Changing Governance Yields Re-Examining of Local Plans, Vision for the Future

Article excerpt

It has been predicted, talked about and planned for sometime now. Many newspapers, researchers, lecturers recognized its arrival after the 1994 sweep of Republicans to both houses of Congress. "It", is the Changing Politics and Governance. Some call it devolution, some call it the "new federalism," but all local officials realize it will reshape the ways government functions at all levels, the relationship among the levels of government and the way citizens view government's role.

With that title, Changing Politics and Governance, Monday's Opening General Session at the Congress went forward with the next challenge facing elected officials. Now that change has come, how then do cities and towns befriend these changes?

With a panel with backgrounds from demographic research, economic forecasting, state legislature, media, and local government CNN Prime Anchor and Senior Correspondent Judy Woodruff led an engaging discussion about how a change in politics, governance and the ensuing devolution of power from federal to state and local government affects local services and local abilities.

Technology, jobs, poverty, racial inclusion, and citizen perception in government reigned as keys to creating a plan that benefits from the changes upon America and changes still to come.

Carol De Vita, senior research demographer for the Washington, D.C.-based Population Reference Bureau, Inc. spilled a wealth of data about families and the results of America moving from a "breadmaker and homemaker family structure to a dual worker family."

With a new baby boom in the last five years, and the fact that the original post, 40s baby boomers are quickly becoming senior citizens - childcare and eldercare top the charts as priorities when shaping national policy, added De Vita.

"Today's fifth grader will be caretakers of the baby boomers in their old age," said De Vita. "But how will that fifth grader fare at such a challenge when so many blacks and Hispanics of that age live in poverty."

Jobs being one of the most prominent answers to poverty, local elected officials must think differently about the labor force as the near future guarantees major changes thanks to "technology that becomes obsolete itself in days an months," said Louise Yamada, vice president, Research Division, Smith Barney.

Web and digital technologies have created a host of issues with macro implications on local economies, said Yamada. With places like Levis and other companies able to size customers electronically and match a perfect fit, the implications are no product inventories and no retail space which then translates to no need for truckers to transport products and no gas or electric needed to heat spaces no longer required.

What to do? Yamada suggested letting go of the industrial indicators of our economy as they no longer adequately predict the economic situation of the country. Yamada's research is showing a greater demand for Americans to eat better. She then suggested shaping policy more around agriculture.

"We will not see wars for oil in the 21st Century but possibly wars for water," said Yamada. …