I recently returned from the American Legislative Exchange Council’s 2016 States and Nation Policy Summit, in Washington, DC. As a Mayor, I was most interested in the corresponding meeting of the American City County Exchange (ACCE), an offshoot spawned by ALEC in 2014 to spread ALEC’s ideas about “limited government, free markets, and federalism” down to the most local levels of government.
I had attended the 2014 ACCE conference and was eager to see how the group had evolved in its formative years. What plans were its leaders developing in response to the surprising ascension of Donald Trump to President-elect, and the consolidation of republican power in the Congress and in statehouses nationwide?
The short story is the group is working hard to expand its membership and stable of corporate sponsors, but in the meantime a handful of people are cranking out cookie-cutter “model” ordinances with little informed discussion.
ACCE Hopes for the New Year
ALEC leaders intend to hire a membership/fundraising director and researcher in 2017 and make ACCE a profit center by 2018. This, presenters said, will require ACCE to solidify relationships with traditional allies, such as the bail-bond and telecommunications industries. ACCE must also find new allies, including those who would privatize historically municipal services, often by adding technology that is easily replicated but new to municipal clients.
For example, we heard presentations from “smart cities” vendors selling information and communications technology at the meeting, in a sales pitch format called a “workshop” by ALEC.
But these goals might be hard to accomplish. In the strategic plan, ACCE boasts more than 300 local officials who gather annually, but only eight elected officials attended the Washington meeting, including me. The Executive Director of ACCE, a lobbyist from the Institute of Justice, and an ALEC staffer were also present. The meeting followed a less formal “committee…