1. Drug Control/Public Safety
The first transition discussion was led by co-chair Jeff Griffin of Reno who said, "At the
end of the day, it all comes down to drugs." The team called for support for demand reduction,
Drug Courts, increased direct local funding for drug treatment, better coordination of federal
efforts, and mandatory drug testing of prisoners prior to release with treatment provided -
important in that many drug offenders are now on a cycle to be released from prison. In that of
the total $17.5 billion federal drug control budget, approximately $3.14 billion is spent on
treatment, and of that local governments have direct access to only $53.8 million, the team called
for a complete audit of the federal drug control budget. Also raised in Boise was the continued
issue of drug use and mental illness.
The team stressed that the 1994 crime act should be reauthorized and that COPS and the
Local Law Enforcement Block Grant should be more focused on law enforcement technology
needs, providing drug treatment, assisting the broad criminal justice system, and promoting local
collaboration between law enforcement agencies with performance measures.
The mayors also restated Conference policy related to gun violence which calls for:1) fully
enforcing existing laws; 2) increasing support for federal law enforcement agencies responsible for
enforcing gun laws and 3) enacting a package of meaningful gun safety laws.
Finally the group focused on the concern of weapons of mass destruction, calling for the
establishment of an executive mayoral training program, increased federal support for equipment,
and the establishment of cooperative agreements between cities and Department of Defense
2. Human Dignity/Diversity
In a discussion led by Mayor Meyera Obernorf of Virginia Beach, the transition team
submitted for consideration by the Conference leadership a document containing a broad array of
policy proposals, including:
- The launch of a national initiative that will heighten the nation's awareness of human
dignity, civility, cultural/ethnic diversity, and understanding one another.
- The provision, to mayors and cities, of the necessary tools, including flexible block grant
funding directly to local governments, to be used in partnership with the private sector to
meet the demand for high-tech skills, re-train America's workforce, develop career paths
to prepare minorities and low-income workers for the Information Technology (IT)
workforce and develop untapped pools of workers thereby giving everyone a level of
economic opportunity to provide for a meaningful and dignified life in society.
- The creation and support, in an effort to eliminate racial profiling and other forms of
discrimination, of programs that allow local communities to provide for cultural sensitivity
and diversity training. Mayors, local and state officials must take a strong stand for the
elimination of racial profiling in our nation.
- The passage of expanded federal hate crimes legislation that would make crimes based
upon an individual's gender, disability or sexual orientation a federal offense.
- The inclusion of cultural sensitivity and ethnic diversity models all school-based curricula
that create an environment not of tolerance but acceptance of our diverse backgrounds
- A reaffirmed commitment to affirmation action and the vigorous enforcement of all
existing civil rights laws.
The transition team is also co-chaired by Mayor Bob Knight of Witchita.
3. Youth, Education and Families in America's Cities
Led by Mayors Rosemary Corbin of Richmond (CA) and David Moore of Beaumont, the
transition team submitted for consideration by the Conference leadership a document containing a
broad array of policy proposals, including:
- Ensuring that all children in America's public schools can read on grade level by grade 3;
- A national initiative to increase the availability of quality, affordable early childhood
education programs, such as Head Start and Success by 6;
- Greater resources for the construction of new schools, and renovation/expansion of
existing facilities, including public charter schools;
- Building technological infrastructure in America's schools, to prepare students to enter the
21st century workforce;
- Resources to increase salaries of educators, and to provide experienced educators with
sufficient opportunities for continued education, teacher training, and mentoring of
- Adequate school support personnel, such as teachers' aides and school counselors, so that
'teachers can teach;'
- Increased commitment to arts and music programs, sports programs and other similar
extracurricular activities in schools;
- Support for community schools with in-house health clinics, social services agencies and
police involvement, noting that 'the physical and mental health of our children is a critical
factor in their ability and readiness to learn; and
- Increased federal support to pay for unfunded federal mandates, such as requirements
under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Mayors discussed at length the importance of the role of parents in preparing their children
to enter school ready to learn. They called for strong language on the need for parents to play an
active role in the educational system, noting that 'parents have the primary responsibility to ensure
the well-being of our children.' The leadership also noted that working parents should receive
support to ensure that they are able to meet the most basic needs of their children.
4. Smart Growth (Jobs, Housing, Transportation, Environment)
Tulsa Mayor M. Susan Savage and Charlotte Mayor Patrick McCrory summarized the
work of Smart Growth transition team. Mayor Savage said that Smart Growth must be defined
and certain key themes should be explored: such as more flexibility in major policy areas and
obtaining greater private investment. Another key issue is how to get the federal government to
the table as a partner rather than as a parent.
Mayor McCrory said that cities must get credit for having strong environmental policy.
"Somehow", he said, "we need to find a mechanism to make it work." Mayor Savage responded,
"Often, we have to follow a new rule. How do we bring key players to the table before this
happens? This is a front end question that we need to deal with."
Rochester Mayor William A. Johnson, Jr. said that the transition team had done a good
job with recommendations on the policy components, but had not clearly articulated a smart
growth policy. He recommended that the Conference of Mayors engage the National Governors
Association (NGA) and the National Association of Counties (NACo) in a discussion on the
controversy of smart growth. Conference of Mayors President, Bosie Mayor Brent Coles,
appointed Mayor Johnson to chair a task force for discussions with NGA and NACo on the smart
In addition to the policy recommendations that had been previously developed by the
transition team, two additional items were submitted. The first was a Community Housing
Investment Trust Fund that would permanently be dedicated to the production and preservation
of permanent housing for low-income families and individuals. The second was the Negotiated
Investment Strategy, a mechanism for delivering coordinated federal investment to cities.
5. Smart Cities/Technology Infrastructure/Digital Divide
Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown and Dearborn Mayor Michael Guido summarized the Smart
Cities/Technology Infrastructure/Digital Divide Team's recommendations. Mayor Guido
reminded mayors of the importance of technology and telecommunication. He said most of the
topics covered by the 10 transition teams are affected by the deployment of telecommunications
infrastructure and that local governments are some of the largest users of communications
services. He also pointed out that high tech is not only being used to improve government
efficiency and citizens' access to local services, but it is also a big part of economic development.
Commenting on the teams recommendations in four broad areas --New Economy
Infrastructure, Digital Government, Digital Opportunity/Divide and Research and Technology
Innovations-- Mayor Brown said the team felt strongly that there should be no federal preemption
of local rights-of-way and that mayors must continue to fight to ensure that local taxpayers are
reimbursed for the use of their roads and streets. He also said the team strongly believes local
governments should be granted authority to tax Internet commerce in a manner equitable to local
retail. He pointed out that the team believes it is important to ensure universal access to the
Internet to all individuals; and to encourage increase federal support for research and development
in projects that promote innovations in technologies.
Mayor Brown told mayors that in addition to the team's recommendations in four broad
areas, the Conference should recommend federal support that will enable individuals to acquire
their GED online. He said "we should ensure that people have more than just access to the
Internet." Emphasizing the importance of educating everyone, he said "we should subsidize
online...GED curriculum classes." Mayors agreed to add Mayor Brown's recommendation to the
6. Parks and Open Space
Conference Vice President and New Orleans Mayor Marc H. Morial and Conference Past
President and Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe gave the report of the Parks and Open Space
Transition Team. The mayors put forth recommendations that included using some of the surplus
funds to establish "real" endowments for the arts, humanities, and museums thereby eliminating
the annual appropriations battles; and creation of special tax credits to help encourage more
private support of the arts and major arts institutions.
In the area of youth recreation, the mayors favored the reinvigoration of the President's
Council on Physical Fitness and Sports; and the need for major sporting good manufacturers and
retailers to sponsor and promote youth recreation programs.
The task force members favored continued Congressional support of the Land and Water
Conservation Fund and Urban Park and Recreation Recovery programs, but called for the two
programs to be funded at $1.2 billion with the funds being equally divided between federal, state
and local governments. The mayors also favored the creation of special tax credits to help acquire
and protect local open spaces.
7. Technology in Schools
In the Transition Team report on Technology in Schools, Berkeley, CA Mayor Shirley
Dean opened the dialog with a strong statement that all children must have access to and be
trained in the technology of the 21st Century and, as technology plays a greater role in education,
it is important to remember that technology does not take the place of a solid education in the
Following are the recommendations of the Transition Team for the next President:
- Hold a Presidential Summit and establish a White House Task Force on the Digital Divide to include mayors, the private sector, educators, non-profits and faith-based organizations.
- Support full funding of the E-Rate.
- Ensure professional development for teachers.
- Promote partnerships between the private sector, universities, and other community
organizations and public schools.
- Identify and create tools for stimulating private sector investment in public schools.
- Incorporate workforce development and school-to-work activities in any technology in
- Support adequate funding to integrate technology into all curriculum to help students
learn challenging content.
- Fund school renovation and construction.
- Expand funding for community technology centers.
- Evaluate how new technology is working in schools.
- Set goals and benchmarks to evaluate progress in bridging the digital divide.
- Also address issues including wiring homes and training parents to use computers,
computers in public housing; the problem of no phones in some homes; the limited use of
computers by young women; and coordination of various local programs to maximize
connections in communities.
8. Workforce Technology Training
Long Beach Mayor Beverly O'Neill, Co-Chair of the Workforce Technology Training
Task Force, reported on the transition recommendations and emphasized three key points: 1) The
next President's workforce policy must reflect that local elected officials are leading the metro-economies and know what is needed; 2) Public schools must do a better job providing reading,
writing, arithmetic and basic technical skills, and 3) Partnerships with business and industry are
Recommendations for the next President:
- Mayors Skills Summits- Convene regional Mayors Skills Summits with mayors, the
private sector, educators, unions, and Workforce Investment Boards to address the skills
- Major New Focus on Youth- Invest in the nation's youth by providing Mayors and cities
with the necessary tools, including flexible block grant funding directly to local
governments. Continue a strong summer jobs program, school-to-work /cooperative
education programs and out-of-school youth initiatives. Increase funding for Workforce
Investment Act (WIA) youth activities.
- Flexible Block Grant Funding Directly to Local Governments - to be used in partnership
with the private sector to address the skills gap, develop information technology (IT)
career paths for minorities and low-income workers, develop untapped pools of workers,
link workers to regional jobs, and tap into the central city labor force.
- Extend the Welfare-to-Work program and provide direct funding to cities as part of the
Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) reauthorization.
- Assess funding structures of all federal workforce programs to determine if they reflect
that metro-economies with cities at their core, not states, are driving the national
- The U.S. Department of Commerce should take a more active role to help cities address
the skills gap.
9. Rail System Restoration
The discussion among the mayors at the Boise Leadership Meeting focused particularly on
the need for a National Rail Policy for the 21st Century. Conference President Coles featured this
topic at a special rail session held September 15th at the Boise train depot. Special presentations
and mayoral discussions at this session dealt with the key issues identified by the Rail System
Restoration transition team, which is co-chaired by Meridian John Robert Smith and North Little
Rock Mayor Patrick Henry Hays.
Coles presided at the session where Amtrak President and CEO George Warrington talked
with the mayors about ongoing efforts to strengthen the nation's intercity passenger rail system.
Coles and others noted how enactment of the "High-speed Rail Investment Act" or S. 1900 was a
top legislative priority for the Conference, an action item that the transition team identified as the
most important first step in crafting a new rail policy for the nation.
Great American Station Foundation President Hank Dittmar cited new data on rail project
capital needs, underscoring the urgency of securing additional resources for "new start" rail
projects, which, it was noted, are already overwhelming available resources provided by "TEA-21." He discussed potential elements of a national rail investment plan to support the efforts of
the transition team in developing its transition recommendations.
10. Airports Enhancements
The Airports Enhancements team report emphasizes the need for sustained growth in
airport investment, both air-side and land-side improvements, which is needed to meet rapidly
increasing passenger and cargo needs.
This transition team, which is chaired by Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell and Chicago Mayor
Richard M. Daley, is focusing on ways mayors can stay involved in the debate on aviation needs
in an effort to build upon Congressional and Administration momentum for increased airport
investment. The team's report cites the success of this year's aviation renewal law, known as
AAIR-21", in stepping up capital commitments for airport investment. The transition team
members are looking to preserve and build upon this political consensus for aviation investment as
the new Administration takes office and the 107th Congress convenes, particularly as plans
develop for renewal of AIR-21.