Box 18, Folder 22, Document 6

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Box 18, Folder 22, Document 6

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Minutes of Meeting
January 9, 1967
The first meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee of Mayors was called to
order by Mr. Step hen R. Currier at 10 a . m. on January 9 , 19 6 7 , in the Board
Room of Urban America.
Participating in that meeting were Mayors Theodore R.
McKeldin of Baltimore, Thomas G. Currigan of Denver, Jerome P. Cavanagh
of Detroit, Robert King High of Miami, Henry W. Maier o f Milwaukee, John V.
Lindsay of New York City, Joseph M. Barr of Pittsburgh, and Harold Tollefson
of Tacoma .
Unable to attend were Mayors John F. Collins of Boston, Terry D.
Schrunk of Portland (Ore.), and John F .' Shelley of San Francisco.
Unable to
attend, but represented by staff members, were Mayors Ivan Allen, Jr. of
Atlanta, Richard J . Daley of Chicago, Richard C . Lee of New Haven , and
James H. J . Tate of Philadelphia.
Mr. Currier opened the session by stressing the importance of obtaining a national commitment to meet urban needs .
He outlined various needs
to be met: the need for a more definitive statement of urban problems, the need
to tell the story of the performance of cities in the line of self help , the need
to gain a greater commitment for cities from Federal appropriations, the need
to mobilize support from a variety of interest groups (such as business, labor,
civil rights, education) .
Mayor Lindsay emphasized the need for consolidation of existing
pro grams , rather than cutbacks on any of them.
resources was crucial to the governing of cities .
He said lack of financial
Minutes of Meeting, January 9, 1967
Page 2
Mayor Cavanagh maintained that the Great Society programs themselves have been successful - the financing of the programs has been the failure.
In any ' ~,vent, it\ ould be "catastrophic" if any of these programs were cut back.
Mayor 'Cavanagh noted that mayors were looked upon in Washington
as "speciai'i nterest p~eaders."
He suggested that Urban America be the catalyst
in putting together a national coalition for urban improvement and said that ·the
calling of thi;:; initial meeting had been most helpful.
Continuance of lobbying
by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities is not
enough; a broad new coalition is needed (education, civil rights, labor, business).
Mayor Cavanagh also suggested the forming of a Council of Economic
Advisors for Cities to serve as an information resource to mayors.
Such an
information bank would be drawn upon for discussion of Fed e ral a llocations to
cities and in the formation of alternatives to Federal economic policy.
Mayor McKeldin commented that money could solve most of Baltimore's
He concurred with Mayor Lindsay's discouragement at th e l ack of
financial resources available to cities. In Baltimore , he explained, there is
only one form of taxation - the property t ax; since many people are leaving the
city, this tax base is dwindling.
The City is now fightin g for a payroll tax,
though the people are against it.
Mayor Currigan said that t ra ns portation i s one of the bigge st problems
in Denver and that there i s no a lternative except public ownership.
His c ity is
also pressed "to the w a ll" by the tax s ituation; De nver has a sa l es and a prope.rty
t ax, but the State Constitution prohibits a much-needed income t ax .
Minutes of Meeting, January 9, 19 6 7
Page 3
Mayor Currigan stressed his hope that the mayors stay united in
their efforts.
He was concerned that Urban America might begin competing with
the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities, the latter two
being "too splintered" already.
He mentioned that time is a critical factor and
that he hoped this meeting could lead to a program of action.
Mr. Currier interjected a definition of Urban America's role in rel a-
tion to the other groups.
Urban America will act, he said, as a voice for citizens
groups (business , public, etc.).
Mayor High pointed up the misunderstanding on the part of the
public when it comes to urban programs and n eeds.
"Somehow we have not
gotten a cross the rol e cities play, that the destiny of the country is wrapped u p
in cities." The press makes a fetish of deprecating cities , and people look upon
the Great Society as a handout and react to it with horror.
Mayor Cav anagh commented that many people think cities aren't
imaginative when they must try to s olve their own problems but that actually,
many imaginative programs translated into Federal legislation have originated
in cities (e.g. Model Cities , urban renewal, and the poverty program).
Mayor Tollefson warned against interpreting the last election to
mean there should be a cutback on Federal programs.
He suggested the first
step be to present the problems to Congress and the second, telling people in
cities that these programs are needed and good.
Mayor Maier said it is imperative to tackle the probl em of allocation
o f resource s and that the tactic of using a n e utral forc e (Urban Am eric a ) to proj e ct
Minutes of Meeting, January 9 , 19 6 7
Page 4
this agenda item is a good one.
The National League of Cities has been con-,-
ducting an educational campaign on resources, but the League cannot do it
alone. A broad alliance of ad hoc groups and special task forces is needed.
This has been done in Milwaukee to organize forc~s in order to attack the state
He mentioned gratitude to Urban America for offering to take on
this task.
Mayor Barr said the greatest thing Urban America could do was to
get to people the mayors can't reach as easily (e.g. businessmen). As the
mayors' biggest enemy he cited columnists' interpretations of the elections .
Mr. Slayton directed the discussion to the method of forming a
national coalition with the following questions: should we plan a meeting with
mayors and the nation's top business leaders, civil rights leaders, etc.?
Urban America undertake some special studies or publish some certain publications?
Patrick Healy of the National League of Cities offered two suggestions
fo r relieving the financial burden on cities : (1) have the Federal Government
completely re sponsible fo r welfare (payments and administration) , since it is a
national problem, and (2) have states compl-3t ely responsible for schools and
education (60% of property taxes goes for welfare and schools) .
He mentioned that we shouldn't ignore state action to meet urban
n eeds , saying that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been concerned over a
lack of state action in this a rea .
John Gunther of the U.S . Conference of Mayor s emphasized the need
fo r a n ational or ganization of local groups .
\ \
Minutes of Meeting, January 9, 1967
Page 5
Mr. Gunther praised the idea of a Council of Economic Advisors
because of the need for solid information in the local government sector.
suggested, however, that the emphasis be placed on information-gathering
rather than on advising . He urged the systematic collection of information.
Mayor Cavanagh suggested that Urban America proceed along the
following lines:
(1) start sounding out the national coalition idea - i.e.
investigate the mechanics of forming such a coalition, (2) study the possible
structure of a Council of Economic Advisors, (3) examine feasible ways of
establishing the credibility of urban l e aders (emphasizing a new bree d -of leadership and narrowing of the credibility gap). In line with the latter, place
greater emphasis on programs considered good today and the source from which
the y originated.
At the suggestion of Mayor Cavanagh, it was decided to hold
another me e ting of the same group, to be held on January 2 7 (luncheon and a n
aft e rnoon meeting) .
It w as a lso a greed tha t c e rta in sta t e me nts should be in -
cluded in any comments to press people:
(1) that there are many other leaders
and inte re s t group s i n the country which th e mayors propos e to a s k to join t hem
in a rticula ting th e needs o f our urba n a reas , (2) tha t thi s w as more than a meeting
to discuss w a ys of getting more Fe d era l money , and (3) that it would b e
catastrophic t o c ut back expenditure s for c urrent Federal programe.
Th e meeting w as a djourned a t 3 p. m . aft er fina l editing of t h e press
release. The next meeti n g will be held at 12: 30 p.m. on January 27, 1967.

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