A Call to Fight Back for America: NLC Pushes Campaign for Reinvestment in Cities and Towns

By Dick, Raymond G. | Nation's Cities Weekly, December 16, 1991 | Go to article overview

A Call to Fight Back for America: NLC Pushes Campaign for Reinvestment in Cities and Towns


Dick, Raymond G., Nation's Cities Weekly


National League of Cities President Sidney J. Barthelemy set the tone and the feel of the 68th Congress of Cities last week at the opening general session with a call for city and town officials to join in a campaign to "fight back for America."

Sign up sheets were given to all of the nearly 5,000 delegates to commit toward working for five priority issues approved by the NLC Board.

1. Cutting defense spending and using the savings to reduce the national debt and to invest in human and public infrastructure. NLC recommends 60 percent of savings be used to cut the deficit and 40 percent for domestic needs.

2. Real federal action to fight the war on drugs by providing direct assistance to cities and towns.

3. Reauthorization of the nation's housing and community development laws and rejection of HUD proposals to condition any federal housing and community development assistance upon HUD's preemption of municipal land use planning and zoning ordinance, permits and regulations.

4. Enactment of the Local Partnership Act of 1991 to provide targeted fiscal assistance to the nation's cities and towns.

5. Opposition to middle income tax cuts until the federal government has met itsresponsibility to balance its own budget by eliminating fiscal, human and physical deficits.

Bathelemy's call to "fight back for America" was bolstered throughout the five-day meeting by the NLC Board, Advisory Council, in numerous panel and workshops sessions, by speakers and by a commitment by President George Bush to meet with NLC leaders to discuss the domestic agenda.

Bush in a televised address from the White House told delegates his State of the Union address after the first of the year will focus on America's interest and will ask Congress to enact a commonsense series o economic growth measures. He also committed in an answer to a question by Mayor Willian Hudnut of Indianapolis to meet with a delegation of NLC leaders to hear their ideas on the domestic agenda.

Incoming NLC President Glenda Hood of Orlando, Fla. immediately accepted the president's invitation.

The economy and/or the recession and how they were playing out in cities and towns throughout the nation both in human and physical needs were focal points of nearly every session of the conference.

U.S. Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander chanlleged the mayors and councilmembers of America's cities and towns to create atypical schools and "break the mold" in the way they educated our youth. He spoke at the opening general session. Alexander met with a delegation of NLC leaders following his talk to further review his proposals and to hear NLC views.

A panel discussion by two governors and three mayors moderate by former NLC President Charles Royer, now director of the Institute of Politics for the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, found state and local governments are often at odds about which direction to go, but face a common dilemma--a demand for increased services and lower taxes. Members of the panel were Gov. George Sinner of North Dakota, Gov. Robert Miller of Nevada, and Mayors William Hudnut of Indianapolis, Cardell Cooper of East New Jersey, and Florence Shapiro of Plano, Tex.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who addressed the closing general session as well as a special meeting of his Rainbow Coalition, pounded at a "past ten years of public policy that have been driven by a set of false assumptions and attacks on our real economic strengths."

He decried a 75 percent reduction in federal funding for urban programs and loss of three million manufacturing jobs over the last three years.

He said America could be rebuilt by the investment of 10 percent of the trillion dollars in public pension funds--that's $100 billion--with workers approval and by cutting the military budget in half.

"We could cut the military budget in half without cutting our defense. …

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