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Washington, DC
December 16, 1999

15th Annual Report on Hunger and Homelessness

As we approach the season of giving, The U.S. Conference of Mayors released its 15th Annual Report on Hunger and Homelessness in America. Burlington Mayor Peter Clavelle, Chair of our Task Force on Hunger and Homelessness, presided over a well-attended press conference here in our headquarters today. Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic and Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci both brought their city's perspective to the homeless issue. In addition, Mayor Cianci unveiled our new partnership with the Alan Shawn Feinstein Foundation, "Petition to End Hunger in America." Mr. Feinstein is offering $70,000 in a drive to obtain signatures to make a commitment to end hunger in America. Cities with the most signatures by February 29, 2000 will receive donations for their local efforts against hunger.

Glickman Brings Agriculture to Mayors Headquarters

In an historic step toward a new partnership, we were pleased today to have Secretary Dan Glickman of the U.S. Department of Agriculture as we released our annual report. His thrust at our press conference is that one-third of U.S. citizens eligible are not receiving benefits from the various federal programs. Agriculture Secretary Glickman pledges a stronger partnership with us. He is talking about better outreach to provide food and nutrition assistance to all eligible Americans. He believes mayors can truly improve the outreach initiatives to let taxpayers know that these food assistance initiatives were not wiped out by the recent enactment of Welfare Reform. He emphasizes that these food programs are entitlements for those who qualify. We will be working with Secretary Glickman on this outreach effort as we go forward under Mayor Clavelle's leadership of our Task Force.

HUD's Support Bolsters Report

Also standing side by side with the Mayors was the Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD's Deputy Assistant Secretary Fred Karnas outlined Secretary Andrew Cuomo's recently released national study on Homelessness. Secretary Cuomo has remained steadfast as a strong advocate in helping the homeless and in working closely with the Conference and its efforts in marshalling support in fighting hunger and homeless in the richest nation on earth. We are indeed appreciative of these efforts.

Task Force Chair Mayor Clavelle expressed concern that even in today's booming economy, "unfortunately, our nation's unprecedented prosperity is not reaching a lot of our citizens." At the press conference, he reminded reporters that usually a task force is created within the Conference of Mayors to work toward a solution to the challenge and then the task force is abolished - "I'm sad to say that our Task Force on Hunger and Homelessness is now 15 years old, making it the oldest task force in the Conference of Mayors."

As Mayor Clavelle went through the day in discussions with the national press, he stressed concern about the fact that many working families fall below the poverty line and are thus eligible for food stamps and other Federal nutritional programs. The working family poverty issue drew questions from the national press.

Our President, Denver Mayor Wellington E. Webb also commented on our report. He said: "Our good economy has simply driven up housing costs and reduced the supply of affordable housing - putting many people on the streets and into shelters."

The report indicates that demand for emergency food related assistance during 1999 grew at the highest level since 1992, and demand for emergency housing related assistance grew at the highest level since 1994.

The mayors have been in the forefront of fighting hunger and homelessness in our country. We will continue the fight until hunger and homelessness in the richest land on earth is abolished. We thank Mayor Clavelle for his leadership on this issue, and we appreciate the help we get each year from cities participating in this well-known survey, as well as the presence of mayors who come to Washington to bring our message to the White House, Congress and the national press and, most important, to the attention of the public.

Coles/Two Joint Center Initiatives

Boise Mayor H. Brent Coles,.Vice President of the Conference, has been quite active here in Washington over the past week. He joined NACo President Howard County (MD) Executive C. Vernon Gray in signing an agreement that will help continue to build an even stronger relationship between NACo and the Conference of Mayors. In addition to the initiative with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Mayor Coles presided, along with NACo President Gray, at the White House Ceremony announcing the Winners of the 1999 Sustainable Communities Award. Congratulations to the winners! (See page 11.) We are proud of this significant initiative we have with the National Association of Counties. As incoming President of the Conference in June, Mayor Coles has announced he wants to spend his efforts in making the new Joint Center even stronger for cities and counties in metro areas throughout our nation.

Da Mayor Is Still Da Mayor

Congratulations to San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown who won in a landslide as San Francisco held a runoff December 14 to decide who will lead the city by the bay for the next four years. Several mayors went to San Francisco to help Mayor Brown's election efforts, something unusual by American election standards. Mayor Brown is an active member of the Conference and on election night he told me he will be at our Winter Meeting to continue to help Conference President Webb forge a bipartisan political agenda in the Presidential and Congressional elections.

The First Meeting in the Millennium

Mayors come to Washington next month, January 25-28, for the first national meeting of local officials in the new millennium, our annual Winter Meeting. Mayor Webb has spent time with us this month to perfect the agenda so that we will have another exciting meeting.

Vice President Coles will kick off our meeting with an unprecedented session, "Drug Crisis in Cities and Rural Communities." Mayor Coles will preside over the first national methamphetamine (meth) conference in our history. We are pleased to have Joseph Califano, Chair and President of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, with us. He is a national voice against substance abuse and he recognizes the leadership Mayor Coles has given on the "meth" issue.

In addition to the "meth" conference, we will have sessions on three hot topics: Challenges to Your City's Affirmative Action Program, Preventing School Violence, and Gun Safety.

President Clinton will receive the mayors at the White House, our Mayors Arts Gala will recognize another group of American leaders who have excelled in supporting the Arts, and Cabinet officers will be on hand to give you their thoughts and also give you the access with the Federal government you need to help get things done for your city.

Our opening plenary session, entitled "Local Governments in the Digital Age," will feature two rather new mayors: Washington, DC Mayor Anthony A. Williams and Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown. As a member of the E-Commerce Commission, Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk will report on our progress in meeting the challenges we face with our sales tax revenue sources threatened by those who would propose avoiding taxes on those e-commerce/internet transactions.

We need you here for our 68th Winter Meeting. It's where you, as mayor, should be as we start the new millennium together. Please contact Carol Edwards, Director of Conferences and Conventions, at (202) 293-7330 now to register and get additional information you need about this special 2000 Winter Meeting.

Happy Holidays/Happy 2000

As we enter the Holiday Season and approach the New Year and the New Millennium, we are grateful for the support you, as mayor, give to our organization.

It's an exciting time to be mayor and our organization is alive and vibrant because of you.

On behalf of the officers and staff, I wish you and your loved ones the best holiday season ever. Y2K will soon be behind us; the millennium faces us and Washington awaits you as a delegate to the 2000 Winter Meeting -- one that you do not want to miss.

I look forward to seeing you next month in Washington. May God bless you and keep you until we meet for the first time in the next millennium in the year 2000!

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