“Think globally and act locally” was replaced with “act locally and resolve globally” at the 75th Annual US Conference of Mayors held at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, June 22-26.
Hosted by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, both Democrat and Republican mayors showed how they could work together productively and harmoniously throughout the conference, accomplishing items from the 10-point plan they had drafted together. The first point, a resolution to take the initiative on the city level to reduce global warming, enjoyed spectacular success, with a sign-on of about 600 mayors, and was sent to Washington where a block funding was granted.
The mayors addressed the “elephant in the room” on Monday, the last afternoon of the four-day conference that was dominated by local actions surrounding environmental improvements. They narrowly endorsed a resolution calling for a timetable to end the war. This was not only Democrats or Republicans, but a bi-partisan group in essence stepping up to push Bush to reverse course and to push the Democrats in Congress to demand a withdrawal timetable before any more war funding. The resolution was sponsored by Mayor David Cicilline of Providence, Rhode Island. One vote saved the motion from being tabled completely on Monday, much as a motion to endorse impeachment of the current administration had been nixed on Friday. But the Iraq withdrawal resolution went through and passed 51-47.
The resolution to end the war was in keeping with the legacy of the organization. The US Conference of Mayors has a history that includes a resolution against the Vietnam War in the 1970’s, Tom Cochran, executive director of the organization, told the Mirror in a conversation at the ending reception at the newly remodeled Griffith Observatory on Monday evening. “We are told, ‘Just empty the trash, and don’t bother with issues like wars.’ But we have to deal with the funding that is taken from the cities for a war like this. I was proud of this resolution. We have made videos of defining moments in the 75 years of our organization and this will be included.”
The president of the Conference, Mayor Douglas Palmer of Trenton, New Jersey, expressed the opposite view. He also called it a defining moment, but for different reasons. Palmer told the Mirror, “This was a defining moment because this issue had to be addressed, but we didn’t let it change who we are. We are staying focused on our 10-point plan. We don’t have the luxury to pontificate about the war, we can’t change that. It will divide us, and then we will be just like Congress. Instead we are staying focused on what we can change.”
The Conference was a sparkling jewel of bi-partisan cooperation by devoted mayors throughout. Presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton (NY), Bill Richardson (NM) and Dennis Kucinich (OH) spoke. Arnold Schwarzenegger also spoke on Saturday. He came off unusually well, with the swagger of his “girly-men” comment days replaced – or at least subdued – by his commitment and undeniable accomplishments in helping California lead the country in environmental improvement legislation.
Hillary Clinton noted in her address to the mayors, all of whom have been making heroic strides in an economy drained by the Iraq war, “I know you guys don’t have the luxury of picking and choosing your issues. You see your constituents every day in the market.”
For more information, go to usmayors.org.