Remember the New Federalism?

Well, some of America's mayors, who have been living with this Reagan administration philosophy for the last four years, had a few things to say about local power.

There were good and bad reviews as the participants in the U.S. Conference of Mayors' mid-winter meeting gathered for a reception at the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel last night.

"Inherently there is a great deal we can agree with. Where the rub comes in is, if we are being asked to carry the load, don't give us a flat tire," said nonpartisan Tony Knowles of Anchorage. Pollution from automobiles and the clean-up ordered by the Environmental Protection Agency are some of his concerns. "We have one of the worst records on air quality, and we are starting an ambitious program. But now with the cuts in mass transit funds, that is going to be difficult," he said.

Pat Pappas, a Republican from Parkersburg, W. Va., has seen the private sector initiative work. "Just this week a Philadelphia developer agreed to spend $6.5 million rehabilitating a hotel in our downtown," she said. "That will create 120 jobs, a good number in our town."

Greg Sparrow of DeKalb, Ill., a Democrat, cited the impact of the recession and Reagan with two examples: The cuts in student aid have affected enrollment at North Illinois University in DeKalb, and that filters down to a reduction in sales tax revenues. "The message we heard today was: Don't expect anything from Washington. In my city we've got streets that need repairs, and it would cost $1 million a mile. We have 90 miles and we only have a general fund of $20 million," Sparrow sighed.

Remember urban policy?

Well, that was pre-Reagan, according to Ernest (Dutch) Morial of New Orleans, president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. "There has not been any indication that they have an urban policy. It has been benign neglect," said Morial, a Democrat. "But I think it is premature to act either optimistic or pessimistic about the next four years. We need to be part of the process."

Remember the party?

Around the room was a sumptuous buffet, underwritten by five corporations. Among the guests was Marion Barry, delivering the good news that all official inaugural events are taking place in Washington.

"We will get our fair share of those revenues," Barry said.