The GOVERNING Summit on Government Performance and Innovation convened a powerful network of public-sector leaders and innovators in Louisville, Ky., to celebrate achievements in government transformation. You can watch an archive of any of six plenary sessions that was live streamed from the event (above) or read through the live blog (below) of the plenary sessions.
Cities as Change Makers - Panel of Mayors
3:30 p.m. The last question from the audience asked what cities are -- and sholuld be -- doing about public transportation. Mayor Fischer of Louisville said the challenge is finding money, which is increasingly hard to come by from state capitals and the federal government. But he and every other mayor described it as a generational shift that every mayor has to focus on -- whether it be light rail, bus rapid transit, streetcars or train systems. Mayor Reed of Atlanta said his city has maintained the 9th largest public transit system in the U.S. with almost no state funding. But the state is still churning out about half a billion dollars in new investments, including streetcars that will complement the city's train system. It's been a critical factor in attracting businesses, including Mercedes-Benz, which was originally considering New Jersey, he said. "If you want to be in the future business, no matter what our generation thinks about it, you’ve got to be in the transit business," Reed said. Mayor Hodges of Minneapolis said the investment from private businesses materialized even before the opening of the cities second light-rail line, to the tune of $1.2 billion around the line. 3:15 p.m. Mayor Dean of Nashville came back repeatedly to the theme of investments in early childhood education. He argued framing the issue as one of taxes and spending misses the importance of investing in young citizens and risks losing a competitive advantage to states and cities that are embracing policies such as universial pre-kindergarten. "We should all be doing this," he said. "This is a no-brainer for the country." But cities also need to work with community colleges to boost post-secondary credentials and apprenticeships in sciences and technology that often pay more than four-year degrees, he said. 3:05 p.m. Mayor Kasim Reed built upon an earlier theme on the "ascendancy" of cities by noting how frequently he and other mayors are either personally visiting each other or sending task forces to learn from ideas other mayors have spearheaded. "Where else is that happening among leaders? That's why I go back to the point 'this is our moment,'" he said. With the recognition that cities are places where leaders can solve problems -- in contrast with the national political scene -- cities are attracting leaders like Michael Bloomberg and Rahm Emmanuel. "Rahm Emmanuel was chief of state to the president of the United States. Call him and ask him which job he likes more," Reed quipped. 3:00 p.m. Mayor Fischer of Louisville also offered an idea on how cities can tap into the creativity of their residents to help everyone. He pointed to an effort to capitalize on Kentucky's status as the birthplace of bourbon. Through marketing and investment, the state has attracted some $500 million around distilleries, warehouses, distribution and hospitality. That's from embracing "bourbonism," as he put it.
Mayors gathered for a panel called "Cities as Change Makers" and kicked off the discussion by identifying the forces that will shape cities in the future.
Mayor Karl Dean of Nashville said cities have to take note of growing diversity. Over the past decade, he said, the percentage of Nashville residents born in other countries jumped to 12 percent from 2 percent. These new residents and others are choosing to live in city cores, which itself marks a major change, Dean argued.
Mayor Kasim Reed of Atlanta built off that, noting that announcements of businesses investing in the Atlanta area are increasingly going downtown, instead of the nearby suburbs. Millennials and baby boomers will continue flocking to city cores, though both will have different needs, he said.
But with that comes a responsibility for policymakers to find ways to maintain affordability so anyone who wants to has "a fair shot" to live in a city center.
Mayor Betsy Hodges of Minneapolis said the defining challenge as cities become increasingly diverse and racial minorities become the majorities will be addressing disparities in health, housing, education and other areas. "The future depends on how well we adapt to changing social and economic conditions in the 21st century," she said.
She said former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's philanthropic organization focused on metro areas is helping the city analyze data on service delivery and suggest changes where they're not being distributed equitably.
Opening Keynote: Aaron M. Renn, Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow, on "The Evolving City"
2:30 p.m. A short Q&A follows Aaron Renn's address. One attendee from South Bend, Ind., asks for tips on strategies to get a place’s essence. Renn responds that it’s difficult to do it as an insider because you often take things for granted. That’s why it’s helpful to bring in an outsider to experience it and maybe find things even you didn’t know. He suggests artists as particularly helpful: “They’re willing to speak the truth.” Just make sure you're open to it. 2:25 p.m. Renn says that many cities miss an opportunity with their marketing videos. All city videos are basically the same, he says: microbreweries, downtown apartments, retail, bike lanes, fashion, check, check, check down the list. So how do you stand out? In the words of the Greek Oracle, you have to know thyself. “That’s really the first step," he says. "That raises the challenge of figuring out what your identity is and it’s hard to put your finger on that.” But by taking a serious inventory of your city, then you can get "cultural resonance," says Renn. It seems right, feels right and is easier to sell because it’s authentic. 2:15 p.m. Renn asks: Why do people hire consultants? It has to do with the old addage that an expert is someone from out of town. If someone comes up with an innovative idea and he’s a junior analysts or middle manager, Renn says that idea's probably not going to get air time because of a perceived threat. "All new ideas have haters," Renn says. "And if you’re in the bowels of an organization, chances are you don’t have the ability to punch through that." So if you want to make innovation happen in your own town, he says, you really have to combat this tyranny of the organizational chart. 2:09 p.m. Aaron Renn, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, is now delivering the opening keynote address. He starts it off with this sobering statistic: More than half of jobs in the U.S. could disappear because of technology innovations. Globalization has fundamentally transformed our world, Renn adds. It’s created gleaming cities -- but it’s also unleashed a brutal competition which undermines workers. The results are a breakdown of the middle class. “Why is innovation so important today?” he says. “We need to be able to take our communities which were designed for yesterday’s realities and make them work for today.” 2:01 p.m. Fischer says there is a "2-6-2" rule when it comes to proposing big changes. That is, 20 percent of people will "stand up and cheer," 60 percent will stay in the middle and see which way the tide turns, and the last 20 percent will say, "Let’s wait that idiot out until he loses the next election." But, he adds, there is a misconception that government employees are always opposed to big operational changes. In Louisville, they use LouisStat performance improvement system to help guide innovation techniques and provide training to help guide everyone’s work. "What we found here was that people were under-invested in," Fischer says. "They didn’t receive training to develop their human capacity both in the broader sense in the workplace and outside of the workplace …. It’s about believing in your people and you have to invest in them.” 1:50 p.m.
Kicking off the summit with a welcoming address, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer says about 300 people are at the summit, in addition to dozens of others joining in online throughout the country.
Fischer starts off his address by talking about the importance of local government and its day-to-day interactions with its citizens. He cites a recent Zogby poll that found that citizens trusted their city governments the most to do a good job.
“This is not a social experiment; it’s about results,” Fischer says, noting results-oriented actions can include establishing more 911 call centers or asking citizens for suggestions about air qualities. “We’re trying to fundamentally alter the nature of the relationship between government and its citizens -- and [improve] the level of trust.”