Wednesday, August 28, 2013

On the Road for Regional Meetings


Invitations to the first Regional Meeting were sent to surrounding counties "within driving distance" of the host city.

The year was 1931. The League’s membership had grown to 350 cities since its founding, and some on the executive committee were concerned that “our annual conventions are becoming more formal in character as our membership increases.”  

So a few on the committee suggested holding more informal meetings throughout the state, where municipal officials could gather to discuss what was going on in their area. Hence the idea of Regional Meetings was born!

The first Regional Meeting was held in Morris on October 22 of that year. One hundred members gathered that fall to discuss issues such as: poor relief (could community fund drives be held?), licensing and controlling of peddlers and solicitors (what could be done about the “undesirability of house to house canvassers?”), public utilities (should municipalities control electric light companies?), and taxes (could property taxes possibly be reduced by adopting an income tax?).

Eighty-two years later, League staffers still hit the road every fall to discuss timely topics with members around the state. With more than 800 members currently, Regional Meetings are now held in several locations (nine this year!), with several hundred city officials attending.

This year we’ll discuss federal health care reform (what should cities be doing to comply with the new mandates?), the legislative session (how did cities fare this year, and what’s in store for next session?), conflicts of interest (what are some examples members might encounter while conducting municipal business?), and incivility (how can city governments deal with this issue in the long term?).

And we’re coming full circle in 2013 as well: during this, our centennial year, we’ll be back in Morris where it all began. See you in October!

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