Tom Butt
  E-Mail Forum – 2018  
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  U.S. Conference of Mayors
January 28, 2018

For most of the past week, I joined 250 mayors from across America, representing Richmond at the U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting in Washington, DC. These meetings are an opportunity to learn about the best practices in other cities so that we can bring back fresh ideas to Richmond. They are also an opportunity to hear presentations from national and international experts, cabinet officials and members of Congress about current events and policies.

Adding them all up, I spend the equivalent several weeks a year at conferences listening and learning, and sometimes presenting our own Richmond success stories. At this conference, I gave a presentation on Community Choice Energy, highlighting the success of our own CCA, -- MCE.

Next week, I will be at the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference in San Francisco.

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The first session I attended was on homelessness. I connected with top government officials from HUD and other agencies.

At “Climate Change: Today’s Leadership Confronting Tomorrow’s Challenges” at 86th Winter Meeting in Washington DC. My presentation was “Community Choice Energy Click here for the PowerPoint.

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U.S. Conference of Mayors President Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans to Congress on funding infrastructure: “Go big or go home!”

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Landrieu: On Sessions’ threat to arrest mayors of sanctuary cities: “An attack on one of us is an attack on all.”

New York Mayor Bill DiBlasio talks about building trust between police and community, making New York the safest big city in America.

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Marion Wright Edelman talks about ending childhood poverty. “Most social change is not sudden; it comes from sticking with something...Always move forward, never backward.”

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If you buy everyone lunch, you can spin your message however you want. Sometimes not everything makes sense. This is a Jesse Unruh moment.

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Senator Jeff Flake talks up bipartisanship.

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Willie Brown pays tribute to Ed Lee.

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Fascinating discussion of the opioid epidemic by Dr. Vivek Murthy, 18th surgeon general, Sam Quinoses, author of “Dreamland,” Martin Walsh, mayor of Boston and Nan Whaley, Mayor of Dayton. Each was asked what the biggest impediment is; Murthy said “the stigma of treatment centers.” Interesting in the light of the controversy over moving the BAART clinic to El Sobrante.

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Nancy Pelosi rips Trump Administration and Republicans. A mayor from southern California, obviously a Republican, sitting behind me let out a gasp.

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I got a demonstration of ZenCity “Listen to Your City,” a “platform for understanding people in the city on a wide scale..” It collects millions of interactions from social media and other on line sources and uses algorithms to classify and sort data to recognize topics and trends.

Meeting of National Conference of Democratic Mayors

Thursday Night Reception at Australian Embassy
As the conference wound down on Friday,  there was a great presentation in Burning Man, Nevada’s third largest city (for a week). With the current administration and Congress, even Republicans and pundits are beginning to share criticisms. Former Senator Mark Warner said “ it’s not liberals versus conservatives, it’s the past versus the future.”

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Conservative pundit William Kristol and Brookings Institution William Galston couldn’t find anything to argue about.