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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 Senior Government
Responding to Controversial Senior-Government Mandates (Vol. 2, Issue 41)
A controversial proposal by the Governor of New York played a major role in the 2007 elections for county clerks in that state.  The governor was proposing to use his power of executive order to lower the requirements for documents needed to apply for a state driving license.  This directly involves local government because the clerks in 52 of the state's 62 counties act as agents for the state in the issuance of licenses.  A majority of those clerks went on record as opposing the scheme.  And, 13 county clerks threatened to defy the executive order if it were to come into effect in December as proposed.  The major media were treating this as just another example of partisan politics.  But, for local governments, it illustrates a much more fundamental issue.  That is the ability of senior governments to impose mandates on local governments.  In this issue, we examine some aspects of this controversy that the major media largely ignored.  And, since it's a rare municipality indeed which has not had to confront an unpopular senior-government mandate, we share some ideas on how best to respond.

What Role Should Local Governments Play in National and World Affairs? (Vol. 2, Issue 25)
When we pick up our major newspapers or turn on our network-television newscasts, the coverage of public-policy issues is likely to focus on national and world affairs.  But, every so often, we'll be told that this local-government official or that municipality has taken a position on a current national issue.  Lately, the most likely issues are the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan or, in the U.S., the question of illegal immigration.  In this issue, we look at the range of responses to this latter question as well as local-government responses to other national issues.  Next, we examine the effects of such actions on national policy, on our communities, and on the rule of law.  Then, we see what standard of conduct measures up and how to distinguish the official role of local-government officials from the individual role, as citizens of the nation.  So, what should you and your local-government organization be doing?  This issue offers some thoughts on what works as well as the pitfalls to avoid.

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