Conference productive for councilmembers

Posted 3/24/09

Five council members discussed city issues like finances, the economy, health care and the federal stimulus package with a much wider audience last …

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Conference productive for councilmembers


Five council members discussed city issues like finances, the economy, health care and the federal stimulus package with a much wider audience last week at the National League of Cities Conference.

Mayor Jim Woodward joined Councilmembers Bob McCaslin, Joe Jefferson, Wayne Oakley and Randy Penn March 14-18 at the NLC conference in Washington, D.C.

The Englewood officials briefly mentioned the NLC conference at the March 23 council meeting. They agreed they brought a huge amount of information back from the conference that it will take time to process so they want to plan a portion of a study session for each councilmember to report on the trip.

The National League of Cities, an organization representing more than 19,000 cities, towns and villages in 49 states, holds several conferences each year. One of them is the annual spring gathering in Washington, D.C. This year’s conference drew about 2,500 representatives from big cities like Chicago and New York to small communities with less than 100 residents. The four-day event featured addresses from members of the President’s Cabinet talking primarily about their area in relation to the federal stimulus package.

Additionally, there were workshops on issues such as transportation and community block development grants plus the opportunity for local elected officials to meet with their members of Congress.

The conference days were crowded. Most days began with a 7:30 a.m. breakfast meeting. The general sessions and workshops stretched into the late afternoon.

Penn attended the conference last year and he said, his longer tenure on the council made this year’s programs more informational and educational.

“There was a ton of information available and I brought back several ideas about ways to try to benefit residents and to hopefully save the city money,” he said.

For example, he noted he is looking further into a program where cities join together to make supply purchases in order to take advantage of bulk-buying discounts.

McCaslin had a busy schedule as he attended workshops, looking for new ways to help the city.

He noted the information he gleaned from the workshop on community block development grants should prove helpful as will the data from a group meeting with Colorado’s two senators.

“I know there are people who don’t think it’s right for us to come to these out-of-town conferences,” he said. “I disagree. I feel it like the continuing education sessions attended by members of so many professions.”

He said he has learned a lot from talking to representatives from other communities about how they handle issues like Englewood is facing and he attends NLC to learn as much as he can so he can better represent the people who elected him.

Mayor Jim Woodward agreed and said he too found the program productive. He said he learned a lot at the general sessions by listing to Cabinet members like the attorney general and the Secretary of Transportation. He added that the workshops were very informative.

“I feel it was very helpful to be a member of the small group that met with Congresswoman Diana DeGette,” he said. “Our group was all from Colorado and the information the congresswoman provided was helpful.”

Looking back on the experience, Councilman Jefferson said he was particularly impressed with the youth movement at NLC.

He said the workshops were very informative and he was very interested in several discussions about how communities are working to keep talented young people at home.

He also said he was very impressed with the all the youth representatives and he said the three Englewood representatives were very involved in the conference and its activities.

Councilman Oakley said the speakers from the new administration were very informative and helped him better understand the direction the country might be moving.

He noted that, no matter what the subject of the workshop, the stimulus money and how it would be spent found its way into every session.

“Perhaps the most eye-opening session was titled Hitting Below the Belt — Federal Regulations affecting City Workers,” he said. “From the session, I learned there is federal legislation being drafted that could supercede state-level regulations as they pertain to collective bargaining for police officers and firefighters.”

Five council members attend NLC conference

Members say they learned from speakers, workshops

Information could help residents, city.

Five council members attend national conference


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