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View from the Cordillera

A Commentary on Achieving Excellence in Local Government
Read by Municipal Leaders on 4 Continents
Published by the Cordillera Institute
Paradigms of Leadership
The Paradigm of Opportunity (Vol. 1, Issue 11)
Whenever we want to change some aspect of our lives or of the organizations of which we are a part, it is a wise practice to examine our paradigms.  If the change we want to make conflicts with 1 or more of our paradigms, it is very unlikely that it will succeed.  In the context of local government, this applies whether we want to change public policy or just some of the programs or practices intended to implement it.  At the root of virtually all public policy, at all levels of government, is the paradigm of opportunity.  Those who view opportunity as something available only to a select few will respond with policies which are very different from those who see opportunity as something available to most of us.  This issue explores some of those differences.  The policies compared are taken from education, public assistance, economic development, and employment.  And, it shows how the way we view opportunity will affect our ability to achieve excellence in local government.
Government First or People First? (Vol. 2, Issue 2)
Survey after survey has recognized the growing dissatisfaction of the public with government.  The public is particularly displeased with senior governments but local governments are often unfairly tarred with the same brush.  The primary cause of this decline of public confidence and trust in government has been identified for some time now.  It's the fact that so many of our senior-government agencies operate from the paradigm of government first.  Those government agencies which enjoy good public support operate from the paradigm of people first – and most are found in the ranks of local government.  This is not to say that most persons in senior government, or in government in general, operate from the paradigm of government first.  Yet, the struggle between these 2 paradigms continues in almost every public-sector organization, including local governments.  If people-first has the upper hand in your organization, this issue will provide some ideas on how to sustain it.  If government-first is favored by those in charge of your organization, this issue shows how you can become a catalyst for positive change, whether you are at the very top or anywhere else on the organization chart.  Next, we look at the 6 major challenges confronting local-government agencies today – and see how they are really just facets of 1 primary challenge.  That's followed by some thoughts on how best to address that challenge, how you can apply it in your organization, and how to apply it to your personal situation.  While this may appear to be a tall order, it's worth remembering that no organization can achieve excellence if it places its own interests ahead of those it is supposed to serve.
Will It Be Government First or People First? (Vol. 3, Issue 48)
This issue is the last in our 9-part series on recession-proofing our municipalities.  Throughout this series, we've examined the difference between 2 competing approaches: priming the pump (where senior government decides how and where to spend your money) versus investing in the economy (where you, and everyone else who contributes to growing the economy, decide how the money we have earned should be spent – or saved or invested).  In addition, we've seen that each approach is driven by its own paradigm.  In the case of priming the pump, that paradigm is government first.  Whereas, investing in the economy is based on the paradigm of people first.  In this issue, we revisit those paradigms.  If we think of them as roads, we see that they will take us to very different destinations.  How will this choice of 'roads' affect the future of local government?  How will it affect you as an elected official or as an employee of local government?  How does the government-first agenda manage to survive?  How is this agenda advanced?  How are 'crises' exploited?  This issue provides answers to each of these questions.  And, it concludes with some thoughts on how to choose the road to success – the road to excellence in local government.
The Major Media: Is the 4th Estate Acting as a 5th Column? (Vol. 4, Issue 25)
Whenever we want to know what's going on in our community, our region, our state, our province, our country, or the world, we are likely to pick up a newspaper or newsmagazine, turn on the radio, or watch a television newscast or public-affairs program.  For many, the major media – the broadcast networks, the newspaper syndicates, the wire services, and the newsmagazine publishers – are still the primary source of news.  That should be a major concern for a host of reasons.  For those of us pursuing excellence in local government, the major media can be a major obstacle.  What role are the major media playing?  They have become active participants in shaping public opinion.  And, much of public opinion which they are trying to shape involves public-policy questions which, directly or indirectly, affect local government.  In this issue, we examine examples of environmental coverage, amalgamation coverage, taxation coverage, and infrastructure coverage.  Their coverage of these subjects raises some serious questions.  Chief among them – why would they do what they are doing?  Once you've 'seen behind the curtain', the 'news' will never be the same.
Toronto's Mayor Rob Ford: The Rest of the Story (Vol. 5, Issue 1)
By now, I expect that, if you live in North America, you know of Mayor Ford from stories in the major media and you may have heard jokes about him on the late-night television talk shows.  If you are reading this in Australia or New Zealand or the U.K. or western Europe or South Africa, his name may not be familiar to you.  If it isn't, you will find a considerable amount of information from a quick on-line search, including the controversy which has generated so much major-media attention here.  But, the purpose of this commentary is not to judge the actions attributed to him by the stories in the major media.  Rather, it's to present a different side of this matter which has received so little coverage from those same media.  It's about another chapter in the on-going struggle between those who support the government-first agenda and those who put people first.  This chapter examines how the major media have covered Mayor Ford as compared to their coverage of his political opponents who are known to favor the government-first agenda.
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To Order Any Issue
You may order the full text of any issue of VFC (View from the Cordillera).  Just send us an email with the word 'Order' in the subject line.  Be sure to include your name, title, and organization as well as the volume and issue number or the title of the issue(s) you want.  Each copy is only $5.  If you are ordering multiple issues, enquire about our discounts.
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VFC Catalog
To assist you in finding the issues of most interest to you, the VFC catalog groups them by major subject.  Each major subject has its own page in the catalog.  On each catalog page, you will find 1 or more summaries of the issues which relate to that major subject.  For your convenience when ordering, each summary title is followed by its volume and issue number.  To see the summaries on any of the major subjects, just click on its heading in the list below.
Achieving Sustainable Local Government
Characteristics of Good Government
Structuring Local Government
Assessing Policy Proposals
Paradigms of Leadership
Choosing Our Elected Officials
Building a Win-Win Organization
Accomplishing Your Objectives
Measuring Your Performance
Improving Your Productivity
Managing Your Finances
Relating to the Public
Relating to Senior Government
Growing a Robust Economy
Planning for the Future of Your Community
Moving People and Goods
Delivering Services
Reforming Social Programs
Improving Our Environment
Responding to Crises
What Can We Learn from ...?
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