Penelope Gross, COG Board Chair and Fairfax County Vice Chair; Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Obama and Assistant for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement; and John V. Cogbill, III, NCPC Chairman.
The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) and the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) co-hosted a meeting at the National Press Club on July 20, 2009. The event, “Building the Region Together” brought federal, regional, and local elected officials together to discuss way in which leaders at the various levels can work together on issues ranging from traffic congestion and transit funding to environmental protection and affordable housing.
In her opening statement, Penelope Gross, Chair of the COG Board of Directors and Vice Chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, said that “COG and NCPC members are excited about President Obama’s new focus on metropolitan regions and we believe that the dialogue and partnership we launch today will help advance that focus here in the National Capital Region and around the country.”
Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama and Assistant for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement spoke at the meeting. Jarrett, as a former Deputy Chief of Staff for Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Planning and Development from 1992 through 1995, and Chair of the Chicago Transit Board from 1995 to 2005, has extensive experience in local government and planning.
Jarrett, Gross, and Greenbelt, Maryland Mayor Judith F. Davis speaking at the meeting.
“Some of my happiest times occurred while working in local government,” Jarrett said. “Can I come back every day?” she added rhetorically, noting more than once her enthusiasm for discussing issues that COG and NCPC work to address, such as promoting transit-oriented development and cleaning up the region's waterways. Jarrett also iterated that she understands the frustration that local officials often experience due to the stove-piped and often slow nature of the federal process and will bring this awareness to her work at the federal level.
Adolfo Carrion, Director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs; Dave Robertson, COG Executive Director; Marcel Acosta, NCPC Executive Director; and Xavier Briggs, Assistant Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Adolfo Carrion, Director of the newly-created White House Office of Urban Affairs and Xavier Briggs, Assistant Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), also attended the meeting and participated in a question and answer session with the local officials, as well as representatives from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), General Services Administration (GSA), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Defense (DOD), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB) members Harriet Tregoning, Director of the D.C. Office of Planning, and Chris Zimmerman, Arlington County Board Member, speak with Carrion at the meeting.
Carrion and Briggs reiterated Jarrett’s earlier comments, saying that, based upon their former experience in local government and planning, they understand the concerns of the region’s leaders and hope to work together to address these concerns, inviting COG and NCPC to send them information on local issues and projects.
Briggs and Roy Kientiz, Under Secretary of Policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation, speak with local leaders at the meeting.
Carrion worked for three years at the Bronx office of the New York City Department of City Planning before being elected to the New York City Council. After serving on the City Council, Carrion went on to be elected Borough President for the Bronx. Briggs, a former Harvard professor, worked on neighborhood revitalization in New York City, winning an award in 1996 from the American Planning Association (APA) for his work on the Comprehensive Community Revitalization Program in the South Bronx. Briggs also directed the policy research and development unit at HUD in the Clinton administration.
Gross, Jarrett, and Cogbill speaking prior to the meeting.