The U.S. Conference of Mayors ended its 47th annual convention here today with a strong endorsement of President Carter's urban and energy policies.
By wide margins, the mayors approved resolutions supporting Carter's plan to decontrol domestic oil prices and impose a "windfall" profit tax on the oil companies. They also supported the awarding of federal urban development action grants to economically healthy communities with large poor neighborhoods.
The voting on these and other resolutions followed an emotional plea to the mayors by Vice President Mondale to support the administration in national health care and other areas.
"Look at the whole range of issues. You'll see that this administration is dealing with the real problems in the way they should be dealt with," Mondale said.
"In the area of urban policies, we have turned this country around. We have proposed a major, comprehensive plan for our cities and we're standing up to work with you in open consultation to deal with the problems that you face in the front lines of American democracy."
He concluded: "I think our record is good. I think our spirit is right. I think our commitment is total and I think the record is there, and I hope you will give us a fair review of it."
Mondale was followed at the rostrum by Senate Minority Leader Howard H. Baker Jr. (R-Tenn.) who told the mayors he was speaking partly "as a Republican presidential candidate in 1980." He reminded the delegates that the and his party were primarily responsible for revenue sharing programs, which have brought about $30 billion in federal funds to state and local governments since 1972.
If elected president, Baker said, he would expand revenue sharing and reduce the amount of federal controls under which the programs now operate.
"The time of 'Washington knows best' clearly has ended," Baker said. "After nearly half a century of growing dependence on the federal government, people at the local and state levels are resolving to trust their own judgment again, to make their own progress and to get Washington off their backs and out of their hair."
Baker took issue with Mondale's suggestion that the Carter administration was the first to look seriously at the problems of production and conservation and to try to find solutions.
"Surely, he must have forgotten Project Independence under President Nixon," Baker said, referring to Richard Nixon's plan to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
Baker contended - as did GOP presidential hopeful John Connally, who addressed the mayors Monday - that Carter has not moved decisively on energy questions.
"One must be aware that there is a vacillation on the part of the administration" in dealing with energy issues, Baker said.
In the end, though, the delegates gave Carter the symbolic victory that 80 administration officials have worked for here over the last five days. Only the proposal on the windfall profits tax was strongly attacked on the convention floor.
After some parliamentary haggling, the mayors approved a "traditional" windfall profits tax as opposed to the permanent levy sought by Carter. But the word "traditional" was not defined.
"The tax we were asking for would have expired after 1981 anyway," said Ralph Schlosstein, egislative assistant on the White House domestic policy staff. "We're very happy about the strong show of support the mayors have given to the president's energy policies.