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League Annual Conference Runs ‘Whole Gamut’ of Learning, Networking Opportunities

September 12, 2014
When Crescent City voters first elected Kathryn Murray to their city council, she felt like “a deer caught in the headlights.”
“There was just so much to learn,” she said.
Murray found much-needed help at the League of California Cities Annual Conference and Expo. She just attended her sixth — alongside nearly 1,800 local government officials and city staff — Sept. 3-5 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The multifaceted event enables attendees to: be involved in changes in professional department and League leadership, participate in breakout sessions on topics important to local government, hear from keynote speakers, receive legislative updates from League staff, connect with colleagues from around the state, meet with companies serving cities and much more.
“It really runs the whole gamut,” Murray said. “To me, the conference is extremely valuable.”
A deer in the headlights no longer, she and her colleagues from the Redwood Empire Division brought forth a resolution that the League’s General Assembly approved. It calls on Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature to “work with the League and other stakeholders to convene a summit to address the devastating environmental impacts of illegal marijuana grows on both private and public lands and the increasing problems to public safety related to these activities.”
“I’m really, really proud of our division for taking that to the state level and that is was passed so overwhelmingly,” said Murray, the division’s outgoing president. “Before I was elected (to the city council), I wasn’t aware of the clout that we can have beyond our own city borders.
“I’m really excited about all that we can do to improve our cities and our regions by being part of the League,” she added.
Other news from the conference included:
Brett Channing, assistant to the city manager of El Cajon, said that this year’s conference was also a practical training ground.
“A lot of the breakout sessions were very useful. Being a next-generation assistant city manager, I found the session on Generation X city managers useful,” he said. “They talked about how Generation X city managers may have different desires in terms of work style and life-work balance, and how city council members will notice a difference between them and Baby Boomers.
“We’re looking at using more social media in our city, so I attended some sessions on that and got some good ideas. And I also attended a session on training employees (hosted by the two-county Next Generation Silicon Valley program), which is really important to local government. I’ve always been a big believer in professional development.”
Channing said the conference provides a chance for local leaders to sharpen their own skills and see how their counterparts in others cities are tackling challenges.
“Being able to make connections with people who are dealing with issues you’re facing and could face in the future is invaluable,” he said.
Attendees also heard from keynote speakers Benjamin Barber, author of “If Mayors Ruled the World,” and onetime comedian and juvenile counselor Michael Pritchard on collaboration.
The year’s Expo attracted 267 vendors, 91 of which were participating for the first time. The Expo featured a host city reception and displays ranging from the Wells Fargo stagecoach to the City of Rancho Cucamonga’s new high-tech trailer, a sort of mobile city hall.
Ramon Alvarez, president and owner of EcoCentre, displayed three electric vehicles, a truck, van and two-seat car. He received positive feedback during his second appearance at an Expo, which gave him a chance to talk with local officials about the money-saving potential of low-speed electric vehicles.
“(The Expo) gives you a platform to reach literally every city in the state,” Alvarez said. “I don’t think that exists outside of the League of California Cities. That’s one thing. Another is that the service the staff gives you is exceptional. You like coming back when people give you good service. I plan to come back again next year.”
The city of Cudahy won this year’s expo grand prize drawing, collecting a $3,000 voucher to use with any supplier from the U.S. Communities national cooperative purchasing program.
More than 150 businesses, nonprofit associations, labor communities and other organizations that are part of the League Partners program took part in the Expo. They also had the chance to be involved in sessions on topics ranging from pipeline safety to e-cigarettes.
The League board of directors honored 28 League Partners for showing a shared commitment to local government by taking part in the program for more than a decade.
More than 300 people attended the League’s 9th annual CITIPAC Leadership Gala. The event raised more than $42,000 in corporate sponsorships and individual donations. The League’s five diversity caucuses also held receptions.

Call for 2015 Session Proposals
It is not too early to start thinking about the kind of sessions your colleagues would benefit from in 2015. The League is now accepting session proposals. The deadline for submission is Jan. 6, 2015. Information and submission instructions are available online.

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