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87th Winter Meeting: Plenary Session Celebrating the U.S. Conference of Mayors


(bright music) (applause) – Good morning, everyone,
I am Brian Wahler, Mayor of Piscataway Township and Chair of the membership committee, welcome to the 87th Annual United States Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting. Come on let’s see a round of applause, you gotta be excited.
(applause) I am in my 19th year as mayor and 18th year as involved
with this organization, 11th year as the membership chair. And I wanna think that we mayors, when we put our hearts and minds together, we can accomplish a lot of things. I took over the membership committee at the height of the Great
Recession, back in 2008, 2009, and we really put our
heads together as mayors at what this organization really means. I can stand here today and say that the organization is
back, we’re at full strength, revenue’s up, membership’s up, and that’s through the dynamic leadership of Steve Benjamin, our President. And I wanna also acknowledge
my vice chairs out there, Chris Koos, from Normal, Oklahoma, I don’t know if he’s in the room, Ken Miyagishima from Las Cruces in Mexico, Miles Atkins of
Mooresville, North Carolina, and Joe McElveen from
Sumter, South Carolina and I wanna to a special acknowledgement to Elizabeth Kautz, our past president, and my predecessor on
the membership committee for all her hard work and dedication, consultation with me in all this time. So thank you Elizabeth.
(applause) For the new mayors that
are in the room here today, if you wanna see myself or Luther Roberts here in the room, the conference staff for whatever committee you
would like to join here, please do, remember, there
is no trademark secrets here in this room, if there is a solution to problems out there, it’s a good bet that some mayors in this room already have the solution to your problems in your home community, feel free, seek out, advise, and understand you know the problems that are going
on around the country, because it’s a good bet that either, if you haven’t seen it already, you may see it in the future, and that’s what this
organization’s all about, you’re gonna see a lot of great talent up on this podium here in a few minutes, folks that are very dynamic out there. And I also wanna remind
members out there that this organization’s also about
comradery and friendship too. There’s no part, the partisanship is checked out the door,
and we really look out for each other because
at the end of the day is, we’re here to serve our residents that we’re elected to serve,
so without further ado, I would like to introduce our president of our organization, the mayor of Columbia, South
Carolina, Steve Benjamin. (applause) – Good morning USCM.
– Good morning. – You guys look fantastic for
an 87 year-old organization, you don’t look a day over 86.
(laughter) So, I wanna thank Mayor
Wahler and his vice chairs of the membership committee for
their incredible leadership, strong, thoughtful membership is indeed the lifeblood of this great organization, and we believe the foundation
of this nation’s success. Our cities, the metro
areas that you represent represent 85% of the American population, 92% of America’s gross domestic product is created in the communities
that you represent. At our summer meeting in Boston, Vice President Bryan Barnett and I announced that were committing to the resources this organization to a 24-months bipartisan strategy focusing on three strategic priorities. Infrastructure, innovation, and inclusion. We’ve been pushin’ hard on the three I’s. On infrastructure, we
took a mayor’s perspective on opportunity zones, straight to the top to Secretary Mnuchin, in
a face-to-face meeting, where we pledges our assistance, to help launch the program and bring investment to people and
communities most in need. It was evident to us in that meeting that Secretary Mnuchin understood how important mayors would be to the successful implementation of this great infrastructure program, we followed up with a
conference call with many of you on this topic providing
updates and suggestions on ways in which mayors can maximize the impact of this program
on the local level. This conference will
continue to be a vocal ally for each and every one
of you on this topic, as guidance from the
administration’s finalized and the promise for
opportunity zones is realized, and we’ll hear directly
from Senator Mnuchin this week at the winter meeting. Through the conferences
infrastructure taskforce led by mayors Garcetti and Cantrell, it’s our plan to engage early with the leadership in Congress to ensure that any infrastructure package that may emerge from
Congress is focused intently on the needs of our cites and metro areas that drive our natural economy, we’ll make sure that you’re armed with the tools to push
our congressional leaders and the administration to move forward with a major infrastructure
package this year, one that seriously compliments the vast majority of infrastructure that’s currently being
built by our cities, other local governments
and our state partners. Speaker Pelosi will also join
us here at the conference. The conference’s commitment to innovation took an impressive step forward just over the last month when our vision for the Mayors’ Leadership
Institute on Smart Cities became a reality, just last month, the inaugural class convened
at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at NYU. This new institute allows mayors to immerse themselves
in Smart Cities work, its curriculum is expert-facilitated, and peer-driven and offers a framework for approaching Smart City opportunities. Provide mayors with guiding principles, best practices, and a clear path forward. Being very frank, our prayer is that the Leadership Institute on Smart Cities becomes a resource for
each and every one of you. We all get a lot of
incoming on Smart Cities, every single day, but we wanna be a resource for you, making sure you’re able to articulate
a Smart Cities plan that aligns what your
city’s most pressing needs at homes and your city’s values. We’re energized by what will come from this groundbreaking
and progressive initiative. Within the past year, so much of our work has been focused on inclusion. On American speaking to The
Better Angels of Our Nature. The importance of
obviously, working closely, with the administration on the plight of immigrant families
and trying to work hard to keep them together, supporting people at the most desperate
times of their lives. We let a bipartisan
group, a bipartisan group of mayors to the border to dramatize a shameful condition and
extol the values of America. Historically, our country has flourished by accepting immigrants and providing them with a reasonable opportunity to thrive and earn a good living in this country. This conference will continue to advocate for doing the right thing in a humane way for American cities on this
incredibly important subject. We were happy to formally launch the Mayors and Business Leaders Center for Inclusive and
Compassionate Cities as well in Montgomery, Alabama along Bryan
Stevenson just in November. The establishment of this center supports the mayor’s
efforts to make cities across our nation more equitable, more inclusive, and more compassionate. The center will focus on creating a strong, committed partnership between mayors and business leaders, identifying leveraging strategies that both the public
sector and private sector can use to advance diversity,
equity, and inclusion, experience has shown that when business and local governments truly work together within the values of our cities, our citizens will benefit significantly, and meaningful change
can indeed take place. So you see we’re making
significant progress, our focus on the three I’s is working to drive meaningful change in our country indeed, the greatest democratic nation in the history of the world. As mayors, and as leaders, we’ll continue to work in a bipartisan fashion to improve the quality of life in every corner of this country. Again, we invite you to
join us on our collective and strategic concentration
on the three I’s, infrastructure, innovation, and inclusion. I wanna offer one housekeeping note, as many of you, this is
your very first meeting, and we wanna make sure
that people back home understand exactly what you’re doing here and how it benefits you back home. We’re pleased to announce that, once again, we welcome our
radio and TV booking partner, Strauss Media Strategies, this year, Strauss’s team, and they’ll
grab you in the hallway, you’ll see them if you
haven’t been grabbed yet, they’ll be facilitating
local radio interviews for the entire duration of our meeting out of the California
room, during the hours from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
every single day Eastern time, additionally on Thursday, Strauss Media will be providing
television booking services via satellite with your local affiliates, ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX,
out of the New York room, from six a.m. to one p.m. Leverage this value add to make sure folks at home, know that
you’re up here workin’ hard for them, if you’re
interested in being booked to your local radio or
TV stations back home, to convey the work that you’re doing as mayors, believe me, it adds value just from our experience. So, thank you for being
here, I wanna queue up, I think the three I’s video, and then I wanna bring up my partner in crime Bryan Barnett, alright. (applause) For more than 85 years, the United States Conference of Mayors has come together to work on the issues that have shaped our country
and guided its success. Now more than ever,
Americans are demanding that their leaders work together. – We are committing the
resources of the conference to a consistent bipartisan direction, for the next 24 months,
based on the simple notion that together, everyone achieves more. We are committed to a two-year plan focused on three strategic priorities. Three I’s to help cities
thrive across the country. – Infrastructure is one
of the most important issues facing America, and mayors are ready to stop talking
and start digging. Local government is
best suited to identify, prioritize infrastructure
needs, and execute on them. – Mayors are being faced with
more demands and less funding, making innovation an essential part of our two-year playbook. We’re bringing together and socializing some of the nation’s best practices and cutting edge technologies to help set up cities for success. – As leaders, we understand it’s our job to create a culture of inclusion, and an environment that lifts everyone up. Together, we’ll work
to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to take an active role in building our communities.
(inspirational music) – [Bryan] Bipartisan, civil, honest, and productive conversations among mayors often working collegially with
our friends in Washington, can drive real and meaningful
change in this country. – We look forward to continuing the work with mayors to improve the quality of life in every corner of this country. Through our strategic
focus and the three I’s, we invite you to join us.
(inspirational music) (applause) I can’t tell you how excited I am to see each and every
one of you this morning at what is indeed a record turnout for our winter meeting at
the US Conference of Mayors. It’s my pleasure to
introduce our Vice President, Bryan Barnett, the mayor of
Rochester Hill, Michigan, he’s gonna moderate the
remainder of the session, thank you.
(applause) – Good morning and
thank you Mayor Benjamin and mayor Wahler for your comments and good morning mayors.
– Morning! – Now that may work at the
Ohio mayors convention but, there are more than just Ohio mayors here, there’s more energy in this
room, good morning mayors! – [Audience] Good morning! – Now that I’ve ticked off
all the mayors from Ohio, (laughter) hey as Mayor Wahler mentioned and stated, it’s appropriate, I think, that we begin our winter meeting with
this session, really a celebration of the United
States Conference of Mayors. Now my involvement with the Conference began more than 12 years
ago, and not a day goes by that I’m not reminded of
the benefits of membership of the United States Conference of Mayors and why I joined in the first place. Now I know it’s early in the morning, and our very first day, but I believe you all agree that we have
very much to be grateful for. Not the least of which is
the opportunity to reconnect with our colleagues and
friends from across the nation. We celebrated the holidays,
launched our initial goals and plans for 2019 and now come together as the largest gathering of mayors anywhere on the planet, to advocate for our cities and for our residents, and this conference, this
extended work family, is our vehicle for
executing that advocacy. I remember my first Conference of Mayors, I was a 30-year old city councilman. I was appointed mid-meeting,
when the previous mayor announced a sickness, and I found myself the strong mayor of a
city of 75,000 people with a staff of 500, there was no manual, I couldn’t find the top 10 things to do when you wake up and
find yourself a mayor. (laughter) There wasn’t even an opportunity to talk to the outgoing
mayor, it was just me, and a big desk in a big office, ironically with an invitation that the previous mayor hadn’t opened. An invitation to the United
States Conference of Mayors Summer Meeting, just
60 days later in June. So I took a chance and I signed up. I knew no one, I brought no staff. I just decided to see
what I could pick up, quietly from the back of the room without making much of a fuss. Friends, I was blown away,
the information was pertinent, the topics were relevant,
but the relationships, the relationships were real. And over my last 12
years and my involvement with the United States
Conference of Mayors, it’s been those authentic relationships that have both encouraged
and challenged me to be a better leader and a better mayor. The relationships and the friendships are the secret sauce that so many other organizations would love to emulate. It struck me again yesterday afternoon shortly after arriving
and heading to the bar. (laughter) I walked into the lobby downstairs and frankly, everyone, all of you mayors were smiling, talking, and engaging. And it’s interesting ’cause of course, we’re here in Washington during difficult and challenging times
when no one in the country can seemingly agree on
anything, we’re all at odds. Why was everybody smiling? Democrats smiling, Republicans smiling, everyone in the middle smiling, mayors from the smallest
towns and the biggest cities, talking, engaging, and smiling. We even had a Buzzfeed report of a very slight smirk spotted on Mayor Paul Soglin’s face.
(laughter) An unconfirmed report of course. (laughter) Everyone’s smiling because
this is a group of people that actually like each other. We talk to each other,
we listen to each other. We have common interests,
we share common goals, we care about each other’s problems. We wake up to wonderful articles in our newspapers about our city’s latest accomplishment and success and then, go to bed reading angry tweets about those same decisions. We have members of the media, congress, and our city councils that we
love and enjoy working with, we have other members of the media, congress, and our city councils that we just wish would
pursue excellence elsewhere. (laughter) The life of a mayor is wonderful, exciting, challenging, and rewarding, but it can be isolating at times. I think we’re smiling because
we understand that dichotomy and we have a mutual
respect for one another and truly enjoy being together. And so for 86 years, our predecessors have been doing just
that, getting together. And as we gather for our 87th meeting, we harken back to our founding principles, this conference was founded back in 1932. And what you may not know is
that this conference began in my friend Mayor
Duggan’s City of Detroit, a city just a few minutes away from where I live in Rochester Hills, and since Mayor Duggan isn’t on the stage to refute this statement,
Detroit and Rochester Hills equally share credit for
founding this organization. (laughter) Join with me if you will
and take a short look at this video about the compelling history of our conference. – You might say that the United States Conference of Mayors was
born from the streets of America’s cities in 1932. (jazz music) American cities at that
time were in the grip of rising unemployment, homelessness and even starvation, brought
on by the Great Depression. (jazz music) To keep his city, Detroit, from sliding further into misery and despair, Detroit Mayor, and later Attorney General, Frank Murphy needed outside help. With a little help from President Hoover and the federal government, Mayor Murphy turned to his fellow mayors, he invited Mayors from around the country to come to Detroit to discuss common problems the cities faced. On June one, 1932, 29
of the country’s mayors traveled to Detroit City Hall. Their cities had been through tough times before, but none like these. This unprecedented situation required an unprecedented solution. Boston mayor James Michael
Curley said at that time, quote, “Unless action is taken at an early date, “the welfare of the people
is not only in jeopardy, “but the continued existence “of our nation is problematical,” unquote. (jazz music) And so out of that
meeting came a proposal, to bring federal resources
into Detroit cities, an almost radical idea at the time, they envisioned a five billion dollar direct to cities loan program from the Federal Reconstruction
Finance Corporation. As the mayor saw it, the cities were bearing an unfair share of the country’s struggling population and federal assistance
was more than justified. And also out of the June
first meeting emerged an idea. For a permanent association of mayors that would be located in Washington D.C. Upon leaving Detroit,
the mayors immediately sent a delegation to Washington to present their loan program
to Congress and the President. And later that year, the Congress passed the Emergency Relief and
Construction Act in 1932. Giving the RFC authority
to make direct investments in economically depressed cities. And early the following
year, on February 17th, 1933, the mayors met again, this
time in Washington D.C. at the Mayflower Hotel,
mayor Murphy had in hand, a proposed constitution
for a new organization that would advocate for
the rights of cities, and Milwaukee Mayor Dan Hoan put forth a resolution in support
and in short order, the United States Conference
of Mayors became a reality. The mayors later met with new president Franklin Delano Roosevelt,
to help bring our cities and nation out of the Great Depression. – And 87 years later, the position of the conference is stronger than ever, and the purpose and
mission of the conference remains just as relevant today, no matter your party affiliation, your geographic location,
or the size of your city. I can unequivocally tell you that Rochester Hills, Michigan, had benefited directly
through the advocacy, points of view on public policy, best practices, institutes,
business connections, grant opportunities and
of course, the networking. All facilitated and made possible through the United States
Conference of Mayors. This morning, we’re going to hear from five incredible smiling mayors, Mayors Fischer, Whaley,
Holt, Diossa, and Weaver. And whether you’ve bee
affiliated with this conference for 15 or 20 years or whether
this is your first meeting, and by the way, raise your hands if this is your first meeting out there. Huge welcome to all of you,
thank you for being here. (applause) We know that you will be inspired by the stories these mayors share and be reminded again of the
power, influence, and value of membership in this
fantastic organization. So let me introduce our
mayors, beginning with my good friend and our second vice president of this conference, a mayor who is in his second term and is the 50th mayor of the great, and as he’ll tell you, the compassionate city of Louisville, Mayor Greg Fischer. (applause) Next, meet the mayor of Dayton, Ohio, first elected in 2013
and re-elected in 2017, she’s the member of the
conference’s board of trustees, a fantastic woman, a trailblazer, my friend mayor Nan Whaley.
(applause) Next, the newest mayor on our panel elected just in April of last year, is the youngest current mayor of a city with a population of
more than 500,000 residents, he and I co-chair the Tall Mayors Caucus, Mayor David Holt of Oklahoma City. (applause) I’m gonna introduce you to the mayor of Central Falls, Rhode
Island, whose experience reminds of us that the conference provides value for cities of all sizes, he was elected mayor in 2012 and has since been re-elected as the
city’s first Latino mayor, Mayor James Diossa.
(applause) I’m gonna introduce you to a
colleague and friend of mine from the great state of Michigan, she holds a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Michigan State University, became mayor in 2015, but she’s best known for the PhD she earned
through her leadership, perseverance, compassion, and the grace she exhibited in the
stewardship of her city through the Flint Water Crisis, the mayor of the great city of Flint, my friend Mayor Karen Weaver.
(applause) And finally, it’s my privilege to introduce to you the
CEO and Executive Director of the US Conference of Mayors whose competent and expert team keeps the conference running, who
loves his Georgia Bulldogs, political stores from
the 60s, 70s, and 80s, and whose vision leads us every day, our friend and our leader Mr. Tom Cochran. (applause) So I’d like to start the
discussion this morning, by asking each mayor to
share their experience with the conference and how you benefited from the conference in your
various and unique ways. And I’d like to ask
Mayor Fischer to please lead us off, Mayor Fischer? – Thank you Bryan, and
good morning everybody. – [Audience] Morning. – Good morning, that’s right that’s right. Well you know, time is short as a mayor, we all know that when you sit down the first day as mayor, the
clock doesn’t slow down, say, we’re gonna get ready
for you to get up to speed so that you can effectively lead our city. So the question for me as mayor was, how can I learn the most the fastest? And I’ve always looked for mutual learning cohorts to accelerate learning, and there is none better than the United States Conference of Mayors because what you know already is there are hundreds of acronyms thrown at you, new programs comin’ out all the time, how do you make sense
out of all that stuff, how do you prioritize what it is that you’re gonna take on and how do you even understand what this stuff is? And so what I quickly found
out was the conference was the go-to place to make sense out of all of these things that are coming at each and every one of us every day. I chair the metro economies committee, we’re working on things that are relevant to growing American
cities, major policy issues that come in front of us
to some recent examples, innovation districts, what
are innovation districts, how are they shaping our cities? We’ve done task force visits on those so that we can put together
booklets about that and then share that with you so you don’t have to go
through all the same learning. Right now, very topical and timely are opportunity zones, what
do those mean to our cities? How can we develop our own investment prospectuses for our city? How do we involve our
foundations, our non-profits, how do we make sure that wealth and income is staying in our city? As opposed to vulture investors coming in and just taking money and wealth out of the very neighborhoods
that we’re trying to help? How are you doing with
recovery in your city? Many of our cities have been impacted by the opiod crisis, who do you turn to, to have those type of conversations and de-stigmatize the issues around mental health and substance misuse? So I’ve just found that
Conference of Mayors to be my spot of, one, knowledge, but two, I’d say refuge as well, and Mayor Barnett talked about that. There’s something that you
will have when you leave here, a little extra pep in your step sayin’ that I’ve been
with 200 to 300 mayors that are going through
the same thing and yes, when you’re asked, Mayor,
how are things going? Do you wanna talk about
that great economic success or do you wanna talk
about yesterday’s suicide? And that’s all part of
what we face as mayors, but being with a group of people that do that together gives you tremendous strength and on-going resource. – Yeah thanks.
(applause) Mayor Fischer is one
of our leading experts, along with Mayor Duggan
on opportunity zones, we’ll be talking a
little bit more on those the next few days, make
sure you get a chance to talk to him if you have
any specific questions, he’s really brilliant on it. Mayor Whaley would you share some of your thoughts and experiences? – Sure, it’s great to be here this morning and I, like Mayor Barnett, always enjoy getting to see my fellow mayors. And I’ll say, what Greg
said, I think is really true, you know, we are all in a
city and only one person has our job, and so everyday,
when you go to work, you’re really, the experience
that you’re experiencing, sure, former mayors if
you’re friends with, can have that perspective, but really, this is the only place
where you can come together and other people have your job as well. To share experiences,
to share perspective, or just have someone you know, listen to you if you’re havin’ a little bit of a tough time
or you really wanna celebrate something that your city did great. This experience in the United
States Conference of Mayors for me, has bee terrific, I actually came to my first meeting two weeks after I’d been sworn in,
I was sworn in in 2014, and immediately came to Washington D.C., mostly from the recommendation of other mayors across the
better than Michigan, Ohio, encouraging me to come to this conference, and I was excited to
meet everyone and also, like Greg said, saw opportunities on things that I could
learn, and I’ve learned from my fellow mayors in a way that I would not have been
able to do as quickly if I just stayed in Dayton and didn’t come to the conference. The other value is, there are dollars at the Conference of Mayors, and I’m very excited that I’m able to go to Washington D.C. or
go to our summer conference and bring back money to do
investment into our community. One example is just this past year we have a market, a Gem City Market, that is a co-op, it’s employee-owned, and we competed in the United
States Conference of Mayors, gave a 150,000 dollar grant to that area in a hard-hit part of our city so, the US Mayors is actually investing in my city, and
that’s a great message I get to bring back to
the citizens of Dayton and not only do I get
this great experience, and get to learn more, but also I get to bring money back to my community and that is something, as you all know, is vital of the future of your cities. – Thanks.
(applause) On the panel, and those
mayors in the audience, raise your hand if you’ve received a grant from the United
States Conference of Mayors in some form or fashion, yeah, impressive, hands all over the room. I think every year and I
forget the exact total but literally every time we get together, hundreds of thousands of dollars leave the stage and go home to be used in the pockets and the
neighborhoods of your communities and so, if you’re out
there and you’re a skeptic and you go, boy, I’m lookin’ at the dues, I’m wonderin’ if it’s worth it. If it’s only about money, I’ll tell ya, it’s the best investment
my city’s every made because we have done
so well with the grants that have created so many opportunities in our community and Mayor Whaley has really led and done a great job in Dayton for that as well,
thank you Mayor Whaley. Mayor Holt, how about your experience? – Yeah, and you know, even though I’ve only been mayor nine months, I did, I go back 12 years,
’cause I was Chief of Staff to my predecessor, Mayor Cornett, and so I’ve been around this organization first as an observer and
now as a mayoral participant and I think, yeah, in addition, obviously, to the best practices that
Mayor Fischer talked about, the grants that Mayor Whaley talked about, I expect we’ll hear somethin’ about the D.C. lobby and
support that you get here. But I think I wanted to talk about you know, the collegiality, and both mayors, everybody’s
gonna touch on that on some level but, you know, if you’re gonna do this
job for four years, eight years, 12 years, the 50 years I assume you’re going to inflict upon the people of Rochester Hills. (laughter) You know, you’ve got to take
care of yourself, you know, and you look at soldiers
have support networks, you know, public safety
officers have support networks, even lawyers have support
networks, but they’re– (laughter) I’m a licensed attorney.
– Yeah. – So, but there’s not officially any support network for elected officials, but you do have it
informally and you certainly have it here, at the United
States Conference of Mayors and I just think that, there
is, and she said it well, Nan did as well, you
know that the opportunity you have to be with people who have the same job you have, you know, they’re unlike anyone else
and that they understand the issues you face, and you know whose side everyone in this room takes when you tell them the
problems in your community, yours, they take your side every time. (laughter) Even with Mayor Barnett.
(laughter) And so (laughs) and so
that is so valuable, it’s like your family,
the only other people who love you as much as your
family are your fellow mayors because they take care of
you, and that’s self care, to use the hot phrase now, is so valuable and so important if you’re gonna, maintain your mental health through this extremely stressful and tiring experience that you’re all embarked upon so, anyways with that, I’ll turn it back over to my friend and colleague,
– Yeah. – From Rochester Hills Mayor Barnett. – I zoned out about a minute
and a half ago I’ll be honest. – I’ll give you an example,
we got to know each other on a trip to Morocco in May,
with a bunch of other mayors and that, and obviously,
I’m giving you a hard time but that’s what we can do because, we’re friends and sometimes bitter rivals, but we are also (laughs)
(laughter) We are also there for each other. – [Bryan] Right now it’s bitter. (laughter) It’s not going well for David ’cause I get to speak last.
(laughter) – We’re there for each other.
(laughter) – You know, I noticed, by the way, this is an opening session
to try to talk to you about the value of the
conference and I noticed a picture that was showing
over your shoulder, maybe you can just throw the last pic– Mayor Cobaldon’s a good friend of ours, and I just wanna say, we
talk about all the things you should do when
joining this conference, here’s something you
shouldn’t do, wear that suit. Look at the reaction.
(laughter) Mayor Woodards is just
laughing right at it, Mayor Holt can’t even
look at it, look at that. (laughter) He’s just looking away so
that’s, there’s another, somebody write that
down, it’s a good tidbit. Mayor Diossa, we share
a few things in common, obviously we don’t have
an NBA team in our cities, we don’t have an NFL team, but we still have a lot of great residents,
and a lot of issues to solve tell us about your experience
and some of the leadership that you’ve been providing the conference from a small city’s perspective. – Alright, thank you very much and good morning to all of you, it’s exciting to share the stage with
so many great mayors and Tom Cochran, you know, Central Falls is a community of 20,000,
and small city mayors have many challenges as
opposed to communities of larger populations in just
the general sense of staffing you know we don’t have enough staffing, we’re not able to get
direct funding from CDBG, and even though we have those challenges, once you join the US Mayors Conference, again, those challenges are easy to tackle because you have friends on both sides that are dealin’ with the same issue from large populations
to small populations who you’re able to learn from their ideas and how they’ve been able
to address the issues, and more importantly than
what I think is important is that all of the issues
that we see in the room are addressed the same way, we just have to be very innovative and very direct of how we address these issues so, for many of the mayors who are here, if you’re a population
of 100,000 or below, we have a meeting on Friday
for Small Cities Taskforce that I would love for
you all to participate, if you’re under 100,000, and that’s thanks to the leadership of Mayor Benjamin and Mayor Barnett who said you know what you know, we want the small cities, and small cities to be
able to be more inclusive in the conversations and
that’s why we’re excited to be able to continue
on, this is the second meeting we’re having, the
first meeting was in Boston, and we’re lucky to have this meeting again here in Washington D.C.,
so to all my fellow mayors the best thing that you could do is join the United States Conference of Mayors as a mayor that doesn’t
have a lot of staff, I’ve been able to leverage the staff at the United States Conference of Mayors as part of my office and
being able to connect with the staff here who are great and have access to so many resources, it’s critical for all
you to get involved with, and more importantly, what
I found greatest value to it is the advocacy that
US Conference of Mayors does in D.C., and not
able to afford a lobbyist or send someone to D.C.,
I can always sign on to issues that are very
direct impact on my community, and I’m lucky to be part
of this great organization, the US Conference of Mayors. – Thanks James, appreciate that. (applause) Now this is a very
special person in my life and I’m incredibly
encouraged by her leadership, she became mayor of the City of Flint and then just, I think, a
few weeks or months later, of course, we all know was hit
with the Flint Water Crisis, Mayor Weaver, share with us a
little bit of your experience I think your walk into mayoral leadership was fairly unique and maybe the ways that the conference has
supported your team back home? – Well thank you, thank you,
and I do wanna share because, it was incredible for
me, but I have to say, you know, when I was
listening to you talk, you summed up everything about what the Conference of Mayors
means and what it stands for and what it does for us. And when I came in I was excited because I just felt like I was home, and I had a unique situation because I got into office in November of 2015 and I declared an emergency
in December of 2015, and the next thing I
know, the media is coming from everywhere and I
remember one day I got a call from some guy, Tom, and he’s talking to me and he’s telling me about
the Conference of Mayors and you know, I’m listening to him, ’cause I don’t know anything
about the Conference of Mayors, I don’t know Tom, and he’s
telling me, we’re coming. But he said we’re coming
to stand with you. And I remember, when I got
off the phone with Tom, I was talking to my advisor
and I said I don’t know, some guy named Tom says
these mayors are coming. (laughter) And (laughs) and he gave me the date. And you know, it was so
funny because I told Tom, I said, they rolled into
town like some gangsters, they were eight deep.
(laughter) I mean I thought wow, and I forgot that I, in this big car,
(laughter) but I forgot that I didn’t
know them, immediately. Because Tom was there, I remember
Shirley Franklin was there Judy came, Rich came, I mean,
and there were more than that but they came and they talked with me because at that point,
we’d been taken over by state government so
I didn’t have any staff, I didn’t have anybody to talk with about what I was doing and to share or lead me and give me some instruction. And so, that was what the
Conference of Mayors did, Tom said, and the rest of ’em said, it’s a Flint story, but it’s a story that represents so many places all around this country and it needs to be told. They would go with me places, Sarah would help me when
I was doing interviews, I mean they just embraced me, you came. You came to Flint with your staff. I needed to talk to a DPW, I didn’t have anybody there that I could talk with, and you came, and you brought resources and said, whatever we can do to help. And so, they just advocated for me, they advocated for the City of Flint, and all of these other communities that are having issues with
water and infrastructure, and I knew somebody had my back. I knew you had my back
and that’s how it’s been the entire time and as we’ve been moving from prices to recovery,
the Conference of Mayors has made sure we have things to help the city recover
and we put that comma behind water crisis, and talk
about what’s new in Flint and what are the good things happening, and I wouldn’t have a
story if it had not been for the US Conference of Mayors and the support that
you all have given me, the encouragement and the strength. (applause) – So Tom, you’ve been
listening to the mayors share their stories, and you have a great historical perspective, you know all of our
stories, you know all of our predecessors’ stories, and you know most of our predecessors’
predecessors’ stories. (laughter) But you got some new
mayors here in the crowd and I guess I’d like to
ask all the mayors this after Tom responds, what is the one thing, the one tip you would tell a new mayor about coming to the conference
and getting involved, what’s the reason they
should make a decision to become more engaged? That’s to Tom. – Well I think the, you know, I think the, it is a platform that can really tell the story of your
city, no matter what size. And again, it is also the
support you get after you leave. We have, in our headquarters of mayors, 30 individuals for this organization, and we don’t work at it,
we work it, night and day. My staff is 24/7 watching the weather, watching the bombings,
watching the shootings, watching them lock up kids on the border, we’re there, we’re the
watchmen at the gate, and we’re there to let you know, all of you know throughout
this great nation that we’re there to make
sure that our cities are protected and we’re
also there as advocates. I have worked with 10 presidents of the United States,
I have worked for one. And we have an aberrational
president right now. But I want us to recognize
that we came to this city last winter, his first term, and we were fearful that we would lose the block grants that we worked
with under President Nixon. We were fearful that we would lose the opportunities that
we have working through the different presidents
of this organization but there was a small town
mayor named Tim McDonough from Hope, New Jersey, who
knew Chairman Frelinghuysen, the Chairman of the
Appropriations Committee. And I wanna say this, the
Republican leaders in the Congress saved every one of our programs, so we need to salute the mayors in a bipartisan way who
went to Capitol Hill. There’s a lot of turbulence
goin’ on in this town. A lot of turbulence, but just recently, Mayor Barnett, we have passed a farm bill, and the largest percent of the farm bill goes to food stamps
and feeding our people. We have passed an opioids bill. We have passed a Brownfield’s bill, thank you Mayor Bollwage out
there who’s been our champion. And we passed the water improvement tax. Which helps us with EPA,
thank you Mayor Berger who kept on repeating that,
so with all of this stuff going on, we have to keep
our eye on the prize. We’re Tom Brady and we’ve
got three minutes to go, we gotta get across the line.
(laughter) We can’t be–
(applause) We cannot be worrying about anything else. Right now, I’m not worried,
the shutdown’s a problem, but one thing on my mind
is infrastructure money, and we have six months to get it. So when mom and daddy are fighting, we have to get our act together, and so I have 30 people
dedicated to this organization, and I serve as a collegiate director. If you’ve got a problem,
we don’t buck it down to Trixie or to Jeff, you got a problem, we meet in the war room
and we get back to you. So we are very personal
in the way we relate, we appreciate your comments Mayor Weaver because there is something about mayors when there’s trouble, they have to go. Katrina, Guztav, the bombings in New York, the kids at the border, we went to Boston, we went New York City, Mayor Giles, we were talking at the Yale meeting, six days later we had
18 mayors on the border. We will not be silent on these issues, and we appreciate all of your leadership, and it’s an honor for me
to serve this organization and I look forward to what we’re gonna do in the next six months under
Mayor Benjamin’s leadership. Thank you very much.
(applause) – Thank you Tom.
(applause) With the final few minutes remaining, I know Mayor Fischer has to
scoot out in just a minute but I wanna start with you for just a quick one minute answer. Your, all of your, one-minute pro tips for first-time attendees and people that you’ve managed to
glean from the conference, what would you recommend,
what’s your insider tip Greg? – Well just think expansively about what your role is as a mayor, I believe mayors should lead with human values, kindness, compassion, love. Cities are platforms for
human potential to flourish, so you gotta think big, you know, our jobs are about taking
care of the details, but also, how do you develop
the culture of your city and how do you move your
city to a place of greatness? And I say, mayors are
in the reality business, so it gets dirty sometimes,
so you gotta deal in the dirt, while you’re leading and
inspiring your community forward, be competitive in a humble
way with your mayors, when you see the best practices
that are presented here, and all the policy
issues, you’re gonna see some things that challenge you. You know and say okay,
here’s how I’m gonna rise to that challenge and do even better and then come back and
share your learnings at the next conference so, this conference will make you a better person, certainly make you better mayor, and will allow you to fulfill your mission of realizing all the human
potential in your city. It’s the chance of a lifetime to get involved so just jump in. – So that’s all you gotta
do, it’s that simple, just, do all those things
that Greg mentioned. (laughter) He’s a leader and a great answer, thanks for, I know you have to scoot off to metro economies, we’ll mention that in just a minute so y’all
know where that meeting is. Nan, your one-minute insider pro tip? – Yeah I would say definitely
go to the smaller convenings that the US Conference does. If you get invited, and many of you will, to the Mayors’ Institute
of City of Design, do it. It’s a great immersion to think about how your community can plan, and how mayors are the
planners of their cities. Take that opportunity and any time you get opportunities to do
some of the smaller convenings, you get that time to really invest and learn from other
mayors in a really deep way. I think Tom says this, he’s correct, this, the winter meeting is what sticking five pounds in a two-pound bag and so, it is a lot over
the next couple days so when you get those extra opportunities, take them, and then also, make sure you go to the different
concurrent sessions and speak up, you know, if
this is your first time, that’s great perspective because you know, Barnett’s been here forever,
and so it’s really good we get somebody new to
speak up in these meetings. Make sure you do that and don’t be afraid, you’ve been elected a
mayor, don’t be afraid to use your voice and be loud with it. – Yeah, great, thanks Nan. We’re gonna skip David I’ll
give James two minutes. – [David] Saw that.
(laughter) Saw that comin’.
– Go ahead Dave. – Well maybe to keep with the theme of my earlier remarks, you know, take advantage of the social events, and get to know people on a human level and you know, pull a chair up to Tom, he’s a national treasure. Find Ed Somers, he’s a genius. You know, tell Nan happy birthday, it’s her birthday today.
(laughter and applause) Get to know Bryan, he’ll have
you laughin’ all night long. And for the rest of your life I think. (laughter) And just take advantage
of this opportunity to be with people who
understand what you experience every day, it really is an irreplaceable experience to be here.
– James? – Yeah aside from all the issues that confront your communities that will be talked on about
in the next three days, I think the inside tip that
I would give all of you, especially the new mayors is, get to meet the staff at
the US Conference of Mayors, they’re valuable assets
and they’re gonna be a great resources when
you leave on Friday. And so take advantage and at least get to meet some of them
today, tomorrow, and Friday. – [Bryan] Karen? – I don think there’s anything I can add that has not been said so I will just echo stronger what you all said, because it’s taking advantage of what’s here. Take advantage of what’s here, there are so many resources,
so much information so much knowledge and so much support so, take advantage of what’s here and get a mentor, I remember
when I first got here, if you remember, you
paired up with me Bryan, and he has not stopped.
(laughter) I meant that in a good way.
(laughter) But he hasn’t, you know, letting me know about different things and making sure I was in the loop on different things, and you did that and I was, you know, I was looking like this when I came because of everything I was going through and you paired up with
me and it was just nice to have someone do that, and like I said, and we’ve been buddies ever since then. But please, go and talk to people because, it was interesting because
we may have different crises, but we all understand it
so, that’s what I would say. – I would say, two things, James’s point about getting to know the team. I don’t know, even the larger cities that are represented
here don’t have 30 people on the ground in Washington D.C., and to get to know the folks here because there’s a water expert, there’s an infrastructure
expert, there’s a housing expert. That expertise exists here already, has the relationships
already and it’s just up to you to leverage those resources. My insider tip, my insider tip
is to get cell phone numbers I have most of the mayors’
cell phone numbers out there, and when I wanna encourage someone, when I read something
about something happening, sometimes it’s bad, sometimes it’s a team that’s won and headed to the Superbowl or the World Series, I text, and I just offer them some encouragement and I know, in talking to other mayors who’ve done that in the past, obviously, if you’re
comfortable with that, it’s a great feeling to know that it’s not the media on the other line, it’s someone that always has your side
as mayor Holt mentioned. And I think that’s certainly a benefit and something that I would challenge, listen, has the panel
been fantastic today? Let’s give ’em a round of applause. (applause) – Happy birthday!
– Thank you! – Mayor, one last thing, if I could. – [Bryan] Of course. – This is our program, we have 50 sessions in this little booklet and so, look at it, study it, and as we say, visit those different, the 50 sessions. And the other thing is,
one tip I would give is, if you think your
decision is made at 5:30, if you pass by the bar
you better check in. (laughter) So there’s a lot of things
that goes down in the evening, and the last thing Mayor is, to ask the mayors to come
to a great state, Hawaii, and a great city, in June.
(cheers and applause) So sign up, sign up now, okay? – [Bryan] Oh we got
Mayor Caldwell down here. – Aloha! – Mayor of Honolulu, (laughs) so we ask you to–
(audience yells and applause) Yes, so we ask you to
seek these folks out. This week, all of them
have valuable information, even Mayor Holt, so, they’d all be happy to offer their assistance,
there’s information about the US Conference
of Mayors on your table, on your program, and I wanna recognize Luther Roberts who I think is back there, Luther wave your hand real crazy. He’s the guy that leads the
membership components here and he’d love to talk to you more about being involved and
getting engaged if you’re not. Two last announcements,
we wanna thank all of you for your time and attention this morning we wanted this to be upbeat, we’re off to a great start, and we have, as Tom mentioned, a very busy meeting. In just about four minutes, two very important sessions will start. I encourage you to either
head to the Metro Economies in New American Cities Taskforce, which Greg Fischer is leading, and then, or the Mayors Water Council Meetings, which are both incredible important, doing some great work on
behalf of mayors nationally, so, finally, last thing, I would ask all the newly elected
mayors or first time mayors to come up on the stage,
entering from that side, at the conclusion of this session for a group photo, we are so glad you’re here, this is gonna be an amazing meeting, thank you for your time and
attention, let’s get rollin’. Thanks everybody.
(applause) (upbeat music)

Robin Kshlerin

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