeles/Democratic National Convention
Notices are also being sent out to Democratic Mayors who plan to attend the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles August 14-18, 2000. The U.S. Conference of Mayors is sponsoring a mayoral luncheon honoring Democratic Mayors Monday morning August 14th at 11:30 am in The Beverly Hills Hotel/Rodeo Ballroom. In addition we are joining with Denver Mayor Wellington E. Webb, Fannie Mae and the National Association of Counties to sponsor an event at Paramount Studios Tuesday evening. On Tuesday morning, Long Beach Mayor Beverly O'Neill has invited all mayors to her city for a morning special event and transportation will be provided for those who wish to attend.
In addition to the hospitality functions, Mayor Webb, our Immediate Past President, will lead a press conference promoting gun safety. Other organizations will join with Mayor Webb at the event to be scheduled early in the week during the Democratic Convention.
September Leadership Meeting - Boise/Sun Valley
As mayors leave the two National Conventions in August, Conference President H. Brent Coles will convene mayors in Boise and Sun Valley, Idaho to put their final approval on our White House transition proposals. Once the hard fought campaign for the Presidency is over November 7th, thanks to Mayor Coles' leadership and the hard work of our mayors, we will have transition proposals that will be presented to President-elect Bush or President-elect Gore. Mayors on both sides are encouraged that the policies we present will not be ignored and they are determined, more than ever, to work with the new President for our cities, all our people and our nation.