Prattville – The National League of Cities is a national organization that represents municipal governments throughout the United States. The 2009 Annual Congressional City Conference was held in Washington, D. C., March 14-18, 2009.
With scheduled speakers from Housing and Urban Development, Department of Transportation, Homeland Security, and the White House, this meeting was comprised of over 2,500 local officials from across the nation. Municipal leaders took this opportunity to bring their local concerns to the attention of federal elected officials in Washington.
Along with Prattville Mayor Jim Byard, Jr., Council members Dean Argo, Willie Wood, and Nathan Fank attended the conference, as did City Planner Joel Duke.
Our Prattville caught up with the mayor on Thursday and he discussed his time at the conference.
What was the general atmosphere at the conference?
The atmosphere was one of hope that our economy is on the verge of improvement. There was also a good deal of real inquisitiveness as to understanding the recently passed Economic Recovery Act.
Were the other city leaders optimistic about the economy turning around in the near future?
Yes, there was much enthusiasm and optimism about the economy later this year, and early next.
What federal policies were discussed that would have a bearing on Prattville?
A myriad of federal issues that could have some affect on Prattville were discussed to include: partnership to rebuild infrastructure, reform of the healthcare system, energy efficiency and conservation efforts, stabilization of the local housing markets, and the reform of our immigration system.
Other items discussed were the idea that the federal government should avoid policies that impose disproportionate responsibilities or increased financial constraints on local governments without regard to the fiscal impact – in other words unfunded mandates. The federal government should understand that activities such as franchising, zoning, issuing permits and licenses and local code development are fundamental responsibilities of the local governments and federal policies should not undermine these activities or preempt local authority to protect the health, safety, and welfare of our residents.
Additionally we let our representatives know that the federal government should not undermine municipal autonomy with respect to making fundamental employment decisions by mandating specific working conditions. The federal government should not mandate collective bargaining rights, legalize strikes or require binding arbitration with regards to municipal employees.
What local concerns did you take from Prattville to the officials in Washington, D. C.?
Our core issue, which we addressed directly to Representative Bobby Bright, Senator Richard Shelby and Senator Jeff Sessions were ensuring that Prattville was included in the Economic Recovery Act.
Article by Melissa Parker
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