Volume I, Issue 5 - December 2000
SPECIAL ISSUE: THE SPEAKER'S COMMISSION ON REGIONS
"The winners in the New Economy will be the regions that learn to work together to relieve traffic congestion, build affordable housing, preserve open space and promote economic development. If government is going to be effective in this new age, it is going to have to start thinking regionally. This Commission is an important first step." - Assembly Speaker Robert M. Hertzberg
- I. The Speakers Commission on Regionalism (SCOR)
II. Commission Members
III. SCOR Retreat: The First Meeting of the Commission on Regionalism - December 8th, 2000
* Summary and Results
* Speakers and Presentations
IV. An Assessment From SCOR Chair, Nick Bollman
I. The Speakers Commission on Regionalism (SCOR)
Assembly Speaker Robert M. Hertzberg has launched the Speaker's Commission on Regionalism (SCOR) to foster regional collaboration among communities and local governments across the state of California. In November, the Speaker issued a formal press release announcing the 31-member Commission that will study and recommend changes to state policies and governance structures. The goal of the Commission is to facilitate a dialogue about the problems facing regions across the state, and provide a framework for addressing regional issues that tend to cross traditional city, county, school district, and special district boundaries.
During it's one year tenure, October 2000 to October 2001, the Commission will develop ideas for specific innovative state government policies and strategies that will encourage and support regional collaboration among local entities. The Commission's underlying principle is that regional collaboration among local governments, civic entrepreneurs, business leaders, educators, and community organizations will better enable both citizens and public officials to address California's major economic, social, and environmental changes in the years ahead.
To carry out its mission, the Commission will examine underlying issues that need to be addressed more effectively at a regional level, including:
* population growth and settlement patterns
* community planning and investment for infrastructure, including: transportation, affordable housing, schools, and open space/habitat
* economic development strategies, including workforce development
* improving social relations among people of different ethnic, racial and income backgrounds
* government efficiency and accountability
* citizen participation in local public affairs
The Commission will draw on the knowledge and experience of a wide variety of policy and program experts who have studied and/or worked at regional collaboration. In particular, the Commission will draw from the work of prior Commissions such as the Commission on Governance for the 21st Century, the Speaker's Commission on State & Local Government Finance, and concurrent Commission work such as the Governor's Commission on Building for the 21st Century.
Speaker Hertzberg specifically modeled the new Speaker's Commission on Regionalism after the Commission on Governance for the 21st Century that was created by legislation he sponsored. That panel's highly praised report, Growth Within Bounds, was the basis of successful legislation that Hertzberg authored this year to overhaul California's policies of setting boundaries for city and local governments.
Over its one-year lifetime, SCOR will explicitly adopt a vision and values statement that clearly reveals the underlying principles that guide its work. The Commission will meet at least ten times as a whole in various regions of the state and will hold several additional interim meetings comprised of smaller working groups, or sub-committees. Commissioners will issue an interim report in Spring of 2001, for possible consideration by the Legislature and the Governor, and a final report will be published in November 2001. The Commission is committed to making this report widely available to citizens, policy makers, the media, and a vide variety of statewide regional organizations interested in regional collaboration. These reports, as well as information about SCOR and updates on Committee activities will be made available on an upcoming website, www.regionalism.net.
II. Commission Members
Speaker Hertzberg appointed Nick Bollman, President of the California Center for Regional Leadership, to chair the new Commission on Regionalism. Members include leaders from local government, business, labor, community organizations, and academia. Christopher Carlisle, Special Assistant to the Speaker, is serving as the Executive Director of the Commission.
Also named to the Commission by Speaker Hertzberg were:
* David Abel, business and civic leader and Project Director for the Metropolitan Forum Project of Los Angeles.
* Jacki Bacharach, owner of Jacki Bacharach and Associates, a local government consulting firm.
* Kim Belshe, Program Director at the James Irvine Foundation.
* Jerry Butkiewicz, Secretary-Treasurer of the San Diego Central Labor Council.
* Christopher Cabaldon, Mayor of West Sacramento.
* Keith Carson, Alameda County Supervisor.
* Jon Clark, Executive Director of the Wendy P. McCaw Foundation in Santa Barbara.
* Amy Dean, Executive Officer of the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council and Executive Director of Working Partnerships, in the Silicon Valley.
* Ed Edelman, Senior Rand Corporation Fellow and former Los Angeles County Supervisor.
* Denise Fairchild, President of the Community Development Technology Center of Los Angeles.
* Esther Feldman, President of Community Conservancy International and former Chair of the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission.
* David Fleming, Chairman of the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley.
* Angela Glover Blackwell, President of Policy Link, a national organization located in Oakland.
* Alexandra Gallardo-Rooker, Executive Board Member of the Communications Workers of America Local 9400, from Paramount.
* Carl Guardino, President of the Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group.
* Gary Hunt, Chief Executive Officer of the Irvine Company in Orange County.
* May Lindenstein Walshok, Vice-Chancellor of the University of California, San Diego.
* Elizabeth Martin, Nevada County Supervisor.
* Dan Mazmanian, Dean of the University of Southern California's School of Policy, Planning and Development.
* Sunne McPeak, President of the Bay Area Council and former Contra Costa County Supervisor.
* Becky Morgan, founder of the Morgan Family Foundation, former CEO of the Joint Venture Silicon Valley Network and a former member of the state Senate.
* Raymond Orbach, Chancellor of the University of California, Riverside.
* Pete Parra, Kern County Supervisor.
* Manuel Pastor, Chair of Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
* Sylvia Reyes Patsaouras, regional planner at the Southern California Association of Governments.
* Bev Perry, Mayor of Brea.
* Judith L. Schwartze, principal of Judith Schwartze Consulting and former Director of Program Management, Planning and Programming for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
* Carol Whiteside, President of the Great Valley Center and former Mayor of Modesto.
* Charles Woo, President of Mega Toys and Chairman of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.
* Julie Meier Wright, President of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation and former Secretary of the State Trade and Commerce Agency.
III. The SCOR Retreat - The First Meeting of the Commission on Regionalism - December 8, 2000
* Summary and Results
The Commission held its initial meeting in the form of a day-long "immersion retreat" on December 8th in Los Angeles. SCOR Chairperson Nick Bollman and SCOR's Executive Director, Christopher Carlisle, opened the meeting. Introductions were followed by a rousing and personal appeal from Speaker of the Assembly Robert Hertzberg outlining his vision and hopes for the Commission's work. This was followed by presentations from several speakers who provided oversight and historical perspective about regionalism in California. Commissioners were given opportunity for questions and discussion throughout the day and immediately began to construct the primary questions SCOR will be addressing over the next year. Members ended the meeting by breaking into groups and formulating a list of questions that represent the most pressing regional issues facing California's citizens, civic leaders, and public officials.
* Speakers and Presentations
"Charge to the Commission"
Speaker Robert Hertzberg launched the meeting by outlining his vision and goals for SCOR and suggesting effective ways the Commission may foster and implement new strategies for California's regions. The Speaker maintained that the current structure of government in California is outdated and poorly equipped to deal with many of the issues facing the state. The winners in the new economy, he argued, will be those who participate and live in well run regions; thus, California will prosper as a state when its citizens address important issues on a regional level. Regionalism, the Speaker concluded, deserves new attention as a leadership and governance strategy. Speaker Hertzberg suggested the Commission consider a number of important points while working towards innovative policies that will increase the level of collaboration between government, civic leaders, and citizens. He asked Commissioners to:
* Clarify the vision and values driving the Commission's work so that it will have a solid foundation from which to build on and communicate to the public
* Be bold and yet practical in its proposals in order to ensure that progress is made
* Present a clear blueprint for action that includes long and short-term goals and strategies
* Produce an interim report as well as a final report that will be made readily available to the public
* Engage a broad cross-section of Californians and communicate through a wide spectrum of the press and media
"A Theoretical Perspective on Regions"
The first speaker of the day, Michael Teitz, Director of Research at the Public Policy Institute of California, provided Commissioners with a broad theoretical perspective on regions. Teitz discussed the issue of regional definition and the manner in which regional issues in the state have manifested themselves over the last century. Historically, Teitz argued, regional identities in the state of California have persisted for many years, and yet, regions themselves have remained fluid and are continually re-defining themselves from within. Teitz concluded his presentation to the Commission by stressing that issues concerning population growth, housing and transportation deficits, fiscal inequities, and environmental stress are beyond the capacity of local authorities, thus, successful regional solutions must include a combination of local, regional, and state level strategies.
"California's Regions: Populations and Settlement Patterns"
Hans Johnson, Research Fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, presented the Commission with a demographic overview of population growth and settlement patterns across the state, including ethnic, geographic, and economic trends. Using extensive data, charts, and graphs, Johnson discussed the manner in which regional demography has historically driven public policy in the state of California. Johnson demonstrated that over the next twenty years California is projected to grow by twelve million people. Johnson concluded his presentation by pointing out that the "natural population growth" in California, measuring births over deaths alone and not immigration or migration patterns, constitutes 62% of California's overall population growth. Johnson appealed to the Commission to pay particular attention to this statistic because this high rate of natural population growth could present unusual challenges to addressing regional issues. "The Commission," Johnson urged, "must take these numbers very seriously."
"Regionalism in California: Is Voluntarism Enough?"
Elisa Barbour, Research Associate at the Public Policy Institute of California, talked with Commissioners about the significance of new voluntary regionalism (by which she means voluntary collaboration among local jurisdictions), and the manner in which this voluntary movement fits into the over-all planning system in California. She provided an overview of the history of California's decentralized planning system and its effect on regionalism. Like other voluntary movements, Barbour concluded, voluntary regionalism is vulnerable to the emergence of conflict, competing interests, and jurisdictional disputes that can quickly dissolve a reform movement's chance for success. Barbour told Commissioners that state government should play an essential role in reducing the limitations that are inherit in volunteerism by introducing incentives for cooperation and helping to formulate clear policy direction on outcomes, while leaving process decisions to local and regional entities.
"The Political Future of California's Regions"
Peter Detwiler, Staff Director for the Senate Local Government Committee, provided the Commission with a brief history of California's regional policy approaches from the administration of Governor Pat Brown in the 1950's to the growth management of the 1980's. In the past, policy leaders were unwilling to use the word "regionalism", Detwiler pointed out, but there emerged a clear recognition that "larger-than-local problems demanded larger-than-local solutions". Detwiler emphasized the essential role of executive and legislative political leadership in developing regional policy issues, but suggested that third party leadership from civic leaders may be the most important and effective way to initiate regional policies. He closed his remarks by urging Commissioners to recognize the importance of being "policy entrepreneurs" that "earn, acquire, invest, and risk political capital." Commissioners must help legislators understand regional problems, but most importantly he added, "Commissioners must put regional action on the political agenda".
"Achieving Regional Equity"
Angela Blackwell, President of Policy Link, and a Commission Member, closed the meeting's morning session by speaking about achieving social and economic equity through regional strategies. Regional approaches will fail, Blackwell warned, if they do not fully integrate the issue of equity into the discussion of all other regional issues. Blackwell urged Commissioners to see the issue of equity as an umbrella under which all other issues must fall, "for us to succeed equity can not be an add-on, or extra subcommittee," Blackwell stressed, "equity must be a driver." Blackwell concluded her remarks by urging Commissioners to follow the example of minority activists whose primary tool for achieving policy results is to focus on the "uncommon ground" and recognize the needs of other interests. "People who feel like outsiders," Blackwell said, "lack the capacity to say 'make it so', when they walk into an issue are cause they know the only way to be successful is to listen to what other people want." Commissioners, she concluded, must always assess who will benefit most from regional initiatives because a successful regional movement, and thus the future of all Californians, rests on the ability to invest in the people most vulnerable.
"New Governance Models"
Doug Henton, President of Collaborative Economics, was the luncheon speaker for SCOR's first full Commission meeting. Henton focused on the need for governance reform and the important lessons that can be learned from innovative regional organizations in California and across the nation. He highlighted a primary question before the Commission: How can regions deal with California's demographic, economic, quality of life and equity challenges given the current state-local governance capacity? All too often, Henton told the Commission, leaders fail to meet the major challenges facing California because the capacity to address these challenges is not adequate. "We are suffering a 'crisis of governance'," Henton said, "because our institutions are suited to the 19th Century Industrial Age, not the 21st Century Information Age." The Commission should combine regional initiatives with state and federal partnerships, he concluded, and "adapt a framework for moving towards 21st century governance based on information, collaboration, and regional stewardship."
IV. An Assessment From SCOR Chair, Nick Bollman
SCOR is off to a great start, but we also face a great challenge. Most of California's major issues including traffic, housing, energy, schools, poverty, and conservation are driven by forces too big for any single jurisdiction to solve alone. I have met with leaders in statewide associations representing the interests of local government and I am convinced that the state government can do a much better job of helping local officials solve the problems facing their communities; provided that we help create the fiscal budget supports and incentives that enable local leaders to tackle their problems on a region-wide basis. I have worked for years with a new breed of regional civic organizations committed to sharing the responsibility with the public sector for improving their communities. This new kind of public-civic partnership with new levels of engagement of the general public in the planning and decision-making process can strengthen our democracy, improve the quality of life for our families and communities, keep our economy competitive on a global scale, and provide new opportunities for all those who might otherwise be left behind. That is the promise and challenge of SCOR, and we are deeply appreciative of Speaker Hertzberg's decision to call us to that mission.
We'd like to involve a broad array of individuals and organizations in this work. Please let us know how you'd like to get involved. Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.