Rilling up for the task (forces) at U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting

DALLAS, Texas – The irony did not escape Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling, who is in Dallas this weekend for the 82nd Annual Meeting to the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

“I know a lot of people raise their eyebrows and smirk when I say I am forming a task force,” Rilling said Friday night. “But the U.S. Conference of Mayors has about 10 to 15 task forces and they just announced two or three more that they’re going to be forming. That’s really what you do. You put people of various degrees of interest together to focus them on a certain issue.”

Rilling said he is serving on two committees at his first event with the conference – the Tourism, Arts, Parks, Entertainment and Sports Committee and the Transportation Communications Committee.

“It’s a very, very interesting conference,” he said. “There’s been a focus on what I believe is important for Norwalk,” including energy efficiency and solar energy.
“The people you really get a lot of information from are the big city mayors,” he said, including Philadelphia’s Michael Nutter. While Philly is one of the nation’s biggest cities, anything over 100,000 population is considered a “big city” by the Conference of Mayors. That would include Bridgeport, New Haven, Hartford and Waterbury, whose mayors make up the Connecticut contingent along with Rilling.

The Conference of Mayors president is Sacramento, Calif., Mayor Kevin Johnson, former three-time National Basketball Association as point guard for the Phoenix Suns and later the Cleveland Cavaliers. Rilling called Johnson a “dynamic speaker.” Other guest speakers include NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, journalist Maria Shriver, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and the mayors of Dallas and Baltimore.

“The networking and learning of best practices is really the value,” he said. “You don’t spend that much coming here. The conference is free. You pay for the hotel room and you pay for the airfare. You really bring back some good ideas. It helps in areas that are most important to your community. Even though most of the communities have the same problems, some had issues that might be more important in their communities than they would be in others.”

Rilling said a common denominator for all is education.

“One thing I am totally in agreement with, I have said this all along, education, crime, economic development are all related,” he said. “If you don’t have a good education system, people are not going to invest in your community. Crime is going to increase. So it is really incumbent upon us to have an effective school system that really focuses on closing the achievement gap and helping everybody achieve. That way we’ll see people come in to invest in our communities, we’ll see a reduction of crime as young people are achieving what they want to achieve and going on to higher education.”

The conference began Friday and ends Tuesday.


5 responses to “Rilling up for the task (forces) at U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting”

  1. One and Done

    Hopefully there is a task force on how to form task forces and make it seem like you are doing your job? That will give Harry something to do besides enjoying a taxpayer funded boondoggle to help inflate his ego some more.
    One and Done.

  2. Tish Gibbs

    I’ve been to U.S. Conference of Mayors conferences and they are a goldmine of valuable information, especially for first term mayors. Well worth the Mayor’s time, energy and the few tax dollars involved.

  3. Nicko

    Half of Mayor Rilling’s term will be up in a few months and what has he accomplished???Nothing.
    Seems like a repeat of his time as chief.

  4. piberman

    Lets encourage our esteemed Mayor to set up a task force of knowledgeable finance professionals to reduce the bloated City budget. No politicos allowed. Maybe a task force on our redevelopment projects. No politicos allowed. Other towns routinely use task force type groups of knowledgeable citizens to address major issues. In Norwalk our Council appoints a former school teacher to Chair its Finance Committee and expects results ! And no one complains. We just shake our heads and sigh. No shortage of real professional talent in our City. But our politicos enjoy the current system – expertise avoided at all costs. Once upon a time Norwalk had admired governance. Wasn’t rocket science. Our politicos sought out knowledgeable citizens. Now they enjoy meetings devoid of attendees. Simpler that way.

  5. Norwalk Voter

    @piberman that former school teacher has more knowledge of our budget and city finance than any other Council member (and maybe our entire BET). Why disparage a hard working, dedicated public servant and volunteer?

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