Anxious to share ideas on issues ranging from cable television to municipal finance, four Cambridge officials are spending this week at the sixtieth annual National League of Cities convention in New Orleans.
City Councilors Francis H Duchay '55, Daniel J. Clinton and Saundra Graham, Deputy City Clerk Joseph Connarton and officials from more than 1000 cities around the nation met Saturday for the convention, which will last for five days.
The conference will include training sessions, discussion of resolutions which will be voted on by the membership, and revision of the League's "policy review" on the relationship between cities and the federal government.
In addition to its more serious objectives of training workshops and resolution passage, the convention "is a revival meeting for these people to re-charge their batteries." Convention spokesman Randy Arndt said yesterday.
In a departure from past conventions, many of this year's workshops focused on management, stress control, and relations between a city's elected and appointed officials, Graham, a three time veteran of the convention said yesterday.
Expressing disappointment at the turnaround, Graham explained that the convention "should have had more creative workshops on how to build housing, on employment, and on the issue of cooperation between government, industry, and labor because these are the real problems facing our cities."
About 4500 participants attended the New Orleans gathering, which also provided a platform for other national associations such as Women in Municipal Government and the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials, of which Graham is treasurer.
Clinton called the meeting "a real working conference," adding that he spent all day yesterday going from session to session, talking with other officials about municipal control of cable television, a policy which Cambridge is considering.
The cable control issue has been a major focus of the convention in addition to being a major component of the League's Washington lobbying effort, said Arndt. He added that the organization spends a considerable portion of its $4 million budget on such lobbying efforts.
But Graham's evaluation was more pessimistic. She said the conventioneers' mood was one of "despair".
We believe that the President has tipped off the cities especially the large and industrial cities, Graham explained.
All of the nine city councilors as well as the city's top administrators had the opportunity to attend the League's convention at the city's expense. About $4,000 of the council's $9,000 budget allocation for travel and education was used to send Cambridge's representatives to New Orleans, said Susan Cruickshank, the secretary to the council.
But six councilors did not attend the learning session for a variety of personal reasons.
"We were very tired after the [municipal] election, so I decided to stay home and rest and just be a family," said Councilor Leonard J Russell, one of whose who remained in Cambridge.
Nearby cities who sent officials include Somerville. Arlington and Boston, which was represented by city councilor and mayor elect Raymond I. Flynn