I’m back from this year’s National League of Cities Convention in Washington, DC. This is an annual event where representatives from cities throughout the country get together, advocate for issues of common interest, and spend time with their elected representatives. This year’s guest speakers included former Oklahoma Congressman JC Watts, Senator John McCain talking about immigration reform, and Vice President Biden talking about how cities can deal with issues related to gun violence. It was a great lineup this year.
I spent Saturday and Sunday taking classes offered by the League for developing some specific councilmember skills (one was an all-day class about building effective public/private partnerships). Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were devoted to legislative advocacy. For Sunnyvale, that meant meeting with representatives of the US Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) to discuss Sunnyvale’s bid for a satellite patent office, meeting with NASA to discuss Ames and Moffett, and meeting with Congressman Honda and representatives from Senator Boxer’s office to discuss affordable housing funding, workforce board funding, and a few other issues.
All in all, it was a really good trip. The USPTO tour was fascinating and educational. I suspect most people have no idea just how complex its operations are, and it gave us a lot of insights into the USPTO’s specific facility needs for its satellite office. Another interesting thing I noted – every single official we met with managed to use the word “sequester” at least once during our visit. The sequester is a huge topic of concern in DC. It’s hitting NASA particularly hard, due to some specific budgetary restrictions of the sequester.