There is a line, meant to be somewhat humorous, that says somewhere, at this moment, there is a committee meeting to decide your future. The line is more ironic than humorous and it's what I want to discuss.
Consider for a moment that there are a great number of different regional agencies and/or districts that directly impact the Bay Area alone:
You've heard of "Spare the Air Day?" That was a committee action.
We are going to have a significant annual increase in our sewer fees, the actual amount is being developed by a committee.
This is why I, as mayor, and members of the City Council volunteer to serve on so many "outside" agencies and boards. We want to make sure your interests are being represented to the maximum degree.
The City Council serves as the Local Reuse Authority, LRA, which has the authority to make decisions pertaining to the future development of the former Concord Naval Weapons Station.
Representation on these agencies is imperative. The question is, "Are we doing enough?" I think not.
As mayor, I participate on several regional and statewide committees. However, I am fully persuaded that there are at least two national conferences at which a city the size of Concord should be represented. They are the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities.
Last year's agenda for the U.S. Conference of Mayors had seminars for 36 topics. To name a few: the Economic Development Financing Toolbox; Securing and Managing Federal Grants for Mid-Sized Cities; Leading Your City Through the Pension Fund Challenge; What the Affordable Care Act Means to Your City; Funding Critical Infrastructure Systems; Preventing Juvenile Violence for Safer Communities; Using Technology to Improve Public Safety; Advocating for Hometown Priorities.
Significant topics? You bet! Just those eight topics discussed at the conference are of immediate and critical interest to the city of Concord. Those subjects are what we are talking about almost on a daily basis.
This past year, for the first time in many years, Concord was represented at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C. As mayor, I was proud to represent Concord.
When I saw the topics presented above I was very glad to be there. I quickly learned that if we are not represented, then we are not connected to important sources of information that will help us do a better job for our constituents.
If you are not there, you are not in the loop. When you're out of the loop, you lose by default, i.e., you lose because you didn't show up.
Unfortunately, because we had dropped our membership in the U.S. Conference of Mayors, I was only considered a "guest mayor," and therefore not eligible to attend the vital sessions mentioned above.
What frustrated me even more was that cities much smaller than Concord were getting valuable information on how to gain access to federal infrastructure dollars for aging sewer systems and repair of roadways that was being presented by federal representatives at those seminars.
Relationships were being developed that would pay dividends when applications are submitted. This is why I am on a quest to keep Concord connected to these national associations. I do not want to lose by default. Membership and participation is imperative.
There are other fringe benefits. At the conference, I met the mayor of Vallejo and we have been meeting monthly to discuss Vallejo's experience in the transfer and development of the military property there, the Mare Island Naval Base.
They are currently ahead of us in the process and are working with a master developer. How can we not benefit from that experience?
I also became acquainted with the mayor of Indianapolis. Recently, when I was in Indianapolis to cheer for our national champion Concord Blue Devils, I was able to introduce the mayor to my family and the "courtesy call" evolved into a 90-minute meeting that dealt with initiatives that will directly and significantly impact the economic and social landscape of Concord.
In case you were not aware of this fact, The New York Times listed Indianapolis as one of the top 50 cities in the world to visit because of its bike and cultural trails, park system, a 30,000 student college campus adjacent to downtown, and a myriad of other amenities.
I am not advocating recreating Indianapolis in Concord. My point is that we can nurture a healthy relationship with cities across this nation simply by being connected to the U.S. Conference of Mayors and National League of Cities.
Staying connected helps us do a better job of representing our constituents by gaining access to benefits that may not be available through other channels. This is worth the price of admission.
Tim Grayson is the mayor of Concord. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.