Leon County, Fla. Commissioner Bryan Desloge is the new NACo president.
Delegates to the 2016 Annual Conference in Long Beach, Calif., elected Desloge to head NACo’s executive team along with Roy Charles Brooks, commissioner, Tarrant County, Texas, as first vice president; and Sallie Clark, commissioner, El Paso County, Colo., as immediate past president. In the only contested election, Greg Cox, supervisor, San Diego County, Calif., joins the executive committee as second vice president.
In his acceptance speech Desloge announced that his presidential initiative, tagged “The Counties Challenge: Brilliant Ideas at Work,” will highlight the innovative programs and best practices of counties across the country. The concept was inspired by a former Leon County administrator, whom Desloge said, “used to say our failures are front page news, but nobody talks about our successes.”
“I want to talk about what are the best practices in county governments across the country, today,” he said.
Delegates also approved changes to the American County Platform, NACo’s policy “bible,” and adopted more than 100 new or recently vetted policy positions such as support for extending federal Medicaid payments to detainees in county jails who have yet to go to trial and federal funding to help counties respond to Zika virus.
Prominent sports figures, a presidential scholar and corporate thought leaders keynoted at the conference’s two general sessions. Attendees heard from basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, long-distance champion swimmer Diana Nyad, Pulitzer Prize winning author Jon Meacham and Esri founder Jack Dangermond.
Bookending the conference was the first-ever Opening Reception on Friday, July 22 complete with fireworks and tunes from the Legendary Mustangs featuring Riverside County, Calif. Supervisor John Tavaglione and the closing Conference-wide Celebration Event, July 25, with special guest Alisan Porter, winner of The Voice, Season 10.
The Technology Summit, held semi-annually in conjunction with NACo’s major conferences, provided the setting for the release by NACo and Esri of an interactive opioid map which tracks the epidemic. Esri, a premier conference sponsor, is a leading mapping and GIS data tools software developer.
The Opioid Epidemic map analyzes how counties, cities and neighborhoods compare to state and national averages. Site visitors can pinpoint incidents of reported overdoses, prescriptions and providers. And for those wishing to take action, the map has sections dedicated to education, steps to confront the issue and links to additional resources. To access the site go to http://esriurl.com/OpioidEpidemic.
The conference also set the stage for the announcement of a new NACo strategic alliance and member benefit: USPERS, short for United States Public Employees Resource Solutions. The new alliance between NACo and Optum, a health services company, was introduced by Margaret Kelly, Optum national vice president.
According to Kelly, the US PERS platform will initially deliver retiree services but eventually bring more health care solutions to meet the future needs of counties. USPERS will offer Group Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Exchanges that are both viable options for county employers.
The NextGen Community Service Project, now a conference tradition sponsored by Next Generation NACo Network, supported the work of Project Innocence, a L.A. county-based nonprofit devoted to rescuing and restoring child victims of sex trafficking. Volunteers packed 150 backpacks with clothing, shoes, tablets, blankets and toiletries, Chris Lim, Saving Innocence director of partnerships, told the volunteers they were filling the packs “with hope, peace and protection.”
Human trafficking was also on the agenda at the Women of NACo (WON) Leadership Network reception. Former Congresswoman Linda Smith, who founded and is the current CEO of Shared Hope International, spoke about her organization’s mission to prevent the conditions that foster sex trafficking, restore victims of sex slavery, and bring justice to vulnerable women and children L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe also highlighted his county’s efforts to assist victims of sexual trafficking.
NACo’s popular educational workshops mirror the broad range of issues and responsibilities counties now face in an increasingly complex world. This year’s Annual Conference selection was no exception. Attendees participated in sessions that examined ways to combat human trafficking; deal with the public health threat from the Zika virus; protect employees and citizens from active shooters and manage data in strategic, meaningful ways.
In a twist on the workshop format — and new this year — the conference offered “County Talks.” Located in the exhibit hall, the sessions showcased new products and services to benefit counties.
The annual Awards Luncheon spotlighted the 21 Best of Category Achievement Award winners. The NACo Achievement Awards program, now in its 46th year, is a non-competitive awards program, which recognizes innovative concepts that improve county governments.
Americans for the Arts honored Dow Constantine, King County, Wash. executive with its County Leadership in the Arts award.
In other award presentations: Evan Torres and Sean Jones from El Paso County, Colo., were Presidential Scholarship award winners. The Davenport Scholarship Fund and CH2M Hill sponsor the scholarships, which are awarded each year to college-bound students in the home county of the out-going NACo president.
NACo’s 2017 Annual Conference will be hosted by Franklin County, Ohio, and held in Columbus, July 21–24.Hero 1