O'Neill: Cities for A Strong America
By Ed Somers
Over 1,000 leaders, including 250 mayors, plus business leaders and top federal officials will convene in Washington, DC on January 25-27 for the 74th Winter Meeting of The U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Under the leadership of Conference President Long Beach Mayor Beverly O'Neill, the meeting will focus on her theme for the year, "Cities for a Strong America." Major topics for discussion during plenary and committee/task force sessions will be homeland security, hurricane response and recovery, avian influenza, housing, brownfields, telecommunications act reauthorization, energy conservation, global warming, environmental protection, youth gun violence, and education and workforce development.
Confirmed speakers include Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (NV), Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson, Rep. Mike Turner (OH), Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY), Senator Sam Brownback (KS), Senator Mary Landrieu (LA), Rep. Danny Davis (IL), Rep. John Dingell (MI), Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Michael Jackson, Amtrak CEO David Laney, Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Alex Azar, and Author Joel Kotkin.
Invites are still pending with House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (IL), Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (TN), and several other top officials.
Mayor O'Neill had also extended invites to President Bush, Senator John McCain (AZ), Senator Thad Cochran (MS), and HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt, but unfortunately all these persons declined.
The meeting will feature a plenary discussion of ongoing hurricane recovery efforts, with remarks from New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway, and Miami Mayor Manuel A. Diaz. Conference President O'Neill and these speakers will highlight recovery efforts over the last several months, actions needed to continue to assist the Gulf Coast region, and lessons learned from the hurricanes.
Villaraigosa on Poverty
Mayor O'Neill has appointed Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to lead a new task force that will focus on issues related to poverty that were so evident during the recent hurricanes. Mayor Villaraigosa will address his fellow mayors during the meeting to discuss his initial thoughts, and will then host his first task force meeting to build a consensus for moving forward.
The meeting will provide an opportunity to mayors to share best practices with each other and the nation on what is working in America's cities. Conference Vice President Dearborn Mayor Michael A. Guido will lead a special session on Thursday focused on new best practices, and there will be other discussions in committees, task forces and workshops.
A number of important award presentations will be made including the:
- Public Leadership in the Arts Awards will be presented during a special luncheon on Wednesday.
- USCM Excellence in Public/Private Partnership Awards will be presented on Thursday morning during the mayors and business council breakfast.
- The Urban Water Council's Water Conservation Awards will be presented on the Friday morning plenary session.
- USCM and Novelis's "Cans for Cash" Recycling Award Winners will be announced at the Environmental Committee Meeting on Wednesday morning.
Many important standing committee, task force, workshop and other special meetings will be held over the course of the three days. Included will be meetings of the Women Mayors, Republican Mayors and Local Officials, and National Conference of Democratic Mayors.
Mayors who have not yet registered and wish to do so should contact Carol Edwards with the Conference staff at (202) 293-7330.