While the NJ League of Municipalities convention is perceived as a week of parties, drinking and gambling for public officials and the vendors who solicit their business, this is the furthest from the truth. In reality, this annual event is a mix between a trade show for vendors and an educational opportunity that is especially beneficial for newly elected public officials.
There are parties for sure, and a small number of attendees do tend to mistake the week in Atlantic City for a short vacation which is usually what gets reported by the press. So for those vendors who stay current in municipal law and trends, and have graduated to picking the municipalities they work for rather than being picked by them, the risk of being mentioned in the news reports is a good reason for them/us not to attend.
However, for almost 20,000 people who are expected to attend this year’s convention, the 98th annual league conference this week is a good place to learn and to refresh what you know about government in a relatively short period of time.
Last year’s conference was cancelled in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which struck a week before the scheduled event. Fittingly, the theme of this year’s three-day event is “Navigating Recovery and Renewal.” In addition to storm recovery efforts, other topics that are being covered this year include affordable housing, healthcare reform, and new energy technologies.
For those unfamiliar with the New Jersey State League of Municipalities and its work, the organization traces its roots back to 1915. The organization was created by state statute and is funded by tax revenue. All of the state’s 565 municipalities are members of the League, which also provides services to 560 mayors and 13,000 elected and appointed officials.
The New Jersey State League of Municipalities’ current headquarters in Trenton reflects not only its commitment to promoting New Jersey’s future, but also celebrating its rich tradition. The organization purchased the Ferdinand W. Roebling Sr. Mansion, which had fallen into disrepair and been condemned by the city. Through great time and expense, the League was able to restore the historic building to its former glory and add to the revitalization of the area.
While the annual conference is its showcase event, the New Jersey State League of Municipalities provides a wide range of services, from legal advocacy to educational training. In the past month, it provided issue alerts on same-sex marriage in New Jersey, cybersecurity, and an appellate decision regarding sand dune restoration. The League’s magazine, New Jersey Municipalities, reaches 8,500 subscribers every month.