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National Civic Review, Volume 92, No. 1, Spring 2003: Innovating in the New Millennium: Lessons From the Local Level

National Civic Review, Volume 92, No. 1, Spring 2003: Innovating in the New Millennium: Lessons From the Local Level

Robert Loper (Editor)

ISBN: 978-0-787-96871-7

May 2003, Jossey-Bass

112 pages

Select type: Paperback


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This issue confirms the National Civic League's continuing dedication to seek out the promising developments at the local level that can help reinvigorate our democracy. Articles celebrate the active role that citizens, in concert with local government officials and members of the private and nonprofit sectors, play in communities across the country. Contributors also highlight the potential impact of such local and state level civic engagement can have on national trends in political reform, particularly in the highly active area of campaign finance reform.

Case studies from the field include an analysis of the response to the Los Angeles disturbances a decade later that emphasizes the prominent role that grassroots organizations have had in crafting efforts to make changes there. The city manager of Chico, California, takes a searching look at the public hearing process and makes applicable suggestions for improving its efficacy as a tool for citizen involvement. Richard C. Harwood, founder and president of The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, contributes a thoughtful essay on patriotism and the devotion we all need to bring to the public square as we take up our responsibilities for the common good.

NOTE FROM THE PRESIDENT (Christopher T. Gates).


Beyond BCRA: Cutting-Edge Campaign Finance Reform at the Local Government Level (Paul Ryan).
Given the unresolved legal challenges to the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, it is difficult to project what the impact of the law’s provisions will be. However, campaign finance reform measures in place at the local government level may provide a model for future activity at the federal level.

The Nuts and Bolts of Public Financing of State Candidate Campaigns (Craig B. Holman).
The shaky foundations of the public financing system for presidential elections may be undermined by the new campaign finance reform legislation. This comprehensive analysis of public financing of state campaigns brings the underlying logic of public funding of elections into perspective.

America’s Urban Crisis a Decade After the Los Angeles Riots (Peter Dreier).
The riots that broke out in Los Angeles after the verdict in the Rodney King case were the most costly in our nation’s history. This article details the largely ineffectual response by elected leaders and contrasts them with the more successful efforts by grassroots activists to orchestrate positive change.

Devotion: Declaring Our Intentions in Public Life (Richard C. Harwood).
This reflection on politics and public life in America today calls for a new covenant among political leaders, the media, and citizens, and summons us to take seriously the challenges and responsibilities that patriotism, understood as a devotion to one’s country, requires.

The Civic Landscape (Christopher T. Gates).
A belief in progress and betterment is part of the American character, and the dynamic nature of the social order attests to our country’s openness to change. In this meditation on the new roles that our social institutions must play, special emphasis is given to the place of the museum as a keeper of community.

The Public Hearing Process: A Tool for Citizen Participation, or a Path Toward Citizen Alienation? (Tom Lando).
The city manager of Chico, California, combines his understanding and experience with public hearings with analysis from the academic literature to provide some insight into this often-frustrating process.

Contemporary Challenges in Local Government (John Nalbandian, Carol Nalbandian).
The authors argue that efforts to modernize local government and a commitment to building and maintaining a sense of community will be two of the most important forces shaping the terrain for local government officials in the years ahead.