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The National League of Cities is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and. Portland hosts National League of Cities' Black Male Achievement Convening. BMA Logo. October 13, 2015. PORTLAND – The City of Portland will host 35 Black. ABOUT THE League. The Montana League of Cities and Towns is an incorporated, nonpartisan, nonprofit association of 127 Montana municipalities. Organized under a.

ayor Bob Bolen of Fort Worth, Texas, is first vice president of the National League of Cities, a post that puts him in line to become NLC president in 1990.

Mayor Bolen was elected to the Fort Worth City Council in 1979, became mayor in a special election held in 1982, and has been reelected to three additional two-year terms. He has been a Fort Worth businessman since 1952, and his firm, Bolen Enterprises, now operates 20 Hallmark Card shops in the Dallas-Fort Worth region and San Antonio.

Mayor Bolen has been a leading figure in the development of local and regional strategies for his community, and he is currently taking a lead role in an ambitious strategic planning process for the greater Fort Worth area, involving virtually every aspect of public and private sector activity. He was instrumental in establishing the Fort Worth Transportation Authority while a council member, and he has served as chairman of the 17-county Regional Transportation Authority as well as the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, with which he continues to serve as a board member. He also played a lead role in the award of the city's first cable franchise and was a key member of a special NLC task force that helped develop cable TV legislation enacted by Congress.

Mayor Bolen chaired NLC's Transportation and Communications Policy Committee in 1985 after serving a year as vice chairman, and he was elected to the NLC Board of Directors at the 1985 Congress of Cities. He is a past president of the Texas Municipal League, which he led in 1987.

Mayor Bolen has been a leader in developing cooperative efforts in the Dallas-Fort Worth region. He has worked on numerous joint projects with neighboring jurisdictions, including a high technology education task force for the region, the successful atomic supercollider bid by the Dallas-Fort Worth area, a robotics center, a U.S. Treasury printing and engraving center, and the acquisition of the Rock Island Railroad right-of-way between Dallas and Fort Worth.

Mayor Bolen grew up in Fort Worth and Shreveport, Louisiana, where he attended public schools. Following a year at Texas A & M University, he entered the U.S. Navy and served as a gunnery officer on the U.S.S. Iowa until his discharge in 1946. He then returned to college at Texas A & M, where he earned a degree in business administration in 1948. Last year he also received an honorary doctor's degree from Texas Wesleyan College.

Mayor Bolen is active in the leadership of many business and civic organizations in his community and also serves as an elder of the Westminster Presbyterian Church of Fort Worth. He is married to the former Frances Ciborowski, and they have six children including a foster son. •

August 1989 / Illinois Municipal Review / Page 13


Remarks at the Mid-Winter Congressional City Conference of the National League of Cities

March 2, 1981

It's a pleasure to be with you today for your annual Congressional City Conference. The last time I was in this room, not too many weeks ago, was for the National Prayer Breakfast. And I hope that what was said then and what I did then has had some lasting effect. I'm especially pleased to have been introduced by my longtime personal friend, Mayor Bill Hudnut.

I understand and appreciate the part your organization has played in the Pennsylvania Avenue development plan here in Washington. The new 12-story building you've constructed overlooking Western Plaza is a fine example of what can be done to revitalize the inner city. It should serve to stimulate others to invest in such worthwhile efforts.

As you're well aware, rejuvenation of the American economy is the number one priority of my administration. This, I believe, was the mandate of the voters last November. It was a mandate that I sought, yet something all elected officials should understand, because it's a mandate for all of us. The election did not commission me to attempt economic reform alone, but to work with elected officials -- Federal, State, and local -- to put America's economic house in order. And that's why I'm here.

We've got a job to do together, and I believe we should open a clean, clear line of communication now. Our job, of course, is to get the economy of the United States moving again. It's essential for you as representatives of the cities; it's essential for all of us as Americans. One thing is certain: The time for business as usual has passed.

In the last two decades, Americans have suffered oppressively increased taxation, inflation, unemployment, and interest rates. The middle class, the life-blood of democracy and the American way of life, cannot withstand these pressures indefinitely. And the economic tremors rippling through our economy suggest that these people are near the breaking point. I don't know how many of you earlier this morning might have had an opportunity to watch on television as some citizens were being interviewed who publicly have stated they are simply going to rebel at paying their income tax, and they're going to appeal to others to do the same.

We're suffering the worst inflation in 60 years. Almost 8 billion -- million -- Americans are continuing to be out of work. I've been here only a month, and I'm beginning to talk in billions when I mean millions. [Laughter] Interest rates have climbed to an unprecedented 20 percent, with home mortgage rates of 15 percent destroying for millions the dream of home ownership. Investment in industry is lagging behind our major competitors, with too much of the personal savings of our people flowing into nonproductive inflation hedges instead of job-creating, long-term investment or savings.

Millions of Americans feel that for them the standard of living is actually going down, and it is. It's shocking and a depressing fact that after being adjusted for the continued cheapening of the dollar by inflation, the hourly earnings of American workers have dropped by 5 percent in the last 5 years. This is a complete reversal of the American experience and will have profound impact on the spirit of our people if something isn't done and done quickly.

And while our workers have been experiencing a decline in their standard of living, government has continued to spend money like there's no tomorrow. And come to think of it, that could be a self-fulfilling prophecy. In those same 5 years, those workers' taxes went up by 67 percent. Federal spending grew to 23 percent of the nation's gross national product, the highest peacetime share in our history. And the Federal Government has shown a deficit every year after 1969.

In fiscal year 1980 that deficit was $59.6 billion, the second largest in history. And we face another deficit of similar magnitude in this year of fiscal 1981. Now, this kind of irresponsibility can't go on. What most Federal officials have cbmove com baltimore afraid to admit is that Federal spending has been for some time increasingly out of control. If left unchecked, the current situation would lead to a redoubling of the Federal budget within 5 years.

For a time, it's appeared that Congress had more solutions than the country had problems; or, put another way, I've said before that cures were developed for which there were no known diseases. Just conceiving of a program that might help someone somewhere was itself reason enough to pass a law and appropriate money. Eventually, with so many programs, safeguarding public funds became an impossible task. One government estimate suggested that between 1 and 10 percent of all spending on social programs was, and probably still is, being lost to fraud alone, at a cost of up to $25 billion. When that cost or the cost of waste is added to that sum for fraud, the figures are even more appalling.

Of course, spending isn't the only aspect of government that seems out of control. In the last decade, American business and, yes, local government, has had to deal with an avalanche of Federal regulation. Between 1970 and 1979, expenditures for the major regulatory agencies quadrupled. The number of pages published annually in the Federal Register nearly tripled, and the number of pages in the Code of Federal Regulations increased by nearly two-thirds. The cost of this has been staggering. An estimated $100 billion per year -- now I can say billion -- is added on to the cost of everything we buy, just to pay for the cost of Federal regulations. And then there's the unseen cost which is harder to calculate but nonetheless devastating: Regulation tends to smother innovation, discourage new investment, increase labor costs, and reduce competition.

This Federal Goliath, unleashed and uncontrolled, brought us to the economic brink that is now confronting this Nation. Too many officials appear to feel totally helpless in the face of the monumental task of restoring order to the Federal Government's economic policies. Perhaps no one had the clout to get the job done. Whatever the reason, we now have much work to do. Together, we can put our economic house in order again and regain control of this situation.

We must realize that the economic crisis confronting America is not the result of a natural disaster or a catastrophe beyond our control. Inflation, unemployment -- all of it -- was basically caused by decisions that we, as a people, made. Now the only power needed to restore America's strength is willpower.

You may have heard a rumor to the effect that I've submitted a program to Congress, a four-part program which will get this country moving in the right direction again, I believe, increase the standard of living for our people, and cut the inflation and unemployment rates.

First, I've asked for a substantial reduction in the growth of Federal expenditures. Second, I've asked for a significant reduction in Federal tax rates. And third, I've asked for the prudent elimination of excessive regulation. Fourth, while recognizing the independence of the institution, I have pledged to work with the Federal Reserve Board to develop a monetary policy which is consistent with those policies.

Let me refer back to the second of those points and just add this one fact. All of us must accept the fact which has been proven in this century, proven here in our own country several times, that a reduction in Federal tax rates does not necessarily result in a reduction in tax revenues. The economy expands, it reduces the burden for the individual, but the overall share goes up as the base of the economy is broadened.

Now, these four complementary policies form an integrated and comprehensive program, the details of which have been examined by the best economic minds in the country, people who are working with me on a daily basis. However, this program now faces a political gauntlet of interest groups. And, may I say, I know that in many instances there's legitimate concern, concern that some worthwhile program is now going to be unable to meet the purpose for which it was founded. And yet at the same time, I'm finding it increasingly difficult not to call some of the interest groups selfish interest groups, because we are not cutting at the muscle fiber of these programs.

And this is where you come in. You are not only important because of the power you wield on Capitol Hill, but also because you are looking out for the interests of millions of citizens who inhabit the great urban areas of America. You and I have shared goals. We both want what is best for those who live in our cities, just as I'm sure we both want what is best for the people of this country, wherever they reside.

Now, I know that you, like all Americans, recognize the importance of getting our economic house in order. The plague of inflation and stagnation is brutalizing this country. I don't have to remind you of the effects on local government: The cost of every service you provide skyrockets; tax revenue declines when businesses close their doors; and when coupled with the increased unemployment, the economic burden reaches a national league of cities logo stage. Local government was not designed to withstand this kind of economic upheaval. Unless something is done to turn the economy around, local governments will suffer right along with many other respected American institutions.

On principle, we should never forget this: There is no better Federal program than an expanding American economy.

Even as our program for economic recovery awaits action by the Congress, we've already started to do what we can within the executive branch to cut back spending and regulation.

The Office of Management and Budget is now putting together an interagency task force to vigorously attack waste and fraud. Highly motivated and expertly trained professionals will be appointed as Inspectors General to the Cabinet departments.

We've suspended for 2 months the flood of last-minute rulemaking done by the previous administration so that we can look closely at it. We've eliminated the ineffective and counterproductive wage and price standards of the Council on Wage and Price Stability. We accelerated the decontrol of domestic oil. We have concentrated our efforts to enhance the effectiveness of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980. We placed a freeze on Federal hiring.

We've also begun taking action on particularly controversial rules. For example, rules mandating extensive bilingual education programs, passive restraints in large cars, the unnecessary labeling of chemicals in the workplace, controls on garbage truck noise, and increased overtime payments for executives have been withdrawn or postponed. These actions alone are expected to save the American public and industry almost $1 billion annually.

The administration will be reviewing a host of other regulations in the near future. Vice President Bush, who will be meeting with your executive committee this afternoon, is heading a special Presidential task force to clear away many regulatory roadblocks, as many as possible. His role in our regulatory reform effort should suggest the importance that we place on this issue. I'm aware that Bill Hudnut is circulating a questionnaire regarding regulatory relief which will be presented to the Vice President and the Task Force on Regulatory Relief this afternoon.

Now, all of this is being done to start us on the road toward recovery. What is important is that we begin. I'm sure we'll get there -- if we work together.

Now, there are those who oppose almost everything in the economic program. They oppose the program, but for the most part they offer no alternative. Well, hoping things will get better won't make it so. I've been told that some Members of Congress disagree with my tax cut proposal. Well, you know it's been said that taxation is the art of plucking the feathers without killing the bird. [Laughter] It's time they realized the bird just doesn't have any feathers left. [Laughter] Maybe some of you have heard me put it a different way on several occasions when I've said that robbing Peter to pay Paul won't work anymore, because Peter's been bankrupt for some time now. [Laughter]

Nevertheless, the real threat to recovery comes from those who will oppose only a small part of the overall program, while supporting the overall effort. Needless to say, the small portion these parochial groups oppose always deals with the cuts that affect them directly. Those cuts they oppose. They favor cutting everybody else's subsidy as an important step in ending inflation and getting the country moving again. The accumulative effect of this shortsightedness can be damaging. We're all in the same boat, and we have to get the engines started before the boat goes over the falls.

Now, we've tried to be as fair and evenhanded in developing our package as was humanly possible. It's important to remember, when someone says that the administration is national league of cities logo to cut the budget, what we really mean national league of cities logo we're planning to cut the growth in the fiscal year '82 budget from 16 percent to 7 percent. And even with our cuts, that 7 percent means that spending in fiscal year '82 will go up over fiscal year 1981 by about $40 billion.

Within this restructuring that we've proposed, some programs are eliminated, but others are strengthened. And we did nothing to weaken the social safety net which protects the truly needy in this society. As a matter of fact, when we reformed welfare in California, we discovered that the really truly deserving people that we were trying to help weren't helped as much as they should be helped, simply because of excesses administratively, duplication, and people who were not truly needy. We had spread ourselves so thin, that we didn't have the resources available to really take care of those with great need.

Full retirement benefits for more than 31 million social security recipients will be continued, along with an annual cost-of-living increase. The Medicare program will not be cut, nor will veterans pensions, nor supplemental income for the blind, aged, and disabled. The school lunch and breakfast programs will continue for the children of low-income families, as will nutrition and other special services for the aging. And, yes, there will be no cut in Project Head Start or summer youth jobs. When considering these essential programs, please remember the very best thing that can be done to strengthen things like social security is to get the American economy going and put people back to work, so they will be paying into the trust fund once again.

Now, I know there will be those who will charge that we're requiring sacrifices from the rest of the government, but not from the Defense Department. They'll suggest this proves we're not evenhanded as we promised. Well, I would remind those of you who wish to get beyond the slogans to examine my appointment to the job of Secretary of Defense. Cap Weinberger is anything but a big spender and was once given a nickname here in government to confirm that fact. So although the international situation dictates more spending for defense, it does not mean the Defense Department will be free from the cut-and-trim philosophy of this administration. I can assure you that Cap is going to do a lot of trimming over there in Defense to make sure the American taxpayer is getting more bang for every buck that is spent. I've even heard that there was a sigh of relief in several other departments when it was learned that Cap-the-Knife was going to Defense, and not to those other departments. [Laughter]

In our attempt to be evenhanded, we tried, whenever possible, to cushion the budget blows. In the case of money going to the cities, yes, undeniably, we're cutting the amount of money the cities could have expected had we continued through the economic crisis with a business-as-usual attitude. But while we are reducing some of these subsidies, we are at the same time converting many categorical grants into block grants, thus reducing wasteful Federal administrative overhead and giving local governments more flexibility and control. And corresponding to that, we're working to end duplication of Federal programs and reforming those that are not cost-effective.

Take, for example, the Urban Development Action Grants program, UDAG. I want to let you all know that we've decided to preserve the UDAG function in the Presidential program. But here's what we are doing. The UDAG function and the Community Development Grant program will be combined into a Community Development Support program, and we will be sending legislation up to the Hill in the near future to enable the UDAG function to continue.

As I said, we will be funding this new community support function at a slightly smaller amount than before, but we will be providing greater flexibility and autonomy to localities which show the abillity to run these programs effectively. We believe the reduction will be largely covered by the elimination of administrative overhead. We're cutting fat, not muscle.

We're giving local government the power to decide what will be done with the money. Handled efficiently, the level of benefits may not suffer as might be suggested at first glance. However, there could well be something in local government that can and should be cut back during these times of economic hardship. If so, you will set your own priorities. You, not some Washington bureaucrat, will decide where the cuts will be made if cuts are necessary.

I know that accepting responsiblilty, especially for cutbacks, is not easy. But this package should be looked at by State and local governments as a great step toward not only getting America moving again but toward restructuring the power system which led to the economic stagnation and urban deterioration.

But for many of this country's major cities, economic stagnation is not a recent phenomenon. Increasingly, while power centralized in Washington, D.C., many great urban areas declined. I've always thought that Washington didn't have the same problems other cities did, to a certain extent because they grabbed hold of the fastest growing industry in America. [Laughter]

Many cities cannot even remember a time when they were economically healthy, but they were not always blighted with seemingly unsolvable problems. In the last century, American cities were shining examples of enterprise. They were places of optimism, where free men and women working together didn't know the meaning of the word ``impossible.'' Alexis de Tocqueville noted the vitality of American cities when touring this country in the 1830's. He observed: ``Towns are like great meeting houses with all the inhabitants as members. In them the people wield immense influence over their magistrates and often carry their desires into execution without intermediaries.''

He described a land and a people which seem a far cry from those of today. But why? We're the same people. If we're not, what is different? Well, the answer to that is the increased intervention by Federal authority. Only 50 years ago, Americans still felt they could accomplish anything, and they did. Today, the descendants of these pathfinders peer through a maze of government regulations and often give up even before they've tried.

Local officials who once saw the local voters as boss now look to Washington, D.C., before considering a move. And what once was a Federal helping hand is quickly turning into a mailed fist. Instead of assistance, the Federal Government is giving orders. They call them mandates. More often that not the command comes from Washington, but few funds to implement the order can be found in the envelope. Mayor Koch of New York has detailed the problem of mandates better than anyone. Last year, he said his city was driven by 47 Federal and State mandates, with a total cost of $711 million in capital expenditures, 6.25 billion in expense-budget dollars, and $1.66 billion in lost revenue. And people wonder why New York sings the blues.

Not only are the funds not available to meet all these mandates, often the mandates themselves are impossible to fulfill. In Fairfax County, Virginia, for example, students come from 50 different language backgrounds, 15 of which are spoken by more than 20 students. Were it able to follow the former HHS guidelines, the county would incur the expense of sponsoring bilingual programs in 15 different languages, including Urdu, Hindi, and Laotian.

Now, bilingual education -- there is a need, but there is also a purpose that has been distorted, again at the Federal level. Where there are predominantly students speaking a foreign language at home, coming to school and being taught in English, and they fall behind or are unable to keep up in some subjects because of the lack of knowledge of the language, I think it is proper that we have teachers equipped who can get at them in their own language and understand why it is they don't get the answer to the problem and help them in that way. But it is absolutely wrong and against the American concept to have a bilingual education program that is now openly, admittedly dedicated to preserving their native language and never getting them adequate in English so they can go out into the job market and participate. [Applause] Thank you.

Today, I renew a pledge I made to your conference in Atlanta in December. I will examine the mandates issued by the Federal Government and take action to remove any undue burden placed upon local governments throughout this country.

Centralization of power in the hands of the Federal Government didn't happen by accident. Over the years local officials helped create this power flow by turning to the Federal Government for solutions to local problems. It appeared to be an easy way out. But now you're becoming more aware that to get a job done, the very last thing you should ask for is Federal money. [Laughter] First, there are so many strings attached that Federal projects take a lot longer to complete. And second, local money pays the bill anyway. Once the Federal vacuum cleaner gets through with the pockets of the local taxpayers, there isn't enough spare change left to run local government. [Laughter]

What we must do is strive to recapture the bounty of vigor and optimism de Tocqueville found in American cities. We can start by reestablishing the proper relationship between the Federal, State, and local governments. The block grant program in our package is the first step. It cuts considerable redtape and returns power and decisions to the cities for money taken by the Federal Government. It is something that we, in the years ahead, can build upon.

Shortly, my administration will announce the creation of a federalism task force to find out, specifically, what can be done to reestablish the balance between the levels of government. Your input and participation will be important in this process. Working together, we can establish a dialog about the proper functions of the respective levels of government and go about restructuring the federal system to maximize efficiency and freedom.

That is, as I've said, just a start. But it is a step, a first step, in the right direction. I hope in the years to come we'll be in direct communication. It'll take teamwork to get this country back on the right track, and it won't happen overnight. You can count on my cooperation to make the cities of America once again the thriving areas of commerce, culture, and freedom that once attracted the attention of people the world over. If we don't start now, who will, and when?

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 12:20 p.m. in the International Ballroom at the Washington Hilton Hotel.


The National League of Cities (NLC) is a left-leaning network of over 19,000 American communities that engages in federal policy advocacy and leads educational programming on behalf of city governments. [1] Founded in 1924, NLC has been involved in political advocacy for almost a century, frequently aligning itself with left-of-center policy initiatives despite being an ostensibly nonpartisan organization with cross-party membership. [2]

Each year, NLC adopts a federal policy agenda at its national conference, covering a range of issues from recommending environmentalist policy to advocating for left-of-center gun control measures. [3] In 2019 alone, NLC spent over $2.1 million on federal advocacy, more than it spent on research, membership, strategic partnerships, or constituent programs. [4]

Most of NLC’s policy centers around implementing left-of-center infrastructure, environmentalist-aligned development, and housing policy, encouraging the federal government to pour funding into programs that support local governments while simultaneously demanding that the federal government become less involved in the oversight of local government. [5] Despite having member cities run by Republican leaders, NLC frequently criticizes conservative policies, especially relating to immigration restriction and the response to the 2020 coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. [6][7]


In December of 1924, 10 state municipal leagues founded the American Municipal Association to strengthen local government through national organizing. [8] Initially, the Municipal Association consisted only of state municipal leagues that would collect and exchange information about urban policy to share information and promote successful models of city government. [9] In 1947, the Municipal Association opened up its membership to individual cities that had over 100,000 citizens, a threshold which gradually lowered over the next several decades. [10]

In 1964, the Municipal Association shifted its focus to encouraging individual cities to join as members, rebranding as the National League of Cities (NLC). In 1977, the NLC fully opened its membership to all cities regardless of size, requiring only that individual cities were also members of their state municipal leagues in order to join and allowing all individual member cities to have voting powers. [11]

In 1974, NLC sought to challenge several amendments made in 1974 to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that would make the FLSA applicable to state employers, suing then-Secretary of Labor William Usery, Jr. [12] NLC claimed that the enforcement of the FLSA against states would violate the Tenth Amendment. [13] The Supreme Court ruled in favor of NLC, but the decision was later overturned in Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority eleven years later. [14][15]

Nearly half a century later, NLC has broadened its work to include a National Municipal Policy program to push for largely left-of-center municipal reforms on a national scale in Washington, D.C. [16] In addition to adopting a full advocacy agenda, NLC hosts trainings, educational programs, and conferences to guide municipal officials in handling issues of local government, in addition to maintaining publications to apprise members of federal regulations and policy updates from other member cities. [17]

As of 2020, over 1600 individual cities, towns, and villages are NLC members, and an additional 18,000 communities are included in NLC advocacy through their state municipal leagues. [18] Local leaders from even the smallest member cities may be elected to serve as NLC officials, and all voting members share equal seats in shaping organization policies and advocacy work, regardless of the size of the communities they represent. [19]

National Municipal Policy Platform

Each year, the National League of Cities publishes a National Municipal Policy and Resolutions, a list of positions designed to unify policy efforts among cities across the United States. [20] These platforms include a range of left-of-center positions in areas from financial policy to gun control. [21]

In 2019, NLC’s policy platform called on the federal government to expand funding for local projects, claiming that federal policies and regulations “should not mandate new costs for local governments.” [22] NLC’s platform further claimed that discretion over the use of federal funds should be granted to “the lowest and most directly-connected level of government possible,” while simultaneously demanding that NLC representatives be included in the federal rulemaking process. [23] NLC’s “financial” policy recommendations extended far beyond the scope of fiscal policies, including provisions to “resolve the conflict between state and federal cannabis laws” and provide the “cannabis market” access to the “federally regulated banking system.” [24]

NLC’s 2019 policy platform listed several left-of-center resolutions only vaguely related to city governance, including resolutions to oppose the addition of a citizenship question to the United States Census, oppose a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution, and call on the federal government to enhance environmentalist programs to prevent climate change. [25] NLC’s platform further expressed support for a wide range of left-of-center environmental programs, including health care savings account rules the regulatory power of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), investing in natural resource restoration projects, and enforcing the Endangered Species Act (ESA). [26]

Through the 2019 platform, NLC pushed the federal government to adopt left-of-center economic policy to reduce inequality. In one resolution, NLC called on the federal government to  “make economic mobility a federal priority” by doubling funding for economic development grants in just one year while simultaneously enacting “the broadest possible definition of economic development to permit EDA grant funding for innovative programs” at the discretion of local governments. [27] The NLC platform further advised the federal government to adopt programs to combat gentrification, invest substantially in low-income housing, and authorize $13.2 billion in mandatory funding for local development projects. [28] In a 2020 interview with the Crux, a Catholic magazine, NLC’s director of federal advocacy Irma Esparza Diggs called housing inequality the product of “intentional discriminatory housing policies” and claiming that race plays a major factor in household stability. [29]

Aside from promoting left-of-center economic initiatives, the NLC 2019 platform adopted a range of resolutions fully unrelated to city governance, calling for left-of-center immigration reform, the creation of a holiday commemorating the passage of the 13th Amendment, and the regulation of advertising by communications companies. [30] NLC also published an agenda in 2020 calling for strict gun control policies, including universal background checks for all gun sales and transfers. [31]

Federal Advocacy Agenda

National League of Cities has adopted a full federal advocacy agenda, promoting left-of-center national policy on infrastructure, housing, the opioid academic, censusing, tax policy, community resilience, federal program renewal, and communications. [32]


In 2019, the National League of Cities launched its “Rebuild With Us” campaign, calling on the federal government to massively subsidize the development of city infrastructure, especially in building new transportation networks and improving internet connectivity. [33] In February 2019, NLC announced a range of “asks” for Congress, promoting left-of-center development policies which included establishing long-term infrastructure funding for local municipalities from federal tax dollars, allowing local oversight of the allocation of federal funding, and requesting that Congress “make significant capital investments” into infrastructure projects in individual communities. [34]

Much of NLC’s infrastructure recommendations involve the federal government writing effective “blank checks” to be used on infrastructure projects at the discretion of individual cities. [35] Some of NLC’s proposals include federal grants for “any transportation solution that eases congestion” to be used at the discretion of municipalities and incentivized production of zero-emission vehicles to reduce greenhouse gases. [36] Many of NLC’s “infrastructure” programs actually relate back to left-of-center education policy. These include funding local programs for job training and trade schools, expanding the Pell Grant program to include short-term training and certification programs, and establishing a “permanent summer jobs program” to fund work opportunities for young people between 14 and 24. [37]

NLC’s infrastructure proposals also push a left-of-center environmentalist agenda. [38] In 2019, NLC’s federal government agenda items included creating a “mandatory funding source” for a program to help cities create and maintain parks and instituting sweeping regulations to limit permissible greenhouse gas emissions. [39] In 2020, NLC joined the Earth Day Network as a “key partner” in the efforts to make “stepped-up environmental action a corner stone.” [40]

NLC publishes talking points, a social media and op-ed action guide, and guidance for individuals to have meeting with congressional representatives to promote citizen action to support its infrastructure campaign. [41] Most of NLC’s talking points and writing advice center around promoting mass federal investment in cities, calling for a $1 trillion investment in water infrastructure and $2 trillion investment in highways and bridges. [42] NLC-published guides also encourage citizens to pressure congressional representatives to adopt left-of-center fiscal policy, including the reinstatement of advance refunding bonds to allow cities to have artificially low interest rates on municipal debt. [43]

Fiscal Policy

National League of Cities recommends a range of left-of-center policy planks related to subsidizing local programs using federal dollars, most notably on the question of housing. NLC’s platform claims that there is a “widening gap between wages and rents” causing a “housing crisis” in which “affordably priced homes” are “disappearing.” [44] To rectify this, NLC has called on Congress to increase funding for federal housing programs, claiming that cities and states are not capable of solving the problem or providing funding themselves. [45]

NLC also opposed the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, calling on Congress to “eliminate the $10,000 cap on the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction, and restore the tax exemption for advancing refund bonds.” [46] NLC claimed that reversing the latter change, which was originally designed to prevent abuses of federal bonds, would allow cities to finance their debt for artificially low interest rates, which would inspire cities to invest more capital in infrastructure development. [47]

Despite demanding substantial increases in federal funding for local programs, NLC has resisted federal interference in local affairs. When discussing communications policy, NLC claims that cities “have faced a rising tide of preemption” by state and federal governments in recent years, citing a 2019 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulation that limits the authority of cities and states to regulate streetlights and utility poles used to deploy 5G communications technologies. [48] NLC called on Congress to support H.R. 530, the Accelerating Wireless Broadband Development by Empowering Local Communities Act of 2019, which would repeal FCC regulations requiring local governments to subsidize the deployment of 5G infrastructure on public property. [49]


Grassroots and Legislative Campaigning

National League of Cities operates primarily through grassroots campaigning, encouraging supporters to take action on issues ranging from COVID-19 response to city communications programs. [50] NLC uses Twitter functions that allow users to directly tweet support for left-of-center initiatives endorsed by the NLC, including support for a massive “Phase 4” stimulus bill to counteract the social impact of COVID-19. [51] Many of these tweets are sent directly in support of Democratic-initiated  bills, including the BUILDS Act to provide more federal funding for education programs, the Moving FIRST Act to expand federal grants for local innovation programs, and the Digital Equity Act to provide federal funding for local internet expansion programs. [52]

Aside from organizing grassroots campaigns, the NLC has worked directly in advocating for left-of-center bills related to local policy. [53] These include a bill supporting the establishment of a substantial stimulus package for the federal highway system and a resolution to prevent “future government shutdowns” by  passing a bill to support city infrastructure, housing, and community development projects through Congress by September 30 of 2020. [54]

State Legislative Efforts

Just as NLC has routinely criticized the federal government for interfering with local policy, it has leveled similar charges at state governments, claiming in a 2017 report that states have become more active in asserting preemptive rights under Dillon’s Rule, a rule stating that a local government can only act if given specific permission by a state. [55] In that same report, NLC performed an analysis arguing that “every state was guilty of preemption in at least one policy area,” most often in taxation and spending. [56] NLC representatives complained that states were leveraging heavy tax burdens on cities in order to pay for expensive statewide programs. [57]

In 2019, following heavy lobbying by NLC and various other local government interest groups, the Texas Legislature sought to pass a bill which would severely restrict the lobbying powers of local governments. [58] NLC representatives criticized the bill and defended state lobbying, arguing that “residents understand the value of having their local elected officials’ voices heard in statehouses.” [59] After progressing steadily through the legislature, the bill failed just two days before the end of the session, though it is likely to be reintroduced in 2021. [60]

Educational Programs

Aside from its direct advocacy programs, National League of Cities operates a range of committees and educational programs at the state level. One of NLC’s largest programs is the Center for City Solutions, which provides research and analysis on policies related to American cities. [61] Such research reports include left-of-center policy recommendations, including advocating for the use of anti-capitalist “collaborative consumption,” a resource-sharing, left-wing economic system which NLC hailed as a potential way of life for American cities of the future. [62] The Center for City Solutions also runs a series of educational programs, including the Equitable Economic Development Fellowship to educate six city leaders each year on left-of-center social policy and numerous environmentalist programs. [63]

NLC runs a series of institutes to train city leaders in community development initiatives. The Institute for Youth, Education, and Families (YEF) draws leaders looking to implement public educational programs in their municipalities, including financial literacy, early childhood education, and youth civic engagement programs. [64] YEF also organizes programs that push city leaders to adopt left-of-center policies directly, launching “challenges” for leaders to implement programs such as anti-landlord housing reform. [65] YEF promotes educational programs that offer environmentalist messaging around sustainability and advocate for left-of-center juvenile justice reform. [66]

One of NLC’s most recently developed programs is the Race, Equity, and Leadership (REAL) initiative designed to address racial inequity in cities in the wake of rioting in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014. [67] REAL works with cities to provide educational training for ally financial address detroit leaders in diverse areas, arguing that it is up to city leaders to combat “structural racism.” [68] REAL organizes community conversations around race and ethnicity in American cities, in addition to going into cities themselves to provide an eighteen month program called Equity and Racial Healing Technical Assistance and operating a “REAL Tactical Team” for responding to racial unrest. [69]

Membership Programs

Aside from running outward-facing educational programs, NLC operates a series of members-only initiatives, most notably the NLC Risk Information Sharing Consortium (RISC). [70] The program is comprised of intergovernmental risk-sharing pools sponsored by state municipal leagues in 32 states and two Canadian provinces. [71] RISC provides staff and trustee training on pooling operations and creates policies for pool operations and service delivery. [72] RISC member pools offer property, liability, workers compensation, unemployment, and benefit programs to over 16,000 local governments. [73] The RISC program also distributes a monthly industry news briefing to its members, in addition to hosting online specialty chat groups and two annual conferences for staff and trustees. [74]

NLC member cities also have access to a range of financial benefits, including Grant Access, a database that helps city leaders locate project grants from a field of over 10,000 opportunities. [75] NLC members receive further financial benefits through the Public Finance Authority, a tax-exempt bond issuing authority for economic development projects, and the Build America Mutual program, a provider of financial guaranty insurance on debt for municipalities. [76] Residents of member cities also receive access to the NLC Prescription Discount Program, which allows uninsured residents to receive large discounts on prescription medication, and access to the NLC Service Line Warranty Program, which provides low costs warranties for utility line repairs to decrease repair prices. [77]

Criticism of Republican Policy

Despite being a purportedly nonpartisan organization, NLC has taken several shots at Republicans in recent years, especially at President Donald Trump. In 2016, following his election, President Donald Trump vowed in his victory speech to “fix our inner cities.” [78] NLC director of federal advocacy Michael Wallace claimed that NLC was “concerned” by the comments, saying that the organization members “push back against the narrative that cities are run down” and claiming that they “don’t need ‘fixing,’” despite pushing for large-scale federal funding programs to revitalize urban areas. [79] Following the 2016 election, when Republicans controlled both Congress and the White House, Wallace claimed that conservative control of the federal government would lead to “greater fiscal pressure” on cities. [80]

Wallace went on to criticize right-of-center attempts to limit the use of “sanctuary cities,” cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement authorities. [81] When Republican lawmakers proposed a bill which would deny funding to sanctuary cities, Wallace called the measure “horse-trading” federal money over social policy and saying the NLC would be “very opposed” to the idea of withholding money to cities that don’t comply with federal law. [82]

2020 Election Task Force

Leading up to the 2020 presidential election, members of NLC created the 2020 Presidential Election Task Force, a bipartisan committee established to put together an “inclusive agenda” to address the concerns of cities across the United States. [83] Though the task force was chaired by one Democrat and one Republican leader, the group published a left-of-center policy agenda, especially on issues of gun control and housing development. [84]

The agenda called on any presidential candidate to commit to education policies including expanding the Pell grant program to cover workforce and skills training and increasing investment in creating jobs in childcare and transportation. [85] NLC further called on presidential candidates to increase federal funding for local emergency services programs and commit to pouring money into anti-market low income housing programs. [86] The agenda also demanded an extensive gun control platform, including the creation of a “national commission on gun violence” to write new regulations, the advancement of legislation to require “fully federally funded and completed background checks for all gun sales and transfers,” and federal legislation which would allow judges to order that certain individuals cannot own firearms if they are deemed a “risk.” national league of cities logo Response

During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, NLC urged the Department of the Treasury to allow relief funding to be allocated in accordance with city priorities, rather than given to states to distribute as they pleased for cities with under 500,000 residents. [88] The Treasury had allowed only those cities with more than 500,000 residents to apply directly for aid, prompting outrage from NLC, which published an open letter to President Donald Trump calling on a change to the policy. [89]

NLC continued to criticize the pandemic response on the organization’s own blog, Cities Speak, claiming that local governments had been left in a position to “go-it-alone” with “disastrous” economic consequences. [90] NLC claimed that the lack of aid to local governments would “exacerbate infrastructure challenges” and cause cities to “severely cut services,” resulting in increased unemployment. [91] The policy brief called on “federal relief for local governments that have been on the frontlines of this crisis.” [92]

In May of 2020, NLC continued to voice concerns over coronavirus relief efforts, calling for Congress to allocate at least $500 billion in aid to cities and localities for coronavirus relief in the next stimulus package. [93]


In 2019, National League of Cities reported $33,115,060 in revenue and $35,361,744 in expenses, in addition to $22 million in net assets. [94] In 2019 alone, NLC spent over $2.1 million on federal advocacy, more than it spent on research, membership, strategic partnerships, or constituency programming despite being a tax-exempt educational and networking organization. [95] NLC received more funding from outside contributions than any other source, receiving $10.8 million in contributions and contracts in 2019 alone. [96] NLC also collected over $6 million in membership dues and took in over $3.8 million in service fees. [97] This marked a sharp trend away from previous years, with NLC reporting just $28,000 in contributions and grants in 2018 with the vast majority of its revenue ($24.1 million) coming from program services. [98]

In addition to direct contributions, NLC valued “donated services” to account for over $4.6 million in revenue and conference revenue at $2.4 million. [99] NLC also brought in over $3.6 million through corporate partnerships, including engagements with companies like Amazon, Starbucks, Wells Fargo, and Walmart. [100][101] NLC has also received substantial funding from left-of-center grantmaking organizations, including over $3 million from the MacArthur Foundation, in addition to gifts from Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Democracy Fund. [102][103][104]


Clarence E. Anthony is the CEO and executive director of NLC. [105] Anthony spent over two decades as mayor of South Bay, Florida, where he was first elected mayor at just 24 years old. [106] Prior to working as executive director of NLC, Anthony served as NLC president and as first vice president of the International Union of Local Authorities. [107] Anthony was further involved in city organizing as founding treasurer of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), where he also served as interim manager. [108] Prior to working with NLC, Anthony worked as president of Anthony Government Solutions, a consulting firm for government and private sector organizations interested in policy and business development. [109]


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Our Mission

National League of Young Men, Inc. (NLYM) is a non-profit organization for young men in grades 9-12; this structured program for mothers and their sons promotes the development of young men into community leaders through leadership involvement, charitable and community service, cultural experiences, and protocol education.


Young men officers run their class meetings


Young men participate in class philanthropy events


Young men attend cultural events with their class


Young men learn social etiquette, respect for others, and confidence in themselves

Diversity and Inclusion Statement

National League of Young Men, Inc. is committed to being an organization that represents and cultivates compassion for all people in the communities in which we live and serve. We aspire to develop young leaders who promote respect for every individual. In this endeavor, we find a higher purpose for fostering and valuing inclusion and diversity.

Our young men are encouraged to serve in at least two leadership roles during their membership.  NLYM activities and events focus on character development, responsibility, and accountability.

Our young men have the opportunity to serve non-profit organizations of their choice.  We hope they embrace service and find this work rewarding and important in their daily lives.

We believe there is significant value in enriching and stretching our young men’s knowledge of human creative achievements such as fine arts, music, dance, theatre, and literature.

We prepare our young men to be adept in social etiquette. They learn that being a true gentleman is about having genuine respect for yourself and for others.

Mother Members

Mothers are the heartbeat of a chapter!

Mothers are not required to complete a minimum number of service hours but have many opportunities to serve the community with their sons.

Mothers meet five times a year to conduct chapter business. Meetings frequently involve engaging speakers or fun projects.

Mothers support the operations of a chapter by using their skill sets, or learning new skills, in a variety of chapter-wide jobs each year.

Want more information about bringing National League of Young Men to your community?

NLYM is growing every year.  For more information about starting a chapter, please contact

Start a Chapter

helping those in need

helping those in need

strong bonds

learning to lead

etiquette matters

learning to lead

learning important life skills

serving others

attending a performing arts event

mothers are the heartbeat

strong bonds

taking care of our communities

volunteering together

Etiquette Dinner

Mothers are the heartbeat

learning to lead

volunteering together

learning important life skills

serving others

etiquette matters

mothers are the heartbeat

attending a performing arts event

helping those in need

proud of our young men!

taking care of our communities

volunteering together

Etiquette Dinner

helping those in need

serving others

learning to lead

taking care of our communities

volunteering together


NLIHC and National League of Cities to Host Webinar for Elected Officials and Advocates on Equitable Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Programs

May 10, 2021

States and cities are working to create and improve Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) programs to help keep stably housed millions of renters who are behind on their rent and are at risk of losing their homes. Updated guidance from the White House and Treasury National league of cities logo and joint recommendations from NLIHC and NLC to elected officials can help communities minimize obstacles, maximize uptake of rental aid, and ensure these critical federal resources reach households with the greatest needs and are distributed equitably. Join the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC),the National League of Cities (NLC), and Mayors and CEOs for U.S. Housing Investment on May 12 at 1 pm ET for a webinar with key leaders from the Biden administration, elected officials, and policy experts about the new Treasury guidance and examples of how states and cities have incorporated best practices into their ERA programs to help ensure funds reach the households who need it most. Register for the webinar at:


WASHINGTON, Nov. 26, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Los Angeles Councilmember Joe Buscaino has been elected president of the National League of Cities, the nation’s largest membership and advocacy organization for local elected officials, at the 2019 City Summit in San Antonio. Buscaino will serve a one-year term focused on innovation, homelessness, and collaborative partnerships with federal leaders.

“I am very proud to lead an organization that is inclusive and represents all Americans. National League of Cities brings us together so that we can work together and lead together,” said National League of Cities President Joe Buscaino, councilmember from Los Angeles. “In 2020, I will lead with urgency on the issue of homelessness. I will lead with urgency as we strengthen the federal-local partnership. And, I will lead with urgency and support the efforts of NLC members to build innovation-driven economies in their communities.”

Buscaino has represented the 15th District of Los Angeles since 2012. He currently chairs the Public Works and Gang Reduction Committees. He was also appointed chair of the newly formed Trade, Travel and Tourism Committee. Prior to his election to the Los Angeles City Council, Buscaino served 15 years as a police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department. During his time as an officer, he created the LAPD’s first Teen Community Police Advisory Board, an organization that works with teens to problem solve and break the barriers between police and teenagers. In 2011, this program was adopted on a city-wide level.

National League of Cities Officers (nominated for one-year term)
President: Joe Buscaino, Councilmember, Los Angeles, California
First Vice President: Kathy Maness, Councilmember, Lexington, South Carolina
Second Vice President: Vince Williams, Mayor, Union City, Georgia

New 2020 NLC Board of Directors (nominated for a two-year term)
Denise Adams, Councilmember, City of Winston-Salem, NC
Cyndy Andrus, Mayor, City of Bozeman, MT
Robin Arredondo-Savage, Councilmember, City of Tempe, AZ
Valerie Cooper, Council Member, Borough of Norristown, PA
Mary Dennis, Mayor, City of Live Oak, TX
Tameika Issac Devine, Mayor Pro Tem, City of Columbia, SC
Tiffany Gibson-Pitts, Councilmember, City of Opelika, AL
John Goodhouse, Council President, City of Tigard, OR
Derek Green, Councilmember, City of Philadelphia, PA
Heather Hall, Councilmember, City of Kansas City, MO
Shannon Hardin, Council President, City of Columbus, OH
Don Hardy, Mayor, City of Kinston, NC
Brent Jaramillo, Councilor, Village of Questa, NM
Rusty Johnson, Mayor, City of Ocoee, FL
Carlie Jones, Councilmember, City of Forest Hill, TX
Leo Longworth, Mayor, City of Bartow, FL
David Luna, Councilmember, City of Mesa, AZ
Adam McGough, Deputy Mayor Pro Tem, City of Dallas, TX
Richard Montgomery, Mayor Pro Tem, City of Manhattan Beach, CA
Tara Mosley Samples, Councilmember, City of Akron, OH
Salvatore Panto, Mayor, City of Easton, PA
Stephanie Piko, Mayor, City of Centennial, CO
Gary Resnick, Commissioner, City of Wilton Manors, FL
Andy Ryder, Mayor, City of Lacey, WA
Laurie-Anne Sayles, Councilmember, Gaithersburg, MD
Jake Spano, Mayor, City of St. Louis Park, MN
Victoria Woodards, Mayor, City of Tacoma, WA

State Municipal League Executive Directors
Geoffrey C. Beckwith, Massachusetts Municipal Association
Carolyn Coleman, League of California Cities
Cameron Diehl, Utah League of Cities and Towns
Richard J. Schuettler, Pennsylvania Municipal League

Federal Advocacy Chairs
Chris Brown, Controller, Houston, Texas, Finance, Administration and Intergovernmental Relations
TJ Cawley, Mayor, Morrisville, North Carolina, Energy, Environment and Natural Resources
Dan Fowler, Councilmember, Kansas City, Missouri, Transportation and Infrastructure Services
Lindsey Horvath, Mayor Pro Tem, West Hollywood, California, Human Development
Corina Lopez, Vice Mayor, San Leandro, California, Information Technology and Communications
Monica Rodriguez, Councilmember, Los Angeles, California, Public Safety and Crime Prevention
Kevin Thompson, Councilmember, Mesa, Arizona, Community and Economic Development

The National League of Cities (NLC) is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.

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