|To The Mayor
From The Executive Director
May 26, 1999
San Francisco, CA
In San Francisco today mayors, county executives, community development directors and city and county based business leaders have all come together to celebrate 25 years of the HUD Community Development Block Grant Program. San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown opened up the two-day session in the newly refurbished San Francisco City Hall calling on all of us to be proud of what we have done with CDBG resources over 25 years. Mayor Brown warned that we must be vigilant and strong to act in a bipartisan political effort to protect and increase funding the CDBG initiative.
Salt Lake City Mayor and Conference President Deedee Corradini at our early breakfast session termed the San Francisco meeting a rallying cry as we begin our campaign. Mayor Corradini, in the truly American mayor fashion, tells us we must appreciate our history but we must do something even more about our future and especially the future of the Community Development Block Grant Program given the fact that Congress is now considering proposals to drastically cut HUDs budget. She points to the 67th Annual Conference of Mayors in New Orleans and urges us to use this national forum to gather the bipartisan strength to act now to protect cuts in the CDBG and Home programs.
HUDs Cooper Eloquent
Assistant Secretary of HUD, former East Orange Mayor, Cardell Cooper, was most eloquent as he talked about coming from a family of eleven brothers with a mother on welfare who never asked for anything but a hand up. He emphasizes with passion what CDBG funds have done to help people. Mayor Cooper spoke three different times and each time he spoke he put a human side into the ceremonies and sessions here. Its so good to see one of our own, a former mayor, flourish in this national setting. His optimism, soul and passion serves as a catalyst to all of us to work even more to ensure that the CDBG initiative is strengthened and increased as we gear up our national campaign.
We are most fortunate to have the National Association of Counties with us as we solidify our political forces for the task ahead. NACo Executive Director Larry Naake has announced that his Annual Meeting in St. Louis next July will include a special session on CDBG, its past and future. The large Urban County Caucus of NACo serves as the lead group within NACo, advocating support for CDBG. Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin serves as chair of LUCC. In his remarks today, he talked about working as a young man at the knee of Trenton Mayor Art Holland writing letters for the mayors signature to members of Congress urging them to pass the CDBG legislation 25 years ago. Today, Commissioner McLaughlin stands before the group reminiscing about his part in creating this initiative which serves so many people in his Hennepin County, Minnesota, and throughout the nation.
Special awards were presented here to mayors and other CDBG supporters throughout the years. One awardee was John Sasso, the father and founder of the National Community Development Association (NCDA). Throughout the last thirty years, wherever we have gone or whatever we have accomplished, John Sasso has been there plotting and planning against those who would destroy the CDBG program. And there have been challenges. After we lost the $6 billion plus general revenue sharing program during the Reagan years, it was John Sasso and his band of politically gifted Community Development Directors who decided we had to get out in the field and have celebrations, "CDBG Week", during the Congressional recess to let our Members of Congress while they were home on Easter recess hear from their constituents exactly how the CDBG funds were spent to help people in their congressional districts. Congratulations John for a well-deserved award and we are counting on you in the future to help us with your keen political insights as to how we can strengthen and build the CDBG program toward the next 25 years of success.
Haron Battle Honored
Haron Battle, longtime strong advocate for the CDBG program, was honored here today too. Haron is seriously ill as we come together here today. He is not physically here; but his spirit is. Larry Naake, NACo Executive Director accepted the award to commemorate Harons contribution to our efforts. In my world, they dont come any better than Haron. We pray for his recovery. His life and contribution continues to give us energy to keep on keeping on. Congratulations Haron. You deserve this award and even more.
We are also very appreciative of HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo for his overcoming schedule challenges to be with us. Secretary Cuomo talked about "community" and what it meant for us now and into the future. He emphasized the fact that we still have people in this robust economy that are indeed left behind. He continues to remind us that not all of us have benefitted from the robust economy and he was most thankful for the partnership he has forged with mayors to show that we are doing our best—through CDBG—to meet the challenges of the economically challenged citizens in urban and rural America.
Overall, the first stop of our 25th Anniversary Celebration of CDBG was a huge success and gives us momentum for our upcoming New Orleans Annual Meeting June 11 through June 15, 1999, to show that we are determined to build a stronger political base which will result in a bigger and better CDBG program.
Thank you Mayor Willie Brown, Pam David, Director of the Mayors Office of Community Development and the San Francisco group. Thank you Gene Lowe and Nicole Maharaj for leading the USCM team.
A special thanks to Assistant Secretary Cardell Cooper for his support and guidance in helping us make the 25th CDBG celebration the success it is as we go forward to other sites through the year. The San Francisco CDBG event would not have been complete without HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo. We know how tough it was for him to get there, having to leave the President and Vice President in Texas but as he said "with CDBG is where I should be." Mayor Corradini presented him a special award for reinventing HUD and bringing the agency closer to mayors. The Secretary received praise from all mayors assembled here and hell be with us in New Orleans at our Annual Meeting next month.
Degas/Special Guest in New Orleans
Mr. Edgar Degas, the famous French impressionist, will be with us in New Orleans through a special show of works he completed in New Orleans in 1872-1877. Degas was the first French Impressionist to visit America. He wanted to see his cousins because his mother was a native of New Orleans. Mr. Degas came to New Orleans to find his roots. On display for you to see at the New Orleans Museum of Art will be seventeen of his works actually done while he visited to find his cousins. Art historians say the American visit influenced the artist to paint what he really knew. Many of his works were done at his mothers family mansion, now a bed and breakfast on Esplanade Avenue. These seventeen works completed in America along with others will be waiting for you at our opening reception Friday June 11. We are lucky to be there when Mr. Degas works are there and we thank the museum, Mayor Marc Morial for bringing the works of this master to New Orleans as our mayors gather for the 67th Annual Conference.