By Becker, Christine
Nation's Cities Weekly , Vol. 26, No. 48
A panel of experts and public officials will explore the future of the intergovernmental system and its impact on cities and towns at the Saturday morning, December 13, general session during the upcoming Congress of Cities.
Former HUD Secretary and Past NLC President Henry Cisneros will lead the discussion entitled United We Stand: Rescuing the Intergovernmental System.
Among the panelists who will join Cisneros are Roger Wilkins, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, author, and well-known historian; Bill Hoagland, director of budget and appropriations for Senate Majority Leader Bill First (R-Tenn.); Bart Peterson, mayor of Indianapolis; and Sherry Bebitch-Jeffe, a policy analyst at the University of Southern California.
The discussion during the conference builds on an agenda NLC launched more than a year ago exploring the connection between the intergovernmental system and the future of municipal finance. A series of roundtable discussions were held earlier this year in Washington on the same topic.
In a September roundtable, Cisneros said the nation hasn't yet settled on a model for intergovernmental relations.
"The effectiveness of national policy depends on state and local government," Cisneros told the participants in that session. "There must be a recognition that this is a system. It is my hope that the National League of Cities will start the discussions."
In his speech at the National Press Club last week, NLC President John DeStefano Jr., talked about the importance of a federal-local partnership that invests in cities and towns to help working families (see related story, above).
"Cities and towns are not asking for handouts," DeStefano said. "We are asking for principled investment in things that have made America uniquely successful in creating a broad middle class. We are asking for investments in what makes America Work, what makes America great."
"This panel discussion is an integral part of an NLC strategy to press for a renewed intergovernmental partnership that helps cities and towns invest in a better quality of life for every citizen," NLC Executive Director Donald J. Borut said. "While the panel will touch on public policy, budget deficits, and federal funding for local programs, the bottom line of this discussion and NLC's agenda is how we can make a difference in the lives of working Americans who live in our cities and towns. …