By Bob Balgemann


Forty-five mayors from Illinois municipalities have joined representatives of the Illinois Municipal League (IML) in a fact-finding trip to Washington, D.C., as part of the Mayors of Illinois White House Conference.

Belvidere Mayor Mike Chamberlain was part of a core group of 20 IML board members who met with high-end officials from such federal agencies as the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Transportation, Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

He called those meetings and discussions “very refreshing, not the usual Potomac two-step. It was a very worthwhile trip.”

It was a whirlwind trip, arriving on Feb. 21 and coming back home on Feb. 23. Not long after that he provided some details at the Committee of the Whole’s Feb. 26 meeting.

It was a good news, bad news kind of report.

First the good news, something to look forward to in the future. “They’re trying to shrink the size of government, which I applaud,” he said of the feds. “Some regulations have gotten out of hand. Now, some of those regulations are being repealed.”

He recalled a $60-million project at the General Mills facility in Belvidere and how it took many years to get that done. With the overall sticking point seeming to be the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, he said recent reductions in regulations have lessened the minimum number of years for such improvements to two years.

Mayor Chamberlain was impressed by the Office of International Affairs, which formulates and carries out policy, in its willingness to work with local government on a variety of fronts.

“I met people who we need to work with in the future,” he said. Along with bringing back a bunch of direct telephone numbers for various officials.

Some of the news he received wasn’t what he hoped for, but just getting the information was a plus. That information included a new policy on infrastructure, which was different from the spin it got from the news media.

At one point during the trip he met D.J. Gribbin, special assistant to President Trump on infrastructure. “I looked the man directly in the eye and said, ‘You’re telling us the federal government has been lying to us about there being money for infrastructure?’ Ten trillion dollars and a 10-year plan? Really, there is no money to fix the infrastructure?”

The reply was,

For complete article, pick up the March 18 Belvidere Daily Republican.

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