NACo’s Annual Conference & Expo 2016 took place in Los Angeles County, California this year from July 22-25. Gordon Cruickshank is currently serving on the IAC Board of Directors as the WIR Representative and is now the Immediate Past President on WIR Board of Directors. The following is a report from Commissioner Cruickshank on his experience at the conference.
Friday July 22nd
I started the day attending the NACo Board meeting to review proposed Platform changes and Resolutions being presented at this conference.
Next was the Transportation Committee meeting to review proposed Platform changes and Resolutions for just this committee. Platform changes were to support Long Term Equitable Funding and maintaining/increasing funding for Veterans to receive transportation for services.
Air Ambulances being regulated to avoid excessive charges
FAA Reauthorization on increasing user fees from $4.50 to $8.50
American Indian Reservation road maintenance permitting requirements
Toward Zero Deaths on our roadways and highways
Highway Safety Plans
Automated Technology for Transit Solutions
Modifying the Rules to Federal Aid Highway Construction projects so they are not challenged after award of bid
Unmanned Aircraft, counties having multiple seats on the Drone Advisory Board
Then it was time for the Sub-Committee reports where we heard from speakers on:
Update by the National Association of County Engineers
Counties and Collaboration, working with the Federal Highway Administration
Airport Development and Land Use, with 34 percent of airports owned by counties the topic focused on how counties utilize their operations to support economic development. Also discussed was how to buffer the airports from residential development to avoid the noise issue.
MEGA regions are being looked at for controlling airspace and on how this could enhance the operations of airports. All airports have a foundation of General Aviation. Large companies looking to expand will research how an airport will fill their needs, next comes freight cargo and then Commercial Flights. All of the above will provide a healthy environment for which an airport can operate.
Current and Future Landscape of Unmanned Aircraft. This discussion was on how to manage the utilization of unmanned aircraft and how they can be beneficial if used correctly. The goal is to have a safe and secure environment for unmanned aircraft. We discussed the one million drones sold during the 2015 Christmas season and how they are impacting the airspace and do need to be registered.
The last topic was on Ports, Freight Transportation and International Trade, connecting Counties to the Global Market. This discussion was on the amount of commerce that arrives into our Ports and then is shipped via trucks or rail lines to the entire country. Over 40 percent of the commerce arrives through the Long Beach and Los Angeles Ports.
This afternoon was the Transportation Steering Committee main meeting.
We heard from Dr. Emilia Estrate, Research Director for NACo on results of a new poll on 2016 priorities focused on housing, economic and workforce development and pathways out of poverty. Also discussed were the impacts of federal and state policies on counties.
We heard about NACo’s County Bridge Bundling Initiative where states and counties are bundling their bridge projects together to save taxpayer dollars on maintaining and replacing bridges across a broad scope.
The Port of Long Beach provided a perspective on Intermodal Logistics and the Green Port of the Future. Specifically this is efforts to improve freight movement and port efficiency as more freight arrives and to reduce the impact on the environment.
We heard about how the future will look with Tech Innovations in Transportation. Here we saw ideas on unmanned freight trucks being led by one driver in a lead truck and how automation may change how freight is received off of ships automatically by computer driven trucks. We also saw an overview of the GoMentum Station that is being used to develop autonomous vehicles in a secure area.
The last presentation was on Los Angeles County and Public Transportation. Here county staff explained how they are planning for the future with their Metrolink system and how it will connect more routes into the future.
We finished our Committee Meeting by approving our Platform Changes and Resolutions.
Tonight I attended the Opening Ceremony – Lights, Leadership, Action!
Saturday July 23rd
My day started with Rail Freight, Safety and Grow the Economy. Here we learned that freight rail will increase 40 percent over the next 20 years, how Positive Train Control (PTC) is improving safety, new tank car standards are helping decrease oil spills and First Responder training as it relates to local emergency services knowing what a rail car is loaded with.
Next up was the NACo Western Interstate Region Board Meeting
Presentation was heard on Western Partnership Center which has been created by Association of Oregon Counties after the Harney County issue happened. Oregon Counties determined that they need to create partnerships to provide a better ability to respond when these types of issues happen.
We heard about Tribal Lands issues with the Navajo and Apache Tribes and how they have created committees to understand the issues from the various cultures within their respective tribes and how this interacts with county government.
Americas Ports are receiving more cargo and bigger ships mean more capacity to handle was the next topic. Once the cargo comes on shore it must be moved and how does this impact the entire United States?
Economic Development was the next topic. When the economy is growing faster that population it creates a lack of qualified workforce in the long term. You have to weigh the value against the outcome. Counties are always the base jurisdiction and need to work on how they view their economic development to not create a mis-match.
Jim Ogsbury, Executive Director with the Western Governors’ Association (WGA) provided an update on what they are working on which works somewhat in stride with the Western Interstate Region (WIR). By partnering with the WGA it provides a stronger value on Issues for both organizations.
Next were a WIR Financial Report and a reminder of the WIR Annual next year in Sun River Oregon.
Sunday July 24th
Up early to attend the multi-state breakfast with folks from Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. This is a time to see who came from other states with smaller numbers of attendees.
From 9:00 AM to Noon I attended the NACo Board of Directors and Resolutions Committee Meetings. Here they discussed the workings of the Board, financial reports, Executive Directors report and made final approval of Platform Changes and Resolutions that will be sent to the NACo Membership in the meeting this week.
This afternoon I joined the group for a Mobile Workshop to tour the Port of Long Beach. We boarded a tour boat with about 100 plus folks to see the infrastructure from the waterfront. It was interesting to view the large ships being loaded or unloaded by the large dock cranes, the trucks or rail cars delivering or receiving freight and to see heavy equipment waiting to be moved along with an entire shipment of Mercedes cars that recently arrived. With 60 plus cranes working in just the Port of Long Beach you can only imagine the amount of activity in this port. Additionally we were able to see an oil tanker in from Alaska being brought into the port to offload. The Tugboats were doing an amazing job of handling this large vessel.
Later this afternoon I attended the National Conference of Republican County Officials Business meeting and Reception. Our speaker provided a perspective on analyzing political polls and how the presidential race is looking in their opinion. As the polls are not showing any defining winner it shows that this election will come down to a limited number of voters to decide the outcome.
Tonight I was invited to attend the Nevada folks who are attending this conference. This is a great time to share what is going on between our two states.
Monday July 25th
This morning I attended a workshop on Building Effective County-Tribal Relations. This session showed how county officials, tribal government leaders, and Administration officials can develop relationships and work together toward common goals.
Next was the morning General Session where Platform Changes and Resolutions were voted on by the NACo attendees. A few resolutions were held back for some additional work and will be brought back to future meetings. Greg Cox from San Diego County, CA was elected as our new NACo 2nd Vice President and all other officers moved into up.
I had applied for various positions with, now NACo President, Bryan Desloge and was honored to be chosen as Vice- Chair for the Transportation Steering Committee and appointed to an At-Large Position for the NACo Board of Directors during this session.
Next was a Western Region Caucus meeting where we heard legislative updates on issues that impact the Western region of NACo.
I then attended the NACo Board reorganization meeting to have all new directors understand their duties as board members. We also recognized current board members who will not be returning next year.
The Closing General Session was this afternoon where we heard from Jon Meacham, Presidential Historian and Pulitzer Prize winner. Mr. Meacham spoke on his research and writing his latest book “Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Hebert Walker Bush”
Next was Diana Nyad who at the age of 64 successfully fulfilled her lifelong dream of completing the 110-mile swim from Cuba to Florida in 2013. In the 1970s Nyad was the greatest long-distance swimmer in the world. She spoke on her determination and her life.
Tonight was the NACo Conference-wide Celebration event to end this conference. We were treated to a Special Guest of Alisan Porter winner of “NBC’s The Voice Season 10” who sang a few songs with the band. What a great way to end this conference.
Well that ends my report. I want to thank everyone for allowing me the opportunity to represent the Idaho Association of Counties at this conference. Hopefully you will attend a conference in the future to experience this for yourself.