Plusquellic Reports on Membership Successes
By Debra DeHaney-Howard
Akron Mayor Donald L. Plusquellic, chair of the Conference’s Membership Committee, reported to the panel members June 10th on the significant progress the organization has made during the past year in attracting new members. "I am very pleased to report that membership in the Conference has reached record levels, particularly among cities with populations of 50,000 and above" Mayor Plusquellic said.
Plusquellic commended the panel members for their continued commitment and support of the Conference’s membership campaign, encouraging them to continue their aggressive membership efforts.
Following the discussion on membership, the Committee members heard a presentation on weapons of mass destruction (WMD). "In the event of a WMD incident, mayors will be the first responders, and must be adequately prepared and trained to deal with complex and unique crisis-management issues," James Thyne told the mayors. Thyne is a representative of the National Emergency Response and Rescue Center, an agency of the Texas A&M University and the George Bush School of Government and Public Service. Joining Thyne for the session was David Hunt of the Research Planning Incorporated and Tim Beres of the Department of Justice.
This presentation is part of the continuing dialogue with mayors on a new initiative of the Conference and the U.S. Department of Justice. This program on Weapons of Mass Destruction and Terrorism Incident Preparedness will focus on providing a training curriculum to ensure that mayors have the information to prepare and respond to such incident.
"Its clear to me that Mayors have a responsibility to possess the basic information needed to manage all of their resources in the event of WMD attack, and perhaps most importantly, know how to respond when reporters start asking questions," Plusquellic said.
During the session, committee members also worked through a simulation of a WMD event in a city, identifying issues relating to incident management, such as regional cooperation, private-sector involvement and coordination with other governmental agencies.
Reno Mayor Jeff Griffin, who serves as chair of the Conference’s Criminal and Social Justice Committee, said It‘s only a matter of time until such an event happens in our nation’s borders He also emphasized that communications strategies are an important challenge before mayors, as they work to provide their citizens with what is often life-impacting information. Mayors talked about the need for a federal response to a WMD event that is well coordinated and integrated into local and state preparedness plans.
Lilla Hammond, a representative of the Conference’s Long Term Care program, and Justin O’Brien, a representative of the USCM/NACo Purchasing Alliance, also addressed and the many benefits of these programs for the mayors and their cities.