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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

Relating to the Public
Earning the Support of Your Community (part 1) (Vol. 2, Issue 10)
If your municipal government needed the support of your community on a matter of great importance, how would the community respond?  Could you count on their support?  If not, what are the reasons?  Why is there an information problem; why does the public distrust government; and what can you do about it?  This is part 1 of a 2-part series on earning the support of our communities.  It covers how to identify the problem(s) by obtaining answers to the list of questions posed.  It notes the 2 major sources of the information problem.  And, it describes the 2 main causes of public distrust.  Next, we examine 3 options for gauging public opinion on the problem topic(s) as well as a set of questions to be asked.  The issue concludes with ideas for maximizing the response to your questionnaires.  The steps described are not unlike those used by persons running for office — another process intended to win public support.  So, just learning about the problem(s) can be part of the solution.

Earning the Support of Your Community (part 2) (Vol. 2, Issue 11)
This is part 2 of a 2-part series on earning the support of our communities.  In the previous issue, we outlined the steps needed to identify the problem.  When you have identified the problem, you still have to find a solution.  That is the subject of this issue.  It begins with some thoughts on analyzing the results of your public-opinion survey.  Before responding to the survey, it recommends that you examine the reasons why your organization favors the proposition and why it opposes it.  The purpose of this examination is to test the support for your opinions.  When this is complete, you are ready to decide how to inform the public and what you should say.  But, that's just the start of earning public support.  Next comes the process of addressing public expectations.  And then, there is the question of public distrust of government.  If your survey identified that as an issue, there are steps you can take to counter it — at least as it applies to your organization.  While much of this issue focusses on the role of policymakers, everyone in a municipality who has any dealings with the public has an important role to play.  The section titled "What Role Should Staff Play?" offers some ideas on what that involves.

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