Tom Butt
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  86th Annual Meeting of the US Conference of Mayors
June 12, 2018

The US Conference of Mayors Annual Meeting was an extraordinary opportunity to learn from other mayors and experts and hear presentations from people we normally see only on TV news. This year’s meeting was in Boston from June 8-11 and did not disappoint.

Mayors across the country are faced with the same problems: housing and homelessness, infrastructure, climate change, gun violence, substance abuse, and more. They are frustrated that help is not coming from Congress, and in many cases, from their own statehouses. Cities have become the centers of innovation where real change is taking place, and mayors are leading these changes. The theme of this year’s meeting was “Inclusion, Innovation and Infrastructure.”

Before the first session began, I joined a group of protesters who were disappointed that Boston has not yet engaged in Consumer Choice Aggregation for electrical power.

Demonstration supporting CCA

Demonstration supporting CCA

I also had to go shopping for some shoes and came across this Boston-themed shop, the type of store I want to se in Richmond’s future Visitor Center at the BART Station.

Neighborhoods Urban Goods

Neighborhoods Urban Goods

At the Friday Plenary, Former (termed out) Mayor of New Orleans Mitch Landrieu and outgoing president of the USCM made an inspiring speech, as did the new President, Steve Benjamin of Columbia SC.

Mitch Landrieu

Steve Benjamin

Sheryl Sandberg COO of Facebook talks about the role of Technology in America’s Cities

Mayors from Houston, Baltimore and Seattle offered solutions to the housing crisis. Sheryl Sandburg, COO of Facebook addresses Cities and technology. Mayors of Atlanta, Los Angeles and Dallas talked up P3 (public-private partnerships) and infrastructure.

Every night is an event at a local landmark, starting off on Friday at the JFK Library.

JFK Library. Shirley on the left, Mayor Jill Techel of Napa on the right

JFK Library

JFK Library

Every member mayor is assigned to a committee. Mine is Community Development and Housing. We adopted nine resolutions supporting fighting homelessness, supporting CDBG and HOME, supporting public and affordable housing, HUD’s Homeless Assistance Program, affordable housing, ending veteran homelessness, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act and Opportunity Starts at Home Program. We also had a spirited discussion about Mayors’ frustrations with HUD that I initiated.

Resolutions before the Community Development and Housing Standing Committee

Mayor Martin J. Walsh of Baltimore welcomes mayors

Before lunch on Saturday, many of us gathered to march in the Boston Pride Parade.

Bay Area mayors from San Leandro, Union City, Dublin, San Leandro and Richmond prepare for the Boston Pride parade

With Shirley and Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear. Mayors led the parade.

Back at the Plenaries, we heard presentations and panel discussions on the 2020 Census, and Senator Elizabeth warren talked about the crisis in child care.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren talks childcare

Saturday night’s event was the Boston World Trade Center

Boston World Trade Center

Boston World Trade Center

It was a warm night, so we walked back to the hotel

At Saturday’s Plenary luncheon, we heard from Mayor Kazumi Matsui of Hiroshima, president of Mayors for Peace. Richmond is one of the 7,595 member cities of Mayors for Peace, worldwide.

Mayor Kazumi Matsui of Hiroshima

At a forum on immigration, I ran into the mayor of Richmond VA.

Mayor Tom Butt of Richmond CA and Mayor Levar Stoney of Richmond VA

At the Best Practice Forum on Sunday, I found out that many cities are adopting programs like Richmond’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Ceasefire. Shotspotter is particularly effective in cities where gunfire is so routine that people don’t even bother to report it anymore.  

At the Session on Mayoral Climate Leadership in the Post-Paris Environment, Jeff Speck reminded us that a walkable neighborhoods reduce  more carbon than the best designed but car-dependent neighborhoods.

I attended the National Conference of Democratic Mayors late Sunday afternoon followed by the annual Latino Leadership Network Reception.

With Micky Ibarra, executive director of the Latino Leadership Network

Antonio Villaraigosa, Tom Butt, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Micky Ibarra

Sunday night’s event was at the incredible Boston Public Library. We met some students form Margory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL who would be presenting on Monday.

Boston Library

Library Courtyard

Main Reading Room turned into Main Eating Room. They make money by renting this out for weddings

The two young people are from Margory Stoneman Douglas High School

Monday’s Plenary was about Youth Involvement and Community Action. Mayor Christine Hunschofsky of Parkland FL described what it as like in the aftermath of the shooting. Two students, Alfonso Calderon and David Hogg described what it as like to be in the shooting and to lose friends. Hogg challenged the mayors, “This has to change,” and “Never again.”

Mayor Christine Hunschofsky

David Hogg









A couple of pollsters gave us insight into the minds of millennials. Here is Dr. Frank Luntz.














I ran in to Lioneld Jordan, mayor of Fayetteville, AR, my home town

Monday afternoon, we had some down time, so we walked over to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, then down along the Charles River, up over Beacon Hiil and through the Boston Commons  

Monday night was the final event, a party at Fenway Park, where we ate ballpark fare.

Shirley posing for baseball card photo

Ballpark fare

Mayors at Fenway Park