League of extraordinary gentlemen (and ladies) marks 75 years of municipal aid

People outside the world of local government may not know it even exists, but the Maryland Municipal League is an important group — it's a statewide advocacy nonprofit that strengthens the role and capacity of municipal government through research, legislation, technical assistance, training and information for members.

It's also celebrating a birthday this year — the MML was founded 75 years ago in 1936 by Annapolis Mayor Louis N. Phelps.

Phelps' idea was to create a clearinghouse to help Maryland municipalities obtain funds from the Work Progress Administration (WPA) — part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal.

In addition to education and networking, perhaps the MML has been most effective in advocating for municipalities with theMaryland General Assembly.

It may be argued that state budget cuts to municipalities in recent years could have easily caused much more damage to local governments if it had not been for the efforts of the MML working the hallways and offices of Annapolis during the legislative session.

One of the highlights of every summer is the annual MML convention which runs next week, June 26-29.

According to a history of the MML's first 50 years (1936-1986) published in the Maryland Municipal News in September 1986, the MML held its first June convention in 1949.

That first June meeting was held at the George Washington Hotel inOcean City.

Fifty-four people took advantage of the special rates offered by the hotel: $4 a night for a single room, $6 a night for a double room.

(It's just a guess, but those rates may no longer apply.)

Traditionally, Carroll County has played a leadership role in the Maryland Municipal League.

A newspaper clipping from June 20, 1980 reports on the educational programs scheduled and offers insights into who served as elected and appointed officials for Carroll's towns and cities over 30 years ago. Mentioned in the article are:

•Taneytown city manager Neal Powell;

• New Windsor Mayor Earle Brewer;

• Westminster treasurer Robert Myers;

• Mount Airy Mayor Lewis Dixon and town clerk Betty Ifert;

• Union Bridge clerk Kathleen D. Kreimer;

• Hampstead town clerk James N. Talbert Jr.;

• Manchester town clerk Kathryn Riley; and

• Sykesville town clerk Erika Brandenburg.

Among the workshops in 1980 were:

"Controlling Expenditures Through Effective Budgeting," "Energy Challenges of the '80s," "Finding Adaptive Uses for Old Buildings" and "Keys to Being an Effective Official."

The scheduled keynote speaker was South Dakota Sen. George McGovern.

Most of those workshops in the summer of 1980 could easily be on this summer's schedule.

This year workshops include: "Municipal Budgeting," "Basics of Risk Management," "Park and Playground Safety" and "The Impact of Foreclosures on Municipalities."

When he is not studying municipal playground safety, Kevin Dayhoff may be reached at kevindayhoff@gmail.com.

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