Convention Lively and Informative
(from Maine Townsman, October 2002)

       Nearly a thousand municipal officials representing over 130 communities participated in the 2002 MMA Convention October 16-18 in Bangor to learn more about a citizen initiative for tax reform, homeland security, affordable housing, and retirement planning.  Additionally, many took the opportunity to listen to three of the gubernatorial candidates debate issues that are a high priority to municipalities.

       Tax reform was the theme of this year’s convention.  The citizen initiative proposal, developed by MMA, and now being advanced by the political action committee “Citizens To Reduce Local Property Taxes Statewide” was given a unanimous endorsement by the membership at MMA’s Annual Business meeting on Thursday, October 18.

       Two nationally-recognized speakers drew large crowds.  Mac Fulfer, an attorney and face-reading specialist from Texas, was a big hit at the opening session on Wednesday, October 16.   Dr. Marianne Jennings, a professor of Legal and Ethical Studies at Arizona University, gave an insightful talk on ethics to the 300-plus attendees at the annual banquet.

       Other general sessions on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday morning were also well attended.

       Major General Joseph Tinkham, Commissioner of the Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management, gave an overview of the state’s homeland security efforts since September 11th of last year, and a panel of housing experts discussed the state’s affordable housing issues and problems and what role municipal officials could play.

       An attorney and York Town Manager Mark Green talked about recent litigation over growth ordinances and cell towers, and Girard Miller, president of the ICMA Retirement Corp., gave an interesting talk on retirement planning in today’s volatile economic climate.

       About a hundred local officials stayed over for Friday morning’s program that provided a look at the economic challenges facing the State.  State Economist Laurie LaChance was the featured speaker and gave an overview of how these emerging issues will likely impact municipalities in the future. 

       MMA’s Annual Banquet on Thursday night concluded the convention for many of the attendees.  In addition to hearing Dr. Jennings’ talk on ethics, the banquet attendees also observed the swearing in of the new MMA President, Susan Lessard, town manager of Hampden, who will take office in January, and recognized several municipal officials who received awards from either MMA or their respective professional associations.

       Long-time town manager of Guilford, Bob Littlefield, was the recipient of the 2002 Ethel N. Kelley Memorial Award.  Littlefield, who retired in March, has served as Guilford’s town manager for 35 years.  He has been a firefighter in the local volunteer fire department for over 40 years.