MA Mayors Have Fresh Ideas After National Conference

By Dustin Wlodkowski 1-19-2013 

WEBN interviews Fitchburg Mayor Lisa Wong at the U.S. Conference of Mayors
WEBN interviews Fitchburg Mayor Lisa Wong at the U.S. Conference of Mayors. WEBN staff photo

The United States Conference of Mayors concluded its annual winter meeting in Washington, D.C. today.

Bay State mayors and city representatives were present at the three day event which began Thursday. They were joined by mayors and other politicians from around the country including Vice President Joe Biden and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  It was a time to network and share ideas.

Attleboro Mayor Kevin Dumas learned he could obtain funding for school safety through the Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program.

He and others discussed how to lobby Congress to apply for over four billion dollars into school safety plans, school resource officers and other needs that he can bring back to his district.

Fitchburg Mayor Lisa Wong was happy to learn the Conference created an advanced manufacturing task force.

“As you know in the North Central Massachusetts, manufacturing is alive and well,” she said. “It’s something that I believe people have ignored, they keep thinking that manufacturing has left and gone overseas. It hasn’t.”

Other city leaders also met to address topics like hunger and homelessness. Boston’s Director of Partners and Partnerships Howard Liebowitz attended the event as the Hub’s liaison and represented Mayor Tom Menino’s food policy task force.

He explained that dealing with food issues is relatively new for cities.

“Five years ago the term ‘food policy director’ was not really known to anyone,” he said. “All the increase in farmer’s markets, urban agriculture and related interest in eating in local foods has led to an explosion.”

As far as ideas of what he’ll be bringing back to Boston, Liebowitz said he heard “some interesting ideas” for addressing mental health issues.