The rash of widely publicized school shootings in Jonesboro, Ark., Springfield, Ore., and other places around the nation has subsided over summer vacation, but Salt Lake Mayor Deedee Corradini remembers and wants to do something about it.
As president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Corradini is bringing various movers and shakers from around the country, including U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, to Utah for a national youth violence summit Thursday.The focus, Corradini says, will be on results, not introspection or hand-wringing.
"This will not be a summit of war stories," she said. "Enormous coverage by the national media in the last year has made us sufficiently familiar with the horrifying details . . . . Our focus will be on identifying solutions to this problem."
Mayors from about 60 U.S. cities (including Jonesboro and Eugene), 15 police chiefs and representatives from the fields of education, entertainment, media and health will put together an "action plan" at the summit, to be held at the American Stores Tower on Main Street. It will then be refined and presented to President Clinton on Oct. 15.
Corradini said she's aiming for the ultimate result of legislation in the same manner as the 1994 crime bill that mayors lobbied for, which brought into being, among other things, federal COPS grants for cities.
When Corradini was installed as the U.S. Conference of Mayors president last June, she said her focus during her one-year term would be youth physical fitness and youth violence.
With regard to the former, Corradini announced in July an "Olympic FitKids" program, a walking/running program for schoolchildren in conjunction with the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Track & Field. She's also scheduled a one-mile mayor's race for 7 a.m. at the City and County Building in conjunction with the mayors gathering.
Carol Edwards, director of conferences and conventions for the U.S. Conference of Mayors, said some mayors had declined to run due to too many corn chips and chicken dinners, but others were looking forward to donning their shorts.
"We do have a few runners," she said.
With regard to youth violence, Corradini wrote during the summer to some 1,000 mayors asking for the programs that have worked best for them ("best practices") in making schools safer and offering positive alternatives to delinquent activity after school, particularly in late afternoon and evening, when many children arrive at empty homes and find themselves at loose ends.
The meeting is formally titled "Summit on School Violence and Kids from 2 to 8 p.m."
The participants will discuss the programs and decide which of them to include in the action plan. One example of a "best practices" program is Salt Lake's Community Action Teams comprising teachers, parents, police and others against gang activity and crime, which Corradini credits for a 30 percent reduction in the past three years.
While they're in town, the mayors will hold their annual leadership meeting Friday and Saturday, including discussing Conference of Mayors business, touring Olympic sites and meeting with LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley.
Corradini's spokesman, Ken Con-naugh-ton, said the mayor is pumped up for the big event.
"She's excited and very busy getting things in order," he said. "I think she's very optimistic about it."