Investing in Learning

By Kautz, Elizabeth B.; Butcher-Younghans, Sherry | Nation's Cities Weekly, July 6, 1998 | Go to article overview

Investing in Learning


Kautz, Elizabeth B., Butcher-Younghans, Sherry, Nation's Cities Weekly


As we stand on the threshold of the new millennium, we must think of reinventing ourselves and the way we lead. We live in a global economy and world that continue to shrink with the dawn of new technology such as the Internet. As local leaders, we must be informed and educated about issues and policies that have a direct impact on our cities. Our citizens expect us to be knowledgeable and to be visionaries so we may ensure the health and viability of our communities.

Conferences, leadership summits, seminars, and workshops are all vehicles that help us gain knowledge and increase our intellectual capacity. It is at these conferences where elected officials share their local perspectives, strategize about meeting their city's challenges, and express their concerns. Being informed allows us to make better and wiser decisions. It allows us to define our role and how we can affect policies at the federal and state levels before they become law.

At the recent Congressional Cities Conference held by the National League of Cities in Washington, D.C., Minnesota city officials learned firsthand why attending conferences is crucial if we are to be participants in the policy-making process. At a gathering of local and national leaders, a well respected and hard working Congressman answered questions about how he would vote during this congressional session. When he was asked about a specific bill important to cities, the Congressman replied, "I can honestly say I don't know anything about that bill. The truth of the matter is there are more than 3,000 bills before the Congress; it's impossible to know each one in detail. You need to help me."

The Congressman was right. His request for help proves the need for local officials and the League of Minnesota Cities to be present and active when important decisions that impact local government are made. If we want our perspectives included in national decision-making, we must pull out the proverbial chair and scoot ourselves up to the table.

It is the responsibility of each of us who serve on city councils to inform our state and national leaders how pending bills will impact our work and the lives of our constituents. We cannot expect that others will do this work for us. …

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