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Executive Director's Column

Washington, DC
January 24, 2013


Mayors came to our 81st Winter Meeting all fired up. There was energy in the room. And everyone felt that this was indeed a very special Winter Meeting.

We thank Conference President Nutter for his leadership. We thank the Obama Administration for a strong attendance. First, at our opening session was Vice President Joe Biden, and then 11 other Cabinet level officers who came and participated in our sessions.

Guns—Assault Weapons

The massacre of Newtown, where 20 precious babies were riddled to death with bullets from an assault weapon hung over our meeting.

It started when Vice President Biden came to brief us on the Administration’s plan, “Now is the Time: The President’s Plan to Protect Our Children and Our Communities by Reducing Gun Violence.”

The Conference of Mayors has had strong policies on guns and gun violence since 1968 and up until our most recent meeting.

We heard from California Senator Dianne Feinstein as she announced her decision to introduce common sense gun legislation banning assault weapons. Our organization has strong policy on this issue. On Thursday of this week, Conference President Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and I stood with Senator Feinstein and others when she introduced her legislation.

Municipal Bonds

Gun violence is not the only issue before us. Certainly, the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds is a matter that dominated many of our policy meetings. Mayors were forceful in our opening press conference. Members of our Executive Committee voiced their concerns to the Administration and Members of Congress while they were in town.

On Wednesday of this week, I joined with executive directors of the National Association of Counties Matt Chase, and National League of Cities Clarence Anthony, where we planned a bipartisan strategy to protect the tax status of municipal bonds, which are vital at a time when infrastructure development must not be affected. Government is unified on this issue and in the coming months we will be even stronger advocating local government interests as well as the interests of our people.

Immigration Reform

In addition to the “fiscal cliff” issues and gun safety, we are appreciative of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s leadership on comprehensive immigration reform. Mayor Villaraigosa addressed the immigration reform before The National Press Club on January 14, and he repeated his call for national immigration reform before our Mayors Winter Meeting on January 19. He was well received and we will continue to work with Congress and The White House on this issue as we move forward.

We appreciate the mayors who attended this great meeting. The meeting has energized our mayors and our staff. We look forward to working with all of you in the days ahead.