Newell attends League of Cities event

PARKERSBURG – Mayor Bob Newell was part of a delegation from the National League of Cities that met with federal officials for the Leaders Planning Meeting Friday and Saturday in Washington, D.C.

The league represents 19,000 cities and 49 state municipal leagues.

The delegation on Friday met and received briefings from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, White House Domestic Policy Director Cecilia Munoz and Chief Technology Officer Todd Park, said Newell, who is a member and past president of the West Virginia Municipal League.

Because of the wide range of city sizes and needs, Newell said many of the topics discussed did not directly apply to issues facing the Mid-Ohio Valley.

“They talked about immigration. That is an issue that is a pretty hot topic with a lot of cities, but not ours,” Newell said. “They talked about the fiscal cliff and the debt ceiling, as well as infrastructure issues.”

The league also discussed its legislative goals and priorities for the year, covering a variety of topics from taxes to gun control.

One discussion during the planning meeting centered around a letter concerning gun control, Gregory Minchak, manager of media relations for the league, said. The letter was based on an earlier resolution adopted by the league.

“That was a letter being sent to the White House during their discussions on gun control,” he said.

Some representatives asked for a change in the letter’s language, Newell said.

“One sentence in there was limiting the availability of ammunition and assault weapons,” he said. “It was eventually narrowed down to assault weapons that can be made into fully automatic weapons. After much discussion, that is the version that will be moving on.”

The league also is concerned with a legislative move to either eliminate tax deductions on municipal bonds or place a cap on them, Minchak said. The changes would affect not only some cities, but also some school systems and other public entities which rely on municipal bonds.

“Maintaining tax exemptions on municipal bonds was a major focus,” Newell said. “In Parkersburg it doesn’t affect us too much, but some cities may have $50 million in municipal bonds and they are tax exempt. They are critical to the local economy and taking them would not be in the best interest of those cities.”

More than 60 representatives of the league attended the two-day Leaders Planning Meeting, Minchak said. The main focus remains on job creation and ways to stimulate local economies, he said.

“We want to see the situation financially turn around for cities,” he said.

More information on the National League of Cities can be found at