Annual Report on Hunger and Homelessness
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.
Brings Agriculture to Mayors Headquarters
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.
Support Bolsters Report
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.
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."
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.
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."
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.
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
Joint Center Initiatives
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.
Mayor Is Still Da Mayor
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.
First Meeting in the Millennium
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
an exciting time to be mayor and our organization is alive and vibrant
because of you.
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.
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