Attacks Affect Policy Conferences
By Jason White, Assistant Staff Writer
Governors of the southern states were getting ready for a day of policy meetings and debate in Lexington, Ky last Tuesday when the United States came under attack.
It was the third and final day of the annual conference of the Southern Governors Association and it turned out to be a short one. Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton, the conference chair, and other governors decided to cancel the day's activities when the overwhelming nature of the morning's events became apparent.
Because air travel was restricted, SGA had to hire vans and buses to get the governors and their staffs back to their home states. Harried and concerned, the governors rushed home to guide their states through a very dark day.
Although carried out under less dramatic circumstances, many other national and regional policy conferences have been cancelled in the wake of Tuesday's events. But at least one organization, the National Association of State Budget Officers, is pressing on.
The Council of State Governments had planned to convene its annual meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, from September 20-24. Roughly 2,000 state lawmakers were to attend, although some faced criticism for using tax dollars to foot the bill even as their states were facing serious budget problems.
After the terrorist attack, CSG issued a statement saying that the organization shares "President Bush's sentiment that 'we will not allow this enemy to change our way of life' and, so, our meeting is moving forward at this time." But those plans were put on ice as the seriousness of the attacks became known and security issues were thrust to the fore.
The National Association of State Chief Information Officers cancelled its annual meeting, which was to be held September 16-19 in New Orleans, La. NASCIO represents state officials charged with managing the millions of bytes of information and data that flow through the states every day.
Also planning to hold its annual meeting this week, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials cancelled its Orlando, Fla., gathering. ASTHO represents state and territorial public health agencies.
From October 11-14, reporters from throughout the country were set to gather in Philadelphia for a computer-assisted reporting conference sponsored by Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. The conference has been postponed to the spring and will include new sessions on the attacks and the government response.
Still pressing on, however, are the states' budget directors. The National Association of State Budget Officers is currently holding its Midwest meeting in Columbus, Ohio. Scott Pattison, NASBO's executive director, is one of the meeting's few cancellations. He had been scheduled to fly out of Reagan National Airport, but the airport remains closed after Tuesday's attacks.