It’s A Small World
Mayors come to Washington this week for the first meeting of local officials in this millennium. The nation has been somewhat preoccupied with this time in our history, as we go across in time from the year 1999 to 2000. The media panicked. Some observers predicted the world would come to an end, some predicted terrorist bombing, others predicted a deranged maniac of one form or another would blow up something somewhere in a city.
As Americans focused inwardly on what they would do for this special New Year’s Eve, local and national media spread fear and terror amongst our people. Large-scale concerts were canceled, hotels ended up reducing their jacked up rates and with the exception of some aspect of a Delaware casino going haywire, all was calm in city after city in America.
Through it all – our mayors have been preoccupied with these events: the local millennium celebration and the challenges presented by Y2K failures. With all the hoopla going on, mayors hunkered down with their police and fire departments and they were ready.
While some ventured out on New Year’s Eve, most Americans turned to what we have turned to since those days of 1963 when President Kennedy was assassinated — the television. It was without question a televised celebration of cities all over our globe. Images from city after city held our attention for those 24 hours that brought us into our new century. We were bombarded with cities. Hardly a state or nation was mentioned. It made me think of what the Mayor of Florence Italy, Mario Primicerio, said at our Conference’s Winter Meeting last year. He called the century before us “The Century of Cities”. While television on New Years Eve 1999 supported Mayor Primicerio’s earlier statements, we learned how cities on our globe celebrate and signify the same most human moment. Through this televised pageantry we humbly recognize that our world is smaller and our cities will be even closer due the electronic technology we will all share.
ABC showed us what was happening in 39 different time zones. In some cases, the time zones covered multiple celebrations such as Jerusalem, Athens and Cairo. Barges of fireworks on the Thames made the London sky look like the German bombings of World War II. Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley invited two people from every country on the globe for dinner in his city.. Times Square dropped a huge Waterford crystal ball for millions to see. In Washington, President Clinton hosted celebrities on the mall. Most said the Eiffel Tower in Paris was the most spectacular site to witness. Overall, the hours depicting the different cultures of the world was television at its best — moving and spiritual.
Again, our mind set has been on those two events. Quietly we are experiencing the 2000 Presidential election. Up until now as to the 2000 campaign, we have been asleep – and we still have the Super Bowl in front of us.
Webb - 10 Point Agenda - A New Agenda for America’s Cities
Our President, the Mayor of Denver, Wellington E. Webb will be coming to Washington this week to tell the mayors assembled it’s time to wake up and focus on what all Presidential candidates are saying they will do, if elected, about helping the mayors do their jobs running our cities.
Mayor Webb goes to Wall Street in New York City before he opens our 68th Winter Meeting in Washington. In New York, he will present our ten point plan – A New Agenda for America’s Cities. His message is a bipartisan one. He points out that the metro economic engines are driving the USA economy to be the number one economy in the world. He is telling our new President that if we are to continue to be the top economic power on the globe, the metro areas of The United States must be treated differently. He’s calling for a new office in The White House with a top senior advisor to work with city and county officials in strengthening their economies and thus strengthen the nation’s economy.
Mayor Webb covers the basics in his approach and he also calls for new tools we need at the local level to keep the momentum going. He’s not asking for more money. It’s all about streamlining and correcting obsolete systems that do not match many innovations that are taking place in cites and counties across America.
He will come to Washington after New York and he will remind the mayors that we are smack dab in the middle of a Presidential campaign. Most say the candidates from the different parties will be determined by mid-March because of the change in the primary dates. This will give us the longest time in our history to focus on the nominees. Whether the candidate is Bill, Al, John, “W” or Steve or maybe “The Don” – Mayor Webb has been telling local officials to get involved and to carry our political message forward.
After New York and Washington, California events are planned. Mayor Webb will not stop until he puts our ten point plan before the Presidential candidates so they can respond to us before that most important day – November 7, 2000 – election day.
As I observed earlier this month, we have a number of new mayors coming to us this year. 1999 brought new faces with new ideas to The Conference of Mayors/JFK School of Politics Sessions in November at Harvard. Mayor Webb will be introducing the new mayors attending our Winter Meeting to the national press corps as we all gather in The Capital Hilton this week.
It’s a good time to be the mayor of an American City. In my 30-year history things – politically – have been much worse for us. But complacency will kill it all and wipe away all the good things we have in front of us. As we face the year 2000 with the stars lined up in a better position than the years before, we must seize the day. The time and opportunity is ours. Mayor Webb will be talking to you about this as you come to Washington. He may be even preaching to you. Listen to him. Help us. We are lucky to have his vision, his laser-like focus on our agenda and his energy. He’s the real thing and the right President for this time in our history. With your help and his leadership, we will make it better for cities, our people and our nation. Welcome to Washington to your 68th Winter Meeting!