Week in Washington yields contacts for Mayor Mike Shimansky
Shimansky attends conference with other Tri-Valley leaders
Danville Mayor Mike Shimansky hobnobbed with national leaders including senators Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer and Hillary Clinton on his trip to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 23-27 to attend the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Shimansky traveled with three other Tri-Valley mayors after meeting ahead of time to discuss the agenda they would present to elected officials in the nation's capitol.
"We wanted to show cooperation, unity between the towns," Shimansky said. "We found meeting with the legislators better as a group. Otherwise we probably would not have met Feinstein and Boxer personally."
Each member of the greater Tri-Valley contingent, which included San Ramon Mayor H. Abram Wilson, Dublin Mayor Janet Lockhart and Livermore Mayor Marshall Kamena, picked out a topic to emphasize in their meetings, Shimansky said. The subjects were transportation and I-580 improvements; the Tri-Valley Housing Opportunity Center; public safety; airport noise abatement; telecommunications; and veterans issues.
"Dianne Feinstein spent five minutes with us. She had to go on the floor for a vote," Shimansky recalled. "She spent most of the time telling us why we weren't going to get money for these projects."
Boxer gave them 15 minutes.
"We went through just about every one of our issues," said Shimansky. "She was very interested in the Sentinels of Freedom program."
The mayors' days were filled with conference activities as well as receptions, for the California mayors and other groups. Shimansky said he benefited from talking to other mayors from towns comparable in size to Danville. Mayors attend the conference from municipalities with populations of 30,000 or more.
"Everyone has the same problems, no one was unique," Shimansky said. "Disaster planning is a big issue."
"One of my issues of interest is homelessness so I went to a workshop on Children, Health and Human Services," said Shimansky.
It was led by Sen. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island. When discussing universal health care, Shimansky asked about care for illegal aliens.
"He told me they are called 'undocumented Americans,'" said Shimansky. Kennedy told him it was important to provide health services to undocumented Americans because "they are sitting next to your child in school," so keeping everyone healthy should be a goal. "He was nice about it," added Shimansky.
The mayors stayed at the Capitol Hilton two blocks away from the White House, where the road was blocked off and youths were using the empty street to play roller hockey, Shimansky said.
The mayors left the hotel at 3 p.m., just missing President Bush who was giving a speech at 5:30 p.m. for a Republican fundraiser.
"The lobby was full of bomb-sniffing dogs," said Shimansky.
Shimansky felt his time spent with the other Tri-Valley mayors was valuable, including rides to and from the airports.
"It was good to just sit down and talk," Shimansky said.