September 24, 2008

League of California Cities’ Annual Conference Kicks Off: ‘Shaping the Future’

Approximately 1,800 city officials gathered at the Terrace Theater on Wednesday, Sept. 24 for the opening general session of the League of California Cities 110th Annual Conference. The session included addresses by keynote speaker Neal Petersen, League President Jim Madaffer and League Executive Director Chris McKenzie.

Madaffer presided over the opening session and discussed the League's activities over the past year.

"When we look back at 2008, I am convinced it will be seen as a year when the League prevented what could have been devastating grabs of local property tax and transportation funds and defeated a draconian, anti-local control ballot measure in Proposition 98," said Madaffer. "The key to our success will continue to be our strong grassroots involvement of our members and a League staff that keeps us focused and informed. It has been a great year for California's cities, and we will make sure next year is one as well if we remain united and focused."

Madaffer announced the 2008 winners of the League's prestigious Helen Putnam Awards, which are given to cities that develop programs that significantly increase the level of service for their communities. A total of 12 cities in 11 categories were honored.

McKenzie spoke about the state budget and the League's legislative efforts including work on housing, climate change and infrastructure. He also focused on the convincing defeat of Proposition 98 and passage of Prop. 99 in June. Prop. 98, was a Trojan horse which purported to offer eminent domain reform but in reality would have had a devastating impact on local land use control, renter protections, water projects, environmental protections and more. Prop. 99 on the other hand, which won by a landslide with 63 percent of the vote, provides real eminent domain reform, protecting single family home owners.

McKenzie told the assembled city officials: "The League exists to protect and restore local control, and we have had a record of phenomenal success this year in doing just that. At the same time, we advanced each of our strategic goals in the area of protecting local revenues, supporting city climate change efforts, securing additional infrastructure funding, and advancing hones eminent domain reform."

Neal Petersen, award-winning author of "Journey of a Hope Merchant: From Apartheid to the Elite World of Solo Yacht Racing," delivered the keynote address. He captivated audiences with the story of his solo trip around the world in a homemade boat.

"No barriers, only solutions is my message... and never take no for an answer. Anything is possible," noted Petersen. "I've always believed that the biggest changes can be made at the local level."

Thursday's general session will be held from 4 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. in the Terrace Theater. Bestselling author Richard Florida is scheduled to deliver the keynote address. Friday's closing general session will feature keynote speaker Doris Kerns Goodwin, a renowned presidential historian.

To view a complete program, visit the League's Web site at The press is welcome, but members of the media must first obtain credentials at the Conference Press Room in the Long Beach Convention Center, Room 201A.

 Contact: Eva Spiegel (916) 658-8228 Cell (530) 400-9068  1400 K Street, Suite 400 - Sacramento, California 95814 Phone: (916) 658-8200 Fax: (916) 658-8240

SOURCE: League of California Cities